For some reason I can’t explain, I imagined my kid living his entire life in his nursery. I slaved over that nursery, hand-painting stars, planets and spaceships around the walls, searching high and low for NASA-themed décor and upcycling furniture for that space-age style. It took months of toil to get it just right — and after only a few years, my son was tired of the whole idea of space. Around year four, he needed to be surrounded by knights in shining armor, and now at age 6, he is threatening to run away if he doesn’t get a room devoted to rocks.
Kids’ rooms should be their own places to play, learn and grow — but redesigning a room every year or two isn’t exactly financially feasible. Fortunately, I found a few ways to give my little one the room of his dreams without breaking the bank — or devoting nearly as much time as I did on his nursery.
Start with a Blank Slate
I know now that it was a bad idea to put so much of my heart and soul into such a specific nursery theme. Instead, parents should start their kids off with a relatively neutral space that can be modified inexpensively as their children grow.
It is smart to start off with adaptable wall colors — no bright orange, forest green or baby pink. After getting fed up with the most recent décor demand, I hired interior painters near me to cover my son’s walls in a soft greige, which should serve as a functional backdrop to any of his future bedroom design ideas. You might also opt for white or gray, depending on the color scheme elsewhere in your home. The same idea goes for flooring: avoid loud or overly thematic floors and rugs. A blank slate allows for greater customization at a lower expense.
Designate an Accent Wall
Neutral walls and floors aren’t exactly the most fun for a kid — and they provide awful temptation for markers and crayons. That’s why parents should consider leaving one wall open to creativity, where kids might choose to paint a bright color, a mural or do something else semi-permanent to give the room more character.
I opted to give my son total control over one wall of his room. This wall changes every time we agree that he has outgrown his previous room theme; we work together to decide how this wall should change, like what color it should be and whether there should be any unique elements, like murals or wall vinyl. Some parents might play around with the idea of a whiteboard or chalkboard accent wall, where kids can continue to add their own creative flair on their own time — without causing unsightly damage.
Decorate with Toys and Books
Typically, as kids’ interests change, so do their belongings. Throughout the year after my son’s fifth birthday, I began to notice his increasing disinterest with his knight and dragon toys, and every time we went to the bookstore, he would pick up another geology tome. Soon enough, his room was packed with his new obsession — and I hadn’t spent a dime updating his room’s décor.
Parents can use their children’s belongings as decorative elements. Shelves around the room can keep important books and toys on display, helping them affect the theme of the room. As a kid grows, their interests will shift, and their belongings will naturally shift in turn, so using these items as décor makes sense.
Repurpose, Recycle and DIY
Finance-focused parents should already know the value of buying used, repurposing and upcycling. Parents of kids who have their hearts set on a fully themed room should be able to find large items for relatively cheap by taking advantage of thrift stores, garage sales and apps like Offer Up or Craigslist. A coat of paint breathes new life into almost any outdated piece of furniture, and parents can use wallpaper, decals and even new hardware to add interest and flair.
One final low-budget decorative solution is to get kids involved in crafting their own décor. There are endless fun, creative projects online for parents and kids to do together, generating memories and room decoration all in one. For the holidays, I always employ my son in some kind of decorative DIY because I feel his artwork adds more warmth and heart than any bits and bobs from Target.
Having a kid is expensive enough before you factor in redecorating every couple of years. Parents can save a serious chunk of change by thinking ahead and investing in budget solutions. However, most important is keeping communication open with kids and allowing for creativity to flourish.