Affordable tips for decorating kids’ rooms


I have decorated a lot of kids’ rooms in my day. I love it. I find that decorating for the pint-sized set can be a lot more fun than decorating for grown-ups because I get to incorporate a big dose of color and whimsy into the design. And what I’ve learned is that adding color and whimsy doesn’t cost a lot.

Good thing, too, because children grow up so quickly — changing interests as quickly as they change shoe sizes. So, why spend a fortune on decorating if you’re going to have to do it every few years? With these decorating tips, you really can stretch your budget along with your imagination.

Play with wall color

I love to start with a new wall color. A coat of paint can completely change a kid’s room for less than $50 in paint and supplies. And, boy, do I have fun choosing the colors — orange, lime green, turquoise, grape purple, anything but Swiss Coffee! I have no problem choosing bold colors because I know it’s easy to repaint if you or your child wants a new look. 

Think temporary

Incorporate decorating touches that can be removed easily, so you can change them out as your kids grow up. One great option is peel-and-stick wall decals, which are available at Bed, Bath and Beyond, Target and many mass retailers. There are decals with polka dots, flowers, animals, sports themes, inspirational phrases — you name it. They’re easy to put up and easy to take down. 

Always keep this removability factor in mind. I once made a canopy out of a hoop and sheers to hang above a girl’s bed. Although it looked like a permanent fixture, it was actually attached to the ceiling with a 3M Command Hook, so it could be removed anytime without damaging the paint.

Follow a theme by accessorizing

Again, always anticipate a child’s changing tastes. As much as he or she might want a “Star Wars”-themed room, getting a bed in the shape of a Tatooine landspeeder is not the most cost-efficient way to decorate. (I would want one, though. Totally.) Instead, rely on easily replaceable accessories such as bedding, pillows and wall decals. The same goes for hand-painted murals: Don’t invest in custom-drawn artwork for your kids’ walls; if they want a mermaid, a storybook or a dinosaur theme, make it happen through the accessories. 

Allow kids to grow into it

I used to automatically buy twin beds for kids’ rooms. But you know what? Kids get big. Purchasing at least a full-size bed will allow them to be comfortable even when they come home to visit (or live) after they’ve graduated from college. As for other furniture such as dressers, nightstands and bookcases, choose timeless pieces that don’t scream “for kids only.” If it’s too juvenile, you’ll have to replace it by the time they hit the middle school years. 

Make it easy to keep organized

Cleaning their room is just not in kids’ DNA. At least if there are plenty of organizers, they won’t have any excuses. Outfit their room with shelving for books and school supplies, bins and baskets for toys and clothes, and under-bed storage boxes to hide rarely used items. With the right tools, cleaning their room won’t be so much of a chore.

Turn their drawings into art

Sure, the refrigerator door is a nice place to showcase your kids’ artwork, but to really encourage their creativity, treat their drawings and paintings like masterpieces. Even if your child is doodle-challenged, put his or her scribbling in a frame and mat, and it will look like it’s from a modern art exhibition. Interestingly, this kind of art, though juvenile, becomes more treasured as the years go by. I’ll bet many of us wish our parents had kept our childhood drawings. 

Make it interactive

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