Be Practical & Age Appropriate
Rule number one for decorating a kid’s room: your child is not going to stay a tiny baby forever. In a few years, she will outgrow her favorite cartoons and dolls for fashion items and makeup. At a moment’s notice, he will lose interest in his building blocks and toy cars, and he’ll be chasing drum sets and video games instead. Be prepared for sudden and unexpected changes. You don’t want your children to outgrow their furniture too quickly.
Rather than investing in expensive, age appropriate décor, pick basic themes that will evolve and adapt with your child. Buy a few age-appropriate decorative items, but stay practical with the really expensive stuff. Your children’s interests will flip flop between night and day, but one thing’s for sure: they will need to come home to a bed and a few other essential items.
Every child’s room needs a bed, wardrobe or bureau for clothing, bookcase, desk for studying, and a chair. Invest in high quality items that will last until your child becomes an adult and finally moves out. Or, if you’re willing to spend the money, by all means, buy kiddy furniture. Just don’t have impractical expectations for your thirteen year old to put up with the choo-choo train bed that you bought when he was five.
When you buy furniture, you can expect one thing: your child is going to grow at a rate that you probably can’t predict. Be ten steps ahead of your child’s growth spurt when you buy furniture – you do not want to be scrambling through your wallet for unseen expenses when all of a sudden, your daughter’s feet are hanging off her bed.
Think ahead. Buy your seven year old a bed that she can sleep on as a teenager. Buy that bookcase before he can read because next year, he’ll be in school and will start bringing home text books. Whenever possible, with desks and chairs, buy items with adjustable heights that can grow up with your kids. If you absolutely must buy that cute kids’ table, keep it around as a hand-me-down for your other kids or relatives, or keep it in good condition in case you want to resell it in a few years.
Nurture your child’s greatest asset: imagination. Your children are talented artists, seasoned story tellers, actresses, actors, musicians, and budding entrepreneurs. What keeps them going is their creative energy that radiates into every aspect of their lives from the moment they wake up through bed time and beyond. Don’t leave them with a bland bedroom: your kids deserve a space that inspires and empowers them.
Avoid assuming that you need to spend thousands of dollars on luxury decorative items. Themes are about creativity, not money. By remaining practical and creative, you can make interior design a do-it-yourself, completely original, fun family project. Find tasks that you and your child can do together: you will teach your kids important skills like ownership and initiative, and you will keep costs low.
Who says that themed rooms are for spoiled children? If anything, a themed room will teach your kids practical skills about interior design and personal responsibility. Plus, the importance of nurturing an imagination is one of the most important lessons that a parent can teach. Have a good attitude, and think out of the box so that everyone has fun.
Involve Your Child
Teach your child to become a mature and responsible adult by discussing their room. While you think that a surprise theme may be a cute idea, you might be shocked to find out that your little girl despises dolls, the color pink, and tea sets. A surprise for your child may surprise you with some unforeseen tantrums.
Use your redecorating experience to get to know your child. It’s an unfortunate fact that working parents don’t have a whole lot of time to watch their children develop into little personalities. Empower your children to let their personalities shine through by letting them pick their own themes. Make the decision-making process a two-way discussion to keep the experience rational and tantrum-free. Talk to your child, and finalize your options into a list of five potential themes. You or your child can select the winner.
Of course, this guideline only works if your child has reached a mature decision-making age. Children below the age of eight may need their parents to step in to do most of the thinking, planning and decorating. Remember that babies, toddlers, and older kids have very different needs. Think about their evolving personalities as a function of the interests that that they are starting to develop in school.
Babies & Preschoolers
Safety & Baby-proofing
For babies and preschoolers, you will need to focus upon safety. Make sure that the room is “baby-proofed,” paying close attention to outlets, heavy furniture, bookcases, and keep-out spots. If your toddler’s room has an attached bathroom, make sure that you keep the door closed. If that doesn’t work, you can consider installing a baby gate to keep your child safe from all the dangerous things in the bathroom.
Protect your toddler from hurting fingers or bumping heads on a table or desk with drawer latches. When your child is learning to walk, make sure that you get some table edge guards to keep kids safe from bumped heads and falls.
You may want to invest in carpeting or big, soft rugs for babies and toddlers who are prone to falling down. Don’t go for the fancy stuff: your kids will probably spill other stuff like art supplies, food, or drinks. You can do your best to keep things clean, but when it comes to kids, some mess is inevitable. Expect it. Save the expensive and fancy décor (like hardwood floors) for when the kids are old enough to help with chores and clean up after themselves.
Tiny eyes and soft skin are sensitive to bright sunlight. Cold weather may make your child sick. Keep your nursery’s climate under control with baby curtains and black-out panels to keep the cold and bright sunlight away. During naptime, you can easily darken the room and block out noises from outside. With layered curtains, you can give your baby’s functional room a comfortable and charming feel.
Be careful that your curtains are not too low. When your toddler is learning to walk, she may grab on to them, potentially pulling everything down. If you can’t find curtains in a short-to-medium length, or if you have a window (or toddler) that’s on the taller side, consider blinds instead. If you have a door that slides open to a patio, consider decorating with blinds instead.
Babies and toddlers need a place to hang out – what good is a bedroom where a kid can’t play safely? Set up some safe play areas including a play pen with a play mat and a couple of other toys. Worry-free entertainment is great for kids and parents.
It’s inevitable that most children will end up drawing on the walls at some point. Why not let your child embrace the urge with chalk board paint or temporary magnetic paint? If you allow your toddler a space for any of these let-loose activities, make sure that she knows where it is and isn’t appropriate to draw. This is one activity that you will want to keep under tight control.
At a young age, toddlers are learning a sense of identity. Get some wooden letters, paint them, and add some glitter. Glue them to a ribbon, and hang them up. Embroider your child’s name into sheets, pillows, blankets, and other bedding. The stuff will be cute for the moment and great for a scrapbook or memory box when they are older.
Cribs & Bedding
It takes time to find the right crib – and rightfully so. Your baby’s bed needs to be a safe place that you can trust. Look for a crib with an adjustable mattress that you can raise or lower when your child is learning to sit. Get a crib with small spaces between the slats so that your baby does not get his head stuck anywhere. Make sure that the mattress fits the frame so that your baby does not get stuck anywhere when she moves around.
For an investment that lasts, get a convertible crib that will evolve with the stages of your child’s life. Research the parts that you will need when you eventually convert the bed, and consider buying them ahead of time in case the crib is upgraded to a new model. Convertible cribs can transform into a twin sized or full sized bed, so your toddler will have plenty of sleeping space.
If you get your toddler a small bed, make sure that it is low enough to the ground so that she can easily climb in and out of it. Line the bed’s edges with bumpers so that your child won’t take any tumbles to the ground in the middle of the night. Keep one edge of your toddler’s bed against the wall, and for safety and health purposes, keep your child’s bed away from the window.
Young children love bright colors, pictures, and artwork. Don’t create a room that’s dark with absolutely no visual elements for your child. Nonpermanent design options include bright wallpaper, a bright accent wall in a color like green, blue, yellow, orange, purple, or pink, and a wall mural with a beautiful design or picture. Big posters are good options for people who are renting a home or who would prefer to leave the walls a neutral color.
If you do not want to replace your carpet, consider a fun rug in the shape of an animal or board game. Some rugs can function as interactive toys. For example, some have cartoon rugs which are a blast for playing with cars.
Think cartoons and clocks in fun shapes, stuffed animals, doll houses, and fun books.
When it comes to décor, you can go all out, especially if you keep yourself on a tight budget. The basic furniture can remain the same, and the décor can evolve with your children’s stages of development.
Just make sure that whatever you buy conforms to your childproofing objectives. Heavy items and small items can injure a child. As you probably know, children are naturally curious, so if you don’t want them grabbing something, be sure to keep it out of reach.
By the time that your child is seven or eight years old, he has probably outgrown his toddler bedroom. When it’s time to invest in some new stuff, you will likely take one of two approaches. You may decide to buy some age-appropriate furniture that will last for a few years, or you may wish to purchase some “big kid” items that will last throughout your son or daughter’s childhood and teenage years. In the short run, the first option will be least expensive, but in the long run, the second option is more cost effective.
If you want to create an elaborate kids’ theme, you can buy basic furniture in a neutral color, and create decorations that are durable but temporary. For example, if you are thinking about a “cars” theme, you can decorate the bed with strategically placed cardboard.
Items that almost every child needs include a bed, bookcase, dresser, wardrobe, desk, hutch, and chair. What you ultimately buy, of course, will depend on the size of your child’s space. Don’t buy too much stuff or stuff that’s too big: your child will need plenty of space to move around, play, do homework, and get dressed. You don’t want your furniture to cause any unnecessary head-bumping.
If you want to save money, build it yourself! Even better, get your kids involved. Buy basics such as wood, and assemble furniture that you can paint and repaint as your child’s interests evolve. Great do-it-yourself jobs include bookcases, tables, and shelves.
Let your child think outside of the box when decorating these things. Turn your do-it-yourself bookcase into a collage with photos and magazine clippings. Your child can be creative and turn their furniture into tasteful art.
Wall murals, posters, glow-in-the-dark stars, pictures, and books are all items that work well as décor in a children’s room. Keep in mind that décor accumulates dust, so don’t over-do it, especially if your child has allergies. Strike a balance between minimalism and fun.
Don’t forget the ceilings. Lit and unlit lanterns, glow in the dark shapes, fun colors, and posters will keep a child happy during naptime and bedtime.
Kids’ rooms don’t necessarily need a theme, but many people find it helpful to work with a guide or unifying aesthetic element. Choose a theme based on your child’s personality such as aquariums, cartoons, cars, astronauts, dolls, flowers, animals, sci-fi, etc. – chances are, you’ll be able to brainstorm a concept that you and your child will absolutely love. Plus, decorating can be a fun and creative family project. You can easily work with the furniture that you have, or you can buy entirely new furniture – your budget is up to you.
The problem with choosing a narrow theme is that your child might outgrow it sooner rather than later. If you are on a budget and would prefer a design concept that will last at least several years, you should consider these ideas:
Choose a theme based on a color or set of colors. Examples include orange and yellow, pink, green and yellow, or purple. In general, you should avoid selecting more than three bright colors since you don’t want any clashing or chaos in your child’s room. Be sure to complement your bright colors with plenty of pastels and neutral shades for a balanced aesthetic. Paint one accent wall, create a wall mural, or paint all over. Make sure that you decorate the dominant wall in your child’s room. Usually, this wall is the largest and located opposite to the room’s entrance.
Patterns & Shapes
Choose a theme based around a pattern or shape like stripes, checkers, and polka dots. If you’re feeling adventurous, choose a combination of patterns like flowers and stripes, checkers and stripes, or polka dots and stripes. For example, you can paint a black and white checkered floor with a yellow and red striped ceiling.
Balance your striped bedding with a polka dotted accent wall. This theme is fun and will carry over into your child’s teenage years. When you and your child prefer something that’s a little more grown up, a quick paint job and new decorations will help you erase your room’s palate and start over.
Does your child have a favorite artist? If so, consider framing a few poster prints, and choose paint and linen colors that complement the colors in the painting. This type of theme is inexpensive and can easily transition from youthful to classy and mature.
You can even let your children decorate their rooms with their own art for a creative personal space. Paint a wall mural, create a collage of photos, or create a mosaic using small tiles. Artistic kids will love these types of projects.
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