September has always felt like more of a new year to me than January! A new school year, new fall clothing, and in my work, new decor.
This summer, a lot of my clients decorated their children’s rooms in anticipation of a new September start. I love decorating kid’s rooms as they have become important rooms that should reflect the style and feel that is carried everywhere else in the home. They are no longer full of clowns and zoo animals, but rather are beautiful spaces that are both functional for the kids, and aesthetically pleasing for the parents. Achieving this youthful/sophisticated balance is key; So, how do we do that?!
Create Zones: First and foremost in the design of any room is creating your zones. Once you’re clear on exactly what you want to have in your room, furniture placement will be more obvious. Of course there aren’t always too many options as to where to place a bed, but it’s helpful to know if you want to have play space, do you need a desk etc. I always like to include reading nooks! Often that means a bean bag chair or floor pillows that are placed next to the book storage. Try to hang shelving at a lower height so that the kids can access it themselves. Tall open bookcases are often my top choice because they do double duty. The kids can reach the books or toys that are on the lower shelves, and the top shelves are used for more decorative items like picture frames.
Paint with Neutrals: one of the best ways to ensure that your room flows with the rest of the house, and grows with your child is by painting using neutrals. That doesn’t mean the room has to be pale grey – although I love pale grey and pretty much always think it’s an appropriate colour for any room. If you want to paint using a blue or a pink, choose a more sophisticated tone. Stay away from the Crayola toned colours which may feel too babyish as your child grows.
Artwork and accessories are a must: You still want to incorporate fun, bold colours to ensure that the room is playful and youthful, so make sure that you bring that in with your accessories. Throw pillows on the bed, bedding, art work etc. All things that can easily and inexpensively be replaced as your child grows and their interests change. Even shelving and bookcases can be in bold colors like red or yellow.
I love to use kids’ drawings as artwork. They are happy to see their masterpieces framed and on the wall, and it’s a nice burst of colour. These can easily be switched as often as you want, so your gallery wall is always changing.
I am also a fan of wall decals – especially if you’re decorating a nursery. Kids have a tendency to grab at whatever is on the walls, so flat decals are safe and wont fall or hurt them.
Don’t buy baby specific furniture: Expecting parents will often go out and buy a “Baby Set”. These usually come with a crib that converts into a bed, a change table with 2-3 drawers and some type of book shelf. Don’t do that! Aside from the fact that they are all too matchy matchy, which is a big no-no in my books, they also very quickly become obsolete. A change table will always look like a change table even if you remove the cushion, and those drawers aren’t typically large enough for clothing meant for bigger kids. Instead, buy any chest of drawers at approximatey 36” high and buy the change pad separately to go on top.
If you’re concerned that ‘real’ furniture may be too mature looking for your baby, consider switching the hardware to something more playful. As your child grows, you can always change them back. Though this seems like a small detail that won’t have much impact, it’s actually the opposite. A small change like that will completely alter the feel of the piece.
Shop at big big box stores: I am a big fan of big box stores for kids rooms! The furniture is inexpensive and functional. And if it gets scuffed up, you don’t mind! The key to buying from big box stores is to adapt it to make it look more custom. Have the doors refaced, switch the hardware or build a crown across multiple pieces, and you have a custom look. There are lots of websites that can be used as a resource with amazing hacks to your favorite Swedish store!
Lori Anders is the owner and principal designer at Lori Anders Interior Design in Montreal. Follow Lori on Instagram @loriandersdesign