by Anna Smith of Annabode + Co.
Designing a kid’s room or nursery presents its own set of rewards and challenges—for one thing, you get to have more fun! But there’s also the problem of infusing your child’s personality into the space. How do you do it? How far do you go? If they want lime green walls (like I did once), do you give in or put your foot down? Most of us want our child’s room to feel fun, young, and playful, which can really get your creative juices flowing when it comes to decor. However, my biggest concern when designing for clients is making sure the room will grow with their child.
Which brings me to: themed kids’ rooms. These kinds of spaces have never been my thing—the way I see it, we don’t decorate any other rooms in our homes that way, so why do we do it in our kiddos’ spaces? Heavily themed bedrooms and nurseries will work for a few years at best, but then your little one will move on from their love of horses, or airplanes, or bugs, and both of you will get tired of it. Plus, changing out all the theme-y items down the road means more time and more money spent.
When I was about ten or twelve, I begged my mother to let me redo my room. It had been my older sister’s in the 70s and 80s and was decorated in pink and mint green, complete with plaid wallpaper. Somewhere I had seen walls painted like the night sky and I thought it was the coolest thing ever. So my mother very sweetly hired a mural painter who sponged on a pretty intense blue and handpainted gold stars across the walls, complete with my astrological sign. And I loved it! I then added in moons and other celestial decor—from picture frames to my piggy bank. I thought it was amazing.
But then (and pretty soon after) I was a teenager…and I hated it. It seemed way too intense and silly and it really made me not want to be in my room at all (I know! What kind of teenager was I?!). But of course, my mother had spent a fair amount of money on it and wasn’t about to repaint any time soon. So I lived with it (unhappily) and I’m pretty sure they sold the house that way, bright blue walls intact, ten years later. It always made me feel childish, and was a constant reminder of how un-grown up I was at a time when we’re all trying to grow up really fast.
That’s not how I want my son to feel about his room, at all.
That’s not to say we shouldn’t try to incorporate the things our children love–their bedroom is the only space that really belongs to them, and they have every right to love it as much as we do! But there are ways to incorporate all the things our kids’ adore without being over-the-top.
Because kids’ tastes and interests change, here is where I recommend adding those extra fun elements:
Although I wouldn’t recommend spending a ton on artwork/framing if you don’t think the piece will grow with your child, art and prints can be a great way to incorporate whatever your child loves. Art is a simple thing to remove or replace down the road, and there are many affordable sources for both prints (I like Etsy) and framing (try Ikea or Framebridge).
2. Pillows/soft items
Pillows are also a great, affordable way to pump up the personality without breaking the bank. Try incorporating your kid’s favorite animal (how cute are these?). Bunting and mobiles are fun, too!
Dolls, action figures, piggy banks, blocks—putting your child’s toys on display is a sure-fire way to bring their personality into the space. The best part? It’s free!
And then, here’s where you may want to consider longevity:
I like to invest in high-quality bedding that will serve as a backdrop to the rest of the decor, and will fit into any new decor scheme down the road. Whites and grays are always classics, but stripes and polka dots can be versatile too!
Rugs are always one of the most expensive items in any room, so why buy a racetrack/circus/flower/donut rug now, when you’re probably going to end up replacing it in a few years? I’m not saying you have to pick a “boring” rug—there are plenty of rugs out there that are still colorful and fun—but if you don’t want to spend even more money later on, choose something that can either be incorporated into a new design or repurposed elsewhere in your home.
3. Window treatments
What’s often even more expensive than rugs? Window treatments. Whether it’s shades or curtains, stick to neutrals and treat these like part of the architecture of your home. That way, they’ll work no matter what the room turns into (guest room? office?) down the road.
Of course these are just the rantings of one interior stylist, and one person’s opinion only. If your child’s room is themed, then I bet they love it! And in the end, that’s totally what matters.
What do you think—are themed kids’ rooms a do, or a don’t?
Thank you, Anna!
And my own personal follow-up question: what was in your childhood room?
Anna Smith wants to live in a world where good design is accessible and affordable for everyone. An interior stylist based in Denver, Colorado, she creates modern homes for clients across the country through her firm Annabode + Co. When not buried in swatches and throw pillows, you can find her elbow-deep in renovations at her own fixer-upper. Work with Anna.A Beautiful Mess | Style By Emily Henderson | House Beautiful | Dwell | El Mueble | Hither & Thither | Hovey Design]