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Friday, September 13, 2013

Back to School Bedrooms: Creating Your Child's Room for the School Year

by:  Catherine L Pittman


Being a kid is all about imagination, whimsy and discovery. No matter what your child dreams of becoming, whether it is a princess, superhero, playing in Pooh’s woods or they are into technology, your child needs a room that not only inspires but also provides a place where they can grow, play and dream.

A child’s room is the one room in the house that allows you to show your inner child, and for your child to bring their ideas to life. It is a place to showcase your child’s creativity and personality.  It can be bold and bright, or cool and tranquil. It can be filled with futuristic fantasy, or whimsy and delight.  No matter what theme is chosen, you want the room to reflect your child’s personality and be a place they can truly call their own. You also want it to be a functional living space for your child, one where they can study and do their homework, or play and entertain friends. Redesigning your child’s room is a fun back-to-school project that you can do together, and one that can be done without spending a fortune. Here are just a few ideas!

One mistake many parents make is not involving their child in designing their space. The most important thing you can do is involve your child, even if he or she is only two years old. Find out what your child is interested in, and be aware that kids tastes change as often as day turns into night. Keep it simple, functional and use removable wall art, accessories, bedding, and window treatments to help bring the theme to life.

Being on a budget does not mean creating a room with less personality! Color and paint is an inexpensive, high-impact tactic that you can creatively use by utilizing colors that your child can grow with. For example, warm colors work well for Mother Goose or Scooby Doo, while cool colors work well with unicorns or flowers. Using wall art, storage, bookcase décor and window treatments will help tie-in the theme. Another trick: sell the old artwork and bedding on online auctions! It will teach your child the value of economizing, making money and help pay for the new décor they want!

Themed rooms with murals are very hot for younger children and pre-teens. You don’t have to pay a fortune to have an interior designer paint a wall, door or ceiling mural, nor do you have to be a professional artist! Using a projector and creating a transparency of your mural, penciling in the design, then painting it is an easy way to create a mural of an enchanted forest or teddy bears reading in a flower garden. Transparencies can even be created using a computer these days.

Stencils provide another easy method of adding murals to a wall, door or ceiling. Wall stickers are another fun option for turning a dull wall into a fun wall, and can be done using your computer and printer. You can also paint a pattern on the lower portion of a wall by painting stripes or checkerboard patterns, painting a solid color on the top and separate it by a chair rail. This gives it a wallpaper appearance, but is much easier to redecorate than removing wallpaper. It does not take a magic wand to give a child's bedroom a new back-to-school feel, just a little creativity!

Believe it or not, color has the ability to work magic on our emotions and help set the right mood for every room in your home, and your child’s room is no exception! The right color in a child’s room can inspire, sooth or energize their surroundings.  In the world of colors there are two basic hues:  Warm colors, which are active colors and cool colors, which are passive colors.

Toddlers in particular love colors in the warm spectrum! Warm colors can convey a warm, cheery setting and evoke images of warmth and sunshine.  Warm colors tend to make rooms seem smaller and more intimate. Colors in this hue include the sunlit shades in the oranges, reds and yellows.  While in their pure form they tend to be intense and distracting, the warm hue colors can be softened and muted.  For example, orange can be muted to coral or apricot. 

Cool colors, which include blues, greens and purples, are more calming and soothing.  They create a serene setting to a room, making a smaller room seem larger than it truly is. They too can be softened to a lighter shade. Pre-teen girls love cool colors, particularly lavender. Neutral colors include white, black, beiges and browns, and are used to assist backgrounds or change the tone and shade of the warm or cool colors.

Kids not only need a place they can play and dream, but a place where they can study. Your back-to-school room should include a study area that is located away from the bed. Corner spaces are best and allow the space to be utilized and still allow space for other activities. There should also be room for a computer or laptop. If your child’s bedroom has limited space, use a tall loft bed with a study alcove underneath. This space-saver allows you to easily tuck a small desk, bookshelf and even a futon chair that turns into a guest bed underneath the taller loft bed. Kids and pre-teens love loft beds!  And don’t forget storage!

Kids, no matter what their age, have lots of stuff! Make the most of bookcases, under-the-bed, over-the-bed or over-the-door, and closet storage. Even hanging baskets in the corner can provide storage for things! Remember to keep things at a child’s level for younger children so that they can select the items or put them away without assistance. Use your computer and printer and creating decals or stencil designs onto storage boxes or bookcases can help your child’s personality come through in their room.

The back-to-school mindset revolves around routine. It is important to teach your child basic organizational skills from the start. Adding a calendar of events helps your child’s reading, writing and organizational skills. It teaches them the importance of scheduling. Placing a board where your child can place a monthly calendar of school and after school events, or place their finger paintings, drawings or other works of art not only teaches routine, but also provides another way for them to assert their personality into their room.

Entertainment is an important part of every child’s life no matter what the age. Whether it’s a play date with a friend from kindergarten or your pre-teen having a friend stay for the night, a child’s room needs a little space for entertaining guests! Preschoolers and children in kindergarten can use child-sized furniture for coloring, puzzles and tea party activities. “Foof,” “lounge-a-round” floor pillows and bean bag chairs are also great for entertaining or lounging around with that favorite book!

Children are very tactile, and they enjoy and want color, character and life in their bedroom. Remember to start with durable, neutral-colored furniture, and spice the room up with inexpensive accessories and disposable décor. Make no-sew window treatments that can easily be changed as your child’s tastes change. The use of fabrics, removable art, accessories and stenciling that can be changed as your child’s theme preferences change make it easy to design a creative play, study and sleep space. 

Most importantly, involve your child and get creative! Make no-sew accessories for your child’s room with your child, such as a throw rug, bed canopy or no-sew throw pillows. Believe it or not, you can make these items with little expense and, yes, without sewing. It provides you one-on-one creative time with your child, and a creative outlet for you both!
Creating a custom rug out of carpet remnants or making no-sew pillows is easier than you might think.  For example, you can create a custom rug by choosing carpet remnants that match your child’s room colors, cutting the pieces in various shapes such as a patchwork-style or flower-shaped pieces, and attaching them with carpet tape.  Then attach the entire piece to a rubber rug grip with silicone glue and more carpet tape. 

Make use of your computer and printer to create fun stickers to decorate storage bins with dinosaurs or trains for your little boy. For little girls, a bed canopy is an easy way to provide a dreamy, private setting for your child. Stenciling designs onto the canopy will add even more creativity and whimsy. For either a boy or girl, you can create some very fun wall décor using printable fabrics that can fuse to wood, metal or other objects to create some very unique wall or shelf art. All of these are things your child can help create, making them feel involved in creating their own little corner of the world!
Although the main purpose of a bedroom is to provide a tranquil place to sleep without distractions, an area to play and dream, and space to study and grow, creating a back-to-school room is a great way to spend time with your child and have fun in the process!

About the Author
Catherine currently resides in Oregon and is the owner, songwriter and main vocalist for her children's music production company, Pitter Patter Productions. The company has specialized in original award-winning music for children from newborn through kindergarten since 1992. Our children's music is available on CD at www.pitterpatterproductions.com, and available for download at: CD Baby, Amazon.com, and iTunes.