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Ask The Audience: How To Design Now For Your Future Teens


We have younger kids now (5 and 7) but word has it that they’ll eventually grow up to look like they do above (you are welcome for this weekly dose of EHD creepy photoshopping). You all were so helpful with the ‘how to design for rainy weather‘ last week that I thought I’d try another one. The other day my brother’s architect, Annie, off-handedly said that teenagers don’t like sitting in dining booths as if everyone knew this. This was news to me… like WHY? I thought everyone liked to sit in booths. Is it the lack of independence? The having to ask someone to get out so you can get out? I didn’t know! Then earlier this week a lot of you chimed in that our kids would NEVER do homework in the upstairs landing which I totally understood, but wouldn’t have known. So with the world renovating right now, it seemed like there is a lot of information that those of us with small kids could use, to help us design the best home long-term for our aging family (remind me never to say ‘aging family’ again). What else am I not thinking about? (By the way, the kids are in a Peter Pan phase and at first, REALLY didn’t like the above photo because they don’t want to grow up, but then wanted to see it like 10 times and were laughing hysterically by the end – excited to talk to their future therapist about this one!).

photo by sara ligorria-tramp | from: the dining room built-in dilemma (+ the 3 mistakes we made)

For instance, with toddlers, you really want open cubbies for toys so they can see them, but now that the kids are older we all like more closed storage that is easy to access. I’ve heard that kids shouldn’t be in full beds or it will make transitioning into a twin bed (in dorm rooms) difficult which I had never thought about (and frankly I’m unsure about – we are Team Big Bed over here). When renovating do you think about them sneaking out? What about their need for privacy? How much privacy? How about the fact that we’ll have two kids of the opposite gender sharing a bathroom. Any advice for that?

photo by sara ligorria-tramp | from: a refresh of our favorite “child client’s” – bedroom 8 years later

You know how older folks don’t like sitting in ‘lounging sofas’, are there types of furniture that teenagers tend to like or dislike that you can’t predict until you have them?

I’m not down to placate my kids, coddle them with an easier life they already were given, but if there are warnings or ways to improve my life as their mom, well, I’m listening. Here we go:

  1. Size and location of beds – I’ve heard that kids like being in a corner – is this true for older kids? Is a twin or full or queen preferred?
  2. Locks on doors – seriously at what age, if any, is that something that is offered?
  3. Closets + clothes storage – Will teens actually hang up their clothes? or should we design the closets to be more drawers and shelves?
  4. Are there considerations we should think about for the media/family room? Like should we wire for more stuff than just a TV? Will they continue to rub popcorn all over our sofas until they graduate?
  5. Bedroom Location – Most pressing right now (and not something I can change) is the fact that our bedroom is in a different ‘wing’ than the kids and that makes me nervous (both for them and for me). Please tell me I won’t regret this and that in fact long-term I’ll be psyched that we each have more privacy. By the time we move in, they’ll likely be 6 and 8 and I’m hoping they’ll be fine, but I’d love for any of you to confirm that this is a good choice because I’m nervous about being so far away from them.

Any tips would be super helpful. Again we only want to do this once and I don’t want to miss anything! Ha. Teen Charlie and Eillot are extremely grateful for making their (and their parents) lives a little better:) xx

Opening Photo Credits: Photoshop Skills by Julie Rose🙂 | Image Source

Fin Mark


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I wouldn’t worry too much about a share bathroom. Presumably they’ll possibly one day share a bathroom with someone of the opposite sex in some capacity and you want them to be aware of the different things the opposite gender needs or uses, and hopefully learn how to be a considerate bathroom buddy😆 ie wipe pee off the seat, don’t leave toothpaste all over the sink etc.
I was once a teenager…Never ever ever do teenagers need locks on doors.
My kids are the same age as yours. They would be a bit nervous if we were on another floor but they would go to each other if they had an issue, or we’d equip them to remake a wet bed etc. They seem to become more independent when they need to be.
If you want them to have big beds, have big beds. Then they’ll want to come home from college to their comfy bed more often!


my main shared bathroom references are brenda and brandon walsh and that tooth brushing scene from bring it on so i feel like it HAS to be a great move and just such a treat not to have to share with parents. bed-wise we had double beds from about 10 and dorm room transition or sleepovers at friends’ houses on floors / trundles or whatever were always fine. my niece and nephew are on a different floor from my sister and BIL and always have been. i think part of it works too because for the winding/down bedtime hours, you might be in the same “wing” just downstairs. Only when you go to bed will it really be more separate but not the full ten hours kinda thing (and even that is just probably more and more fine every year, if not already). i guess teens bring up the pros and cons of the open plan – like on one hand, great if all their buds are over and watching something and all in the open, on the other hand, they may love a more classic “tv room” that they can veg out with friends without mum and dad right… Read more »


Oh good point! My female roommate had to teach me to wrap period stuff in tp because the trash can freaked my male roommate out. I never had to share a bathroom so I never thought about the horrifying looking night pad. Barf. Sorry.


I agree with these points – especially regarding locked doors. Teenagers don’t need them – what they need is to learn respect and boundaries for each other (knocking, respecting privacy etc.).

Girl closets need more long hanging space for dresses than boy closets do.

As for upstairs wiring maybe skip it? – I think having computers in *more* public spaces makes sense. There is so much bad stuff on the web and using computers in the family spaces provides incentive for good behavior. Of course, school work does affect this, but something to keep in mind.

Having upstairs laundry is a great idea too – they’ll be way more likely to do it regularly if it’s convenient.


When are you ever looking at your kids computer screen for more than a glance or two every now and then? That’s not supervision. You need technology hooked up to your WiFi network that has settings to restrict content and time usage.
Simply cannot be done responsibly otherwise.
“Public” location not needed.


I agree. We keep our home desktop computer out in the open “public” space. We chose the desktop years ago because we wanted a big screen for the kids to do schoolwork/homework some day. Now that they’re older and doing that work our school district supplies Google Chromebooks for them to do the work so our home desktop really doesn’t get used for that purpose. If anything, you just need outlets for them to charge every night. I had a queen sized bed for a period of time as a kid and found I only slept on one side every night, so I don’t think the size matters as much. At the age of 10/11 my daughter really began wanting privacy when changing, etc even around me. I’ve got to say that’s probably when I started wanting privacy too. I imagine my 11 yer old son will eventually follow suit but he hasn’t yet. I don’t think locks on bedroom doors are necessary but a bathroom would be, IMO.

Sondra Rierson

Agree! Especially no locks on doors😂 unless it is your door. Put a lock on your door. Lol. You will love the separate wings when they are older


Agree – no locks on kids bedrooms.

Cris S.

My kids’ doors have locks on them. It wasn’t something we thought of and they are just standard with the hardware we’d selected for the whole house. But it’s easy to stick a hairpin or thin screw driver in the middle of the handle and pop! unlock it if necessary. No biggie.


We have same: locks are super easy to open with everyday items in home. Bonus is that we sometimes use their rooms for overnight guests (well… in the before-times) so lock is there when visiting adults use kids’ bedrooms.


The overarching message: “Prepare your child for the road, not the road for the child.”

Your kids will adjust and grow to the challenges they will confront. Your kids will be fine upstairs with you downstairs and in a different wing. Make some minor adjustments, such as an ability to wake you up and to communicate with you in your bedroom. If they are sleeping in the same bedroom for a couple of years, they will rely on each other and forge a close friendship with some fun long term memories.

Think of your own childhood… was sharing bedrooms, bathrooms, hauling your laundry to the downstairs laundry room really a big hardship. Or, did it create fellowship with your siblings and thoughts that your parents were just “harsher”than others- typical. There we were upstairs with our siblings digressing on this fact.


Our younger kiddos (4&6) have been on a different floor since they were 6 months and moved out of our bedroom. I’ve loved how it leads to morning bonding time for them, and it buys us a little extra time in bed…they’re very early risers.

Sherrie Saag

Spot ON!!!!!


Agree with above. Don’t worry about size of bed. If you can fit full do full. Ditto on sharing bathroom. They will figure it out. You will definitely appreciate having privacy from them as they will from you. Drawer space a good idea. I have 3 boys, grown up now but never got things on hangers😂


I see some statements that I agree and disagree with, but the most important message is that kids and teenagers are perfectly able to accept and adapt to the situation. Probably even more than adults, who are getting a little rusty because of their life long routines and habits!
I liked to have my bed against the wall, but my room was small so there was no other option. Hanging clothes was of course not a problem, you do what your supposed to do. And don’t give it another thought. 😉

Oooh I am looking forward to the results. Pretty please can I request a follow-up blog post summarising the info you get from your readers? (I’m sorry if that’s obvious and was already planned, but I’d love to read the synthesis instead of picking through all the comments! Not as smooth a reader experience, heh.) Thank you and I hope this can save me some house-planning mistakes too, although hopefully most stuff will be changeable.


Yes!! Let us know what you find out! I would love a follow-up post. I think about these questions often with kids who are 3, 8, 9, and 11. 🙂


The picture on top is golden! Made me laugh so much!


And to your questions – I am 25 and always shared a bathroom with my slightly younger brother, no problem at all. I really preferred sleeping with my bed against a wall because it was a twin bed and I felt like I might fall out otherwise, haha. In general, shelves are the worst for organizing clothes, I prefer drawers or hanging things. But, most importantly – I feel like most of the questions (lock, distance to bedroom, bathroom) are more about the parent-child relationship and style of upbringing than anything else?

I liked my (twin) bed against the wall as a kid because I lived in MI and it was cold so I’d make a “cocoon” against the wall with pillows. As a teen it was nice because a friend could sleep in the same bed with me and have a bit more protection against falling out. But if you do a larger bed (full or queen) I don’t think being against the wall is as important. Picturing my friends’ rooms growing up, all of us with twins were against the wall and all of them with larger were “floating.” Both work fine!


That picture is SO UNSETTLING. I stared at it for probably a solid minute before I understood what I was seeing.

Vicki Williams

I know, me too. My first thought were OMGosh Charlies is looking so much older than I remembered (…from yesterday, cuz i read everyday, duh)


I used to be in a different section of the house from my parents, with my sister, from about age 8 – you had to go down our stairs, through the house (two old cottages knocked together) and up our parents’ stairs, and we loved having our own stairs! My room was right next to theirs though, sharing a wall, so technically they weren’t out of earshot entirely – but presumably technology could help with this if you’re worried about them having nightmares and being too scared to walk all the way to find you. Longterm it would definitely be easier and much more private for teenagers. I don’t think we had many clothes that even needed hung up – school shirts were about it. So I would prioritise drawers (not shelves – can’t see teenagers folding things neatly onto shelves). I also had a king-size bed (my room was the one given up to guests if we had anyone staying) and didn’t care at all about losing that when I moved to a dorm room – that seems a bit precious – you don’t usually get a choice! I did like the big bed for feeling more grown up… Read more »


I just can’t get my head around the idea that siblings of opposite sexes shouldn’t share a bathroom. Seriously?! They’re in there one at a time! They’re so privileged to have their own bathroom at all.


Yep I have two brothers and most of my life there was only one bathroom for the whole house. Then my parents got an ensuite and my brothers and I shared. Yes you do want a lock on the door and a large hot water cylinder. Teenagers can take super long showers (and almost never take baths) so don’t go overboard on high water pressure 😂

Stephanie Noland

I’m about to renovate our kids bath which only has a shower (no tub) – it has those dated dimpled glass doors that obscure what you can see. And because my kiddos are opposite sex, my only consideration was for a frosted door. I can totally imagine they’ll burst in at times on each other (cause someone will forget to lock the door or will pick the lock) so just building in a practical way to keep the shower private.


I totally agree! Growing up, all 5 of our family members shared one bathroom!! I believe you just have to teach them early on about privacy and being respectful of each others space.


I wonder if this is the right question. Perhaps another approach would be how to design so that they can make more of their own (non-permanent, safe) choices – from painting their rooms to rearranging their bedroom furniture. Designing for experimentation, development, and growing autonomy!


My thoughts exactly! I would do as few “permanent” things as possible so they can play with rearranging furniture, painting, etc.


Came here to write almost this exact comment! As a high school teacher, I can tell you that what teenagers want from their parents in terms of design is support for their own wacky choices (think about Caitlin’s room at home, Emily!!)


totally, no scones which define a bed or desk. give the mthe freedom to move the furniture. and the purple phase will pass soon. again, you dont know with room will be their favorite and the right one due to light and preference. Life is happening and dont care about design plans and publications…


Yes, I loved rearranging my room when I was growing up. Not constantly, but I made myself a little floorplan on graph paper and tried just about everything over the years. Best to avoid permanent features (built-ins, wired sconces, maybe even wallpaper), in my opinion, unless the expense of changing things later is a non-issue.


Such a good point! I find we are rearranging and redesigning my kids rooms every 3-4 years to adjust to their new tastes and needs as they grow up.


Keep the kids in twins so they will adjust to a year or two of dorm beds – that is a funny one. My 6’3 son was in a Queen and our daughter was in a Full- each adjusted just fine. Their beds were in a nooks created by an overhang in roof, but during sleepovers for my daughter, she and friends were always rearranging her furniture! Her room was ever changing. I like closet organizers were you can adjust the shelves and hanging areas as well as add shelves. Also, comes with a set of 4 to 6 drawers. This allowed the closet to grow with the kids’ needs. A BIG ‘NO’ to locks on bedroom doors. They learn to politely knock before granted entry and you do not have to pic a lock to get access. My kids shared a bathroom- think counter space and storage. My daughter had a lot of products and hair appliances that my son was always relegated to a corner. So the follower who placed electrical plugs within her vanity cabinet and drawers was smart. Hooks for hanging towels is best. I think my daughter had a harder adjustment to carry her basket… Read more »


so interesting! I never saw a bedroom or kidsroom without a lock. sometimes no keys in them, but mainly because they were lost or to avoid that they get lost.

Dd tiz

Ooh I would be worried about a hot straightener being left on in a drawer if the plugs were inside of a cabinet.


Hi – I’m the person who has outlets for hairdryers and curling irons installed in the back of the top drawer (plus an outlet in the bathroom cabinet for my electric toothbrush).

It’s really a non-issue; when you use the curling iron you put it on the counter while it’s heating up and in use, then let it cool before putting it back in the drawer **just like you would if you had to unplug it every time you used it before you put it away. You wouldn’t put it away hot then either**

Promise it’s not at all counterintuitive or a thing you have to remind yourself!

The appliance drawer is so convenient, and it’s fantastic to not have the cords snaking across the countertop every time you need to use something.


We have a strange layout with two bathrooms and the whole family sharing both bathrooms. Only one has a shower which we all use. Not a problem at all. It is more about teaching them to be respectful of the other person’s privacy and need for access. I have two teens of opposite genders. (16 year old boy, 13 year old girl) They will hang a towel on the frosted glass if they need more privacy while the other one brushes teeth etc. We draw the line at one person only if a toilet is in use. Don’t worry about bed size shrinking when they get to college. They will somehow survive and adapt. 😉 I would keep as much media as possible out of their rooms. We turned our walk through dining area into a study of sorts for homework and general computer things. The wifi doesn’t quite reach the kids bedrooms. I don’t mind at all that my 16 year old son isn’t scrolling who knows what in his room alone. My kids want to hang out in the common areas of the house. Their rooms get lonely. They also like to lounge and do homework in the… Read more »


Yes to a lot of outlets and usb outlets! And having a separate family room for kids/teens is wonderful if you have the space. My sister’s house doesn’t have one, so her teen son doesn’t like having friends over as a result, unless the weather allows them to be out in the yard, which she has a lovely outdoor living space. Also, since she has teens, she really wishes there was separation between the primary bedroom and the kids’ rooms, so in the long run, you’ll be happy that your suite has that separation.


Like many people, I grew up in a house with one full bathroom (+ one half bath). Four people: mom, dad, brother, sister. Gendered bathrooms inside a home seems like a thing that has developed as the square footage of homes has increased exponentially. I also agree there’s value in being familiar with *how things work*…(young men who aren’t afraid of tampons make the world a better place).

I have a 7-year-old son, so I am also interested in reading the comments. I have a couple of quick thoughts. My son seems to like a corner bed because it makes him feel safe and it gives him the most floor space. Not sure if this is the same reason teenagers like it. My son has a lockable door now, but he understands that we have the “key” to unlock it. If it becomes a problem we could switch it out (it’s easy to replace a doorknob), but I’m hoping that setting expectations/”family rules” about locked doors are enough. Ha! I could be eating my words in a few years. I would definitely incorporate drawers and shelves in the closet (it adds so much function!).


Emily, that picture made my heart stop. Exactly HOW many years have we been quarantined kind of a heart stop. Stop!
Give them big beds now. They already have them, and twin college beds won’t be the worst thing they have to adjust to in college (hello, doing your own laundry).
Sharing a bathroom is fine, just establish knock and wait rules, and other proper shared bathroom etiquette.
Separate wings, you will not regret this. Children WILL make themselves heard if they need you in the middle of the night. And teens will make noise that you will not want to hear.
Teens hanging up their clothes is a nice dream, hahahaha.
NO locks, knocks.
Family/media/wreck room: they will continue to get food on the furniture until they move out and have to get their own furniture (and don’t think of offering them the popcorn sofa, it will disgust them). Um, how do I say this, don’t make the family room too private, mamma needs to be able to keep an eye on things.
Enjoy these years. Everything will be fine. The house will be beautiful and you will be happy.


Yes to all the above from Priscilla. I have two daughters and five sons all sharing a girls’ room and a boys’ room and all sharing the same bathroom. It is GOOD for them. They learn all sorts of virtue including thoughtfulness by sharing. However, we did split the bathroom up…pedestal sink and a huge dresser with a huge mirror over it in one section (they all got their own drawers) and a pocket door to the toilet shower area. That enabled both sexes to be using the bathroom at the same time modestly. Privacy…they don’t need any outside of what they do in their bedrooms (change clothes/sleep) and toilet/shower usage. They can have ‘alone’ time outside or in their rooms, but privacy is a whole other thing. Years ago, a very wise woman who happened to be very wealthy and seemingly provided her children with everything (though now that I am older, I see she did not!) said it was not my responsibility to provide every single experience or joy for my kids prior to them moving out. Some days I have to repeat that to myself. Some days I remind my children. My oldest two are out of… Read more »


YES to the „run of fear“! I remember being scared of a lion following me while running to my parents in the middle of the night. Needles to say that there aren‘t any lions in second floor rentals in Germany…. but I am happy to say: I survived.


I’ve loved hanging all my clothes since the third grade! so I guess it’s just personality. I loved fashion and seeing everything color coded as a kid. Now I want drawers to pack in more clothes 🙂


My nine year old much prefers hanging her clothes to folding and putting them away in drawers so we set up her closet with lots of hanging space and fewer drawers. Fine with me! As long as they are put away. I think this has more to do with personal preference than age.


I shared a bathroom with my brother and it was no problem… I would actually encourage it! (However, my mom taught me to constantly empty the trash so my brother would never have to see a tampon wrapper, but for a more woke generation, I’d not encourage hiding the evidence. I’d give each of my kids a book not just about their own body changing, but the other gender too! They will be better people when they go out into the world, where they’ll have to share bathrooms in co-ed dorms with 30 people.) Also, one less bathroom to clean.
Also, our house is full of wiring for 2000 technology (think dial up internet). Don’t over wire, it will be obsolete in 5 years!
And my last opinion, yes to the separate wing, no to the locks. They will love the privacy, but locks are unsafe in so many scenarios (fire, unresponsive for whatever reason… my husband is an EMT, so this is how I think, not to scare you). Your kids will trust you to knock when it’s not an emergency.


Why are we all still talking about tampons?? Diva cups people!


Which, incidentally, requires sink and toilet to be in the same space.


Omg yes!!! Life changing. Although I prefer the Bloody Buddy 😊

Sr. Crow

Honestly, I think you are way overthinking this. Even if you make more permenant decisions now based on some of this information, it will all probably change once they become teenagers (+ everyone is different and ever-evolving.) I think you should sit back, relax, and just enjoy the show. There’s just no way to predict this stuff, let alone make long term design decisions about what your kids will need/want in the future.


I see this post as more curious and inviting discussion rather than overthinking. I find it really interesting reading the opinions in the comments


We have four, ranging in age from seven to ten (twins in the middle), and so I’m looking forward to reading these comments. Our primary bedroom has always been on a different floor from the kids’ rooms, and although my sleeping location was all over the place for a few years there, I love it now. So, yes, I think y’all will really appreciate the separation, especially in years to come. Also, I slept in a double bed my entire life and had zero issues transitioning to a twin bed in college. Trust me, I slept a lot those four years (I miss naps!). I’m not sure when kids need locks, but I don’t allow mine to lock their doors now. They only do it when they are mad or trying to sneak a show on my phone and know it’s unacceptable. Electronics. Sigh…this will be a challenge for sure. Can’t wait to hear what parents of teenagers have to say. We don’t do video games and plan to hold off on phones as long as possible. I love that our kids are so present right now begging to play card games with us or reading in the living room.… Read more »


I raised my 2 boys, now 15 and 17, with minimal electronics/tech. The youngest just recently got a smart phone with serious limitations…only phone, texting and Spotify. They grew up with TV being a treat and very rare video gaming (and even then, no violent games). Instead, they are well read, play multiple instruments, create new music, draw and paint prolifically, as well as camp and backpack regularly. Board game night has been a staple over the years. I’m very proud of their creativeness and ability to entertain themselves without the need for instant gratification. Wanting them to grow up a bit like I did back in the 70’s and 80’s (dating myself there!) has been hands down the best decision I ever made. One of my fondest memories is watching the entire series of Frasier together (our favorite!) We still quote it to this day for a good laugh and an inside joke. You will never regret delaying their tech use!!


We finally let my oldest son have a phone before he started high school this year. Worse decision ever. He’s always on the stupid thing and has grown distant to his younger siblings. And he doesn’t care to hang out with friends anymore because they just text each other instead. I’ve never heard anyone say, “I wish I would of given my kid a phone earlier”. Hold out as long as possible!!

Lori S H

I think it’s great to plan ahead, so here are my thoughts…Bigger beds are nice when or if they want to have a friend over, no worry about transitioning later to a twin. A little desk is nice with shelves above for homework and storing pencils, books, etc. Lots of hanging space, a shoe organizer, and a large chest of drawers are helpful for keeping things organized. A hook on the back of the door comes in handy for hanging up robes, towels. I think a lock is fine as everyone is entitled to privacy. You may wait until they are a bit older to put the lock on though…A cozy armchair in the corner or a little settee is nice if they want to have friends over to hang out in their rooms. They will probably sneak out at some point, but I doubt you’ll ever know about it. I wouldn’t advise carpet in the rooms because they will inevitably have late night snack attacks and spill frequently. If they don’t spill drinks, their friends will. I have two boys, so am unsure about the bathroom issue, but my husband had a sister growing up and they shared everything.… Read more »


I think the key isn’t any one decision – it is that teens like to have room to make their own choices, so maybe what you want is to look at design flexibility. Maybe your teen likes corner beds. Maybe not – furniture that can be moved and nothing fixed, like bedside sconces, to limit future choices. Bathroom – the only thing I don’t like about opposite sex siblings sharing one is when it’s one of those that has doors that open into both bedrooms. Jack and Jill, is that the term? Too much room for embarrassment. A regular bathroom with a lock? Fine, but do make sure there’s plenty of storage. If one of your teens ends up being a bathroom hog for hair/makeup, consider a little makeup vanity in their room when you cross that bridge. Locks on doors – up to you. ONLY the kind where you can enter quickly, like the pin locks where it can be opened with a pin. Kids want privacy, you need to be able to enter in an emergency of any sort. Bed size – doesn’t matter. They will adjust at college. A big bed is nice, a small bed gives… Read more »


Glass interior door to the family or TV room or whatever room teens might congregate in, in *pairs* or groups. Not for you to stand at spying, but a subtle signal they’ll know — I could spot whatever you’re up to as I happen to walk by. Install now so it’s there and normal, remove if you like when they age out of that stage. We put our glass door in to our multipurpose playroom/TV room/ downstairs living room simply to let light in, and discovered this perk when our kids became teenagers!


Our sunroom is the family/tv room with glass french doors and we love it! You can shut the door and not listen to what they are watching or them being loud (they’re 3, 5, and 6 year old boys) but you can still see them. Prior to this house we lived in an open floor plan and honestly, I don’t think we would have survived quarantine without a room to put our children in. So a big yes to a separate tv room for the kids. Also, our bedroom is on the main floor and their bedrooms are upstairs and I was so worried prior to moving in that it wouldn’t work but let me tell you – it is wonderful, except when the 3 year old wakes up in the middle of the night and screams bloody murder and wakes everyone up. Thankfully this phase will pass, I think…


If teens don’t like sitting in booths (which I am unsure is a thing) couldn’t they sit in the chairs facing the booth (if you lay it out as pictured above?)? I love booths bc I can sit cross legged, which is my fave way to sit always.

My one worry about separate wings of the house would be getting to the kids if there was a fire – esp since they are on the second floor, which could make getting out safely an issue. So, I’d just really think through emergency evacuation plans and practice the heck out of them. I don’t know how far away they are – but if they don’t have cell phones, it might be useful to figure out how they can contact you if for some reason they can’t physically get down to your room.

I had to go from a waterbed (I grew up in the 70s/80s in Northern CA – need I say more?) to a twin bed. I survived.


How i miss my waterbed lol


My kids are upstairs and we are downstairs. We moved here from a ranch where our bedrooms were across from each other. I was nervous about this change but have to admit it improved sleep for us all and also improved the love life for the adults. (My kids are currently 6 and 8 and go to bed early. I can only imagine how much we will appreciate separate “wings” when they stay up til 9 or 10). The kids have a bathroom but end up up using our shower and tub due to the big size. We all make it work so I foresee no issues with yours sharing a bathroom. Human decency and privacy are easy to teach and reinforce at this age. I bet they’ll have it down as they age.


1.) I had to share a bathroom with my brother as did probably every other opposite gender sibling family ever in history. It will be fine. You do have room to add a bathroom up there if you ever wanted to, but I understand it’s not in the budget and honestly, they’ll be fine without it.
2.) I would be nervous too about having the kids on a separate floor and I would be putting a security camera on the landing, just to ease my own mind. Maybe I’m a crazy person, but I totally would.
3.) Don’t all bedrooms have locks on the doors?! You have to let them have locks on the doors, come on….


We have locks on all the doors, but I don’t think my 17-year old daughter even knows they’re there. She always keeps her door cracked (actually has one of those child safety bumpers that keep the door from slamming), so her cats can easily go in and out of her room.

And the separate floor can be solved with child monitors or walkie-talkies to make it easier for the kids to call if there’s a problem.


We use Alexas to communicate between floors… it’s like having an intercom!


Here’s two teen tips it took me a while to figure out. Your 5 and 7 year old will be 15 and 17 in the blink of an eye! I don’t know if your new place has a basement or not (does Portland do that?) but here’s a teen thought. We created a fun awsome teen zone in our nicely finished basement- huge tv, gaming system, big sectional, air hockey, wet bar! But it never through four kids became the popular hangout spot we’d hoped for! I later learned that kids prefer basements with direct access from the outside, while our basement access was inside and through the house. One daughter explained that even though nothing sketchy was going on (hopefully!), teens mostly prefer not to have to chat up parents each and every time they enter the house. I got over my hurt feelings and now have the full awesome basement as my permanent sewing space! Another teen thought as my crew got older and did their own coming and going at progressively odder hours: they always came and went through the garage, using the touch pad to activate the garage door opener. That way no one had to… Read more »


Your basement sounds awesome!
I guess it’s hard to predict with teens.
In high school, our group of friends spent so much time in everyone’s basements, none of which had outside access. We’d always just say a quick hello to the parent and then go right down.
Some basements were totally private, others were much more open and within earshot of the parents, all got used!
I bet it depends on whatever the group of friends gets into the habit of doing – once you get used to saying hi to the parent, it isn’t a big deal. But if that doesn’t feel normal, then of course you’d avoid it!


My college started earlier than all of my friend’s schools did (mid-August versus after Labor Day) and I remember calling my house about something to find one of my best friends hanging out with my mom (my mom was making her cookies to take to her dorm!)! You can’t hang out without me!! Totally depends on your friends and your family. EVERYONE is different.

I also had a friend whose house was almost never locked (small town) and sometimes there would be a few of us hanging out in her back entry for her when she got home. If you’re lucky enough to have good friends, they do become family.


We have a basement with access from the outside and it definitely THE place to hang out for my 3 teenagers (17, 15, 13) and all of their friends (pandemic aside). I really wanted our home to be the neighbourhood hang spot so I’m happy about this. They’ve got a TV, gaming console, comfy furniture, basic kitchen area (sink, fridge, microwave) and bathroom down there – it’s the perfect teen hang out.


Don’t think I’d let my kid hang out with another kid who couldn’t say a brief hey to me.
Not the right characteristics I’d like to be rubbing off on my kid.


As our kids have gotten older (now 15 and 17), they like to have sleepovers in the basement/playroom, not in their bedrooms. So getting a sleeper sofa, and/or having lots of bedding options for that room might be nice. I don’t recall you having a basement so this might not be an issue for you! Having an island where they can eat while you cook it clean is awesome. Many meals are quick due to activities or timing – but I can always count on some time with my kids as I feed them at the counter while I’m doing other things in the kitchen. Kids and teens will always want to sit by a fire, especially if it’s easy to turn on! Huge fan of our gas fireplace. Have stylish seats that are easy to move around as they will pull something up close to the fire – whatever seat is in reach. I think shelving is better than dressers or hanging. My kids hang no clothes, dressers get stuffed and they can’t see what’s there. With shelves they can see all their clothes. Baskets at the bottom for socks, underwear, pjs, maybe bathing suits. We recently changed their… Read more »


Reading these comments is so much fun! I agree with many of them, having one college student and a high schooler myself, one of each gender. Our kids prefer different things. One has a queen bed and only closet storage to fit a desk rather than a dresser. The other has a twin bed, but until this year preferred to make a nest on the floor most nights anyway. Neither of them consistently keeps up with putting laundry away, but closing the doors to keep a dog out means I don’t have to see the piles. As the kids stay up later, it can be hard to find parent time, so I think you’ll like the separate spaces eventually. I wish our kids’ rooms were not quite so close sometimes. Having kids share a bathroom and take turns cleaning it is a plus. What is clean enough for one may not be for the other, and they learn to take better care of it. And having conversations about periods come up naturally beats making everything “a talk” any day. Boys need to know about these things. My kids both prefer to take their school laptops into their rooms for homework,… Read more »


-Older kids it’s actually easier not to be in a corner when they start doing their own sheets. -locks on doors: for me that’s a never but it boils down to personal preference. I’m also a no for phones and TV’s in the bedroom. View it as a place for sleeping or reading. -will teens hang up their clothes: no! Clothes will be strewn everywhere and likely live in a clean laundry pile until they are worn. Haha -homework will likely be done on the main floor in reality. I’d carve out a homework space. Flat large open surface to spread out with outlets. -bedroom in a different wing- I wouldn’t like this at the baby or toddler stage but great afterwards. They’ll do fine. I only have young babies but I think my parents always preferred us to not have too many excuses to hole up in our rooms when we were teens. Homework and TV and computer we’re on the main floor or basement although I don’t believe there is a basement in this home. Social media is a huge addiction for kids now full of pitfalls. I don’t even know how I’ll handle that but it worries… Read more »

Elizabeth Reynoso

Let’s see what i can think of….Don’t put looks on the their doors. It’s great to have 2 different areas to “hang out” in and watch tv/play video games etc so that when the kids have friends over you have somewhere else to be! Toy storage becomes nonexistent. Beds in the corner is def what my kids have preferred their whole life. I’m team full/queen bed.


I remember when my 2 or 3 yr old daughter sat in her booster seat and banged her little toddler fork (metal tines with the rubber handle) all over my dining room table, leaving a bunch of marks. It wasn’t an antique or anything, but it was one of the first new furniture purchases for young, finally-had-a-“real”-job me. She had already dinged up the coffee table with wooden blocks or something similar. I commented that if I had known this would happen, I would have bought all Ikea and waited for other furniture until they were 10. My father in law said, “Oh, you are forgetting about irresponsible teenagers. They are even worse.” My kids, now 11 and 12, put the couch through more now than ever, because they have free access to all of the snacks, spend more time in front of TV (thanks COVID!) and their friends are around to get in on it too (or did pre-COVID anyway). I also see finger marks on the sides dining room chair seats, I assume because it’s easier to wipe there than, you know, use a napkin? I would remember that when considering upholstery of any kind! Kids stay messy… Read more »


1. Pick whichever bed size works for the room. Your kids will adapt when/if they pursue post-secondary.
2. My husband and I never had locks on our bedroom doors, and I don’t know anyone who did. Our kids won’t have them either.
3. I think clothes will be a mess regardless of what you do, haha.
4. Not much advice. I’d say go for comfort and function over precious or high-maintenance stuff.
5. My brother and I were on different levels than our parents when we were 5-8 (same floor at other ages), and it was totally fine! I think it’s whatever you get used to. Our current house has a main floor master suite and the kids bedrooms are garden level. I’m very comfortable with it.

Also, my brother and I always had to share a bathroom. It was never an issue. We would lock the door if we were showering or on the toilet.


I have teens and trust me when I say that you will LOVE them being in a different part of the house. They are going to get really loud. 🙂

My teens love to host buddies so keep in mind that you always need lots more seating than you think. Also, they want their rooms to be great for “hanging out”, which means they want all of their clothes in their closets and not in furniture pieces. We bought them dressers and chests when they were little and they both wanted to dump those pieces – I could have never predicted that one!

Also, plan for your technology with a “technology closet” or something so they always have great wifi. This is what is most important to them.

Good luck!


So funny, my teens (boys) are the exact opposite, they ignore their closets and everything goes in drawers. They have a few dress clothes that hang, but not much.

We upgraded both their beds – the slightly larger teen is a quieter sleeper and is happy in a full, the slightly smaller teen is a wilder sleeper and got our old queen mattress when we finally upgraded to a king last year.

Both of them like autonomy in their room decor choices and definitely lock their doors all the time (but our policy is that they must unlock & answer their door if it is knocked on).

We have kept gaming systems out of their rooms and have a media/hang-out room with the xbox in it.

The sport court and outdoor space will be fantastic for teens as well as younger kids.


Since you asked . . . I did not like the idea of a secret door through the closets to their bedrooms. It’s very charming when they’re little kids, but I would not have liked to be the pre-teen girl with that door in my closet when some of my brother’s friends were over. At least make sure I have a latch on it. I’m guessing the idea of your sweet little kids and sexual exploration, abuse, or harassment is deeply disturbing . . . but . . . I have heard so many many stories, from such a large percentage of women. In less troubling thoughts, adapting to cope with sleeping in a smaller bed when they go to college is a good life skill. Don’t give the size of bed a second thought. Did I like going from my full bed to my college dorm bed? Nope. But I was fine. I wouldn’t so much design for them as teenagers as think about what kind of adults you are raising. Do you want to raise adults who hang up their clothes? Then give them a closet to practice in. Do you want to raise adults who can figure… Read more »


AGREED. Brothers’ friends can be CREEPY.


Get rid of that damned secret door!
It is not cute.
Do it now, during the renovation…😳


Okay I’m 31 and don’t have kids but as someone who moved around a lot (like, probably 12 different houses in four different states before I was 18) I’ll chime in that I’m in camp “kids will adapt to whatever”. I shared a room with my brother, shared a bathroom with my brother, had my own room and bathroom both close to and far from my (single) mom and none of it was too impactful. It’s nice of you to think of, just throwing in that the kids will adapt to and be happy with what’s presented in my opinion 🙂 That said, I was very much team “bed in a corner” mainly because I was scared of the dark and intruders, lol.


My boys are…not neat. I, a compulsive neatnik, tried and failed, and when they return from college the struggle is real. Hooks and drawers work better for them, or even shelves to cram things onto. They would never consider using a hanger or for that matter, a towel bar. But I did get them to hang (some) things when I added more hooks to the bathroom and bedrooms. Yes to easy bathroom storage, even an over the door rack so they can see it and access easily. They went from using toy storage (bins on shelves) for using them for school supplies and other, so that can be multi-age. I think the biggest thing (beside the keeping things put away) I had to adjust to was their want to decorate their own spaces – think about surfaces that are easy to swap out, colors that are neutral enough to hold their many posters, etc. They like big beds because they are now 6’7″ but slept in twins for a long time. Our kids do use our big basement space and love our massive sectional (wanting to be away from adults), and I frequently go down there (at noon) and there… Read more »

Lori P.

“YES” to hooks!


(I don’t have kids, but am speaking from the position of a messy, teenage-like adult) My parents’ bedroom was on a different floor from my brother and I from age 3-13 and it was never a problem – and we all shared one bathroom! When we moved into my parents’ current home at age 13, all the bedrooms where right next to each other on the second floor, and my brother and I shared a bathroom again with no issues. When my teenage brother wanted to stay up late playing video games, he just did so on the main floor/basement instead of in his bedroom to avoid waking people up. My (big) childhood bed was in every possible configuration and the location/size never made a difference to me. And we never had locks on the bedroom doors – just a knock first policy. And teenagers (and adults, let’s be honest) will toss clothes on the floor regardless of the tools you give them to keep things tidy. Don’t stress over it. Design for you, and the kids will adjust.


If you have room for queen beds go for it, way more comfortable for teenage boys especially. But consider sleepovers because teens don’t really want to share a bed with their friends. Sharing a bathroom no problem, just put a lock on the door. Desks in bedrooms, outlets to allow for desktop computers. At age 10, my son no longer plays with toys and as much as you might not like it, by this age kids (boys especially) are into gaming so you might design a play room that would later become a movie watching/gaming space. Having two living areas which are quite separated is always a good thing if possible) or maybe you have space for a barn-type area that teens could “party” in. My parents used to let my friends come over for small parties all the time as teens, and although we did have alcohol, it really was a safe and wholesome a way to do it, rather than have us out at bigger, unsupervised parties where there was no adult if things went wrong. You’re a long way from that though, I think maybe just think about multipurpose living spaces. From age 8 my kids have… Read more »


I always slept in bed with my best friend as a kid – it was so much easier than getting out an air mattress or sleeping bag. Maybe boys are different, but also it’s been nice to see some male taboos on non sexual touching and affection go by the wayside!

Amy Jones

My teenager absolutely loves her privacy & so did I at her age. She currently doesn’t have a lock on her door but I’m not opposed to the idea. Growing up I had 2 sisters & we were always stealing each other’s clothes. It caused huge fights & we were eventually allowed locks on our doors to solve this problem. I mean, we all lock our houses so belongings don’t get stolen so why can’t teens? You’ll definitely want them to lock their doors at college or in their first apartment, right?


I don’t have kids, but obviously was one once. Fact of the matter is, even if this is your forever home – I wouldn’t worry about incorporating every need you’ll ever have. There are always going to be things you didn’t incorporate (and that’s OK). You’re a pro and will find a way to incorporate it later. I’m team big bed. Transitioning back to a twin for college is maybe the smallest of changes that happen in college (like, it barely registers as a thing). For media, just put in lots and lots of outlets. You can’t incorporate technology that we don’t have yet, and you best believe that your teenage kids aren’t going to be preoccupied with what was cool or cutting edge in 2021. Locks on doors – so many strong opinions on this one! Look, your kids are going to start testing boundaries and are going to do some things that you’re not a fan of. If you have a good relationship with them, the locks (or lack thereof) should be a non-issue. Computers in bedrooms – I think this could be a generational issue? Growing up in the early Aughts : it might have been the… Read more »


I don’t think you need to “worry” about them sharing a bathroom. They will… just lock the door when they need privacy. In the house I grew up in we had special locks that had a slider on that could be opened from the outside with anything with a point – ballpoint pen or Bobby pin etc. I only remember this function being used once when my brother was young and locked himself in and panicked and couldn’t calm down enough to unlock the door (which was easy). My mum just slid it open. So privacy, but no fear of ever being properly “locked in”. As for the popcorn, I kind of know you were joking and don’t want to sound like an old fogie, but they will keep rubbing popcorn into your sofa until they learn that that behaviour = popcorn being taken away. My THREE YEAR OLDS understand this and do not rub / wipe hands or food on the sofa. I took their food away ONCE (they got over it amazingly quickly, and genuinely it was only one time!) and now as soon as I REACH to take something away the behaviour stops. So that one is… Read more »


With a shared bathroom, I would highly recommend having a separate toilet room. I think we all know how long the male gender can take when they are using the toilet, so it would be nice for your daughter to have access to the sink/mirror area even while your son is going to the bathroom.


I think another solution for this is to have a “get ready” station in their bedrooms in the future. Anything you can do without a sink – i.e. a lot of hair and most make up (deodorant, etc does not need to be in a bathroom). I have a small vanity in our bedroom at home (we’re a one bathroom house) so that my husband can use the bathroom without interrupting my morning routing (back when I had one and we went places, lol). It was much easier to do that than to solve for who needs the sink and having separate space. I’m assuming Birdie might want a space like that when she has friends over anyway when she’s older.




Locks on bathrooms doors yes, but the kind you can open from the outside if need be (ours turns on one side and from the outside you can stick a spoon or something and turn it.

Locks on bedrooms no, if there was a fire in the night you really don’t want a locked door.


We designed and built a house when our daughter was not much older than your two, so I’ve had all these same topics to consider. Our daughter has queen bed, and we’ve not regretted it for a moment. She slept in a janky bunk at camp for 10 summers and had no trouble moving to a smaller bed in the dorm. Each college is different – at hers the upper classmen dorms have full size beds so she only had a twin for her first year anyway. Her bed at home has never been in a corner, and it never occurred to her or us to even try it. My tip for closet design is to design it for an adult, not a kid. By the time they are young teens their clothes will be similiar in size to yours (only 5-7 years away!) She did choose to have most things on hangers. “Easier to see what I have”, she said. The trick to that was having plenty of hangers in the laundry room so when she did her laundry she could hang things right out of the dryer. If they made it to her room in a basket they… Read more »

Faith Wilfley

Both of my teen boys have queen beds. It’s a necessity. They are huge and growing. I can’t even imagine them in a twin. Yes, they will be in a twin in college, but that’s a twin XL and they’ll be living a different life.
They both have locks on their doors and for the most part have always respected the house rules. Everyone deserves privacy and the ability to set a boundary.
Your son will never hang anything up. Maybe twice a year he will put things in drawers. I think girls are different, but I finally gave up, put up a bunch of hooks, use a laundry basket as their hamper (the clothes couldn’t even make it into the hamper!), and shut the door. And they do their own laundry.
Wire up the media room as much as possible. I know, in your dreams they won’t want to spend any time on media, but especially for boy teens, that’s how they hang out. Even when they are all over, that’s where they will hang out.
And you will eventually be very happy they are on the other side of the house:)


Yes, video games are lame but my teen would literally be a social pariah if he didn’t play. Equate it to the teen you knew who had never watched TV or been to the movies; so admirable from a parenting view but it makes you a bit of a freak as a teen.


Let them have big beds! An 18 year old “transitioning into a twin bed (in dorm rooms)” should not be an issue for well adjusted mini-adults. Honestly this is a bit insulting to college freshmen that they’d be too spoiled or fragile to adjust to sleeping in a smaller bed!
As far as shared bathrooms, eventually your kiddos will end up in their own rooms, which should supply ample private space. A bedroom vanity should do the trick if either of them end up needing more personal space for getting ready.


We built our house 18 years ago, and our 4 children (2 boys, 2 girls) ranged in age from 3-15. Our master bedroom was on the main floor; the kids’ bedrooms upstairs. They shared a bath up there; double sinks then the tub/shower and toilet had a separate door with a lock – so some could be taking a shower/bath, or using the toilet, and the sinks were still available for 2 people to use. They are all grown now, and I’ve asked them how they liked the set-up – they all thought it worked great for them. Also, the bedrooms and bath were all off of a central area, similar to the top of your stairs – only ours is larger. I am so glad we kept that space flexible – it’s use has changed over the years. Initially, it was used for homeschooling, then it changed into a “lounge” type area where the kids would congregate.


I don’t have teens yet but I’m so happy to hear all the “no’s” one door locks! My sister and I had locks that were pickable with a hairpin, and I thought that was the universal norm. While the lock picking skills I acquired have come in handy I’ve resisted putting locks on my young kids doors, although I wasn’t sure why.

Regarding the separate adult wing, I wouldn’t want it now with young kids, but it’s a pretty standard layout in the South with all the first floor masters, so I imagine it’s not terrible!


They will move their bed location all the time. Sometimes against wall. Sometime middle of room. My only rule is they have to stick furniture movers under the beds so they don’t stretch the carpet. Other than that it’s their room. So built in sconces and furniture will just mean headaches in the future. I wouldn’t worry about adjusting to smaller bed in college. That seems like the smallest adjustment!!!!


Thank you for this post! Just read all the comments, so interesting and helpful since I have littles too! I have a lot to learn, but the one thing I know is that the family home is meant to be a “school of love” where we all become more who we were meant to be. And the more the kids have to share, sacrifice, etc. the more opportunity for growth. My husband is one of six kids, they had one bathroom most of his life. Everyone shared bedrooms and they all contributed in the household. He grew up into a VERY generous and adaptable person. I did zero chores and had my own room and even my own bathroom at one point. For me, it was a breeding ground for selfishness and entitlement – I’m still working on growing up! As someone else said, it’s all about what kind of humans we want to raise. For me, that means designing our home to encourage relationship (ex: communal spaces we want to enjoy together) and to support good habits (ex: drawers they can reach – my oldest who is 6 folds and puts away all his laundry). It sounds like you… Read more »


I love this comment so much. I grew up in a similar household to you in those aspects and I feel the same. I don’t have kids yet but often think about these exact things and love your insights on this


I just came here to say that I laughed so hard at the opening photo. Anyone else picturing the scene from How to Lose a Guy when she has the future kid scrap book and yodels for the kids?


1. Could we have some digest posts where you break down and summarize the readers’ comments and advice? i.e. the 300+ comments about living in wet climates…

2. In college yes, dorms have twin beds, but off-campus housing had double beds in my day, and it was really hard coming home on breaks to a measly twin bed. So my vote is for double beds! (Also, I did not take my twin to my first post-college dwelling, but I would’ve taken it if it had been a double.)

3. Opposite genders sharing a bathroom, haha. My richest friend in school shared a bathroom with her brother. There were two sinks and a door for the toilet closet. I thought it was the height of luxury (your own sink with just your toiletries around it!). If they could share, so can your kids. My whole family shared one bathroom growing up, and my current family of six shares one bathroom now. I can see the benefit of having a spare bathroom with a toilet and stall shower for bathroom “rushhour,” of course, if you have space and money for that.


Answers I forgot to add:
4. Yes, my bedroom always had a lock on it, even though I rarely used the lock. I think it would be creepy not to have a lock, ex. to avoid someone inadvertently walking in on the child while they’re changing clothes.

5. I always hung my clothes growing up, even as a 6-year-old. So if you want them to do it, they can do it.

Sharon Gotter

Teenagers really don’t watch an actual TV anymore unless they have friends over. All watching is done on a computer or tablet. My very tech savy 17 year old doesn’t even know how to operate cable and only knows how to watch Netflix or Hulu. The only time he has used the very nice TV we put in our basement for him is when he has had a friend over and they watch a movie together.


TVs are old fashioned! Hahaha 🤣😂


So true. Our tv room for teens has gotten very little use with covid. Our teens will occasionally watch it together but are more likely to just lay on a bed and stare at the smaller screen together. They do like tv for video games. I would guess if we had boys it would get a lot more game use.


I grew up in a house with kid bedrooms upstairs, parents and the single shared bathroom down. Only issue was one brother who took hours-long showers.
I do recommend that you plan for low-level illumination to light the stairs and pathway between your sleeping area and theirs. Make sure to have emergency lighting that will come on in case of a power outage.


2 teen boys here. Get the biggest water heater you can (or on-demand tankless water heater)!

We replaced all of our hallway outlets with those outlets that come with mini LED nightlights built in. Cheap retrofit and great for our teens who stay up later than we do as well as guests.


As an ex-highschool teacher and Aunt and Great Aunt to @40 humans (yep, 6 much older siblings and my siblings are breeders!!!), I have a LOT of experience with teenagers!!! Ahem!!! 💥Emily, please note my comments below about devices not in bedrooms, security screens and tge bathroom door lock. Also, another person commented about tge “secret door”. This. Is. Scary. And should be dealt with NOW during your renovation. It is not fun nor cute. Get rid of it now. Please. 💥Size and location of beds – Your kids are already used to big beds, so just continue that. The corner position seems more of a space issue. If possible, I say bed not in the corner, so making the bed is easier and critters don’t have an easy place to hide. 💥Locks on doors – No to locks on bedroom doors … teach them to knock and wait. Yes to a bathroom door lock. But only one that can be opened with a butter knife/pin lock. Opposite gender requires bathroom privacy, no matter how close they are! 💥Closets + clothes storage – Teens will hang up their vlothes if they’re taught how, why and it’s enforced. You guys said you’re not big… Read more »

Roberta Davis

For fire safety/egress reasons, locking people in and not allowing escape through windows is not a good idea (as someone who worked most of their working life in the insurance industry and the rest in the design/architecture industry!). If kids are determined to misbehave, they will find a way, whether that’s through a window or not, I think.

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