“It’s called Twilight!” the tween girl standing next to me told her mother, in a high drama, OMG kind of voice.
This was the weekend, and I was not behind the glass watching a mom-kid pair or a focus group. I was in the paint section at Home Depot and upon hearing the magic word my Robert Pattinson radar kicked in. My husband, sensing what was up, took my toddler son to the next aisle and left me to listen in.
“This one’s called ‘sexy’ she giggled – clearly trying to shock her mother, who clearly had been shocked too many times to react. With practiced practicality, the mom ignored her daughter and simply suggested a slightly less bold paint color. The negotiation began.
“I really feel like I’ll be most comfortable if it’s the color I love (Note to reader: that color would be “sexy”). And this is my room so I have to be comfortable, right?”
It seems today’s kids, tweens and teens have been taught, by example, by the media and by pop psychology that environment matters. And retailers haven’t missed their cue. Pottery Barn and Crate and Barrel saw an opportunity to develop room décor for this style-savvy set with stores like Pottery Barn Kids and PBTeen, as well as Crate and Barrel’s sister store, Land of Nod. And while directing its messages to parents more than kids, Restoration Hardware recently got into the youth home goods game with its new line of Baby and Toddler furniture.
But proving that kids, tweens and teens have influence beyond these boutiques designed for them, Home Depot’s paint display included snapshots of picture perfect children’s rooms alongside images of Martha Stewart inspired showrooms. When my family rejoined me, I noticed that my son was “playing” with a paint sample – in the shape of mouse ears. He proudly showed me his new “book,” which was really a brochure for Disney paints. He noted that one of these fantasy spaces included a little car just like one that he has at home.
For today’s youth, who have grown up watching deserving kids get decked out rooms on Extreme Home Makeover, or who watched their own version of Trading Spaces (Boys versus Girls) on Saturday morning television, this penchant for paint and obsession with getting their rooms just right isn’t a surprise. If you catch HGTV, you’ll notice an increased emphasis on the crafting of kid spaces – with some shows, like Colour Confidential, letting kids get on the act by picking paint colors and weighing in on what their walls will wear. And with more and more kids watching the Food Network and taking cooking classes in cities and suburbs across the country, it’s no wonder that kids are out to conquer the next domestic frontier. Or, if not conquer, at least make it their own.
But will parents indulge their kids’ requests for real – and really costly – renovations to their rooms? It’s likely that kids will continue to have free reign over things traditionally chosen by kids for their rooms: posters and novelty pillows, bedspreads and tchotkes. And for some, coloring their walls to match their mood – or their favorite fantasy – might be the next step in designing the world of their dreams.