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Colours for teenagers


Teenagers are open to experimenting with complex colours and texturesAs kids grow up, the old bedroom theme of bunnies, Barbies and Disney characters may not work quite so well any more. Pastel pinks and pale blues are no longer a given. Sophisticated patterns and colour palettes are more appealing, and as they hit their mid teens, children, especially boys, start to show a preference for darker colours like black. Thatís normal, weíre told. It indicates a shift from the innocence of childhood to the sophistication of adulthood. But black?

“Mostly the request is from teenage boys,” says Resene colour consultant Kim Nicol, “and the response from parents is anything but black.”

While black can hint at independence and individuality, too much black can be oppressive. Black is not conducive to emotional development either and it can promote withdrawal and feelings of isolation. If the request is for black, a greyish-black, or black mixed with white, like black and white wallpaper, combined with other colours, can tone down an otherwise Gothic look.

“Use a bold wide black and white horizontal stripe around the room, add in a black duvet, and the teenager sees a black room,” says Kim. “Then when you’ve won that battle, add in the colour with a rug, lamp shade or furniture. I’ve found that younger teenagers like to use their sports team colours, while older teens are more likely to strip any reference to that very same team and be ready for a splash of colour.”

In fact older teens typically aren’t afraid of colour. They are open to experimenting with complex colours and textures – bright fluros and metallics, and fabrics with changing sheens.

Red, purple, bold blues and citrus greens are popular with the teen set, though black may still remain a steadfast favourite because it’s seen as ‘cool’. Pops of bright colour can be used alongside black to lift the mood and create personality or switch completely to grey tones.

A combination of teal and raspberry, for example, gives the traditional blue and pink a grown-up look. Think Resene Such Fun and Resene Dauntless paired with Resene Raspberry or Resene Red Letter. Use these alongside small doses of black or dark grey. Add in colourful accent rugs and beanbags or floor cushions for a comfortable hang-out on the floor for friends.

Resene Such Fun
Resene Such Fun
Resene Dauntless
Resene Dauntless
Resene Raspberry
Resene Raspberry
Resene Red Letter
Resene Red Letter

Metal gives a room a modern edge, so metallic accents, like Resene Zoop de Loop (a deep metallic blue) or Resene (a silvery zinc colour) are great alternatives to black. Metal toolboxes, steel lockers and metallic painted furniture also provide attitude and sophistication. Or give a solid wrought iron bed a playful lift by weaving fairy lights around the bedhead. A full-length mirror is also a necessity for teenage rooms.

Resene Zoop De Loop
Resene Zoop De Loop
Resene So Cool
Resene So Cool

Teens like to express themselves, so try using black chalkboard paint (Resene Blackboard Paint) on one section of a wall to let your teens indulge in their creative side. Then paint the remaining wall a toned down grey colour like Resene Foggy Grey from the Karen Walker Range, in a shade according to how big and what aspect the room is. Then dress the room up with accessories.
You can also create a doodle space with black and white silhouette wallpaper. Your teen can colour in the white spaces with paint or permanent markers. Try something like Black & White 28231 or Black & White BW28740.

Resene Foggy Grey
Resene Foggy Grey
Resene Black & White 28231 wallpaper
Resene Black & White 28231
Resene Black & White BW28740
Resene Black & White BW28740

Making a statement with paint is an easy way to dress up a teen’s space. Use patterns like geometric shapes or a large bull’s-eye with five different accent colours that can be incorporated in the rest of the room as well.

Colour consultant and interior designer Debbie Abercrombie also suggests playing around with ombre patterns.

“I had a young girl who wanted a colour as strong as Resene Resolution Blue, which is a real cobalt blue. I encouraged her to create an ombre effect rather than blocks of colour. So that meant not bringing it in as one flat wall, but creating that ombre effect to allow her to have that really beautiful strong clear colour in her room but then it just gets softer and softer. Using it that way is really uplifting, especially for a young girl. She wants something elevating and something that feels good to walk into.”

Debbie suggests masking off stripes so you can create that effect, “but it doesn’t have to be as good as an artist might be able to do. It doesn’t have to be perfect. Start with the navy at the bottom and take small amounts of it and mix in some white. Maybe do seven stripes and just keep adding white until you are actually doing the opposite and adding a little of the navy to the white.”

A teenager’s bedroom also needs to be functional. Set aside an area for homework or studies, as well as an area for socialising with friends. A sleek black desk may work well alongside black shelves and black folders and storage boxes. Incorporate a bright red office chair and other colourful accessories to create a more stimulating space. Add megawatt accents with colours like Resene Bullseye (a bright cherry red), Resene Jalapeno (a spicy salsa red), Resene Daredevil (a fluoro orange) or Resene Scrumptious (a clear magenta pink).

Resene Bullseye
Resene Bullseye
Resene Jalapeno
Resene Jalapeno
Resene Daredevil
Resene Daredevil
Resene Scrumptious
Resene Scrumptious

But Kim says that soft muted colours that stand the test of growing up can still be used, especially for girls.

“For the younger girls, that bright duvet and posters can and will still dominate the room, but a few years down the track as their tastes change the bedding may appear more ‘adult’ with the addition of a white or cream duvet cover or white furniture and a touch of silver, maybe in a mirror. If the room is sunny I like Resene Sorrento (a blue green) or Resene Tasman (a softer greyer blue green), with trim in a warm white like Resene Half Pearl Lusta.

Resene Sorrento
Resene Sorrento
Resene Tasman
Resene Tasman
Resene Half Pearl Lusta
Resene Half Pearl Lusta

A space they can call their own is important to teenagers too. It’s a place where they can chill out or invite friends over to hang out. A simple mattress on the floor with a collection of bold coloured cushions is ideal for lounging on during the day or for sleepovers at night. If there’s room, add in a foosball table, a dartboard, a guitar or two, and shelves for books and magazines. You’ll at least know where your teens are if they regularly hang out in their own ‘cool’ space.

In all cases, make sure you involve your teenager in the process of choosing colours and decorating themes. It’s the easiest way to get ‘buy-in’ while letting your teenager’s tastes shine through. The room needs to be a safe place for them – a place to dream, to have fun, to create or just chill out. Above all, it needs to be a place where they can express themselves.

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