ask a teen graphic
You’re Gonna Wanna Know: What Do Teenagers Do in Their Rooms These Days?
10.25.19

Teen years are almost always spent improvising within the life your parents have provided for you. You may be flirting with independence in some ways, but you’re still limited by things like curfews, needing rides, or not having much money of your own. The teen bedroom, however, is a mythic space of autonomy and privacy. (Well, sometimes.) And what teens choose to do with their—and what they choose to do while they’re in them—reveals a lot about who they are or, just as often, who they’d like to be.

So, what’s going on in the bedrooms of twenty-nine-teens? I asked a bunch of them to tell me about their relationships to their rooms. Here’s what they had to say.


vintage sheets advertisement
Bedroom inspiration from Elsbeth, 17, Wellington, NZ. (Vintage 1970’s Burlington House sheets advertisement.)

What Three Hours Alone in Their Room Looks Like

“I’m definitely listening to music, probably drawing for some of it, probably cleaning up, and re-organizing my room to feel more productive, maybe opening a window and lighting a candle.” —Noa, 19, New York

“Embroidering and watching SVU.” —Alice, 18, Minneapolis

“Lying on my belly watching Bill Hader edits or something. YouTube’s been all about the edits lately.” —Sloka, 19, Kolkata

“Three hours in my room looks like a tornado has just hit. I procrastinate by trying on all of my clothes, and my father’s clothes, and my sister’s clothes. So, after three hours, there will be a huge heap of clothes from various decades on my bed, and my homework is everywhere.” —Jane, 18, Toronto

“Reading, TikTok, and homework.” —Sophie, 14, Greenwich, CT

“Listening to music, reading, folding laundry (which I find oddly soothing), playing with my cats even though I’m allergic, and rewatching Fleabag.” —Anna, 18, Boston

“Three hours during the day is definitely too much time for me to spend in my room. I get bored, and lose motivation to do something.” —Weronika, 19, London

“Chinese green tea and learning the dance to HAIM’s ‘If I Could Change Your Mind’ music video.” —Yawynne, 19, Auckland

“Three hours alone in my room consists of a LOT of dancing, putting on different outfits, stalking my current celebrity crush, and writing in my journal. I write about the craziest stuff. Sometimes they’re stories that I just make up and sometimes it’s my plans to take over the world and be a CEO.” —Abbie, 19, Atlanta

“Homework, procrastinating, drawing, watching Netflix, falling asleep by accident.” —Laura, 17, Rochester, NY

When Their Room Is Most Important

Christopher Chiappa Egg installation
Bedrooms inspiration from Ryan, 17, Los Angeles. (An artwork of Christopher Chiappa at Kate Werbel Gallery. Photo by Andreas Rentz/Getty Images.)

“My favorite time to be in my room is Sunday afternoon. Being in class all day during the week, I usually miss the gorgeous afternoon light that comes through the tree outside my window, but on the weekends I get to appreciate it.” —Leah, 19, NYC/Montreal

“I spend the most time in my room when I’m feeling sad or other emotions that I feel can’t be expressed in public. My room is my safe space where I can let all my emotions out.” —Jane, 18, Toronto

“Coming back from school in the afternoon. Feeling lazy and tired after a long day and knowing that your bed is right there is the best feeling.” —Ines, 17, Madrid

“I am the biggest fan of a lazy morning. The time of day I’m most in my room is late morning when the sun is streaming through the cracks in my blinds, and I can hear everyone else up, but continue to drift in and out of sleep.” —Alice, 18, Sydney

“When I am angry, sad, or lonely, my room is my cave of processing. My room also inspires emotions. On the rare day when I can sleep in, watching sunlight stream through my three windows and cover all of my belongings feels like a privilege. I am so incredibly lucky to have walls around me, a floor below me, my own room, electricity, belongings, clothes, safety, and so much more.” —Maya, 17, Branford, CT

“My room is where I like to go to decompress from my day. It’s very comforting and cozy at night, and my favorite place to do homework, watch movies, or just cry, lol. I like going in my room when I feel upset.” —Isabella, 16, New York

80's Postmodern interior
Bedroom inspiration from Cassie, 16, Atlanta. (80s Postmodern interior.)

What They Want Their Rooms to Say About Them

“That I’m organized but creative and happy. And that I have my shit together.” —Noa, 19, New York

“My room should say, ‘She’s chill, but gets shit done. She’s lighthearted but has killer taste. She’s warm and relaxed but if you cross her, she can rip you apart without breaking a nail.’” —Karishma, 19, Bangalore

“I want my room to say out loud ‘SOMEONE HERE IS TRYING TO GROW UP AND DREAM BIG.’” —Ines, 17, Madrid

“I’ve honestly thought about this a lot. I watch a lot of true crime shows, so I keep asking myself if I want my room to hold enough evidence to convict a suspect, or if I want to treat it like a hotel room, because why would you want your entire life to be reduced to four walls and a tacky color? I’m kinda failing at the latter.” —Sloka, 19, Kolkata

“My room is like my brain: some days it’s clean and tidy, other days it looks (and feels) horrendous. I think a lot of teens can relate to this.” —Maggie, 18, Cincinnati

“I want my room to say that my friends are funny, funky, and honest. That’s why I have pictures of our best times together around my ‘vanity’ area. As for my parents, I just want my room to say that they care about me and I care about them.” —Angelica, 18, San Diego

“I’m okay, Mum!” —Ella, 17, Cornwall, UK

“An aesthetically pleasing environment isn’t a joke for me, but an actual factor when it comes to my wellbeing. It should say that I want to live in a Northern-Italian villa, or in Paris, or basically anywhere beautiful someday.” —Siiri, 14, Helsinki

“My room is basically an expression of my most witchy aspects: it’s full of crystals, plants, books, candles and essential oils. Basically it gives out the message that if you mess with me, I WILL curse you.” —Christina, 18, Beirut

Masterworks of Art Nouveau Stained Glass
Bedroom inspiration from Daniela, 17, Ipswich. (Cover of the book Masterworks of Art Nouveau Stained Glass by Arnold Lyongrun and M. J. Gradl.)

The Bedroom Invention They Wish Existed

“A speaker that plays the exact song I need in the moment. I always spend forever looking for the right playlist but sometimes I wish it would come to me sooner.” —Noa, 19, New York

“I want one of those ceiling sliding doors with a metal ladder attached like the one Mia has in The Princess Diaries.” —Alice, 18, Minneapolis

“A dresser that can hold as much clothing as I want, and it can still close and look neat. I don’t think my jean drawer has ever fully closed before.” —Claire, 19, Toronto

“Sheets that change temperature depending on what your body needs, for people like me who suffer from cold feet.” —Clara, 19, Buenos Aires

“Does a pet translator count? I would love to speak to my cat.” —Cassie, 16, Atlanta

“A grandfather clock that is just big enough so that I could climb inside and read or do homework.” —Jaden, 14, New York

“I think I’d have a ceiling that I can switch to glass so I can see outdoors.” —Elena, 17, London

“My creation is a fully realistic and responsive 3D image of myself that will fool my parents if they attempt to check on me in the middle of the night. I love my parents, but sometimes a girl’s gotta have a 3 a.m. adventure, no questions asked.” —Isabel, 19, Houston

“A poster that I can change based on what film, musical artist, or movement I am loving in that moment. I would LOVE to always have a massive poster of whatever is making me feel so many exhilarating feelings at that time.” —Aimee, 17, Auckland

“Definitely a candle that automatically lights when I’m in the room and changes its scent based on my mood, or the weather and season!” —Alyssa, 19, Fullerton, CA

“A well-disguised snack fridge that matches my bed frame and dresser!” —Isabella, 16, New York

“A blanket that feels like it hugs you.” —Kelly, 17, Madison, NJ

“I would invent a chair that doubles as a robot and could fold clothes as soon as they were tossed onto it, then put them back in their proper place. At least once a month, I have to clean off the chair in the corner of my room.” —Esmé, 18, Pittsburgh

“You know the wardrobe-computer from Clueless? That, but for books.” —Lisa, 19, Uppsala, Sweden

“I dream of having Cher Horowitz’s closet!” —Carla, 15, Montreal

“Um, maybe a Clueless closet. Okay, definitely a Clueless closet.” —Grace, 17, Melbourne

Ask A Teen identity by Coco Lashar. 

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