Home Experts: Local News
Make room for kids
Room design and decor ideas that’ll please both child and parent
Story Updated: Mar 4, 2011
A child’s bedroom is much more than just a place to sleep; it’s also a reflection of their evolving tastes and growing identities. As a parent, you know that their tastes change as quickly as their shoe size, so we're offering some tips to create an environment that is stylish, functional, fun and can grow with them as they get older – all without costing an arm and a leg.
When beginning a child’s room redo, first determine what it is they are passionate about. “The children that I’ve worked with like to take ownership for their room – it’s their space,” says Tamara Spaulding of Spaulding Interiors in Fairbanks. “Talk to them and see if they’re really into sports, the outdoors, animals or electronics,” for instance. After learning what they love, it’s time to get started.
Walls are the simplest element of a room to alter. They are also where your child’s tastes will stand out the most. Painting murals on the walls is a fun way to showcase a kid’s passion. “My son’s room is a giant game of Pac-Man, everything on the walls is dots, squares and ghosts,” says Mae Pauling of Interiors by Mae in Wasilla. “He’s 13 and it’s been cool for some time. Will he outgrow it? Sure, but the walls are easy to change.”
A room should be repainted every five to six years, says Pauling, and this makes for an ideal time to redecorate. “Use a semi-gloss,” Pauling recommends. “It’s a little shinier than satin, but it’s super durable, easy to use, easy to clean and easy to cover.”
Beyond colored paints, there are several “specialty paints” available specifically for painting kids rooms and playrooms. One of these is blackboard paint: Apply it to the wall and it can be drawn on and erased just like a real blackboard. Magnetic paint is another specialty paint: Simply roll it on like any other primer/paint and magnets will stick to it. Perfect for letting children display their artwork, schoolwork, or posters. Another idea: Use glow-in-the-dark paint to add stars and planets, or any other cool design to your child’s ceiling. In daylight, it’s nearly invisible. When the lights go out, he’ll have a glowing mural to lull him to sleep.
Spaulding suggests corkboard as an easily changeable wall décor idea. “You can frame a bulletin board and hang it on the wall and plaster it with notes, pictures, jokes and whatever the child is into.” Pauling says that an assortment of picture frames can show off the ever-changing variety of a child’s favorite things. Both of these ideas will prevent putting a lot of holes in the wall in between paint jobs.
Little ones spend a great deal of time on the floor, so the type of flooring is important to consider. “Carpet in a baby’s room is not going to last, and tile or hardwood lasts long but is very hard,” points out Pauling. She advises covering a bare floor with interlocking foam mats, creating a soft play area. Or, she says, “there are a lot of really great softer floors called fiber floors,” a wall-to-wall cushiony vinyl that absorbs shock and sound and is easy to clean. As the child ages, swap out foam flooring for a stylish area rug that will be suitable in a teen’s room.
For big-ticket items like the bed and dresser look for pieces that are versatile, sturdy and long lasting. Pauling says parents often make the mistake of furnishing a child’s room too childishly. She instead recommends that parents ask themselves when purchasing furniture for a child’s room: “Would this also work in an adult room? If you buy something an adult might like the odds of you not having to change it later are better.”
Beds that serve more than one purpose are a smart choice. “Trundle beds are popular for having friends stay the night,” suggests Pauling. “Or loft beds with a bunk over where a desk would go.” Spaulding suggests a captain’s bed that has drawers underneath. “As a small child they could keep toys in there, and as the child grows it could hold sports equipment or winter clothes.”
Treeforms Amish Furniture sells a conversion bed that begins as a crib and later converts into a day bed or a full-size bed. “The bed goes from birth all the way up until adulthood,” says sales consultant, Marie Blevins. “It’s truly a lifetime piece.” While these aren’t inexpensive, they are an investment that will last for an entire childhood (or more if handed down) and they come in custom styles and finishes.
Spaulding believes that a desk is a necessity in a child’s room for doing homework, coloring or playing with blocks or puzzles. “For a girl it could be a desk then a vanity,” she explains. “As a younger child she could use it as a desk or a play area and as she grows you could add a mirror and it would become a dressing area.”
Kids have a lot of stuff so having a practical and stylish place to hide it all away is essential. “No matter how old you are storage is the most important element,” says Pauling. A simple bookshelf with multiple boxes or baskets make tidying up a cinch. “They can clean their room in five minutes,” says Spaulding. “Just scoop and plop!”
A room that keeps up with your child’s tastes and passions stands a very good chance of being kept up by your child (maybe), and a neat room is perhaps the best reason of all for periodic upgrades.