Create a tranquil and functional living space that your youngster will love -- and will also remain standing through all the rough play they can dish out. Whether you're decorating your twin toddlers' bedroom or a room for your grunge-loving teen, there are a few common principles to follow to get the most out of your decorating efforts and the biggest bang for your buck.
You've probably already noticed that your kiddos can change their minds more often than they change their socks. So, when you're looking for the perfect room color, you're likely better off taking the lead here and letting the kids help out with room accents and other details. When you're deciding on room color, think in terms of longevity and creating a soothing environment, recommends Barbara Miller, an interior designer working with schools and libraries in Portland, Oregon, to use environment to help nurture children. What could be better than a room that helps to calm your kids and a paint job that doesn't have to be redone on a regular basis to help keep you calm too! Look to more muted or neutral colors on the walls and pops of color in the accessories, says Miller.
Regardless of whether you're redecorating a room for a 4-year-old or a 14-year-old teenager, Miller suggests that parents think in terms of what is washable. One misplaced glass of grape juice and an untreated, light-colored carpet may be ruined forever. If your child is allergy prone, Miller recommends that you avoid carpet altogether. However, if you have a youngster who likes to tumble and horse around, it's important to make sure there is open floor space and softer flooring, advises Miller. "Rubber and cork can be used for fun, creative designs, sound absorption and cushioning when carpeting is not an option," Miller says.
If you decorate a kid's room and then let them loose in it without some careful storage planning, you may one day soon end up having to dig them out of a mountain of toys, clothing, trophies and other stuff that migrated to their room. Plan ahead and invest in some smaller toy bins that you can label and store on mounted or free-standing shelving units. Make sure these are bolted to the floor or walls because someone will end up seeing those shelves as the perfect climbing toy. Avoid old-style toy chests, and if you opt for large toy bins, drill holes in the lids, recommends Kim Estes, a child safety expert in Redmond, Washington, and a prevention educator through the National Security Alliance and Kid Safe Network. She explains that it's easy to get fingers smashed or stuck in the old-style bins, and it's possible for your kiddo to get stuck inside larger toy bins. You can let your youngsters show off their favorite toy collections, awards and trophies with thinner picture shelves. Miller says these create interactive artwork and take up no floor space, leaving plenty of room for horsing around and building block creations.
The artwork in your kiddo's room can really help to personalize the living space. Miller favors artwork that reflects a child's interests. For example, she suggests blown up images of underwater shots your teen took while scuba diving for the first time or sheet music she composed on her own. Miller also recommends inspiring quotes from your youngster's worthy heroes. You can create these from poster board or use stencils and paint to write the messages directly on the walls. For very young children, consider framing some of their favorite art projects and using these to decorate the walls. For an eclectic photo display, create a collage of your child's favorite pictures of family members and friends and arrange the display to make it the centerpiece of the room.
When you're decorating a space for room-sharing siblings, it's important to make each one feel that the room emanates his individual interests and tastes. Find a way to give each child some individual space as well, recommends Miller. "Children need to have a place in the house where they can retreat to think, sulk and dream, and if they share a room, give them a piece of that room that is clearly theirs," she says. She suggests arranging the furniture to give each child as much privacy as possible such as a bookcase between the beds. You can also arrange the kids' beds headboard to headboard so there is a greater sense of privacy in bed. Help them personalize their space with a corkboard or different color bedding, and give them something to control individually, such as a reading lamp next to the bed.