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Teen space

A garage turned into a teenage retreat for the holidays gives teenagers their own space while keeping them onsite.

A relaxed teenager space to call their own

When the summer holidays roll around, after the pressure of exams and end-of-year rituals, everybody is ready to kick back and have a change of pace. Sometimes by changing your environment to create a fresh feel, everyone can get into a more relaxed mode even though they are home based.

Changing your garage into a space for teenagers during the summer holidays can create a sense of freedom for the young people in your household while you still maintain a presence...

Anya's task list
Our first big task was to clear out the contents of the garage and paint it. We used Resene Lumbersider in Resene Tana. I found an old door up in the rafters which we painted as a table for the TV and bits and pieces. The old TV was bought for $30 (and I love it!) and the chairs are old 'coolie' chairs which can still be found in junk shops and on TradeMe. The coffee table is an old 70s number - painted for a new lease of life. Flax mats on the floor come from SPOTLIGHT $22 each, as do the flax ketes hung on the wall for extra storage - they were $6 each. The colourful Pasifika fabric came from Fare Pareu in Otahuhu.

The waterproof beanbags can be hung by their large eyelet for easy storage. The striped squabs, are from Ezibuy. Arbuckles supplied the masses of 'beans' we needed to fill the beanbags. They took three bags of 'beans' for each beanbag. Many thanks Arbuckles !

The lovely star cushions came from Wallace Cotton - also the pavilion blue stripe napkins. Final touches in the form of red hibiscus mugs from the $2 shop and the melamine picnic ware from The Warehouse, completed the project.

Have on hand when teenagers are just hanging out
A pile of games, including 'Set', 'Phase 1O', 'Hit the Deck' (my teenagers' favourites), CDs and DVDs, musical instruments, and popcorn, milkshake, waffle and toasted sandwich makers. A great idea is a teenaged edition of 'Table Topics', a perspex cube containing loads of questions designed for teenagers to spend time talking with their closest friends, ponder some fun questions and liven up the conversation.

A few more tips

Whenever teenagers gather
Remember the rule that whoever is on the 'patch' first, tends to own the territory. It doesn't matter if it is a teenage camp, a classroom or your lounge, if you just let people wander in then they will establish an element of control. So it is very important when your teenager's friends come, even just to visit and hang out, that you welcome them, make them a drink, offer some food! Ask them about themselves and establish the relationship. The message is - they have come into your home and they are welcome. Even if the teenagers drift into their own space, you have created an 'entry' into their group which gives you the opportunity to pop in with a snack or to check with them about what their plans are next. Have a presence in the home but be in the background so the teenagers feel they have the dignity of a certain amount of privacy without you hovering. However, they also know you are on site. Just make one or two rules so that a certain amount of respect has been established. These could include noise levels (for the sake of the neighbours), which bathroom to use, reasonable time to be winding up. Sometimes a positive statement about their behaviour with an almost innocent tone, "you wouldn't do that, would you guys?" is enough.

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