Redecorating your child’s room is more than a way to bring their space up to date. It can also be a great way for you to spend some time with your child, to see how their personal tastes have developed and to teach them some valuable lessons about negotiation as well.
You may be surprised to know that the first step in the room redecorating process doesn’t begin with picking out a princess theme or figuring out the right shade of rocket blue. Knowing when your child is ready for the change can be more important than the decorating process itself.
According to Dr. Steve O’Brien, assistant professor of child psychology for Argosy University/Tampa, knowing where your child is at in their development is the key. “When your child’s interests begin to expand to the world around them and become more personal, your child may be ready and excited for a new room.” Changes in television viewing from animated cartoons to “real” shows like those on Animal Planet and Nickelodeon, interest in different types of music and a move towards more mature toys are indicators as well.
Remember that your child’s room is not your own. While your furniture, collections and possessions spread over the entire home, theirs are usually confined to one room. Their bedrooms are multifunctional spaces that need to meet a variety of needs. “The space needs to be a place where your child can sleep, store their things, socialize with friends, play and even study,” says LeAnn Baier, interior design instructor for The Art Institute of Las Vegas. According to O’Brien, “It should be both comfortable and comforting to them and designed in a way that is conducive to their development.”
Weed through the contents of your child’s room and help them prioritize what they need in the space and what they don’t. Identify what items should be in open storage where your child can access them easily, which ones can be placed in closets, which need to be convenient to access and which can be stored elsewhere or simply thrown away.
The best way to maximize space in any bedroom, says Baier, is with a closet system. According to Steven Mann, managing partner of Crowne Closets & Cabinetry in Las Vegas, “If you have a single shelf and pole in your closet, installing a closet system can increase hanging space by two-thirds and give the customer needed shelving as well.” Your local do-it-yourself warehouse can also help when it comes to closet systems and storage solutions, as can a little ingenuity.
Go to the organization aisle of your favorite store, look at the various storage items there and think of creative ways to use them in your child’s room. Baier uses canvas shoe holders that hang from a traditional closet pole to store games, puzzles and art materials for her daughter. Remember that children’s clothes are shorter so you can often fit a bookcase or toy organizer under them in the closet. Consider under-the-bed storage as well. Wall shelves and other off-the-floor storage can be a great way to allow children to display their collections in an organized fashion. Bookcases are another storage solution for kid items but can take up vital floor space in the room.
The primary pieces in your child’s bedroom should be the furniture. “The best case scenario,” says Baier, “is that parents have planned ahead of time for the transition and avoided furniture and items that are age-specific.” Whether you have them already or will need to purchase them now, opt for classic pieces that will grow with your child.
Walls should be handled in a similar manner. Baier encourages her clients to opt for strong architectural lines and neutral colors in a room. Bead board, moldings and other architectural elements can give a room the character you are looking for without overwhelming the space. When it comes to color, a light periwinkle is a great way to inject color into the room and appease your daughter’s demand for an all-purple space. “Kids generally don’t have a concept of color shades until they are 8 or 9,” says O’Brien. “Look at different shades of purple with them and come to an agreement on what shade of purple they can use for the walls, assuring them they can inject more vibrant shades in other places.”
So where is the fun, the color and the Spongebob that your child wanted in their space? It’s in the accents. Bed linens, artwork, table lamps and even window coverings are all practical ways to bring your child’s personality into the space and help their “cool” factor. Keep window shades and light control elements neutral but experiment with a fun valance. Bring your child’s favorite character or animal into the room in the bedding or as art accents on the walls. Most importantly, know that every good design has classic elements that will stand the test of time. Creating a good base for your growing child’s room allows you to make changes at every stage of their life without breaking the bank.
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