For kids, create a space where there's room to grow

Maureen Feighan
The Detroit News
  • Ideas abound for making kids' bedrooms fun, playful, functional
  • Choose multifunctional, durable staple pieces, local designer says
  • Function, storage is important

My husband and I recently bought our 4-year-old son his first big-boy bed.

Shortly after it arrived, he excitedly jumped up and down on the new mattress (he's 4; why not, I figured?) and reveled at his new Spider-Man sheets, bed frame, blue-and-white striped comforter, and shark throw pillow.

"Mom," he told me in a serious tone when his test run was complete. "My new bed is awesome."

I hope he always feels that way about something as simple as a bed, because when it comes to our homes, if there's one room that should feel awesome, it's your child's bedroom.

Your child's room should be an expression of their personality and there are now easy ways to infuse whimsy and fun into the decor, whether it's unique storage, pillows, accents, wall decals or paint colors.

If your child is old enough, blogger Will Taylor, the author of "Bright Bazaar: Embracing Color for Make-You-Smile Style," says decorating your child's room can be a team effort; it's a way to embrace "your inner child."

"If you've always wanted to add a bit more whimsy to your home then a children's bedroom offers you the perfect opportunity," writes Taylor in "Bright Bazaar."

Still, as with everything else in our homes, function is important. And if your child is in a small room or shares a bedroom, multifunctionality is especially important.

Interior designer Kristin Ross, owner of Finish by Red Decor in Grosse Pointe, suggests buying timeless furniture that is multifunctional, durable and high quality for the larger pieces in a child's room, but says it's OK to get inexpensive bedding, window treatments, accent pillows from places such as Target, IKEA or Home Goods for the "of the moment" elements in a room.

"Sink money into a beautiful vintage chest of drawers that will serve as a changing table and a spot for storage when designing for an infant," Ross says. "Eventually, expensive nursery furniture sets become obsolete ... What serves as a diaper changing station for a newborn in the first few years for a new family, has the potential to follow your child through life and into a home of their own some day, if you play it smart."

Below are some other great ways to infuse fun and function into your child's space:

Color it up

Bold colors aren't for everyone — some prefer neutrals and instead use accents to bring color into a space — but paint is one easy way to infuse fun or whimsy into your child's room.

Blogger Taylor says when it comes to color, if you plan to combine two strong colors, it's important to introduce some patterned elements "to help temper the strength of the hues," he writes.

"A graphic striped rug laid on the floor or a bold floral pattern in the curtain fabric can work well," he writes.

At Homearama last year, designers from Gorman's Home Furnishings & Interior Design painted a boy's room in a bold tangerine color on one wall.

Ross says she's a big fan of a neutral wall color in a child's room — though that doesn't necessarily mean shades of white, beige or gray, she says; she loves using a very pale pink or lavender as a neutral — and "they allow for weaving inexpensive trends of color and style that can be switched out as a child grows and finds their artistic voice."

That said, paint is inexpensive, she says.

"If your opinionated older child insists upon color on the walls — negotiate!" she says. "If your child is set on electric blue walls, suggest a more calming shade of blue with exciting blue accents. Take into account and explain that certain colors are better for easing into sleep."

Handmade touches

Yes, Pinterest inspires us all to tap our inner Martha Stewart (or Gwyneth Paltrow, or whatever lifestyle or crafting guru you prefer). If that's not an option for you, there's always

If you haven't bought anything from etsy before or even perused it, it's a website that sells handmade goods from artisans all over the world. It offers everything from handmade pillows for kids' rooms and duvet covers to banners, garland and wall decals — many of which can be personalized.

LillsLoft — — is based in Brighton and makes adorable personalized fabric banners spelling out your child's name. Owner Gillian McColgan also makes burlap banners and pennant banners; prices start at $15.

They're perfect for draping across your baby's crib or hanging from a young child's room. They may be too babyish for an older child's room, but if your teen loves shabby chic whimsy, maybe it's not.

Wall decals are another fun option. For my son's nursery, we found an adorable tree decal on etsy with two owls. We applied all three to the wall and the owls perched over his crib while he slept.

Add some art

Another great way to add some personal touches to your child's room is with art.

Gallery walls are very big these days and what better way to show off your future Picasso's painting skills than with framed art? If you want to use all the same frames, Target offers a 10-piece Walnut Frame Set (Linear Wood; $26.99).

If you don't want to use frames, create your own gallery wall. Elsie Larson and Emma Chapman, authors of "A Beautiful Mess: A happy handmade home," recommend creating a Kids' Art Gallery Wall using three wood boards (cut to the height of your ceiling), screws, wire, and wooden clothes pins. Attach the boards to the walls in vertical lines and measure wire to fit across your boards. Voila: you have gallery wall where you can hang (and easily change) your child's art.

Larson and Chapman say don't be afraid to make your kids' room different than the rest of the house.

"This space should foster kids' creativity and encourage them to play, explore and create," write Larson and Chapman in "A Beautiful Mess."

Storage and function

But of course, function is important, too. That means space for doing homework (if you have it) and ample storage for toys, shoes, you name it.

Taylor recommends baskets that fit under the bed. Label them so kids can easily pick up their toys and know what goes where, he suggests.

And since kids tend to collect things, painting a contrasting color inside of a neutral toned bookcase or behind a shelving unit is a great way to add interest inexpensively, says Ross of Finish by Red Decor.

It's all about a balance, she says.

"Curate your space with a balanced mix of your aesthetic (borrowing from both tradition and trend), but encourage your child's self expression," Ross says. "A child that has input and some sense of ownership in their room's design will tend to respect the space more and likely take more pride in its maintenance."

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Affordable kids' room decorating ideas

1. Create mini galleries

2. Accessories with patterns

3. Collect pieces over time

4. Get to know

5. Break out the sewing machine

6. Create the little details by hand

7. Give a cheer for pom-poms

8. Design your own bed

9. Get creative with paint

10. Choose oversized wall decals

11. Make your own mobile

Source: HGTV