Just as we watched our babies transform into opinionated toddlers and then imaginative school-goers, our rising tweens reveal ever more of their personality and passions that aren’t so little anymore. A big part of instilling confidence along the way is showing our respect for their self-expression—their rooms being an important extension of that. Read on for fun and inspiring ways to help make their space truly their own.

Start with a Clean Slate

Wall space is one of the first terrains you may remember taking control of yourself, whether you collaged photos of friends or hung posters of your favorite bands (or 90210 stars). If your tweens have lived and played in their rooms since nursery-hood, it may well be time for a fresh coat of paint anyway (in a color or fun accent of their choosing). Then let them change up what most inspires them. If you have framed prints they want to update, sites like Etsy, Wayfair and Minted have a range of options and price points. A large bulletin board is easy to refresh, and storyboarding is also a great study tool for visual learners.

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Carve Out a Creative Corner

The experts at Highlights Learning say it’s a great idea to have a “school stuff” zone, so everything is one place, making staying on top of schoolwork all the easier. If your tween doesn’t already have a study station, go for a desk that will last through this next stage of her education when she'll be working independently. If you’re short on space, set something up under a lofted bed, go DIY with a hideaway desk, or even retrofit a closet. (We have many more study station ideas rounded up, too.) And don’t forget wall space when it comes keeping workflow in check and in style, like a chalkboard calendar, functional pegboard or mounted storage. 

Take a Shelfie

It’s that time again to weed shelves and make room for all the new titles they’ll be bringing home in middle school. While they may be reading a fair share on tablets or computers, it’s essential to have real deal books within reach to keep encouraging reading for fun. For age-specific reading inspiration, check out Amazon’s Prime Book Box, a subscription book service for kids—they have one specifically for the 9-12 set.

Update the Sleep Zone

Just as you once transitioned that crib to a toddler or twin bed, it may again be time to re-think sleep. If you have space to work with, consider upgrading to a full or queen that will him off to college (and serve as future guest accommodations, too). Or, perhaps you’re keeping twin beds on hand for the sleep-over circuit now in full swing. No matter the sleeping arrangement, the bedding theme itself could most likely use a refresh. Target has tons of options, from their new and hip Opalhouse line to plenty of tween-friendly designs, like this Bollywood Reversible Comforter Set.

Let Their Personal Passion Shine

By this age, many tweens are well on their way to honing a sport, hobby or passion. Their personal space can certainly reflect that, be it a guitar propped in a corner for an aspiring shredder, an over-sized world map for a traveler in training, or a printing service for a budding photographer’s latest shots. And it’s easy to get sporty with PBTeen’s Sports Central collections that cover all the major leagues as well as a Kelly Slater Shop with eco-friendly furnishings. 

Delegate Organization

Remember those early years of rounding up their toys, puzzles and miscellaneous “projects” every night before bed? Now that it’s their job to keep a tidy room, help your tween stay organized by stowing away anything on the loose in stylish storage bins, like these hand-crafted, 100% cotton, and naturally dyed baskets from Lorena Canals. We love that these are also machine washable and available in ash-rose, aubergine, black, and vintage blue.

Closet Considerations

Just as their rooms do, closets should also grow and adapt as our kids do. Marty Basher, interior design expert at Modular Closets, has some choice tips for tween parents when it comes to organizing closets. “Formal events, dances, concerts, and performances bring the need for more hanging space in the closet,” Basher says. “With their input you can create a space to hang jewelry and formal dresses or suits and uniforms and full size sports equipment.” Basher also advises adding hooks, a full-length mirror, and shoe storage solutions. “Use under the bed storage for off season shoes and boots and only have what they’ll need for the season in the closet. Make use of boxes and baskets for high storage of items they don’t use regularly but can reach now when they need them.”

Add a Dash of Green

Houseplants do so much to bring fresh air and energy to our interior spaces. So why not give your tween a little something living to tend to that will give a little fresh O2 in return for a brain boost. You can even rent a plant for a few months, like this on-trend living wall, to see how your tween does with the new responsibility.

— Jennifer Massoni Pardini

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