From the kitchen to the primary suite, most rooms in your home are worth spending money on to create a space you love. When it comes to kids’ room design, on the other hand, you don’t necessarily have to invest serious cash. “The bedroom needs of a child change from year to year as they grow,” says interior designer Phillip Thomas of Phillip Thomas Inc. “What was an essential when they were babies becomes completely irrelevant when they’re four. The same goes for what they need in elementary school versus when they’re tweens.”
The bottom line, according to Thomas, is that if you don’t want to spend a lot of money decorating your constantly evolving child’s room, you can pull off a stylish aesthetic by following a few do-it-yourself hacks.
Below, Thomas and interior decorator Allison Babcock, of Allison Babcock Design, share their favorite DIY kids’ room design ideas and advice for how to approach the space.
Babcock suggests choosing a theme that can grow with your child. “Children’s rooms don’t have to be overly juvenile to be joyful and age-appropriate spaces,” she says. A nautical theme, if you live in a coastal area, works for younger children as well as for older ones, with touches such as framed flags, black-and-white pictures of sailboats, and a buoy hanging on the wall as art. Fantasy themes are another idea because teenagers may appreciate them as much as toddlers. When decorating the room for a younger child, try peel-and-stick decals of woodlands and fairies. Older kids may like framed covers of popular fantasy books or sculptures of fantasy figures displayed on shelves.
Invest in furniture that can change function as your children get older, says Babcock. Bunk beds that can convert into a pair of twin beds as siblings grow up is an example. “With slight rearrangements, a craft or play area for a younger child can be transformed into a lounge or study space for an older one, but you need to buy pieces that change as they do,” she says.
Thomas adds to her advice by suggesting that parents buy basic pieces of wood furniture from stores such as Crate & Barrel, Room & Board, and Pottery Barn Kids, which can be easily updated with a simple paint job. “Customizing the colors based on your child’s current age and tastes allows you to make the pieces more unique and personal,” he says. “This works really well to transform toy chests, desks, and beds.”
Skip expensive artwork. Thomas recommends buying a selection of picture frames (hit up One Kings Lane, Wayfair, and IKEA) to create a gallery wall. It’s easy to swap out the images in the frames as your child grows, from vintage children’s book illustrations to family photos. Babcock likes the idea of framing a few personal items, like outgrown baby shoes, clothes, or special toys. Or better yet, choose favorite pieces of your child’s own artwork to frame and hang.