I was so excited when I got this reader email in my in-box. This is such a great challenge, and has lots of room for creativity! Maybe we should devote a week to making projects inspired by this question.

Dear Heather,

I’m a big fan of your site! I often turn to it for quick (and cheap) solutions, but, alas, can not find anything for my current dilemma!
You see, I’m a teen (or tween, if you want to call it that), and at that age when, well, I want to express myself, especially in the form of decor for my room. Now I know that you have several cool decorating ideas for girls my age on your site, but here’s the thing, I’m forced to share my room with my 8 year-old mess of a brother. We’ve tried dividing it, but our room is small, and my brothers idea of decorating is taping posters, papers, and toys his “section” of the room.
I’m just curious if you might know of of any gender-neutral (but still cute and awesome) ideas for decor that both I and my brother would be happy with. :P
[inspiration room: tan with aqua and white accents from PBTeen]
My quick ideas are:
  • Is there a theme you can agree on with your brother? Examples: pirates or surfing, a specific color, or nature
  • Is there a version of your favorite color (or his) that will work for you both?
  • Use a gender-neutral base color (like gray or tan) and accessorize with colors that work with those but can play more girly on your side of the room, and more boyish on his side of the room.
  • If your parents will let you paint the room, paint is pretty inexpensive – starting at about $12 a gallon
  • You can also use that inexpensive room paint to repaint furniture (again, if your parents let you!)
  • Numbers and letters are cool design elements, and very gender neutral. You can get papier-mache letters at craft stores for pretty cheap (about $5 for a really big one, less for smaller ones) and decorate them however you want. Your brother might even enjoy decorating his own letter along with you for some brother-sister bonding time.

[inspiration room: green with blue, yellow, green decor from PBTeen]

Some simple, inexpensive projects for decorating your side of the room would be:

  • No-Sew Bandanna Pillow Covers: buy bandannas in colors you like and tie two of them together at the corners over a throw pillow – quick and easy (and easy to change whenever you want). Or here are instructions for a no-sew pillow roll.
  • Scrapbook Paper Mosaic Wall Decor: get scrapbook paper, tape it on the wall
  • Take-out Box Lamp: you need a string of twinkle lights and three plastic takeout boxes

I just know you readers will have lots of good ideas! Feel free to add your ideas and links to projects and inspiration in the comments!