From the moment you know you’ll be adding a child to your household, you might start thinking about their room. A kid’s bedroom is a place to have fun and be creative in ways that we don’t allow ourselves to do in our own"grown-up" space. It’s also going to be their space for play, sleep, and more. It’s important to make it a room that speaks to them personally, but isn’t a fad they’ll get over in a year. Here are some tips for how to do it right, from toddler to teen:
PICK A THEME
Start with the basics! Decide on a budget you want to stick to. Then you know how much room you have to play with creating a unique space. Try to make the theme something more general, rather than focused on a specific character, show, or movie. They could grow out of that and want to redecorate sooner than your sanity or wallet can handle. Instead think about what excites their imagination. Are they star gazers, science experimenters, forest adventurers, or friends of fish? These broader ideas give you room to make a great space that will look great for years (and you save money by not having to buy licensed merchandise). Older kids and teens will probably have some definite ideas about what they want, so make sure to be supportive and offer ideas that enhance the look they're going for.
There are ways to do themes subtly, so everything isn’t over the top. If they really have to have their favorite character, compromise with a few added items. Wall decals are a perfect solution to particular tastes. They can be made in any form, and they peel off when your child is done with them.
Don’t want to buy a lot of new things? Choose a theme around stuff they already have. If they have a zoo full of stuffed animals, go with a wildlife theme. If they love music, display their collection as interactive decorations. Their favorite things can influence what you build in. A book-lover may want more books, so use shelves in the decorating. There are a lot of ideas out there on inexpensive DIY projects (Pinterest!), so don’t think that you have to have a huge budget to get a new look.
CHOOSE A COLOR
What colors go along with that theme? It’s a good idea to pick a neutral (beige, gray, etc.) and then a few brighter shades that go together. Having a neutral baseline with bright accents makes it easier to change down the line. Let your child help pick the swatch cards, they’ll be more excited about it if they get to help!
Just be aware of how colors can impact mood. This is also a place for relaxation and sleep, so too much yellow or red may be a bad idea if your child has trouble winding down.
There are also more options in fun paint than ever before! Chalkboard and whiteboard paint turn a wall into an art center, while glow-in-the-dark coatings make it possible to create starry skies, city scenes, or hidden designs that appear when you turn out the lights.
Lay out the room before you buy. This is most important if the bedroom is going to be shared between multiple children. Each person should have their own space, and you’ll want to optimize how everything fits in. Lighting is also important, so try to allow natural light room to come inside. Choose full spectrum light bulbs, as poor lighting can cause anxiety and depression.
Consider having furniture that does double-duty as storage. This will help optimize space and gives a place to put things away. Bins that fit under beds, benches that are also storage chests, and plenty of shelving all help keep things organized. Learning to clean doesn’t just benefit you, it’s a great lesson for kids too. Having a clean environment can be soothing to some children with considerations like ADHD – and it helps avoid distractions. Don’t forget the vertical spaces! If there are things that your child doesn’t need access to, you can have adult-height shelves that use the space more efficiently.
Do the same thing with closets. Build hanging bars, shelves, and drawers that are reachable for little ones for the things that are seasonal. Include taller areas, too, since they will grow. It also gives you more space to put things out of reach they won’t need, like coats in the summer, or swimsuits in the winter.
THINK ABOUT FURNITURE
Try to pick pieces that will work even as they grow up, or redecorate their room. Furniture is expensive, and you don’t want to buy all new every few years when the decor changes. Simple style is versatile! Think about choosing things that will last, like wood furniture. Whether in traditional or brighter colors, wood will put up with years of hard use. You can also easily repaint wood when their favorite color changes.
Add some cozy elements, like oversized chairs, bean bags, and body pillows that have a soft touch. This makes the space feel comfortable, inviting, and relaxing. Keeping the room to hard surfaces also makes it louder, since there won’t be as much to muffle the sound. An easy way to avoid noise and add comfort is using throw rugs, more pillows, and drapes.
Don’t forget about study space, either. If there isn’t an area in a family room that can be used for quiet time, try to build that into the bedroom. It should be separate from play space, if possible. It’s better to associate each area with a particular mood so they can switch gears more easily.
One thing NOT to have: electronics. If you can avoid it, keep TVs, tablets, phones, and gaming stations out of the bedroom. These are all stimulants, and might be more tempting than getting enough rest. The light from many electronics also disrupts the sleep cycle.
Try building out from what you have. Take a simple wood bed and modify it to fit your theme. Whether it's a custom headboard or just some decals, the bed is the focal point of the room so it will set the tone.
Finally, make sure that your kid feels involved every step of the way – without being overwhelmed! Let them do the fun things, like picking from furniture (it’s a good idea to pre-select, especially with younger ones, as the choices can be overwhelming), and adding decorative touches. If they’re collectors, find interesting ways to display their treasures – from shelves custom sized for their pebbles, to strings to hang their drawings from. Give them somewhere to display their creations. Whether it’s the art wall mentioned above, or another space where they can hang their latest drawing or building-block masterpiece.
For some craft ideas that are also useful, considering having your kids build their own organizational stations. Create hanging storage out of plastic sandwich bags on a background, and section off drawers with cardboard. There are ways to add to the space that are inexpensive and fun. Kids get permission to really use their imaginations, so let their personality shine!