How to Decorate a Kid's Room

Tips on designing a kid's room with room for growth.
By: Kathy McCleary
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Don't add your fantasy into theirs.

Decorating a room provides a great opportunity for children to express their personalities, and can be a great opportunity for parents to learn more about their kids. "I’ll ask a child what her favorite color is and the mom thinks it's blue and the girl will say red," says designer Sherri Blum of Jack and Jill Interiors. "One girl wanted a workstation in her room for doing art. Her mom didn't know how important art was in this girl's life." Blum assures clients that they will have final say but always tells them, "If you really want pink and your daughter wants lavender, we can redo your room in pink."

Don't spend big money on trends.

Only follow the trends if they work for you, your child's age and your home. For example, fluffy Flokati rugs are a tactile draw for children, but impractical when it comes to clean-up and safety.

Do get funky with accessories.

Accessories are a great way to introduce a trend, because they don't cost a ton of money. "Beaded door hangings — sure!" says designer Lyn Peterson. "Or punch up a bed ensemble with cute pillow cases." Blum worked with a 7-year-old girl who wanted a pink camouflage comforter. "The mother was really turning up her nose at it, and I could see that the girl wasn't going to love it for too long. So we compromised; we made throw pillows in pink camo fabric."

Gray Contemporary Kid's Room With Blue Bed

Gray Contemporary Kid's Room With Blue Bed

This stylish bedroom will easily grow along with its young owner. Switch out the wall art and toys as the years go by; the colors and chic furniture will always be relevant.

Photo by: Kara Thomas

Kara Thomas

This stylish bedroom will easily grow along with its young owner. Switch out the wall art and toys as the years go by; the colors and chic furniture will always be relevant.

Don't buy twin beds.

One of the biggest mistakes parents make is not thinking ahead, says Blum. "The little boy who's 4'10" now may be 6'3" in a few years," she says. "It's important to think ahead to the future needs of the child and the future needs of the room." Buy at least a full-sized bed if the room is big enough to handle it. Interior designer Ann Fox, based in Dallas, notes that homes there tend to have plenty of space, so she advises moving toddlers straight from cribs into queen-size beds.

Organized Shelving and Storage in Kid's Room

Organized Shelving and Storage in Kid's Room

Kids can acquire plenty of paper clutter on their own, too. Keep their bedroom and playroom organized by integrating stylish storage boxes onto bookshelves and cabinets. Extra-wide boxes can keep precious artwork and drawings stowed away for safekeeping, and magazine holders can double as coloring book organizers. With a proper place for everything, cleaning up and staying organized can be a breeze for little ones.

Photo by: Martin Poole

Martin Poole

Do consider built-ins.

Often when a child goes off to college, their room becomes a home office or a guest room. Built-in shelves and even desk space are "great for a study or den," says Cathy Whitlock, a Nashville-based interior designer.

Bookcases or display cabinets are one of Lyn Peterson's three most important items to invest in for a child's room (the other two are the bed and good lighting). Shelving offers a place to display their stuff, and having plenty of space for books encourages kids to read.

Don't spend more than you can afford.

It's easy to get sucked into spending more than you planned, especially since kids don't separate "need" versus "want." Have your child make a list of all the things he or she wants for the room, from rugs to a lava lamp. Then, commit to the three most important and add the rest of the list as your budget allows.

Contemporary Kid's Bedroom With Dresser Storage

Contemporary Kid's Bedroom With Dresser Storage

With clean lines and plenty of clever storage, the HGTV HOME Voyage dresser in this kid's bedroom includes a flip-down media drawer for cable box or components, jewelry tray and cedar-lined bottom drawers.

Photo by: Eric Perry © 2014, Scripps Networks, LLC. All Rights Reserved

Eric Perry, 2014, Scripps Networks, LLC. All Rights Reserved

With clean lines and plenty of clever storage, the HGTV HOME Voyage dresser in this kid's bedroom includes a flip-down media drawer for cable box or components, jewelry tray and cedar-lined bottom drawers.

Do buy a few, high-quality items.

Generally, there are three transitions in the life of a kid's room: The move from a crib to a big kid bed at age 2 or 3; the changeover from the toddler room to a kid's room from ages 6 to 12; and then another redecoration at age 17 or so.

"More kids are returning home after college now," Fox says. "So people are decorating for a mature young adult/guest room." With that in mind, it makes sense to spend money on high-quality beds or dressers. "Think ahead and spend the money to get good furniture the first time around," says Sherri Blum.

Kids' Room Ideas

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Basketball-Themed Kid's Room

This kid room is so very cool with not one two basketball hoops and special shelving for displaying prize basketballs.

Photo By: Sesha Smith, Convey Studios

Pink "Sofa" Breaks Down Into Beds in Teal's Girl Bedroom

In this teal, girl's bedroom, a bright, pink sitting area is the perfect way to complete the space. The pink "sofa" here is crafted out of fluffy, pink cushions that can break down into five separate beds should the need for a slumber party arise. Complementing the fun colors in the space are elegant bead lamps that give the space a glamorous feel and flower pop art, adding chic detail.

Domino Cabinet in Girl's Bedroom

This cute cabinet is painted to look like a domino and offers up handy hidden storage. Baskets big and small are another chic way to add storage space and interesting texture.

Photo By: Surabhi Agrawal - Third Eye Chic Studio

It’s Easy as 1-2-3

Personalization in kid room decor is another inexpensive way to make a room feel special. As designers the messages we are communicating to our younger clients have to be a little more literal. Where form meeting function is paramount for adult’s spaces, perhaps educational and functional decor take precedence with young children as it did here in the boys’ room. Once the room has a great foundation, it’s easily and inexpensively transformed as children’s interests evolve.

Photo By: Tomas Espinoza

Oh the Places We’ll Go!

The Stansells are clearly a family of artists and at least two future world travelers. Maps are an easy and inexpensive tool for decoration in a child’s room. It’s amazing how the boys share the same wall color as their sister but the mood of the rooms is completely different solely based on decor. The boys were also lucky enough to have a rug woven for their room, which by the way successfully marries all the colors together harmoniously.

Photo By: Tomas Espinoza

How to Use Icicle Lights to Make a Light Box

Light up a room with a DIY marquee-inspired light box sign. This one was created using a shadowbox frame and a strand of colorful LED icicle lights.

Barn Home in the Country: Lego Lover's Dream Room

On HGTV's Fixer Upper. the custom Lego walls in this boy's bedroom is a Lego lover's dream. The large wall features a library style rolling ladder for easy access to the top of the wall, as well as, clever storage baskets for extra bricks at the bottom of the wall.

Photo By: Rachel Whyte

Sentimental Value

Everything in the young girl’s room has meaning. Here is a closer look at the quilt gifted to her from her mom and grandmother. Whitney and Micah bought this vintage bed, restored it, and lacquered it red especially for their daughter. It works perfectly with her well-organized red bookcase. Micah had the colorful rug woven specifically for her room when she was born. Lastly, the well-preserved hardwood floors are original to the house.

Photo By: Tomas Espinoza

Accent Pillows in Teal Girl's Room Create Design Continuity

The pillows on the bed in this teal girl's room match the pillows that accent the pink "sofa," creating continuity in the space, while a green lamp and green patterned throw and matching pillows accent the teal walls and white details.

Girls' Bedroom With Gallery Wall

The Kokeshi dolls in this girls' bedroom are from a local kid's shop and the designer framed an eclectic selection of art pieces (including from artist Saar Manche) to create a cohesive gallery. The unicorn lamp was a magical Target discovery!

Do put kids to work.

Give kids assignments, both to save money and to get them invested in their space. Blum taught one teenage girl how to make an inexpensive memo board for her room that looked like one in a popular catalog. "Teens can help paint a room themselves," Blum says. "For a child, you may take the light fixture down and have him spray paint it silver." Get kids to create artwork for the walls and frame it, or ask them to collect items that fit with a room's colors or themes (say, seashells and sand dollars that can be made into a shadow box, or fill a glass jar that can be turned into a lamp).

"It's shocking how many people don't put their kids to work," says Fox. "Utilize summers to have your kid gut the room and go through everything. I worked with one 18-year-old who still had Bambi videos in his room." Ask your kids to sort through their stuff and look at what they can give away or sell, so rooms don't become over-crowded with stuff.

Your child's room will be a strong memory for them some day, says Fox. "I had an orange and purple and hot pink room in the 1970s. How is your child going to remember his room?"

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