Prepare for the Next Level of Jealousy in 21st Century Children's Bedrooms

Kids' bedrooms are different now. Think "teen wing of the house" different, with videogame arcades, secret Harry Potter passageways, and DJ mixing stations, if you're lucky. 

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Imagine your childhood bedroom. I'll tell you about mine. It was painted seafoam-green and there was a pink-and-green floral wallpaper runner lining the walls (I picked the color scheme out myself). The room was full of stuffed animals and books, and there was an ornate white desk that I'd use for storing treasures — rocks, dolls, notes, whatever. There was a bed, of course, for sleeping, with a pink and green comforter. Prior to that room I had a bedroom in another house, in which there was what my family called a "cubbyhole," or a closet cut high into the wall that was basically a low-ceilinged playroom that could fit me and maybe one or two friends. I thought it was the coolest thing I'd ever seen.

But bedroom-wise, things are different now. Kids have a bunch of toys that are far more high-tech than rocks, because of course they do, but also, parents are pulling out all the stops with their older kids' bedrooms so that those kids will hang at home. As Candace Jackson writes in The Wall Street Journal, this might mean "A DJ mixing station in the sleepover room. Secret passageways inspired by Harry Potter. A fully tricked-out videogame arcade. You've entered the teen wing of the house." The teen wing of the house? Jealous.

This article is a great follow-up if you want to believe that the next generation of Americans is indeed being brought up to be a bunch of mollycoddled narcissists who think they deserve it all. But if that's the case (and I'm not saying it is), it's not their fault! It's not like they can make their bedrooms into veritable "bat caves" including a "separate superhero-themed game room with pinball machines, video games, sleeper sofa and cork floors" all on their own, with their lunch money. Here's what various parents are doing, with the help of designers and architects and cold, hard cash. It's more than a hamburger phone and a bean-bag chair:

  • "Chris Pollack recently finished renovating a Manhattan townhouse that includes a 1,000-square-foot teen suite with ping-pong and billiards tables, a recording studio, kitchen and a theater for movies and videogames. The estimated cost: roughly $750,000."
  • "Jacquie Kim, a mother of two in San Diego, turned a pool house into a teen lounge for her son Alex's 16th birthday, partly as a way to keep him home after he got his driver's license. She hired designer Kristy Kropat, who turned a Mediterranean-style casita into a modern-industrial room with modular furniture, LED accent lights, metallic gray walls with pixelated Space Invader vinyl decals and bright pops of color."
  • "When she was designing her family's Ormond Beach, Fla., home, Melissa Kearney says she and her husband asked the kids what they wanted. As a result, their 3,600-square-foot Cape Cod includes a couple of secret passageways, an idea inspired by the Harry Potter series."
  • "Wayne Visbeen, a Grand Rapids, Mich.-based architect, designed an 8,000-square-foot home for clients with sprawling 'kid zone.' In addition to two master-suite-size bedrooms for the teenage son and daughter, the zone includes a karaoke theater, a movie theater, a full kitchen, an indoor basketball court, a DJ mixing station and a sleepover space with hanging bunk beds."

On the plus side of this trend, it's said to have risen because the new generation of parents is so "extraordinarily loving and conscientious," and also, they want to keep an eye on their teens (and what their teens are doing on the computer) and hang out with them more. What parent doesn't feel great when the kids are at home? And the kids are more likely to be home, and happy, if they have their own well-decorated spaces featuring DJ mixing stations. So spaces and stations they shall have. Attachment parenting comes with bedroom benefits, perhaps. Also: Clearly these parents have some disposable income.

But there's another bright side, too. There's inspiration for luxury kid bedrooming to be found all over the place, so maybe we adults could take some cues and perk up our own worst roomsI wonder if the old "Jen's Room! Keep Out!" signs are officially defunct at this point — or if they now come with fingerprint recognition and eyeball scanners. Well, if you can afford it. Personally, I'd be pretty psyched about a secret passageway in my room. Then and now. 

Image via Shutterstock by Indigo Fish.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.