How To Decorate For A Tween Girl

floral rug

As a Los Angeles-based interior designer and busy mother of two, Dee Murphy is the type of woman for whom the word “talented” is an understatement. After working in the corporate world for years, and renovating the homes of her friends and family on the side, Dee was eager to pursue her career dreams focused on all things design. Fast-forward to the launch of her business in 2010, and now Dee has added lifestyle blogger and freelance contributor for Domaine to her already growing list of accomplishments—and we’re thrilled to welcome her right here to Glitter Guide!

Dee’s design aesthetic is undeniably bold, what with an abundance of whimsical patterns that incorporate color as well as a hint of luxury. And it’s this carefree philosophy that made her a natural choice for this tween girl’s bedroom makeover! Read on for Dee’s take on redecorating on a budget, her thoughts on this year’s design fads, plus her tips for creating a transitional space for a tween that stands the test of time and trends.

yellow bed frame

First things first. Tell us about your background and what inspired you to pursue a career in the interior design world!

I have been “rearranging” rooms my entire life. I’ve had a very strong opinion about décor for as long as I can remember, even as a child. Once I began to live on my own, the desire to redecorate and style my surroundings flourished, so much so that I eventually had friends and acquaintances ask me to help them with their own interior design needs. Once I became pregnant with my first son—who’s now five—and I left my public relations job, I decided to pursue interior design professionally, and I’ve never been happier! It was meant to be, although it took me a while to believe I could leave the corporate world behind and move forward on my own!

mint green wallpaper

Take us through the creative process of this tween girls’ bedroom makeover. What was the inspiration behind the project?

Britt, who just turned 13, had definitely outgrown her baby pink room, and her amazing mom, Bridget, wanted to gift her a space that both inspired her and gave her a refuge. It was my job to create something with a more grown-up vibe, without forgetting what’s important to a young girl. I was able to do this by incorporating mementos and items she loved in a sophisticated way.

For example, when I asked her to send me a picture of her favorite piece of clothing, it was a shirt with arrows that said, “Run Wild and Free.” The arrows were a jump-off point for me and inspired the wallpaper choice, as well as some of the accessories. Britt also loves the outdoors and travels to Alaska with her family, where her mom is from. This inspired the float plane print above her bed!

built-in desk

How much input did Britt have in the design process?

She had final say on all of the big choices! I sat down with her and went over the inspiration boards I created. Britt was very clear about what she loved, and what didn’t necessarily appeal to her. The only time she didn’t know what was going to happen was when I swooped in before the photo shoot with the rest of the accessories and styled the room.

What is your decorating philosophy when it comes to creating a transitional space for a teen?

When talking with Britt, I realized how much the space needed to be creatively inspiring, but yet calming and peaceful at the same time. As a young girl (or boy) transitions to a teenager, there is much more “noise” around them thanks to the media, school, activities, work, etc. So, removing some of the “excess” is a natural way to create a more zen-like space. Splash pops of color and patterns strategically throughout the room for a cheerful and inspiring vibe, yet make sure there are quiet moments to allow for sensory breaks!

hanging basket chair

As a young girl (or boy) transitions to a teenager, there is much more “noise” around them thanks to the media, school, activities, work, etc. So, removing some of the “excess” is a natural way to create a more zen-like space.

contemporary white fan

What was the most challenging part about designing this room?

Although Britt is technically a teenager, she is still only 13! I had to keep this in mind whenever my product research would veer toward anything too sophisticated or overly neutral.

Can you offer one piece of advice to teens who want to redecorate their bedroom on a budget?

Redecorating on a budget—with style—has never been easier! Swap out accessories, linens and art with pieces from Target partnerships with designers like Joy Cho, of Oh Joy!, whose most recent line is eclectic, colorful and, most of all, fun. I wish the collection had come out when I was finishing this room! Target also just launched a new line called Pillowfort, which is clean and modern, yet playful, and does a great job at appealing to all age groups. They even have a “wild and free” wire wall hanging!

What should our readers be mindful of when considering the longevity of the room?

Buy most of the big pieces (bed, desk, accent chairs, nightstands) with longevity in mind. Could any of these items help furnish their first college apartment? Pillows, quilts, small art pieces, accessories and even rugs can be interchangeable and swapped out as the teen changes her mind about her own style.

white and gold open shelves

Are there certain design elements that are both timeless and kid-appropriate?

Absolutely! Any furniture that has a classic design (like the campaign nightstands, wood-turned Jenny Lind bed and hanging rattan chair) will appeal to a kid’s sensibilities, yet stands the test of time—especially if it’s in a vibrant color, like the yellow bed in this space!

What are your favorite colors and patterns to decorate with at home?

I’m definitely having a blue moment, especially with darker shades like navy and anything in a deep jewel tone. I’m also a big fan of a beautiful pale pink. With patterns, I am gravitating toward geometric graphics and large-scale florals!


Which local and online stores do you like to shop at for home goods?

Locally, I love to shop at Nickey Kehoe, 45 Three Modern Vintage Home, Consort Design and H.D. Buttercup. Online, I love Anthropologie and West Elm, of course, as well as Schoolhouse Electric & Supply Co., One King’s Lane, Chairish, Lulu & Georgia, Target and Etsy!

How can parents cater their approach when decorating specifically for a girl or boy?

I honestly don’t feel there is a difference! Find out what inspires them and go from there!

What is your biggest design or home-related indulgence?

An amazing rug, the perfect sofa (I’m on the hunt now!) and a spare-no-expense mattress.

zebra planter

How would you sum up your design aesthetic in three words?

Cool, collected, eclectic.

Which design trends are you most excited about this year?

Ombré moments, pale pinks (like Pantone’s color of the year, “Rose Quartz”) and a continuation of minimalism, but with added flair—Miles Redd calls it, “minimalism with a twist.”

Is there a design rule you love to break?

I don’t design by any rules!

black wall mounted sconces


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Author: Carrie Waller

Carrie is the writer, stylist and photographer behind Dream Green DIY, and also is the features editor for Glitter Guide. Follow along on Instagram!

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