Our home spaces should reflect the personal style and interests of those who live there, especially bedrooms. When a child outgrows their nursery or moves into their preteen years, their tastes change in everything from favorite characters to top toys and how they want their rooms to look.
It’s easy to spend a good chunk of change to update their bedrooms to reflect their new stage of life, but it isn’t a must. These design professionals have some great tips on decorating a kid’s room on a reasonable budget, so you can make their bedroom look great without breaking the bank.
Meet the Expert
- Lori Shaw is the owner and interior designer of Lori Shaw Interiors.
- Lindsey Jamison is a partner and lead designer of Rumor Designs. Previously, Lindsey owned a design firm called MASH Studios in Wyoming.
- Bonnie Borromeo Tomlinson is a decorator and author of Stop Buying Bins and Stop Pushing Perfection.
Get Your Child Involved
A surefire way to overspend is to design your child’s room in your style and not theirs. Kids have a lot of ideas about their special spaces, and you definitely don’t want to have to redecorate twice.
Even if you think you know what they like, have a conversation with them since they'll be spending the most time in the room. Not only will you hit the mark with your changes, but you will also make your child feel special and included in the entire project. Lori Shaw, the owner and designer of Lori Shaw Interiors employed an interview strategy with her daughter when it was time to update her bedroom.
“I made her feel very important by interviewing her in the weeks and months leading up to summer, as I would any other design client,” says Shaw. “I asked her what she liked about her room and what she didn't like. I let her choose the paint color and decide which items had to go.”
Don’t Go All In
If your child has a strong interest in a topic, whether it is race cars, princesses, or something else, it can be tempting to turn every corner of their room into a themed zone. Children’s tastes can change on a dime, and you don’t want to create a bedroom that completely revolves around a favorite character or sport only to have your child dislike it months later.
Instead, accessorize their space with items that reflect their specific interests. This allows them to show off their interests without a huge cost and also makes it easy to swap items out when their tastes shift.
Lindsey Jamison, partner and lead designer of Rumor Designs, touts this less-is-more philosophy for any interest your child dreams up or style that fits their personality. When she was redecorating her daughter’s room, she keyed off her personality for a vibrant 1960s-leaning design that was eye-catching without being kitschy.
“With a retro room it's important to add a few elements that modernize the space,” says Jamison. “The chandelier, bedding, and headboard shape keep the room in modern times! Adding vintage elements such as a Herman Miller chair and a record player adds the cool factor.”
Little Things Make Big Impact
Remember that kids aren’t really in touch with how much their dream room might cost. It is always tempting to want to give your kids exactly what they ask for when it is for their very own room, but know that it will still be their special space without all those bells and whistles.
Start with the wall color. Ask your child what color makes them the happiest and then choose a shade of that color that will grow along with them. Going for the biggest and brightest yellow, for example, might be too much.
“Sticking to more neutral versions as a base tone can help accommodate changing color preferences while sticking to throw pillows, blankets, and accessories for brighter, more saturated colors,” says Bonnie Borromeo Tomlinson, a decorator and author. “Building a natural base will create the perfect backdrop as more specialized items are swapped out with time.”
If they aren’t sure about repainting the entire room, try just one wall and go from there. The walls are also an excellent place to hang artwork that aligns with their interests. It can be framed photos that you have printed out yourself or even a removable object that has a big impact for a lower cost.
“Removable decals are a great way to add some color or pattern to a room without committing to a permanent change,” says Corinne Bentzen, a general manager for The Home Depot Home.
Use Their Own Talents
Is your child an artist? Let them create their own works to adorn their walls. It’s hard to find a better bargain than turning your creative genius loose with a few art supplies. If they aren’t into painting or drawing, bring them to the craft store to pick their own project. Even adding a display area for their Lego creations can serve as art that has a lot of meaning to the child.
“Never underestimate your child's own creativity,” says Tomlinson. “Some cheap canvases, a few tubes of washable acrylic paint, and an afternoon to be artistic, and your little Picasso can make their own wall decor. There are tons of ways to create a unique, personal, cheap, and cheerful bedroom for your little one.”
Buy Multipurpose Furnishings
Instead of buying a race-car bed or one that looks like a royal carriage, consider what your child needs now and what their next stage of life looks like. Not only are specifically themed beds and dressers expensive, but they don’t have the longevity that will also save you some cash.
If their current bed will be sufficient for years to come, then swap out the sheets and comforter to reflect their current likes. Will they be having sleepovers now or in the next few years? Maybe you can add a trundle under their existing bed to pull out for friends down the line instead of buying a whole new set.
Buy a desk that can double as a play table for now with drawers that can store their favorite toys today and their school and study supplies later. If the knobs of their dresser are solid, change them out as their interests change.
If any piece is a color more appropriate for a baby or toddler, consider painting the furniture a different shade or stripping the paint entirely and staining the wood.
There are so many places where you can find great pieces of furniture or wall hangings and other accessories for a fraction of the price of new. Check out Facebook Marketplace for items for sale in your area. Some sellers even offer delivery, if getting it to your home is a concern.
Thrift stores can also be a treasure trove of items that no longer serve their previous owner but could prove to be perfect for what your child has in mind. For thrift and antique shops, be sure to check in often, as stock changes rapidly.
“If a child feels strongly about seeing a specialty interest reflected in the room, looking to vintage items may be a good option for indulging in more specific decor without investing in newer pieces,” states Tomlinson.
You can find as many ways to save on decorating your child’s room as your child finds interests. Pairing up for a group effort and making a solid plan before you start making changes will ensure a positive, budget-friendly experience for both of you.