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How to Decorate a Child's Room

Wednesday, 30th June 2010

The thought of decorating your child's bedroom can be both exciting and a little daunting. While you want to create a space that your child will love, there's always that lurking fear that the end result may offend your sense of style. But it doesn't have to be the case: there are a host of great products on the market that are sure to appeal to both of you, and ways to build a classic style that will stand the test of time and still accommodate a little bit of kiddie kitsch.

A Special Place
Your child's bedroom should be a place they can really call their own, and actually want to spend time in. Seek out their input - favourite colours and combinations, and choose the scheme together. For younger children, look to their favourite interests to get clues for a room theme - jungle, traffic and fairies are all popular ideas, although be careful of going overboard or you'll risk having to redecorate every couple of years as their tastes evolve.

Furniture Choices
Look to invest in classic, hardwearing furniture and accessories that will stand the test of time, and add a few themed touches that can be easily and affordably changed, such as cushions, bedlinen or a framed poster on the wall. Painted wooden furniture, such as the designs at Treehouse Furniture and Sirocco Home, can all be retouched when required and will withstand even the roughest childhood play.

Shared spaces can present additional challenges, especially in a small space. Bunk beds are a great solution, particularly if they incorporate some sort of shelving or display area on each level. You can also create room dividers with folding or gliding screens or a carefully-positioned bookshelf.

In a small home, you may need to incorporate the playroom - or elements of it - into your child's bedroom. Dual-function furniture is a great way to do this. Put a small table and chairs in a pre-schooler's room (stackable ones, such as those from In Your Room, work well), and hang craft supplies in wall-mounted racks or string bags. Toys can be stored in coloured, stackable boxes, and boxed games and Lego can be housed in an empty trundle bed.

For older children, consider a day bed that doubles as a sofa for hanging out with friends. Funky bean bags on the floor make a great spot for lounging around, and they're easy to pile away when not in use. 

Feature Walls
Children love feature walls - they're dramatic and can often present an additional opportunity for play. Paint an entire wall in colourful chalk paint (try Porters Paints) or choose a funky chalk decal from Wallcandy. A mirrored wall is great fun for dress-ups, or you could try mirrored decals in butterfly or star designs to go around walls, furniture or windows (from Giggle Smile Designs). Bold wallpaper such as a thick horizontal stripes or Graham & Brown's 'Frames' wallpaper, which your child can decorate himself, are sure to add the 'wow' factor.

Soft flooring, such as carpet or rugs, is the best option for a child's room as it's warm and soft underfoot for play sessions and those early morning starts in winter. Look for non-toxic, all-natural carpet that's robust enough and with a good fleck in it to avoid shadowing or showing up too much mess between vacuums.
Rugs over a hard floor create an instant play zone. Dwell Studio has some of the best, contemporary designs around for boys and girls, while Minimee offers hard-to-resist 3D play rugs in 'traffic', 'dollshouse' and 'farm' themes. Ikea has some fun and more affordable options, although they're generally not pure wool.

Look for low- or no-tox paint finishes for kids' walls - they're available from all the major paint manufacturers nowadays. Forget very flat paint finishes in a child's area - washable finishes will allow you to easily wipe off hand prints or mementos of those artistic moments.

Smart storage is a must in a child's room. It should be accessible and easy for your child to use so that they get used to packing their own things away. Keep things off the floor as much as possible as it will make the room look larger and give your child plenty of space for floor play.

Look for all those typically overlooked storage opportunities, such as under the bed, behind doors, at the top of cupboards and on walls. Both Ikea and Howards Storage World have an extensive array of storage containers, baskets and shelving to fit these areas. Generous storage crates are easy for a child to use, and they can be labelled with words or a photo on the front for pre-readers (Fiona Kate sells lovely labels).

Safety First
Safety is paramount in a child's room - all furniture and accessories should adhere to Australian safety standards. Avoid dangling cords from blinds or curtains, and hot light bulbs that could burn little fingers. And remember - bunk beds should not be used by children under nine years old, and you should always look for soft-closing drawers and toy box lids.

It's important to install adequate lighting wherever a child will be playing, reading or working. Choose strong task lighting for reading, homework or craft areas, good ambient lighting to create a cosy atmosphere, and a night light to ward off monsters after dark.

Children love to display their collections of favourite things, so it's a good idea to incorporate some sort of display area in their room. Consider putting up a narrow floating shelf on the wall or dedicate a deep windowsill for that beloved collection of cars or fairies. Find clever ways to display their art - you can turn children's paintings into canvases, or invest in a CreaLamp that illuminates their best artwork in between two transparent panels. A more affordable option is to hang a revolving display of their paintings  on a washing line across one wall. 


Georgia Madden

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