Decorating 101: How to Go From Tot to ‘Tween on a Budget

09/14/2010 at 02:00 PM ET
Courtesy of IKEA

It’s a fact of life: as our kids grow, their tastes change. That means new clothes, new favorite toys, and often, new looks for their bedrooms. But revamping your child’s room for the new schoolyear doesn’t have to be an overwrought, expensive ordeal!

We recently chatted with IKEA Design Spokesperson Janice Simonsen, who gave us some great ideas for taking kids’ bedrooms from tot to ‘tween.

Let kids select a color scheme. So maybe you don’t want the room to be lime green and neon orange — totally OK. But let your child guide the general color ideas, offering helpful suggestions along the way.

“There’s so much that can be done with just paint,” Simonsen says. “And letting kids choose the colors you ultimately use helps to give them a sense of personal space.”

Utilize new fabrics for a quick change. “If you already have big furniture pieces in place, new textiles are an easy way to dress them up,” Simonsen shares. “It makes the room look more grown up.” She suggests new duvet covers, window covers and pillows to dramatically alter a room’s look for less.

Create a workspace. “Even if it’s just for coloring, or sitting and reading, it’s important for a child to have a work area,” Simonsen says. “Some children prefer to do homework at the kitchen table, but a workspace in the bedroom allows them to get away.” The setup can be as easy as a shelf attached to the wall, with space to hold pencils, paints or books, she says.

Don’t go overboard on furniture. If you are looking to buy new furniture, involve your child in the decision-making process, but be clear on size and structure before you head to the store. “Explain, ‘We’re looking to replace your bed and dresser.’ Go through ideas in magazines, and get an idea of what would excite them,” she says.

Simonsen also thinks families should talk budget before browsing. “Children are capable of having a conversation about what your family can and can’t afford to buy,” she says. It could potentially save you from tense moments in-store, too.

Get organized. Pick up those toys and trinkets and get them into a dresser! “We think it’s a good idea to get a child involved in organizing possessions at an early age,” Simonsen explains. “It’s a good life skill to have. And the products that we have are very much about designating places for things.”

She recommends taping examples of items onto the outside of storage drawers or compartments, so children understand what goes where. Heck — it may even make cleaning up kind of fun!

Kate Hogan

Courtesy of IKEA

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Sarah M. on

Some of these ideas are great! I watch ‘Extreme Makeover: Home Edition’ periodically. While the kids’ rooms are cute and seem like great ideas, the toddler may not always like trucks, so after a few years they might not like a big, creative truck bed. While a sandbox in the bedroom might seem fun now (never in my house, sandboxes are for outdoors only, IMO), after a few years it will make no earthly sense.

Erika on

Sarah M. I totally agree! A room with an elmo theme (which they made once) is cute but in like 3 years, that 2/3 year old won’t like it anymore. Especially considering all the work they put in making EVERYTHING themed, including the bed. I always wondered what the families did, whether they just keep it because its so cool that it was designed specifically for them, or if they change it. I love the kids rooms they make on that show but it just seems like a lot of work that won’t carry the child through their teen years. These rooms are so cute and nice and I like how they can grow with the child.

Sky on

As much as I agree about Extreme Home Makeover, I do think that it’s so special for kids to REALLY love their rooms like they do. Most of those families have been through a lot and probably very much appreciate their kids getting something they could never do themselves!

Sarah M. on

Sky – I do agree with you. The rooms are absolutely beautiful and the designers do a great job with them. And you can tell by the look on the kids faces how much they love them. But I think that the same effect can be had without going so over the top with each of the themes. The kids can still LOVE the rooms with a few accents that have Elmo on them and some basic staples that are neutral. The same with a dinosaur theme, a truck theme, etc. And, it’ll cost mom/dad/grandma/etc. a lot more money 2 years later to revamp the ENTIRE room since everything has that theme imprinted on it.

Sky on

I see what you mean Sarah. They could tone it down just a little bit for the sake of the parents!