Every child wants a room of his or her own. But before you let your child paint the walls red, read our guide to helping to make your child’s room a fabulous and functional abode, with advice from 2 Great Gals design experts Susan Abramson and Rachel McGarry.
Should It Stay or Should It Go?
“Starting from scratch is ideal,” says Susan Abramson. “But if you can’t afford that, start with the pieces of furniture you need to keep.” To choose a colour for the room, start with the duvet or area rug. Find one you love, then pull colours from these items and co-ordinate the other pieces. Paint old furniture in bright, fun colours.
Depending on the age of your kids, allow them to help out. “Present them with a few choices for the wall colour,” says Abramson. “It’s important not to let a child have the whole fan deck as they will undoubtedly choose the brightest colours, which would look way too vibrant on the walls.” You can also allow kids to choose a few other elements for the room, but keep the options limited so they don’t feel overwhelmed, but still feel they’ve “designed” the room, Abramson adds. Artwork is a great way to let a child personalize her room. “Purchase frames and white mats to make their work feel like masterpieces,” says Rachel McGarry.
Themes can be fun for a child’s room, but children grow up so quickly that if you decide on a theme, recognize that your child may only like it for a short period of time. “Every child is unique and if you ask them, they’ll tell you what colours and items will make them happy and comfortable in their space,” says McGarry. “It’s an empowering experience for the child to have input that is taken seriously.”
“Right now it’s more popular not to have a theme,” says Abramson. Match timeless and trendy so the room can easily and inexpensively be updated. Try a classic bed frame and dresser with a fun, inexpensive duvet cover and matching wall paint. “Classic blinds such as shutters, room darkening roman blinds or inexpensive two-inch faux wood blinds are also good choices for a kids’ room because they’re durable and relatively timeless.”
Fun yet functional
Practicality is always the No. 1 thing to consider in a room, says Abramson, especially in a child’s room. Areas to consider include a play area (with storage to put away toys); change area (purchase a dresser/change table combo the child won’t outgrow); reading or work area (desk or small kitchen table, appropriate-size chair, bookshelves and reading lamp).
Keep these safety tips in mind when redecorating the room.
- Wall mounted lighting for reading eliminates the possibility of table and floor lamps toppling over.
- Bookshelves should be anchored to the wall so a child can’t pull them down.
- The bed should be low enough so that the child can get in and out alone (save the frame until the child is older and secure the headboard to the wall instead).
- Install hardwood floors (which can be kept cleaner than carpeting) and make the room cozy with a machine-washable area rug.
Things to avoid
- Synthetic materials or particle board; both have gases that can be harmful to young lungs. If you must use these items, keep windows open slightly, wash items before using and have a plant to absorb some of the gases.
- Floor lamps or cords on the floor or windows. They’re a safety hazard.
- Dark colours, which can be depressing, bright colours, which can overstimulate some children, or neon hues on the walls. Instead, allow them one accent piece (such as a pillow) in one of these colours.
To allow a child to really make the room his or her own, block off a part of the wall, and paint it with magnetic paint (before the actual colour goes on). This creates a “gallery” for a child’s artwork, which can be fixed to the wall with magnets (no tape, tacks or sticky blue stuff required), explains Abramson. To really make the space unique, create a small dance floor for a dancer, a bar for a ballerina, a stage for the singer, a ceiling painted like the sky or a circus tent, murals on the wall, or tons of brightly-coloured storage containers that let the child organize the room him or herself.