Kids' Bedroom Decorating Ideas


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.

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Garden District Kids' Bedroom Decorating Idea

Travis Manning Diamonds, hand-painted on the wall and sewn into a luxurious quilt, create a subtly dynamic feeling. Designer: Diane Holdren, Holdren’s Interiors, Inc.

A charming take on garden style, this room owes a bit of inspiration to the French-infused look of New Orleans or Savannah.

While many garden schemes for girls use more obvious ice cream tints, this room's chic color scheme is grounded in subtle sage and celery greens. These go-with-everything tints appeal to more sophisticated tastes and look great with periwinkle and mauve.

The real stars of the room, however, are the wonderful hand-painted images that embellish walls, trim and even the bed's headboard. They're whimsical without being too sweet, so they won't be outgrown too quickly.

Travis Manning Wonderful hand-painted garden designs give a large door great visual interest. An iron birdbath lamp continues the garden theme.

Against this background, pale furniture with hand-painted garden accents really shine. A few amusing accents, such as lengths of white picket fence, complete a garden space with perennial appeal.

Staying in the past but moving westward, the decorating idea on the next page takes on a frontier theme.

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On the Frontier Kids' Bedroom Decorating Idea

Jennifer Krough Bandanna-print rugs and retro cowboy memorabilia give this room a look that’s warm and fun. Manufacturer: The Warm Biscuit Bedding Co.

Cowboy style was always a lure for boys, but the American Girl doll phenomenon has popularized frontier lore for girls, too.

Today, both boys and girls can find themselves in rustic, easy-to-live-with frontier style, and, if you enjoy country style or collect Americana, it's easy to bring the look to kids' spaces.

Many Shaker- and Early American-style furnishings are perfect for children's rooms because these designs are so simple and practical. For example, wall racks with pegs for clothing were frontier fixtures, and they're much easier for kids to use than hangers in closets.

Contoured wood ­chairs are sturdy and comfortable, quilts are colorful and washable, and frontier-style heirlooms are already weathered and faded. And if you find yourself stuck for a color scheme, all-American red, white, and blue is a natural.

Practicality is a hallmark of modern design, too, as demonstrated in the decorating idea on the next page.

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Components of Fun Kids' Bedroom Decorating Idea

Tom Bonner Intensely colorful bed linens and imaginative artwork give this soothing, neutral room a jolt of excitement. Designer: Alla Kazovsky. Manufacturer: Kids’ Studio.

Fun, flexible, free-spirited and fuss-free: That's all the best of modern style, and it's all here.

Tom Bonner This combination drawer and open shelf storage unit maximizes space.

This room for a young boy is hard-working and great-looking, too. Rather than focusing on one theme, this room lets its young occupent keep all his favorite treasures around, from superheroes to dinosaurs to trains.

What helps keep the room from looking too cluttered is storage -- and lots of it. Open storage is a smart solution, and, in this room, it's also an attractive one.

Furniture is smooth Finnish birch plywood, but the principles could be applied to virtually any material, from unpeeled cedar logs to laminate. What's key is the focus on providing kids with just what they need for sleep, study, storage, self-expression -- and good old-fashioned play.

Girls might prefer a delicate, romantic look, like that in the decorating idea found on the next page.

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Room to Grow Kids' Bedroom Decorating Idea

D. Randolph Folds A simple slatted bed and a cushy full-size armchair plus ottoman give this room comfort to spare. Designer: Connie Thompson, INTERIORS by Decorating Den.

­A room furnished only with a computer desk and a dresser was begging for romantic additions to make it a pretty nest for a young girl.

D. Randolph Folds A mix of raspberry stripes, yellow checks, and pink-and-yellow parrot tulip fabrics creates a cheerful, feminine look the occupant won’t outgrow.

With the purely practical furniture already in place, the homeowner's attention turned to creating a breezy garden-inspired getaway. While this room isn't skimpy, the design

devices used here would work miracles in

any small room.

Sky blue walls give the room an airy feeling that's enhanced by the graceful tall window on one wall. A wonderful trompe l'oeil garden mural visually expands the room even further. Incredibly, the mural isn't an expensive hand-painted one; it's actually wallpaper.

The space-expanding approach extends to the floor with the use of an eye-catching rug laid on a diagonal. The result is a cool, comfortable space that can go the distance.

If your girl (or boy) is more of an athlete, check out the sports-themed decorating idea on the next page.

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That Sporting Life Kids' Bedroom Decorating Idea

Handsome traditional furniture doesn’t look fussy in this lively room. A rich blue background and fun accessories give a vibrant feeling. Retailer: Bombay Kids.

If you've got a youngster who's an avid sports fan or active player, you can't miss with a room designed around his or her athletic passions.

Any young player or fan would warm up to a sports-embellished quilt set like this one. Retailer: Bombay Kids.

Sports themes have always been popular for boys, and the classic look of these rooms, done up in neutrals and primary hues, shows the timeless versatility of this approach.

These days, however, you can also find sportif ensembles for girls in feminine aqua and lilac as well as the usual gray, blue, tan and red. If your youngster isn't set on particular colors, consider adopting the two-color scheme of a professional or college team your family follows.

Unlike many other youthful enthusiasms, a love of sports may last, and you'll have yourself a winning formula for decorating.

For something more subtle, the garden-inspired decorating idea on the next page might be your thing.

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Old World Enchantment Kids' Bedroom Decorating Idea

Greg Page In this comfortable room, the bed becomes a lovely focal point with a graceful swag suggesting a canopy. Designer: Alan Nugent, INTERIORS by Decorating Den.

The young girl who lives here loves pink and yellow, but her mother didn't want an overly bright treatment her daughter would tire of quickly.

Greg Page A simple knotty pine desk and hutch, whitewashed so the knots show through, is decorated with a few delicate accents in watercolor tints.

The solution was to use romantic, subtle versions of the favored hues: porcelain pink, mauve, antique ivory and old gold.

The girl's existing furniture, simple whitewashed pine with a French country feeling, worked nicely in the space. A simple swagged fabric treatment makes the bed a focal point; a few special vintage pieces, such as the faux bamboo end table and the circus rocking horse, enhance the nostalgic ambience.

Delicate trompe l'oeil fairies, leaves and vines embellish the walls but with a subtle touch. This is a space she'll cherish, now and through the years.

If you do favor bolder colors, the decorating idea on the next page demonstrates how to use them gracefully.

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Outlook: Cool and Sunny Kids' Bedroom Decorating Idea

Naturally finished birch wood and a gently curved traditional design make this group a standout. The unit incorporates a computer desk. Manufacturer: PJ Kids.

Bright and light, hues of blue, green and yellow are kid-friendly favorites in just about any setting.

In these rooms, the appeal of an analogous blue/green/yellow scheme is set off by the warm natural wood tones of the furniture. Pieces with simple, graceful lines and comfortably rounded corners are always winners.

Kids everywhere throw clothes, toys, and what have you under the bed. A captain’s bed makes that habit a neat one. Manufacturer: PJ Kids.

The ones shown here are traditionally styled,

but it's possible to find "soft contemporary" pieces with a similar pleasing feeling. With colors this inviting, you may want to stick with solids, but stripes, checks and simple plaids are other popular choices for both boys and girls.

If and when your child's tastes change, you can change patterns and colors with ease. The basic furnishings will look just as great, whatever next year's look may be.

Changing colors is also the most inexpensive way to change decor, as seen in the decorating idea on the next page.

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Crayon Box Colors Kids' Bedroom Decorating Idea

Spaceships decorate these bed linens, but you can find the same rich blue on a host of patterns. Stylist: Amy Leonard. Manufacturer: The Glidden Company.

When your vision for a room is bigger than your budget, reach for a can of paint. It delivers the fastest, biggest change for the smallest investment, and your choices are unlimited.

A slatted table and chairs create a parklike feeling that’s enhanced by the cheerful Kelly green hue.

Changing the wall color will have a great impact just by itself, but why stop there? Unite an array of unmatched furniture pieces by using paint colors that harmonize with the walls, and you'll have a pulled-together look without breaking the bank.

In this room, pale blue walls visually expand the space; rich blue and green furniture blends in and preserves the room's visual flow.

Against this cool blue and green background, hot red and yellow accents really pop. What kid wouldn't love it?

Being cool is fun, but it's important to think about substance, too. The next page shows how a decorating idea can stimulate your child's development.

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Garden Flair Kids' Bedroom Decorating Idea

Steve Martin A laser-cut border of cascading leaves suggests an airy pergola, enhanced by a wrought-iron daybed. Designer: Gloria Rinaldi, INTERIORS by Decorating Den.

The mother of this Garden Flair Kids' Bedroom's occupant is a Montessori teacher who believes everything around the child will affect the development of her daughter's personality.

Steve Martin A charming mix of fabrics gives this window seat a feeling of luxury and fun.

Inspired by her own childhood garden memories, the mother requested a garden-theme room that could grow along with her young daughter. The decorator obliged with a complementary color scheme and a mix of pretty but not childish fabrics.

Walls the color of Granny Smith apples make a background both soothing and lively; accents in rosy red add punch.

While the wealth of dressmaker details on pillows and other fabrics are delightful, this room is practical, too. The window seat contains a number of roomy storage drawers, the trundle daybed will host sleepovers through the teen years, and there's plenty of floor space for play.

Personality abounds in the decorating idea on the next page, a seafaring theme.

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Lure of the Sea Kids' Bedroom Decorating Idea

Jay Rosenblat A boat makes a charming bed for a young sailor. Designer: Diane Boyer, ASID, Diane Boyer Interiors, A Division of Bill Behrle Associates. Window treatment: L&G Decorator Workroom. Trompe l’oeil painting: Holsten Interior Artisans.

For a youngster who can't get enough of the water and rustic environs in general, this seafaring space is a permanent island getaway.

Jay Rosenblat A weathered Adirondack chair makes a classic perch for gazing out to sea. The hand-painted floorcloth puts sea and sand at a young mariner’s feet.

A small room with awkward eaves may seem an ambitious canvas for a seascape, but a masterpiece of trompe l'oeil painting turns the whole room into a natural setting that blurs the boundaries of ceiling, walls and floor.

Craggy rocks, beach, sea grass, fir trees, rustic little boats and a sea that meets a cloudy sky all weave a spell.

In decorating as in advertising, power comes from having one big idea on which to work variations. With a big idea like the sea, it would be easy to take a side trip from this rustic fishing village to a treasure island or a tropical getaway, depending on your child's personal preference.

There are many big ideas for kids' bedrooms out there. With help from this article, you can find the one that's right for you.

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ABOUT THE AUTHORS

Mary Wynn Ryan is the author of numerous interior design books including The Ultimate Kitchen, The Ultimate Bath, Cottage Style, Fresh Country Style, and Garden Style. She has written about home furnishings and interior design for various magazines and served as Midwest editor of Design Times magazine.

Heidi Tyline King is an accomplished writer and editor. She has written extensively about America's arts, culture, history, nature-based attractions, and decorating projects, including All About Paint and Wallpaper, Beautiful Wedding Crafts, Pelican Guide to the Florida Panhandle, The Unofficial Guide to the Southeast with Kids, and others.