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From Paint and Furniture to Bedding and Lighting

Children’s Room Makeover 101

By Nikki Luttmann, Interior Designer

There are two camps of people when it comes to decorating a child’s room. In the first camp is the person who allows the child to choose everything from wall color to bedding, creating a very personalized, though perhaps not terribly attractive, space. In the second camp is the person who does not allow the child to personalize anything except perhaps their teddy bear. This is a space that might be thoughtfully arranged and beautifully furnished but not reflect the personality of the actual tiny person who lives there.

My daughter, Leina, is at the age (she’s 9) where suddenly her “baby” room no longer suits her. She has started forming her own opinions about style and fashion, and now wishes to transform her room to reflect her interests and personality. That said, she wants to create a bedroom according to the theme “Rainbow Galaxy Party”—whatever that might be! I’m more than happy to help her create the ultimate cool-kid bedroom—within reason.

First of all, it is important to set boundaries with kids when it comes to wall color. With my kids, I’ve asked them what basic color they want (pink, blue, etc.), and then I give them three or four acceptable options to choose from. This eliminates the issue of a color being too bright, too garish or too dark, which may be difficult to paint over later. If you’re OK with bright colors but don’t want to opt for a whole room color, it’s perfectly alright to paint just an accent wall, as long as the rest of the walls are neutral or white, as this keeps the color from overwhelming the space.

For furnishings, I find that a fresh coat of chalk paint can freshen up older pieces like dressers or headboards and give them a completely new look. Kids can be hard on furniture, so reusing older pieces might be a great option in a younger child’s room. As well, you can try consignment shops or even Craigslist for items that might be easy to spruce up. For newer furnishings (and more careful children), an option might be to invest in some flexible pieces that could also be used as the child gets older—or used somewhere else in the house later on. This way, you can invest in a few quality pieces that will stand the test of time and fill in the holes with more inexpensive items.

For bedding, I tend to choose quality comforters that can be covered with a duvet, which is good for frequent washings. When it comes to sheets, I allow my daughters to choose, as these are typically covered with the comforter during the day (if they remember to make their beds), and they can pick something fun and colorful. Character-themed bedding is not my favorite (too much of a commitment), but a throw blanket or pillow based on the child’s favorite cartoon is just fine.

Lighting is particularly important in a child’s room. Make sure you have appropriate task lighting for reading, choosing clothing, rummaging around under the bed looking for lost Legos, etc. Good ambient lighting is important as well, as with any other room in the house, to make sure it is comfortable for general tasks. For younger kids, I find it is important to have some kind of night light as well. It may not always be required, but they can be nice to have if someone has a nightmare or is not feeling well.

Artwork is something that can add an element of fun and reflect the child’s personality. If they are artistic, a fun option is stringing a laundry line or even a string of Christmas lights and letting them hang their art from it with clothespins. Magnetic bulletin boards are another great way for kids to display their own art, notes, etc. Posters and other themed art can be fun as well, but try framing them for a more finished look.

With kids, the sky is the limit when it comes to colors and styles, but do try to keep the overall look somewhat cohesive with the rest of the house. If you favor soft colors and pastels throughout, then choose somewhat similar hues for your child’s room to keep the whole house flowing together. Remember, though they are only little once, it’s still your home, and parents (or grandparents!) should have the ultimate say in how the home looks!

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