How to Design a Dress-Up Area in a Kid's Room

Shari explains how she and Matt created a fun dress-up area in a little girl's room.

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Childhood is a time of unlimited possibilities. Little boys can be cowboys one minute and superheroes the next. Little girls can be trapeze artists, soccer stars or princesses -- all within an hour.

When my decorating partner, Matt Fox, and I were growing up, our parents expected us to use our imaginations to amuse ourselves. Some of my fondest childhood memories involve "playing house" ... and decorating, of course!

With today's busy lifestyles, however, it seems children have less time for unstructured play. As silly as it sounds, it almost seems as if we have to schedule unscheduled playing time into our children's lives.

Recently, Matt and I decorated a bedroom for a little princess and we decided to address that very issue. Since playtime seems so limited, we created a space to encourage creative play right in her bedroom.

As is frequently the case in bedrooms, corner areas are often underutilized. This bedroom was no exception. After completing the functional area of the room, we realized we had a fairly large area in the corner that needed attention.

We talked about the idea of placing a large, comfy chair in the corner. The space could be a reading corner or a spot for pre-bedtime cuddling. After some discussion, however, we decided to try something new.

We decided to create a special place for our little princess to play dress-up, one of her favorite activities. If all of her dress-up clothes and accessories were organized in one space, we thought even a short amount of time could result in a Cinderella moment.

Unfortunately, we all know that little princesses tend to grow up way too fast, so we wanted to create the dress-up area in a way that would cause no permanent damage to the room.

We decided to use closet rod to create our special place. When our princess grew up, only a few small holes would have to be filled to restore the room to normal.

The first step was to determine the placement of the closet rod. We measured four feet from the corner on both adjacent walls and marked a spot three inches from the ceiling.

In order to mount the closet rod hardware, it was necessary for Matt to cut a four-inch piece off a two-by-four board. He then cut this block diagonally from corner to corner, creating two triangular blocks.

He predrilled the blocks and mounted them with the uncut side to the wall using self-anchoring mollies. These blocks created the mounting surface for the closet rod hardware. After mounting the hardware, Matt placed the rod in the supports.

To make it easier for little hands, we chose to use a lightweight fabric to drape the dress-up area. Rather than make these drapes, we purchased two shower curtains in the same color as the walls. We mounted the shower curtain to the closet rod with shower rings.

Although the drapery system functioned very well, it didn't seem very festive. To make it more colorful and fitting for a princess, we cut varying lengths of a complementary ribbon and created streamers that were tied to the shower rings.

Next came the fun part: accessorizing. Since mom wanted to keep the area neat, we decided to add two shelves to the area. One shelf held pretty dress-up dresses and boas, while the other was used to store hats, purses and all the other fashion accessories a young princess requires.

Just in case our little princess had a change of heart and decided to become an astronaut, we added a toy chest, which served as both a seat and storage for other costumes and accessories. With the addition of a mirror, we felt our dress-up area was complete.

Our little princess was delighted with her new bedroom, especially the dress-up area. I bet the little prince or princess in your life would feel exactly the same way.

Matt Fox and Shari Hiller alternate writing this column. They also are authors of Real Decorating for Real People and co-hosts of the HGTV show Room By Room.

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