Decorating priorities can change with a child’s development: young infants benefit from visual stimulation whilst older children like to create their own décor in a neutral room; Safety and easy-cleaning are important in a child’s bedroom but independent self-expression is vital in a young adult’s bedroom.
Since you will be spending a lot of time nursing your baby in this room, it is important that you like the design of the room and feel comfortable in it.
- Keep it simple: As far as furniture is concerned, all you need is a crib, a changing table or surface, some storage space and perhaps a nursing chair. There’s not much point in spending money furnishing this room lavishly and you can make it stimulating to look at with the aid of mobiles, posters and toys.
- Choose visually stimulating colours: Most people choose calm colours, like yellows and lilacs, for the nursery but research has shown that a few primary colours add visual interest for an infant – perhaps some brightly coloured cushions, shelving, or wall paper frieze. Avoid garish colours but equally avoid cold drab colours, as these can encourage insecurity. If you don’t have the skills to paint vines or animals up the walls, choose pictorial wallpaper with varied patterns. If you dream of a room fit for a prince, or princess, create a canopy or drapes around the crib with organza or muslin and some soft furry cushions and rugs.
- Provide space for activities and playing: It is important to get the balance right between fun decoration and neutral space that will not over-stimulate or inhibit imaginative play. It is a good idea, therefore, to create an activity area with a table, games, dressing up box and a quiet reading corner, leaving the rest of the room free for the child’s own inventive uses. Differentiate the areas by using bright colours for the walls and floor in one zone and calming neutral tones in the other.
- Use easy to clean materials: You will also need easily cleaned surfaces in the activity space, especially if there’s arts and crafts work going on. It is a good idea to lay tiled vinyl flooring or painted wooden floorboards, and lay comfy rugs on top in the reading corner. If you are thinking ahead to a teen décor, choose a fairly neutral style of vinyl or laminate flooring, which will suit a sophisticated interior. Decorate walls with washable wallpaper or a semi-gloss latex paint.
- Use the walls: Pictures or friezes should be fixed at eye-level, but avoid overcrowding the walls. You can brighten up neutral walls with a few stencils or even some colourful handprints. Another nice memento of childhood is a growth chart or a photo tree. Metal magnet boards or chalk boards can also be a fun addition – and will save your walls from being decorated undesirably!
- Plenty of storage: Too many toys can be overwhelming so keep the majority of them stored on accessible shelves or in transparent boxes with only a few choice items left out. To encourage play, you might erect a Wendy house or tent in part of the room, or even create a cardboard castle or train.
As children get older, the demands for bedroom decoration get more elaborate. Whether your child wants to turn their bedroom into a castle, a circus or an aeroplane, you can create the look simply with some imaginative decoration.
- Utilise wallpaper if you’re not confident painting murals: Painting murals on walls and ceilings may not be your strong point but there are plenty of wallpapers with scenes of forests, mountains, fantasy landscapes etc. as well favourite characters from books and TV.
- Take advantage of the ceiling space: An easy ceiling mural to paint is a skyscape – all you have to do is drag paint the ceiling with 2 or 3 shades of blue and paint white clouds on top. You could even hang cotton wool clouds or parachute silk from the ceiling. For a night sky, buy glow-in-the-dark paint or stickers so that when it gets dark the moon and stars appear. Brighten up the floor by painting a giant chessboard, maze, or field and pond for farmyard animals, or lay down mats and floor cushions in fun designs.
- If you prefer a more adaptable style, keep the walls and curtains neutral and use accessories and fabrics to jazz up the room: Imitate a seaside ambiance with blue and white striped material and add a net, or some driftwood and shells from the beach to complete the look; Choose floral fabrics and make your own flower-shaped cushions for a flower-power room; pick fabrics in team colours for sports fans; and cosy quilts for a country style. You can keep costs down by decorating with accent fabrics like cushion covers, curtain tie-backs and throws, as curtains and duvet covers can be expensive to keep replacing.
- Creative walls can be great fun: To protect your walls from the rapid turnover of posters and stickers, fix pin boards to the walls. These will be useful for organizing school papers later on. You can create large boards covering most of a wall with a wooden frame and some cork matting or whiteboard for writing messages on. If you have a budding artist in the house, you could spray blackboard paint on a board covering the wall, giving your child free reign to decorate their room with their own creations.
Whatever your child’s hobbies and interests, you can create a unique bedroom to match without spending a fortune. Set the scene by making your own scenery and props to suit your child’s particular requests, or revamping flea market furniture.
Creating a kingdom: If the apple of your eye has asked for a princess’s turret, cover the walls in woodboard painted like stone or wooden trellising, or simply hang rich fabric down the walls. With some careful arrangement of material or canny use of a mosquito net you can create a canopy for the bed. If you don’t mind knocking nails into the bed frame, you can create your own four-poster bed by fixing curtain poles to the corners. Connect these with some timber strips and drape the bed in your chosen material. A similar trick with a broom handle and some tacks can be used to fashion a fancy pelmet for a Victorian or Alice-in-Wonderland theme. With some gold spray paint and crafts materials you can even make your own throne, bejewelled chests, medieval wall sconces, and regal furniture stencilled with crowns and crests.
For football fanatics: Cover the floor with tarpaulin or chipboard and paint a pitch on. You can even buy wallpaper replicating a stadium at the end of the room. If this is going too far, simply drape flags and scarves down the wall or position giant cut-outs of favourite players. You can buy virtually every accessory possible in the shape of a football so there should be no shortage of inspiration. For something original, consider replacing the headboard with goal posts and netting or make shelving double up as a scoreboard. Be sure to include plenty of room for displaying trophies and memorabilia.
- Take advantage of arts and crafts projects: ‘Pop-up’ and 3D decorations are particularly in vogue and can make a fun project for all the family – simply cut out the desired image in cardboard or plywood, paint it, and fix it to the wall with a batten. Use scrap wood or papier-mâché to form an aeroplane or animal that can be fixed to the wall, or hang models over the bed.
- Use accessories where possible to save redecorating: Instead of redecorating the room, add accessories, which can be easily changed with the next fad: If your child is into playing soldiers, rig up a camouflage shelter; if cars are the craze, position a few tyres in the room; if fairies and folklore are a favourite theme, use fabric and pink lights to create a fairy bower; if horses are all the rage, frame prints and magazine pictures and keep an eye out for old horse shoes.
- DIY transform the bed: Themed beds are a designer luxury but you can make your own by transforming an ordinary bed. Replace the headboard with a homemade one of your own imaginative design or fix panels to the sides of the bed to transform it into a chariot or fire engine. An effective yet simple idea is to hang drapes behind or over the bed, or cover the headboard – you can even pad it out with foam to create shapes. If you don’t mind painting the headboard, reinvent it as part of a rocket with some silver spray paint and glued on knobs, or paint it with polka dots or geometric patterns.
If you want to give a teenager creative freedom and independence but don’t want the walls covered in blutac and the furniture painted orange, it is a good idea to have a few creative suggestions up your sleeve for less radical options. Use clip-frames and pin-boards to protect the walls or suggest arranging photos and postcards over a mirror or pegging them to a trellis instead of sticking them on the walls.
- Get them involved: Redecorating could provide an ideal opportunity for teaching teenagers some DIY skills like painting and sewing.
- Try and keep the colours simple: Popular colour themes for teen rooms include minimalist black and white, intimate purples, hot pink, dark blues and greens, and bright shades like turquoise or orange. Silver and gold are also highly fashionable if you don’t mind painting shelves or cabinets. Generally, strong colours tend to become overpowering, and the chances are a red or black room will drive the occupant crazy very quickly. To avoid repainting, paint a trial wall first to make sure the colour is right. Remember, neutral and pale colours can always be accented with touches of colour.
- Hang objects, that are easy to change: To brighten up walls, fix coloured plastic cut into shapes on them or mount collectable objects like signposts, vintage sports equipment or masks on the wall. The ultimate temporary decoration is a projector screen, which can turn white walls into a moving kaleidoscope of colour, or be used as giant photo frames for stills of football moments or modern art prints. Wall-hangings, curtains, or nets of fairy lights hung behind the bed also make a trendy feature.
- Keep furniture cheap and simple: Rather than replacing all the furniture, update it where possible or opt for less expensive furnishings like inflatable chairs, beanbags, and futons. Small touches can totally change the look of a room so try changing the light fittings for more modern metal or plastic ones, replacing cupboard door handles with contemporary styles, adding floating shelving and replacing curtains with a blind. If the bed head is removable, you could swap it for a more sophisticated wrought iron version, or simply cover it with material. If you are creating a French country or elegant feminine décor, cover tables with cloths rather than changing them, and make your own cushions to match. If you have an old house and your child dreams of a modern room, remember that contemporary chic is all about mixing traditional materials with modern media like glass, metal, and plastic.
- Removing wallpaper
- Repairing damage to plasterboard
- Repairing wallpaper
- Tips to consider when designing a child’s bedroom
- How to use a wallpaper steamer
- How to wallpaper
- How to paper a ceiling
- How to paint a ceiling