There’s nothing easier than walking into a store or shopping online (‘shop this room’) and buying a bed-in-a-bag type deal. When it comes to spaces for kids, there are plenty of options available including buying matching collections or sets that comprise of everything from sheets, quilts and even window coverings. There is nothing wrong with creating a ‘theme ’in your space, but being inventive and stepping away from sets or only using a few pieces from a set will help you create a space that is not only more dynamic but definitely unique to your child. It will also allow you some flexibility in redesigning the space as your child grows.
By the time our kids are two to three, they’re ready to transition to ‘big kid’spaces, but that also means they have developed preferences for toys, fictional characters and colors. Designing a room for them takes a little more consideration as their likes and dislikes should be considered. Older children only have stronger preferences - balancing these with functional and affordable decorating can be a challenge, but it’s always achievable.
When I work with families, I’m often given a launch piece: artwork, existing bedding, a favorite toy to help drive the vision and plan for a room. Bright orange, bright pink… it has all been requested, and has all been incorporated. Moving away from the obvious pieces gives you an opportunity to find budget-friendly pieces that can be easily changed just like your child’s taste. A little DIY effort can also go a long way toward creating a cohesive and balanced space.
As an example, here are two rooms that sent me toward an African Safari theme. In the girl’s room, the clients already had the pink quilt, which had a zebra pattern as well as the striped bedding. The boy’s room had two original paintings from Africa, which were the color and theme inspiration for the room. Using the pieces to inspire colors for paint, textiles, artwork, storage furniture and accent pieces, the rooms were designed to last through their late preschool and early elementary years.
In the girl’s room, I took a lighter shade of the teal from the existing striped pillowcase to create a soft neutral background on the walls that will go well with many colors in the future. It also allows for the bolder colors in the bedding, toss cushions and window treatment to pop.
The patterns used on some - but not all - of the textiles and storage hint toward an African theme but in their non-traditional colors, it is subtler. A zebra toss cushion, the chevron blind and woven baskets all reinforce a ‘theme’without being ‘in your face’ obvious.
Most of the artwork carries through the color scheme of the room but deviates from the muted African theme. They are pieces that could stay or pieces that could go; these simple and affordable digital downloads from Etsy are abundant. The bolder black and white zebra work is simply a piece of 12 x 12 scrapbooking paper (if that isn’t cheap to switch up, I don’t know what is!).
One of the pieces I found when designing the boy’s room was the elephant picture on the bedside table. Using the elephant grey, we were able to decide on a bookcase color and paint the bed frame to match. While this required some labour, the color choice is one that can work with many themes or styles in the future.
I used the vibrant orange in the original paintings to search for bedding, the side table and more artwork. I was lucky to stumble upon some authentic African fabric leftovers and scraps from a friend - they were used to create a pillowcase and some one-of-a-kind (and almost free) artwork. And because the investment in both time and money into these two projects were minimal, the attachment factor decreases making changes in the future less heart wrenching.
The woven storage baskets are another element that helps us know this room has an African flair. The large lion hair beanbag is definitely dramatic but imagining this piece in a super mod- or scandi-inspired space seems fun too. Strategically placed stuffed animals and the safari toys on display for the photos let us know this room has a theme (but when do our kids ever clean up like that?).
In a few years, re-envisioning these rooms isn’t entirely daunting as the ‘theme’was created through low cost and low time investment pieces. The boy’s room could easily swing to be graphic and modern with black, navy and white textiles and prints. The girl’s room can grow up by changing the lights to metallic sconces and adding a desk instead of a wall shelf. Future planning of how the space could evolve in 5, 10 or 15 years is always considered in preliminary design schemes.
When considering decorating for now and the future, ask yourself what kind of investment in time and/or money you’re willing to spend. Some questions to consider: Are you prepared to repaint the walls in five years? Are you prepared to buy new furniture? Are you prepared to change the light fixtures? Careful planning in the early stages can lead to simpler and easier transitions in the future. As you plan and imagine your child’s space, think about how you can work outside the obvious and make sure you decorate with future consideration. And if you’re stuck or don’t even know where to begin, I’d be happy to help!
Kourtney, from The Chipper Nest, has a thing for creating custom toss cushions. She also loves finding creative and affordable solutions for you and your family. When it comes to themes, her series, ‘Design By the Book,’ demonstrates a fun way to plan a kid’s room around a favorite children’s book. The Chipper Nest works to create livable, lovable and lively spaces for children and families. To see more of her work, visit thechippernest.com, and follow along on Instagram @thechippernest, https://instagram.com/thechippernest/
Calgary’s Child Magazine © 2023 Calgary’s Child