Redesigning Your Child’s Room on a Budget


redesignRoomChoosing the décor for your child’s bedroom can seem like a formidable task. Although it may be hard to believe, your child is growing up fast, and his or her interests are constantly changing.

One minute, your daughter loves playing with her dolls; the next, she is obsessed with Justin Bieber. Designing a room that your child won’t outgrow too quickly can seem overwhelming.

After all, you can’t possibly afford to renovate the entire room every few years—especially in these difficult economic times. But don’t get discouraged. It is possible to redesign your child’s room and stay within your budget. By making some simple, inexpensive changes, you can completely transform the appearance of the room. And you can continue to make minor changes as your child gets older, so the room reflects his or her personality. So start looking at color swatches and leafing through magazines for ideas. Let your creative juices flow. Unlike some home-improvement projects that are a major hassle, redesigning your child’s room is a fun activity that you and your child can enjoy together.

“Redesigning a room is a great idea because it allows you to work with what you already have,” says Deborah Goode, a certified interior decorator at A Goode Start Decorating and Home Staging, located in the Annapolis area. “And you can do as much—or as little—as you want. Even minor changes make a big difference. Updating the room’s appearance can make it look brand new.”

Redesign Ideas for Toddlers

When redesigning your toddler’s room, consider his or her personality and interests and choose a theme. For example, if your child enjoys watching Disney movies, select bedding and accessories that feature the characters he or she loves.

“If you’re choosing specific characters, make sure that items with those characters are available,” says Linda C. Jablon, interior designer of Home Makeovers, LLC. “Check local stores and look online. Don’t promise your child something you can’t deliver. I also recommend keeping items that reflect a specific theme to a minimum, so you can easily replace them when your child gets older. Don’t spend a lot of money on themes that your child will quickly outgrow. It’s better to choose a theme with longevity that matches your child’s personality and stands the test of time—a theme that easily takes your child into the tweens.”

Painting the room-whether you simply add a fresh coat of paint or repaint it an entirely different color—is one of the most budget-friendly ways to redesign a room. Jablon recommends khaki for a boy’s room because it complements red and blue. Celery is a good choice for a girl’s room because it works well with all shades of pink as an accent color.

Whatever color you choose, Goode suggests using semi-gloss or high-gloss paint because they’re easy to clean. Walls in toddlers’ rooms receive a lot of wear and tear. And your child is going to draw on the walls with crayons or markers; it’s inevitable. So keep this fact in mind when selecting paint—even if you always buy washable crayons and markers. If your toddler draws on the walls with regular crayons or markers—perhaps “borrowed” from an older sibling’s room—you don’t want to spend a lot of time scrubbing the walls.

Decals are another inexpensive way to redesign your toddler’s room. They’re easy to apply and are available in a wide variety of themes, such as butterflies, flowers, animals, cars or sports. Toddlers love stickers, so let your child help you apply them on the walls. And since decals are easy to remove, simply replace them when your son or daughter outgrows them or is ready for a change.

Redesign Ideas for Young Children and Tweens

As your child gets older, you can redesign his or her room by painting the walls a different color, choosing a new theme, replacing accessories or making other minor changes. Unlike toddlers, young children and tweens should definitely have input in the redesign process. Talk to your child about his or her interests and discuss ideas for updating the appearance of the room.

“Looking at pictures of rooms together is a good way to get ideas flowing,” says Jablon. “You can also cut out pictures and make a collage of ideas. However, consider your child’s age, and don’t overwhelm him or her with too many choices. Do some preliminary research and be ready to offer guidance.”

If you don’t want to paint the room only one color, consider utilizing paint in creative ways. Choosing your child’s favorite theme and painting it on the wall is a great way to make the room truly unique. For example, if your child loves the beach, create a tropical beach scene on the wall by painting the ocean, sand, sky and palm trees. Use decals or painting stamps to add details, such as starfish or shells. Another fun and imaginative way to utilize paint is to create a chalkboard in your child’s room.

“For young children and tweens who want to show off their creativity, I suggest painting a section of one wall with chalkboard paint,” says Goode. “This will provide a place for them to draw or write, and, hopefully, keep them from drawing on the other walls. Young children and tweens should also be encouraged to select the color of the walls, with their parents’ discretion, as well as the comforters, curtains, accent rugs and other accessories.”    

Storage is essential for young children and tweens. So make sure you purchase inexpensive storage bins—perhaps in your child’s favorite color—so he or she can organize toys, books, crayons and other belongings. Storage bins are a great idea because they save space and reduce clutter.

Redesign Ideas for Teens

When redesigning your teenager’s room, let him or her make the decisions and help with the work, such as painting. However, make sure that you set specific parameters and establish a budget. If you’re uncomfortable with an idea that your teen suggests, such as painting the room black or putting up posters that you deem inappropriate, try to reach a compromise.

When deciding how you want the room to look, Jablon suggests using an inspiration picture to generate ideas. “Shop together at discount stores or online for items that come close to the picture,” says Jablon. “Let your teen know your budget and view it as an educational process in making your dollar go the farthest.” 

“Look for accessories at consignment shops,” adds Goode. “You can find some really nice—and inexpensive—items. One great way to make accessories look new and unique is to spray paint them in a color that complements your teen’s room. This works really well with furniture, such as chairs.”

Goode also suggests placing corkboard squares on one wall, so your teen can hang photos or artwork. In addition, create a place where your son or daughter can study—whether it’s a comfortable area on the bed with a lot of pillows or a desk. And since teenagers value their privacy, give your teen space.

Getting Started

If you’re planning to redesign your child’s room, consider consulting an interior designer or interior decorator who can offer expertise, guide you in the right direction and help you save money. Perhaps you’re unsure of a color scheme. Or maybe you just don’t know how to get started. An expert can address your concerns and offer advice—suggesting creative ideas that may not have occurred to you. However, if you can’t afford to hire an interior designer or interior decorator or are simply feeling adventurous and want to throw yourself into the project on your own and see how creative you can be, go for it. That’s exactly what Linda Earls, a mother of two from Caroline County, has done throughout the years.    

Her stepson, who is 18, always chose a sport theme for his room, but it evolved over the years to match his changing interests. For example, he hung athletic jerseys and posters on the walls or displayed athletic memorabilia and personal photos. And he always chose the color of paint for his room.   

Earls’ daughter, who is 6, likes Hannah Montana, so she decorated her walls with framed posters and chose purple accessories. When she gets older and wants to change her room, she and her mother can remove the posters and replace the accessories to reflect a new theme and color scheme.

“I believe you should let your children decide how they want their room to look,” says Earls. “The parents should establish a budget, but the children should make all the creative decisions. Their room should reflect their personality and individuality, and they should be proud of it. They should want to show it off to their friends and enjoy spending time there. After all, it’s their room, so it’s an extension of who they are.”

Lisa Lewis is a regular contributor to Chesapeake Family.