I Have three kids, Three TEENS to be exact. Ages 15, 17 and 19. They have grown up entirely too fast…their childhoods now tucked into photographs, videos and memories and their young adulthood beckoning…My oldest son is a Freshman in college at UVA and his sister heading to William and Mary this fall. 🙁
LIVING WITH ME, my children had no choice but to live in a continually decorated / evolving home. In fact, my daughter’s college essay began with …
…”Coming home to the smell of a newly painted room…was my version of coming home to freshly baked cookies…comforting and familiar. “
What can I say? I LOVE decorating, I love color and once I figured out how (relatively) easy it is to paint a room..there has been no stopping me.
MY FAMILY moved a lot while I was growing up and thus I was always getting a new room. My Mom would go to great lengths to make sure that all of us kids (me and my 3 brothers) had bedrooms that were a safe haven… personalized and homey…even if the new home was in a strange new town. We would spend hours looking over paint samples and wallpaper books….coordinating fabrics and colors. We had a love/hate relationship with wallpaper and fabric stores…sometimes my brothers and I would drag our feet and whine and create a disturbance climbing through the racks of fabric…and other times my Mom would have to drag me out of there.
Decorating became an adventure, never feared, but instead an exciting challenge…something to conquer. I learned not to be afraid to make mistakes as some of our biggest mistakes turned into happy accidents. Budgets were almost always tight so creativity was key and I learned to turn a piece of junk into a glossy treasure with a little semi gloss and a paint brush. This has all fed into my passion for decorating and especially….
DECORATING CHILDREN”S ROOMS.
I love decorating Children’s rooms, especially when I am able to engage the participation of the occupant…figure out who they are and how they will use their bedroom. I have pretty much been through all the different stages at this point and as I look back I can see mistakes and successes, often things I would never have predicted…things that might have saved me some dollars…and cost me some more…but I would like to share my
TOP 10 LESSONS LEARNED DECORATING CHILDREN’S ROOMS.
- CHOOSE THAT FIRST BIG BOY ROOM COLOR WISELY – We are all for equal equality around here,and I always shy away from generalizations, especially where children are involved as they are constantly changing and growing, and NO ONE wants judged based on their gender…BUT I have found that MANY little boys , like the men they become, find great comfort in the familiar . Obviously there will always be exceptions to the rule, and I adore that boy who loves to makeover his bedroom annually…but my experience is that the color you paint their first big boy room…might just be the color they leave to attend college. Our sons, who are 4 years apart in age, shared a room from the time we moved into this house, which was when they were 3 and 7. Because they have me for a Mom we did change their room color a few times, but EACH time, it was in the blue family. Always blue, the color their room was first painted…little lighter, little darker …but BLUE. So LOVE that first color…you may live with it for 18 years. Thankfully I love blue.
2. EMBRACE CHANGE, AND BE READY FOR THEM TO HATE IT ONE YEAR LATER – My daughter’s bedroom has been : Pink, Aqua Blue, Different Pink, Beige, Navy and white and now blush and white. She loved pink, then hated pink, now loves pink and probably will forever…or maybe not. If I had it to do over I would paint 3 walls a beautiful white like we finally did and have one wall be the “CHANGE” wall…allowing for each new “FAVORITE COLOR!!!”. Truthful, I would probably do this for both the boys and the girls …
3. ONE SIZE DOES NOT FIT ALL – The first major purchase most expectant families will make is the CRIB. Oh my gosh how I LOVED sitting and staring our crib in first babies’ nursery, set up 6 months before he arrived…imagining him peeking over the edge…sleeping with his little butt in the air…little did I know he would NEVER sleep there, but instead, he preferred the warm spot between my husband and I and I did not possess the willpower to remove my sweet lump and listen to his screams. Move on to Baby Number Two – In anticipation of the same results, we even contemplated taking down the crib but decided that it would be prudent, if only for safety reasons, to prevent our toddler from “loving him or her too much”. Lo and behold, THIS baby..our pint sized chocolate eyed daughter, would not, COULD NOT sleep with anyone on anyTHING touching her while she slept and LOVED the open air freedom on her CRIB LAIR…The Crib was her happy place..her home…she lay there singing and babbling…just as she does in her room now. Funny I am just now realizing that Tate always liked doing his homework right there at the dining room table with activity around and our daughter has preferred the peace and quiet of her bedroom…lessons learned…NO TWO KIDS. are alike…
4. DRESSERS – GO BIG OR GO BACK FOR MORE – Kid-sized dressers are great…for KID sized children and clothing. Problem is…KIDS DO GROW and very soon, they grown right out of their onesies and overalls…and require full sized khakis and leggings and jeans and the little drawers just don’t cut it! With my first child, I reasoned..”I want him to be able to reach in and get his own clothing, MAKE him more independent ” HA! Most children are GREAT at getting clothing OUT of dressers , but FEW in my experience do well at putting things BACK INTO dressers. YOU will do this, for years…why make it hard on yourself? Trying to shove a pair of jeans into a stationary drawer is not fun. YES, you can insist they do it, go ahead and make your chore charts…but I have this “PICK MY BATTLES” mantra and it says…I gotta let this one go or I will never stop nagging!!! So, if you want to give your child access to their clothing in a larger dresser, you can just put them in the bottom two drawers, and as they grow they will eventually be able for each the top ones!
PERSONALLY l if I had it to do again, I would buy a safe simple inexpensive crib and INVEST is a BEAUTIFUL STURDY NEW DRESSER FOR EACH CHILD – LIVE AND LEARN. I would scope out end of season sales, and discontinued items from high end vendors. I would drive to Greenfront Furniture and troll Craigslist looking for the perfect study good-sized dresser and use the rickety vintage dressers for long term storage that does not get as much wear and tear.
5. VINTAGE IS AWESOME BUT EXAMINE THOROUGHLY – I love the character and quality of vintage pieces, especially these days when furniture, even “high quality expensive” furniture…can often be poorly constructed and not very kid proof. The dresser below on the left is a mid century dresser I got for Cooper at the Habitat store FOR $80. …it is big and sturdy and holds his heavy quarter zip sweatshirts and jeans without a complaint or a creak. Contrast that with the dresser on the right, Phoebe’s dresser, a beautiful antique bow front dresser and mirror that I got at at the Greenwood Country store for $300…the drawers have never closed right…and every time she pulls the handles the WHOLE dresser moves forward 5 inches. I think as far as dressers and pieces that will get lots of daily use are concerned…make sure the piece is EXTREMELY well built AND STILL FUNCTIONING.
6. NOT EVERY KID NEEDS A DESK – I was bound and determined to give each of our kids a desk when they entered first grade. A place to work and concentrate away from the distractions of the rest of the house. What I learned is that some kids love working in their rooms and some just won’t no matter how great a set up you provide. Phoebe LOVES her desk, works at it exclusively and I wish I had taken the money I spent on the 3 desks and JUST HAD gotten her a nice study desk with drawers and store and got the boys and GIANT COMFY CHAIR!. The boys have aways liked to be in the middle of things, doing their homework at the dining room table, near the food source, close to the TV. I adapted the Dining room to include a cabinet which houses extra school supplies and printer paper and the printer because that IS THEIR OFFICE!
7. STORAGE WARS!!!THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS “TOO MANY” WHEN IT COMES TO BINS, BASKETS, BUCKETS AND CHESTS TO STASH EVERYTHING. It is reasonable to teach and expect your child to pick up their toys. What is not sane is expecting them to put their things back in a completely organized way. Sometimes they just need a place that is NOT the floors.
We had years where the kids rooms were lined with cute baskets and bIns under their beds to contain all of their STUFF. So long as it was in the bin, bucket, basket or chest…we were all good. YES, quite often it was I who picked it all up…but it was easiest to just chuck it all in a basket. This includes shoes.
8. THINK OUTSIDE THE BIN – If you have more than one child, your house will need to be kids friendly for a while…and if you would like it to look like ADULTS live there, you can use OTHER pieces of furniture for storage…I am a HUGE fan of CREDENZAS AND CONSOLES – THEY ARE EASY TO STASH THINGS AWAY IN AND NO ONE WILL BE THE WISER!!!
9. BOOKSHELVES IN BEDROOMS ARE GREAT FOR ALMOST EVERYTHING EXCEPT BOOKS-. In the Years when you are reading to your child, a sturdy safe book shelf, Or those wall racks where you line up their favorites…. is great to keep the books in one place, but as soon as THEY become involved…. YOU will FOREVER BE PUTTING THE BOOKS BACK!. We found that a few by the bedside, or maybe a large crate on the floor where they can been returned sufficed. The rest of the books lived in a central location where some supervision could keep them from just being thrown around. NOW Bookshelves ARE GREAT..for toys and dolls and legos, trophies and projects and photos of their buddies. It is super handy to have nice open shelving where things can be placed…but books…IN MY EXPERIENCE – they are just for show…after they start school. And here is my little mantra – The books are only good if the TV is off!!!!!!
10. CREATE OPPORTUNITIES FOR YOUR CHILD TO MAKE IT THEIR OWN – At the end of the day…it is their room right? So give your child with places and opportunities for them to personalize their room. Magnetized walls, bulletin boards, Message Boards, shelves to display treasures…Children are born artists, each one of them, they communicate through their drawing and play doh…and while I am learning that saving every single thing may not be necessary..as things are created…it gives a child a great feeling of connection to be able to view his accomplishments. Especially those created with his own two sticky hands.
and ONE BONUS LESSON
Keep a few sleeping bags and/or a twin mattress tucked away for sleepovers. Once they start having friends over…it will be a regular occurrence. And while my daughter probably has 5 to every one sleepover the boys have…they all love to have a friend over once in a while. We pull the twin mattress out at least once a weekend, for all the friends that sleep over. Sleeping bags are easy to roll up and stash in the closet (pillows are always easily drummed up) but having access to bedding makes getting everyone settled in a seamless event.
KIDS GROW UP TOO FAST.
JUST TOO TOO FAST. AND THEN THEY MOVE AWAY. MOST OF ALL. ENJOY IT AS MUCH AS YOU CAN.