Creating Cooler Kids' Rooms

We teamed up with CertaPro Painters to transform these two rooms in just one day.
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Decorating your child's bedroom is no easy task. While it can begin as an opportunity for self-expression for your son or daughter, the project can quickly grow into a conflict between fun and function. We transformed two bedrooms in two days with CertaPro painters and some simple DIY projects. Here are some guidelines for creating a fantastic-looking bedroom that meets your child's needs, and the specific touches we added to these two rooms.

Personalize - within reason.

Kids are surrounded by personalized items - clothes, toys, electronics - so it's no surprise that they're eager to put their touch on their bedrooms too. But as every parent knows, your child's favorite color or hobby may not be consistent from day to day, let alone year to year. Rather than going all-out decorating the room around a specific theme, use a favorite color or interest as a changeable accent.

Roger puts together a shopping list based on his color selections.

Personalizing a boy's room: This 10-year old is fascinated with baseball...and food. After sharing a bedroom with his older brother for years, he was ready for his own space. Our goal was to give him a room that put his favorite sport front-and-center without making it a permanent fixture. We devised a system for prominently displaying his pennants that enables him to change out his collection over time - whether to feature new pennants or something else entirely. To create these rails, we used lengths of galvanized 1/2" plumbing pipe, elbow fittings, and floor flanges. We used slightly shorter side pipes for the upper rail so that the top row of pennants hang neatly behind the lower rail. As for that "EAT" sign? He's an aspiring panini chef with a big appetite.

Personalizing a teen girl's room: This 15-year old is interested in fashion and is an avid dancer and singer. Moving into her brothers' former bedroom, she was excited to have dedicated space to study and practice her moves. Our goal was to bring color and interest into the room with a mixture of bold colors and patterns, without letting a single color dominate. We added interest to the room by affixing a line of wood trim about six inches down from the ceiling, painting it and everything above Sherwin-Williams' Kimono Violet (SW6839). Against the neutral grey walls - Sherwin-Williams' Passive (SW7064) - the dramatic ceiling color gives the space an edge evocative of a room in a boutique hotel. We snapped photos of our dancer in motion and altered the photos to create colorful, abstract artwork.

Lily's finished bedroom

Be practical - without being boring.

Chris applies wood lattice to create a more dramatic ceiling in Lily's room.

Children's bedrooms are more than just a place to sleep. For socializing, studying, or just as a sanctuary, practical kid's rooms accommodate these uses. That said, not every child needs a toy chest, writing desk, and armchair. Take time to consider your son or daughter's daily routine when planning out design changes.

Practicality in a boy's room: Our 10-year old baseball fanatic has more than just school clothes and play clothes. His baseball gear, uniforms, and shoes take up a ton of space, so we made sure that he has plenty of storage space. In addition to a closet and dresser, we found a bed with pullout drawers and built-in shelving for displaying toys and favorite objects.

Practicality in a teen girl's room: Our 15-year old dancer is constantly on the move, in more ways than one. Beyond school, her numerous activities, and a busy social calendar, she's constantly rehearsing dance moves. While we had quite a bit to squeeze into the room, we wanted dedicated floor space for practice and a large floor mirror. As a fashion-focused teen, she has expressed frustration with the sliding doors impeding access to her closet. We solved this by removing the doors and replacing them with graphic drapes, making it easier for her to reach all of her storage space.

Cooper's finished bedroom

Show respect and embrace maturity.

Roger + Chris gather supplies at the hardware store.

Today's kids are more style-savvy than ever. They've grown up in the age of home design, renovation, and fashion TV shows. They innately understand that design is about more than making a room look nice; it's an opportunity to make a personal statement and create a space to be shared with their friends. Your child may have design tastes that are mature beyond their years. Embrace this. A more adult style - less of a "kid's room" - will foster a sense of responsibility and ownership that might - just might - drive them to pick their clothes up off the floor.

Maturity in a boy's room: We could have gone over-the-top with the baseball theme for this 10-year old, but within a few years he is likely to develop new hobbies. The specific touches - sheets, pennants, framed baseball cards - can easily be replaced should something new pique his interest. We selected Sherwin-Williams' Blissful Blue (SW6527) for the walls, a color that has lots of impact but is "grown-up" enough to work in a living room. The brushed twill drapes, oak furniture, and traditional plaid comforter balance out the baseball trophies and toys. This design will continue to work well into his teens with only minor tweaks.

Maturity in a teen girl's room: "I don't want it to look like a little girl's room," was the edict from the 15-year old. And so it doesn't. The bed receives placement at the center of the room, a placement more typically seen in master bedrooms, with the headboard set against over-scaled drapes that give needed privacy from a street-facing window. A hand-me-down dresser painted in sleek charcoal, gunmetal floor lamp, upholstered desk chair, and fabric-wrapped pin boards provide refined touches and assign places for objects that would otherwise create clutter.

Fabric covered cork pin board

Quick tip: Use fabric to add style to a cork pin board

Lily's old room included dozens of photos and paper keepsakes from friends and family. Sticking them in the edges of a mirror or taping them to a wall seemed at odds with her desire for an elegant, tidy room. Luckily, her bedroom has a small alcove near the entry - a perfect place to hang a pair of simple cork pin boards. Since brown cork wouldn't work well with the color theme, we wrapped the boards with some leftover green upholstery fabric. Using an upholstery staple gun, we fastened the fabric, hung them on the wall, and pinned on a few favorite photos. Fast, inexpensive, and fun.

Baseball cards

Quick tip: Baseball mania - but with an edge

Cooper is a baseball fanatic, but we didn't want his room to feel childish in its decor. What's an interesting and affordable way to give your kid his baseball fix without resorting to posters for artwork? We found an amazing collection of vintage baseball cards on the Library of Congress website. These high-resolution images are free to download and look terrific when printed on your inkjet using photo paper. Get your kid involved with the search for his or her favorite teams, and enjoy learning a bit about the history of the game.

Disguising ugly closet doors

Quick tip: Dealing with ugly closet doors

Lily's bedroom included a large closet with sliding doors. The doors had seen better days, and they made it difficult for her to get access to everything in her closet. Our solution? We removed the closet doors entirely (we left the track in place and stashed the doors in the basement). In their place, we hung a pair of drapes made from heavy upholstery fabric. Mounted on large wooden rings, the drapes can easily be pushed out of the way when needed and add a bold pattern to the room when closed.

Swappable art with pipes

Quick tip: Easily swappable art with pipes

Cooper has quite the collection of baseball pennants, and that collection is growing. How do you give your kid an opportunity to showcase his or her collection with the knowledge that it will grow and mutate as they mature? Our galvanized pipe hanging system does just that. We used 1/2" galvanized, threaded plumbing pipe from the hardware store to create two hanging rails. The 72" lengths connect to 90-degree elbows. To the elbows, we mounted 2" and 4" nipples, which finally connect to floor flanges that are screwed directly into the drywall. The lower rail uses the 4" nipples, which allows the pennants on the upper rail to drape behind it cleanly. For attaching pennants, artwork, and anything else to the rails, we used simple aluminum ring clips. Be sure to find a diameter of ring clip that is small enough to remain unobtrusive but large enough to fit onto the pipe. And don't forget to put the ring clips on before you assemble the rail and mount it.

Stylized photos

Quick tip: Stylized photos

Lily is an aspiring dancer. We wanted to include her passion in her room by taking a few photos of her dancing. But we knew she might feel a little self-conscious having photos of herself hanging on the walls. To give the photos a more stylized touch, we photographed her executing dance moves in front of a white wall. Using a slow shutter speed abstracted her figure and captured the sense of motion. We converted the images to black and white, and added brightly colored flares in Photoshop. Printed on an inkjet, these photos lend a personal touch to the room at minimal expense.

Dropping ceiling color

Quick tip: Dress up a lower ceiling by dropping color

Lily's bedroom ceiling didn't have much going for it. It wasn't particularly high, and there was no moulding to dress up the wall-to-ceiling transition. We added interest on a tiny budget by applying a thin strip of lattice all around the room. We used only the simplest tools to do this: a wood saw, a hammer, a level, and brad nails. The lattice sits about six inches below the ceiling. CertaPro's painters continued the bold ceiling color down to the trim - it provides a clean stopping point - and the end result is a much more interesting room for about $50 in supplies.


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