There's no getting around it: We want our kids' rooms to be fabulous because these rooms symbolize all our hopes and dreams for our children. On a rational level, we know that a perfect room won't ensure them a perfect life, but emotionally, it's a different story.
If you had your way, you'd create a castle in the air for your precious little (or not so little) one. But back here in the real world, most parents don't have unlimited time or money to devote to this important project. If you have an endless budget, the sky's the limit. But for most parents today the question is, "How can we provide rooms that nurture and protect our offspring, stimulate them, and grow along with them, without putting their college tuition in jeopardy?"
In this article, you'll see how to create imaginative, kid-friendly looks without breaking the bank. You'll learn how an intelligently designed room can help nurture a child's development at various stages of life. You'll also see how to meet the needs (and even the wants) of several kids in the same room. Plus, we'll show you how to translate your child's personal preferences into a livable decorating scheme that won't fade from favor with the next new fad.
When planning your child's room, remember that today's open-plan homes and distinctly casual lifestyle have their roots in the human craving for closeness. So you don't need to live up to some elaborate showpiece of a bedroom. For almost the first decade of life, most children's best-loved decorating accessory is you. It's a sad child who is expected to make a fancy toy-filled room take the place of a loving adult's presence. Any child psychologist can tell you that, from birth through the grade-school years, most children prefer to play and study in the room you're in, no matter how small or simply furnished. (Anyone who's ever tripped over toddlers in the kitchen knows how common this situation is.) So don't worry if you can't construct Sleeping Beauty's castle or a pirate ship worthy of Treasure Island in an 8 X 10-foot room. Even when money is no object, elaborate theme bedrooms delight doting parents and grandparents, but they're often too static and limiting to a child's own creativity. When we remember that children do much of their developing through the exercise of their own creative and analytical processes, we can focus on providing the tools rather than the finished pieces to enhance that development.
Sure, kids clamor for everything they see on TV or at a friend's house. But many parents know the frustration of buying the latest electronic novelty toy promoted in commercials, only to have it cast aside overnight in favor of pots and pans and a pair of wooden cooking spoons or a cardboard appliance box and some crayons. The same dynamic appears when you're furnishing a whole room for a child. Focus on providing safe, sturdy furniture and play structures, easily accessible storage, and appealing colors and patterns. The kids will supply the magic of imagination.
Of course, if you're longing to hire that trompe l'oeil painter or master carpenter, go right ahead. You can still provide an inspiring framework for imaginative play. Just keep it relatively generic. A forest playhouse can house Winnie the Pooh today, Robin Hood tomorrow; a seashore mural is great for today's Little Mermaid and tomorrow's scuba diver.
Learn about the basics you'll need to decorate your child's room on the next page.