Decorating for the Little Ones

by Amber Bordelon

When you have little ones, it’s so fun to organize and decorate their rooms (or is that just me?). I knew that I wanted my boys’ rooms to be fun, functional, and stylish. But how do you accomplish that?

1. Stay neutral on the basics.

Sure, right now your 2 year old loves Diego. But in 6 months, he may love Ninja Turtles. Those character comforters and curtains may be cute, but they could also quickly become dated. Instead, consider choosing neutrals or basic patterns for the major items (comforters, furniture, and curtains), and add in personalized “theme” items with accessories. My three year old’s room is done in blues with a madras plaid comforter, and he has a few pieces of art that are airplane-themed. His solid navy curtains go with anything. I can easily see him in the space as an older child.

And don’t be afraid of light colors, even white, for quilts and pillows. I know white may sound crazy, but it’s actually a very kid-friendly color because it’s so easy to bleach if it becomes stained.

2. Think long-term on furniture.

Those small toddler beds shaped like cars are fun, but will your child outgrow it next year when he has a growth spurt? Furniture isn’t cheap, so it may be better to buy something that will last. We have a twin trundle bed in our son’s room. Right now, he doesn’t have friends sleep over, but in a few years, he will. And we’ll be prepared. Look for furniture that can mature with your child.

3. Allow space for creativity.

I can’t emphasize enough how much I LOVE chalkboard paint. It’s fun to have a space where you are allowed to write on the wall. How about putting a chair rail up in the room and painting the walls underneath with chalkboard paint? Or painting a huge rectangle as a chalkboard and then framing it out with inexpensive molding? What about painting the closet doors as a chalkboard?

Another idea I love is putting cork on one wall to make a giant bulletin board. You can purchase large squares of cork at craft stores and make your own board, as large as you want! One day your preteen will be tacking up posters–go ahead and make a space for it now. In the meantime, you can display some of that art that the preschool sends home.

4. Don’t forget storage and organization.

A bookshelf with storage baskets. A window seat that opens to reveal storage underneath. A great closet shelf system. Be sure to plan in plenty of storage space for all of the toys and clothes that your child has. I also like shoe storage bags–you don’t always have to store shoes there. What about socks and undergarments? Art supplies? Doll clothes? Kids like having a sense of order, of knowing right where things go. Set up a system that works for your child, and they may be more inclined to keep things tidy.

5. Throw in a “grown-up” element.

I think we’ve all seen cute little girls’ rooms with a fancy chandelier. How about a large pendant light with a drum shade? Grown up, graphic prints and fabrics? A cozy armchair for reading? One of my favorite kid rooms was featured in Southern Living, and the large pillows on the bed with brown squares would look great on a sofa! Throwing in a grown up item increases the sophistication of the space, and it adds interest, keeping the room from being too boring and “kiddie”.

6. Get their input.

Maybe this should be point number one! But ask your child for his/her ideas about the room. Ask them about favorite colors, how they want to use the room, what they want to play. My son loves playing trains and trucks–so he has a rug patterned with roads and buildings where he can happily play with all of his vehicles. Maybe your child loves art, so a desk and craft area makes more sense.  Perhaps you could frame some of their art for the walls. When looking in the room, you should be able to tell something about their interests and hobbies. Remember, the greatest kids’ rooms are geared to the children who live there!

To read more from Amber, visit her blog “Blooming in the South”

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