Color Them Happy
Start with a combination of hues your kids can grow into—after all, hot pink might be all the rage at seven, but may bring on headaches at 11. Muted shades of red, blue, green, and even purple have longer shelf lives than bold or juvenile colors and can be punched up with playful wall art and bright accessories through the years.
Pick Your Pattern
For your bottom line’s sake, resist themed bedding and fabrics
(i.e. the cartoon mega-brand of the moment). Studies show children switch up brand loyalties every two years (SpongeBob and Dora will be so yesterday in a matter of months), and by 18, that’s a lot of bedding sets! Start with a simple foundation fabric (or color) and swap out trend-neutral accent patterns (on throw pillows and bed skirts, for example) as your child ages.
Cut the Clutter
Kids’ room clean-up tip number one: give little ones a place to put things, and even the smallest tykes can help tidy up. Address the most obvious clutter culprits first—toys and games—and assign them a single large bin (or series of smaller ones) for storage. Keep overflow in check by editing out-of-use playthings twice a year. Installing shelving is a budget-friendly way to keep books, collections, and board games organized. Try this: Paint custom-cut plywood or a ready-made shelving set with a super high-gloss paint or lacquer in a vibrant hue like purple or orange for a high-contrast color punch along the walls.
Remember that some of the most creative moments happen behind closed doors, away from daily distractions. Invest in an art table, a desk for homework, a small sewing table, or just a comfy reading chair, and designate a corner of the room for quiet pursuits. Include an oversize bulletin board so your child can post past projects, photos, or handwritten musings.
Forgo “filler” accessories in favor of more meaningful décor. Hang maps and tag family-significant places like Grandma’s house or your annual vacation spot. Display a meaningful quote amidst family snapshots (why not create a colorful photo series from last year’s trip to the zoo, including that giggle-worthy gorilla photo?). Frame masterpieces from art class or use chalkboard paint on one wall to spark ongoing genius. Bonus? These are all DIY projects and big-time cost-cutters over the years.
MINIMIZE THE MESS
Build extra storage into wall recesses, window seats, and other tucked-away spots, or invest in beds with drawer storage.
Scout for storage bins with hinged lids. Like the good old-fashioned toy boxes of decades past, these help curb excess—a box that won’t close signals it’s time to pull past-their-prime toys and games out of rotation.
Line the closet wall with easy-access baskets for everyday items like shoes, swimsuits, and tee shirts.
Create a mini art gallery. Hang a clothesline along one wall for showcasing art projects and other treasures. Encourage your little one to keep the collection current.
Shop eBay for deals on new or vintage hobby items. Snap up mannequins for budding fashion designers, archaeology books for adventurers, crafting kits for DIYers,and more.
Invest in good lighting. Along with nurturing healthy eyesight, proper light enlivens and energizes any room.
A rundown of our favorite kid-friendly sources
www.Purlsoho.com and www.hawthornethreads.com are both bursting with bright patterns from scores of design talents, with decent per-yard prices. Locally, head to GDC Home to browse racks of pretty prints. Nadeau is a longtime front-runner for their reasonable price tags on furniture; check out their spring collection of lively painted pieces. Look for charming hand-painted growth charts at Sweet Olive, while Celadon, Acquisitions, and Morris Sokol regularly turn up sweet accessories like inspired wall art, embroidered pillows, and smart lighting.