Interior Design for Living: Design a teen-agers room with neatness and organization in mind


Q: I'm the mother of a young teen-age boy. Admittedly his room is very small, but it's a perpetual mess with clothes, books and parapherna­lia all over the floor. Are there any decorating ideas that might encour­age a little neatness?

A: It's a good bet that you're not the only mother of a teen-ager faced with this situation. Although chang­ing a teen-ager's behavior generally may fall under the category of fanta­sy, there are a few decorating tips

you can use to promote organization. It's much easier to be neat if there's a certain place for each item.

With this in mind, take the larg­est wall possible and build in shelves — ceiling to floor. They can be made of inexpensive pine, and painted or stained.

The higher, more inaccessible shelves would be used to display his "treasures." These are things that he has collected but doesn't need to use every day.

If he has speakers, it also would be advisable to put them up high — one on either end of a shelf. This

will get them out of the way, and they also will be more effective. Sound falls. The higher you place the speakers, the more the sound will fill the room.

The lower shelves would house his stereo components, books and other essentials he uses daily.

You even may consider building in a desk with a two-drawer file cabi­net underneath to one side. If you help him organize it, you may be surprised at how much he uses it for school papers, cards, letters and magazines. If nothing else, it can be used for his junk drawer. It would ateast keep things off the floor.

Another idea, as crazy as it may seem, would be to eliminate his dresser. Clothes are often jammed in, wrinkled, half in and half out. Attempting to find a certain item is a major undertaking.

Most boys' clothing — shirts, pants, jackets, sweaters, when hung, take up about 36 inches of space in length. This leaves approximately 30 inches of unused space at the bottom of the closet. Consider putting in two shelves that span the length of the space — one about 8 inches from the floor and the other approximately 12 inches above that.

Shoes can be put on the floor and the two shelves above are designed to hold several plastic bins, each ap­proximately 12 inches wide, 16 inches long, and 10 inches deep. These may be readily purchased at a local discount store.

Each has its own specific use and should be labeled. One will be for socks, another for underwear, a third for T-shirts and possibly one for shorts or bathing suits.

One word of caution, make sure to purchase the bins before install­ing the shelves. This way you'll know exactly how far apart to space them.

This eliminates the mess of a dresser and saves time. It's easier for everyone concerned. Everything has its place. It's easier for anyone to distribute clean laundry and easier for him to find it.

It also is advisable to hang up as many clothes as possible. This keeps them neat and wrinkle free.

Teen-agers like to hang posters, pictures, awards from school and many other things on the walls of their room. One way to accommo­date this and not ruin the wall would be to cover the wall with a light­weight, commercial, level loop or in­door-outdoor carpeting.

You can staple or tack it. This would enable you to remove it easily in the future.

This will not only absorb the sound from his stereo, but also will provide a background where he may, at will, put things up, take them down and not destroy the wall.

The same idea also may be achieved by installing very heavily textured, vinyl wallpaper. The push pins or staple marks are not notice­able when something is taken down.

Another suggestion would be to take his bed off the standard metal frame and build a platform. The mattress and even the bedspring rest on an enclosed base made of Wood or Formica and may or may not have drawers beneath.

In doing this, we eliminate the "collection" under the bed as well as difficulties in cleaning. It's also a lot easier for him to make his bed. All he has to do is pull up a comforter — much simpler than putting on a bed­spread, which has to be more pre­cise to look acceptable.

One more thought: Fabrics, floor and wall coverings' and window treatments must be durable. They should be washable and suitable for a room that's going to get a lot of hard use.

Make your selections with this in mind. Comforters that have to be dry cleaned, perishable carpets and wallpaper or paint that can't be washed would certainly not be ap­propriate in your son's room.