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Designing Dilemma September 2004

Ten Tips for Decorating Kids’ Rooms

Dear Designing Solutions: My oldest child is entering third grade and my youngest will start kindergarten in the fall. I haven’t re-decorated their rooms since we switched them from cribs to beds. Any budget-conscience suggestions to help me re-do my children’s rooms? Dana

Dear Dana: Follow these ten kid-friendly tips to help you create rooms that will grow with your kids.

  • Some damage to the furniture and the fabric you use in your child’s room is inevitable, so consider how easily these items can be "touched-up." Choose painted or wood finishes that match-up to magic marker and crayon colors for easy touch-ups. Washable, fade-free fabrics- like Sunbrella- resist stains and moisture, so they’re perfect for covering chairs and floor pillows.

  • Save money on bedding that fades easily after a few washes. Use inexpensive solid colored sheets and pillowcases in combination with designer comforters, bed skirts and toss pillows. Or on a traditional bed, skip a bed skirt and use a patterned fitted sheet to camouflage the box spring. Both Kmart and Target have a great assortment of high thread count, solid or patterned all cotton sheets.

  • Try unusual kid-friendly accessories. Use decorative plate racks from furniture or kitchen stores for easily changeable art and book displays. Cubbyhole style baskets for storing wine and displaying plants make great desk organizers. Stacking plastic milk crates hold schoolwork and important papers and stylish wicker shopping baskets on wheels make moving dirty clothes to the laundry room easy.

  • Choose practical flooring that resists stains and wear. For wall-to-wall carpet, look at Tactesse nylon- the softest, most durable and most soil resistant "StainMaster" carpet available. Stay away from twists and cut pile and choose tightly looped or textured patterns, which don’t show traffic patterns. Less expensive carpet will feel more luxurious if you upgrade the padding underneath.

  • Preserve your wall-to-wall carpet investment and hardwood floors by adding small, flat weave area rugs on top in the areas that will take the greatest wear.

  • For walls and ceilings, use Benjamin Moore’s "Regal Flat Finish". The matte look hides imperfections in plaster and wallboard and it’s engineered to be "scrubbable" with just soap and water- an absolute must in any kid-friendly room.

  • For additional lighting at a desk, buy colorful, bendable, clip-on lights from an office supply store or at Target. They attach to the edge of the desk or bookshelf and give off a concentrated beam of bright, halogen light for just a few dollars. Let your child pick out the style and color.

  • Maximize your lighting investment by choosing recessed trims with reflective surfaces in clear or gold, instead of white or black trims. Boost the light output by using Spectralite halogen bulbs (available at lighting stores) instead of standard flood lights- you’ll get brighter, whiter light from the same bulb wattage.

  • Buy a desk chair with rolling casters to make it easy for your child to navigate his or her work area and to protect your flooring from scrapes and scratches that occur from moving a stationary desk chair. Many inexpensive models are available at local office supply stores.

  • For extra seating and storage, use an upholstered, lift-top bench at the foot of the bed. Cover it in Sunbrella fabric for maximum durability or, use a sheet from your child’s bedding so that it coordinates with the room and is inexpensive to re-cover…. Once it’s ruined.

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