Creating a room for a child (as opposed to a baby) can be tricky. When they are really little, you can create EXACTLY what you like…the colours you love, the style that suits your home aesthetic, you name it. However, once those little people start growing and develop (God forbid!) an opinion, then it isn’t always so easy. Bedrooms can be pricey too, so you also need to consider that what they love at the age of four, won’t necessarily work at the age of 10! With all of these things in mind, I wanted to share my biggest little’s room. He moved out of his toddler bed last year (at the age of four!) and it was time to upgrade. I figured getting four years out of a space and a heap of furniture was a pretty good deal, so I was keen to try and do the same again. So far, so good. We are almost six months into his new room and he adores it as much as he did the day he moved in. He plays in there (alone, and with friends) all the time, and since creating a new space for him there are less toys in the lounge room and we have been able to develop some systems so that packing up is easy. In fact, even with the most chaotic play date, everything has its place and it usually takes less than 15 minutes to restore everything to how it should be.
Which brings me to my first tip…
#1. Have a place for everything. One box for certain toys, one shelf for another. Books here, drawing bits and pieces there. Kids are happy to help, so long as they know what they are doing. Oscar is a crazy Octonauts fan and over the past two years he has accumulated a lot of
that plastic crap pieces. The basket at the end of the bed looks pretty (to me), is easy to drag around and all of the Octonauts large pieces can be thrown in there at the end of the day. A lot of the Octonauts have been known to end up in the bath, so an airy basket that is open to the elements is less likely to create a mouldy mess than a box in the cupboard may. The bedside table also hold goodies – books that we are into at the moment and the top drawer has PJ’s inside, meaning that he can easily dress himself at the end of the day. I also love to have a kid’s sized chair in rooms…a comfortable place to sit and read encourages all sorts of good habits.
#2. A great piece of art gives you colour and fun. Whether it is fab wallpaper, a decal or a fabulous print – creating a feature on the wall is a lovely way to tap into what your child loves, introduce them to art and give you the chance to update one piece (rather than the whole room) as they grow. Oscar is obsessed with the idea of ‘going on safari’ and although Tin Tin isn’t always politically correct (that’s going to happen with something that was written and created in the 1930’s) I adore the artwork and the idea of encouraging travel through passions. We made this poster by scanning the cover of the book (I will be offering a tutorial on how to do this next week…super easy and you could do it with just about anything!) All of Oscar’s favourite toys live on the bed too. Mostly he chooses one to sleep with and the rest stay at his feet, but having fun cushions and toys on his bed gives him another place to play.
#3. Choose a bed that will last a while. We umm’ed and ahh’ed about single vs. king single for the longest time…and in the end we decided to buy a single for him. We still aren’t sure if he will share with his little brother in a year or two, so a single bed gives us a little more flexibility there. We know he will be tall, and will probably need a bigger bed by the time he hits 10 or 11, but he might even need a double by then, so we thought a single would do us for the time being. Also, this simple white design is timeless and suits the rest of our home. If we decide to use it with another child down the track, it gives us the option to do (which that fire truck bed he really wanted would not have done). The other thing to consider is linen. I loved certain sheet sets that were only available in single – not king single.
#4. Keep their special things special. I love shadow boxes and there are loads of gorgeous ones around at the moment! Beautiful little shaped ones or vintage versions that fits loads of little trinkets in. Little girls seem to have LOTS of small items, so I would think that one of these would be perfect above the bed of any child, but Oscar likes to keep his cars in here. He often makes little vignettes, which is lovely to come and find (I am especially loving the little camper playing his guitar on the jeep bonnet to the left!) I selected a number of wallpapers from online that I liked (the ones from Ferm Living are available in doll house sized to print as a PDF) and I printed them in colour at our local stationary store for a few cents. Oscar then chose his favourites and told me which ones to stick where. An easy project that we both loved and creating a back drop for each box adds colour to the space, regardless of what is (or isn’t) inside!
#5. Personalise their space. These letters making his name were made by his dad when I was pregnant with him, so they mean a lot to us. He recognised his name before he knew his letters, so he knew early on the word ‘Oscar’ and I love that. We also keep other things up high that are special to us – like a car or animal that was purchased on vacation as a special memory.
#5. Incorporate their toys into the decor. I am quite fussy on the toys I purchase for my kids – I want them to last, I want them to be good quality and I want my kids to love them! Oscar got this great wooden fire house/police station (from KidKraft) for his third birthday and it’s still a huge hit. He also still plays with blocks that came with his first walker. The rest of his books are on this side of the room (although we also have more in the lounge room, office and kitchen and they are all rotated regularly). I like to keep what he really loves here.
#6. Create a gallery of their favourite things. I love little mini galleries and just use 3M tape so that I can move them around and change images regularly. This selection include his beloved Octonauts, another Tin Tin cover to match the large poster as well as art from a favourite book, a special drawing and images of Oscar on holidays with his aunt who lives far away. Every picture is special to him right now, and we can update these as he grows and his interests change (or add to them along the way!)
#7. Group like objects. Another easy clean up tip! Oscar LOVES caravans so we have all of them together on display. If I find a caravan, I know to put it here. We also filled two very large old coffee jars with his random cars and with his smaller Octonaut pieces. Easy! The suitcases hold other small bits and pieces.
#8. If there is space, make a work station. A lot of kids loves to draw and craft, and others enjoy building Lego or working on puzzles up off the floor (often away from smaller siblings little hands!) This gorgeous desk has a drawer to house all of his paper, books and textas and it’s a great size…not super teeny…so it should work well as a homework desk through primary school as well. Because I work from home and have my own desk, my kids tends to mimic this and I often see him ‘hard at work’ here.
#9. Show off their work. We have one of those fridges that won’t let you stick magnets on it – which is sometimes great, but I also like to ‘show case’ Oscar’s art when I know it means a lot to him. We stick up a few pieces with washi tape in the kitchen, but this magnetic board holds a few bits as well. The OSCAR letters are printed as 4×6 photos from a cute Danish book that I found online. Pegged on to a piece of string, that little project cost about $1!
#10. More storage! Again with the little things!! This great box is about $29 from IKEA and the drawers hold a lot. We have lots of puzzle pieces in each one and I painted the box with white paint (just the Crayola paint I had in the cupboard) and then let Oscar draw on each drawer. His drawing has come along way since then, so eventually I will repaint them and let him have another go. As well as photos and a books on his desk, he also keeps his very important bug catcher here, and a little box that holds some coins.
#11. This mirror used to be here for me…when he was a baby and I had him in my arms I could see if he was asleep or not without disturbing him too much! Now, he uses the chair to keep his ‘safari’ gear and his doctor’s kit, and is quite good at doing his own hair in the mirror each morning! His kinder bag hangs on the back of the door, but I think hooks might be more practical as he grows and and has more ‘stuff’ (sports bags, I am looking at you!) I like having doors open at my place, so every morning it is a regular thing to prop the door open with a stopper.
#12. Where are all the other toys you ask?! Well, he has a toy kitchen in next to ours, and we also have a toy box in the lounge…but really, I don’t think my kids have a million toys (although it does feel like too many at times!) We are lucky to have built in robes in Oscar’s room and he has his clothes in one side and then we got a little storage unit from Officeworks. The eight units are perfect height for him, and this is where we keep his other things…so it’s the first thing opened when kids come to play! Again though, each cube has a certain type of toy allocated, so even if they are thrown in there at the end of the day, we always know where they are.
So there you have it…the end of our tour! At the moment, his room is the perfect mix of what is practical, displaying what he loves and keeping with a look and feel that makes me happy too. Perfect! (just ask me again in two years time how we are going though…)
How about you? What practical tips do you have to offer for a kids’ room? Would your little one fit nicely into Oscar’s space?