Room to Grow

Redecorating your toddler’s bedroom for the years to come.

Redecorating your toddler’s room can be a daunting task. Your little one is no longer a baby— in fact, not only does he talk, he probably has strong opinions when it comes to personal style. Let’s face it: Setting up the nursery was easy by comparison. You chose all the décor yourself and your baby was perfectly content with the result. Now you have a little decorator to consider and consult. How do you create a room that your child will love now, as well as cherish in the years to come? Here are a few suggestions.

Focus on the process.

As motivated as you may be to complete the project, it’s important to set a pace that is comfortable for your child.

“Every project is an opportunity to learn more about your child and celebrate growth and increasing autonomy,” says Pam Friedman, Westchester area parent educator and nursery school teacher. “Redecorating your child’s room is no exception. The most important thing to remember is that it is a process, which needs to be approached with patience and respect by the parents.”

Even though parents may prefer to see the bedroom makeover neatly accomplished in one weekend, their child likely needs more time to adjust. Friedman suggests getting started by introducing a new object, like a rug or piece of artwork. Once the new object is in place, “it can spark lively discussions about favorite colors, which can be starting points of alteration and which make the child feel she helped in creating the motif for the room.”

Respect your child’s style.

Even if you have the room perfectly decorated in your mind’s eye, the best suggestion may be to relax that vision. Chances are you and your child have very different ideas about how the room should look. While your child’s current obsession with sparkling purple unicorns or gigantic furry spiders may not match your idea of the ideal room, you can still allow your child to have some input in the design.

“Another way to involve your child in the decorating process is to allow him to make certain choices about what goes in his room, and then to respect those choices,” advises Friedman. “Limit the choices he makes to the most salient and important items for him, such as pillows, linens, wall color and stuffed toys. This narrowing of choices gives the child a sense of control and ownership without overwhelming him with too much power and allows you to keep the process going in the stylistically appropriate direction.”

Don’t break the piggy bank.

Decorating a bedroom can be enormously expensive. Furniture is undoubtedly the most critical element to any room and it will also take the largest bite out of your budget. The good news is that if you choose wisely from the start, that initial investment will save you in the long run.

Susan Fougerousse, president of Rosenberry Rooms, a facility for children’s furnishings and accessories, suggests choosing furniture that will stand the test of time. “Classic and neutral furniture serves as a great building block, which allows for a wide array of options for changing décor as your child grows,” says Fougerousse. “Since your child’s tastes and personal style will change dramatically over the years, you can use window treatments, wall art and other trendy accents to update the look easily and with a modest budget.”

Start with great art.

Incorporating art is an easy way to make your child’s room unique and special. “One painting on a bleak, lonely wall is all it takes to bring personality and color to a room,” says New York-based artist Lisa Williams. Fortunately, high-quality artwork for children is now more accessible and affordable than in years past. Art is a terrific choice for a child’s room because it is something parents and children can enjoy together. Not only can artwork stimulate the imagination, it can spark conversations, arouse curiosity and encourage learning. It may also be one of the few items in the room that your child never outgrows.

“The best possible piece for a child’s room is one that can follow her through life, one that has new appeal at each stage of her life,” says Jonathan Blum, a Brooklyn-based artist and father of two young children.
Be sure to designate a place on a bedroom wall where your child can hang his own masterpieces. This will further reinforce the value of your child’s contributions to the decorating process and help him put his own mark on the space.

Play and clean with ease.

Remember that functionality is the essence of good design and the key to your sanity. Your child’s room should create an environment where your child can both relax and play. Ensure that your child has easy access to his books and toys and make it simple for him to clean his room.

“Creative and useful storage is one of the most important elements to remember when decorating a child’s room,” Fougerousse says. “But, storage solutions don’t have to compromise the look of the room. Using coordinating baskets for toys on the bookshelf, storing larger items in a window seat, using decorative wall hooks to hang bags are all ways to keep things tidy and organized without sacrificing your style.”

What’s to come?

One of the most difficult aspects of redecorating your toddler’s room may be your own realization that he’s growing up. So, if the decorated bedroom is not a mirror image of the room you had envisioned, don’t despair. It will keep getting better— and be perfect in its own way, in its own time.

“Remember, your child’s room, like she herself, is a work in progress and reflects ever-changing preferences,” Friedman says. “Be flexible to inevitable change and look upon it as a new opportunity to learn about your growing child.”