Greg Page An array of needlepoint and silky patchwork pillows adds an elegant yet very comfortable feeling to the cozy daybed in this kids' room.

Between about age six and 11, children can experience the world in a wonderfully free way. Liberated from the limitations and frustrations of early childhood but not yet in the thick of the demands and concerns of adolescence, kids, in what classic psychology calls the "latency period," are avidly discovering their world and their own potential. You can guide and support this discovery process by the way you design your child's room.

Grade-schoolers are a mixed bag. Like younger kids, they still need space to play on the floor and kick up their heels in safety. But like older kids, they have to contend with a lot of homework. A good-size desk, a comfortable chair, and a minimum of breakable knickknacks help satisfy both the big and little kid inside your grade-schooler.

When it comes to decorating the space, a grade-schooler is old enough to have significant input. No guarantees, but the more your child is involved in helping plan the room scheme, the likelier it is he or she will take pride in the space and take care of it. Kids this age often have hobbies, interests, or talents that are already part of their self-definition, so by all means reinforce those you feel are positive.

Keep your eyes open for key items that will pull a positive room concept together for your child. It may be easier than you think. One lively boy who loved the big cats but not his pale turquoise walls changed his mind when given a dramatic quilt depicting a rare white tiger with turquoise eyes. The quilt border colors were turquoise, brown, white and green, so the rest of the room took on a jungle theme.

An artistic girl who had a hard time choosing one or two colors for her room found happiness with a rainbow motif. People began giving her rainbow-decorated accessories, so her room came together quickly. A nice plus: Just about any clear, solid color fits in. What theme can you use to knit together your child's preferences and interests with the room and furnishings you already have?

At this stage of the game, you and your child may still clash on the issue of color, but a grade-schooler is also old enough to understand (or at least accept) your explanation. If he wants vivid blue and bright orange, for example, you can satisfy that desire with small furniture items and accents in those hues and treat the walls to a pale, room-expanding tint of light blue or light orange sherbet.

Whether you and your child are inspired by a specific theme or just a color scheme, don't feel you have to create something elaborate. Keep in mind that the pictures you see in this book or in decorating magazines are settings at their "company best." In everyday life, a grade-schooler's toys, books, homework projects, and clothes tend to take over all but the most rigorously policed spaces. Even a minimally decorated room will look plenty busy most of the time, so keep it simple.

A captain’s bed, named for designs used aboard ships, is a great solution for storage in a kid’s room. Manufacturer: PJ Kids.

One proven, simple approach is to develop a color scheme of two or three hues and stick with it when buying or refurbishing pieces. If you have less-than-pedigreed furniture, paint pieces one color and add wood pulls and knobs in another color or design. If you're buying fabric accessories, use the more sedate color for big items such as a comforter or an upholstered computer chair. Save the brighter, lighter color for pillows and other small accents. If your child's scheme is navy and yellow, for example, you can swap the yellow for red, light green, pink, or any number of other choices when their tastes change without a big investment.

What if your child's favorite colors and preferred theme seem at odds? If that happens (it may, if you've got a particularly imaginative youngster), look beyond the prepackaged ideas out there. For example, a butterfly theme doesn't have to be delicate and pastel; the common monarch butterfly is dramatic black and orange. So, imagine a room with peach walls hung with monarch butterfly prints and black lacquer furniture with brass butterfly drawer pulls. You get the idea. Virtually any concept can be used with a little creativity.

Stumped on how to make it work? Ask your child. To a grade-schooler, the world of imagination is still clear and present, and a sea green giraffe may be just what he or she had in mind.

Of course, you can get a wealth of other ideas from the pages throughout this article.

We'll begin on the next page with a design that gives a child's bedroom the look and feel of a formal garden.

For more decorating ideas, see: