Children’s Rooms: Decorating & Organizing Tips


Disclaimer: Ugh. This photo above disturbs me. I’m not a fan of the giant Spiderman.

Kids’ rooms can be a challenge to decorate and just as frustrating to organize. Especially boys’ rooms. Let’s face it, their tastes and favorites seem to change all the time. One minute they are into superheroes, the next they are dinosaur hunters. But, I am a mom on a budget (and yes, I am a little bit picky about what my house looks like, even my kids’ rooms). Realistically, I don’t have the time to devote to changing my child’s room all the time. We have three kids so I have to keep my priorities or I’d be redecorating to keep up with the popular cartoons or fads all the time.

Besides that, I think we also need to teach our children to live responsibly and any way you look at it, redecorating every year or two is really wasteful. There are children in the world who don’t have food to eat, so I just feel we need to teach our kids to be satisfied, rather than always wanting more, better and new things. Hmmm, good lesson for me too. I know from personal experience that a baby nursery is a special thing to a mom, but once the child outgrows the baby phase, it is time to start thinking about a room with more staying power.

In a previous post on Girls’ Rooms, I was asked how you COULD incorporate their current favorites tastefully and on a budget. Here are some suggestions that I’ve used in my own home for rooms that can grow with your child’s ever changing tastes and storage needs:

  • Keep the basic shell of the room tasteful, neutral (meaning, no theme), and timeless. Instill the fun personality in things you can easily update or change as the child’s tastes evolve. While many people buy their kids character bedding, I find many of the options to be crunchy, scratchy and poor quality. Pottery Barn might be an exception to this. They do have Spiderman sheets now. I’d much rather have Spiderman sheets than that giant $159. on sale Spiderman decal (top, above). If you do find acceptable character sheets, still stick with a good quality classic comforter or quilt (see list below of some good quality bedding sites). Washable is a must, of course!
  • Choose a paint color for the walls that you can live with for a long time, unless you love painting walls. I dislike painting with a passion, so once a room is painted in our house, that is it. No more.
  • Children need lots of shelving for display. They will have ever changing vignettes of special toys and memories. Why throw all those Star Wars guys in a box when you can line them up on a shelf?

  • Boys tend to outgrow cute decor a lot faster than girls do. Some of us girls still love “little girl” colors and the cute stuff we loved when we were younger! To save money in the long run on boys’ rooms, stick to classic rugs, fabrics, colors and bedding patterns.
  • Reality check: children’s rooms really don’t need a lot of decoration. Kids have colorful and interesting things they like to display. They really don’t need MORE stuff in their rooms, that is what leads to all the visual clutter. Keeping things simple, classic and clean usually makes for a more pleasing overall effect. Make the most of what they already have and use the best of it to decorate the room. Put up hooks or pegs for hats. Put attractive toys on display. Have colorful bedding or curtains. Showcase artwork.

    • Children should have lots of room to feature their drawings and art. Try backs of doors, bulletin boards, and clips on walls to hang their creations. Or use frames that you can easily insert their latest masterpiece. Encourage your child to do their own artwork and update it regularly. Keeps them busy!
  • Chalkboards are great for kids. Not only can they use them to create, you can use chalkboards as a tool to help them learn to organize their own to do lists and daily schedules. Instead of remembering everything for your child, you can encourage them to write notes on their chalkboard. Pottery Barn makes these themed ones in the shape of skateboards, but with easy to use chalkboard paint you can turn anything into a writing surface, including furniture or the backs of doors! Uses of chalkboards are endless. You could have a board for “what to bring to school the next day,” a board for a memory verse they are learning, or a place to leave love notes to each other. We have all of those types of boards at our house!

skateboard wall

    • Children need easy organizational systems that they can learn to use. Under bed containers are a favorite in our house. We label them with changeable labels and categories that are practical and usable for a child. My son’s room currently has under bed bins labeled WEAPONS, COSTUMES and TOOLS. When he wants to scare the neighbors, he knows right where to go. Also, if something is not in a container, it doesn’t belong under the bed. I try to fill the space up with the storage containers as much as possible to avoid the random toys, socks and pj’s that seem to gravitate to the dark corners. Under bed bins have cut down dramatically on the messes I find there. (However, now and then I do discover candy wrappers stuffed behind the bins.)

  • Closed or semi-closed storage bins are a must for children. Cleaning up is a never ending task. Being able to toss and hide things quickly keeps everyone happy. Open shelving is fine for a few display items, but everything else should be contained by a bin or basket so it less visible.
  • Sort everything for closed or semi-closed storage into broad but specific categories and find a bin for each. Labeling everything TOYS just won’t work. We have our bins on a shelving unit with labels like ACTION HEROES, CREATURES, BUG STUFF, LEGOS, SPY STUFF, CARS. The labels are easy to change if he outgrows some of the toys
  • If you have traditionally sized large toy boxes, use them for dress up clothes or costumes. I have found them to be generally too large for effectively organizing toys.

    • If you happen to be an artist (or know one) and love to personalize your kids rooms, try decorating a desk, chest of drawers, wooden chair or lamps to show their personality. You can paint a mural if you have the time or money to spare and are willing to paint over it or change it later if it no longer is suitable. Better yet, choose something timeless like stripes or a nature-inspired theme. A mural is a big commitment for most people. Sometimes you can involve the child in this sort of project and it is especially meaningful to them. Check out some fun hand-painted murals here and here.
    • Stick bookshelves wherever you can find space, particularly in close proximity to the bed to encourage them to read (and to keep the books tidy). Many books are also decorative so having them with their covers on display takes care of decorating AND their education all in one step.
    • Make sure each child has a good reading light next to their bed.
    • We put an adult-sized chair and a lamp in each child’s room (if there is enough space) to allow for bedtime stories with mom or dad.

  • You can tuck in small shelves in corners to make every inch count in a small space.
  • Put shelving above doorways to showcase decorative items you don’t want kids to touch or play with. Unless your child might be tempted to climb on furniture to reach things in high places. Then this is not a good idea.
  • Divide children’s rooms and playrooms into zones whenever possible. A place to play with costumes in one area, building sets in another, art supplies in a craft area.
  • Once their room is set up with a place for everything, give children cleaning routines to maintain their own belongings. If you incorporate a daily 10 minute “cleaning frenzy” (our word for a fast paced cleaning session) into the before dinner routine, kids should have no trouble keeping their rooms in order.

RELATED ARTICLES BY THE INSPIRED ROOM:

NEED HELP GETTING STARTED WITH A ROOM DESIGN?
Room Design: Where to Begin (See a quick play room makeover!)

NEED MORE CHILDREN’S ROOM INSPIRATION?
The Superhero Exception
About a Boy and His Room
Girls’ Rooms: Fanciful Rugs and Lamps
Eye Candy: Girls Rooms
Whimsical and Tasteful Children’s Rooms

WHERE TO FIND BEDDING, ROOM DECOR and more INSPIRATION:
Boy’s Bedding @ Horchow
Boys’ Rooms @ Garnet Hill
Girl’s Bedding @ Horchow
Girls’ Rooms @ Garnet Hill
Children’s Rugs, Wall Art and Furniture @ Garnet Hill
Children’s bedding and accessories @ Pottery Barn Kids

Photo credits: First one is Pottery Barn
Next two are my own from the Street of Dreams
Skateboard accessory photos: Pottery Barn
Surfing/Boating room: Coastal Living online, Jeff McNamara
Team pendant room: Southern Living online Jean Allsop
Red, white & blue room; Blue & orange room; Black bunkbed bedroom: Better Homes & Gardens online
Corner bookshelf room: Domino Magazine online
Chalkboard labels on baskets: Pottery Barn Kids
Last photo: Southern Living online Laurey Glenn photorapher
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Comments

  1. Wonderful post! Pottery barn is lovely! Another beautiful resource for kids rooms I love is—-http://www.kidsfactory.nl/

    You have to click on the tab that says “Baby and Kinderkarmers”

    xoxox

  2. You give the most wonderful advice and tips! Boys rooms are definitely hard and I did what you said to do, keep it plain and neutral with accents, and it’s so much nicer than those themed bedspreads!!! (talk to me in a few years when he gets an opinion on them, I might be eating my words but I sure hope not!)

  3. Melissa,
    This has been on my mind as Luke has now moved to his “big bed” and it’s time to change some things in his room. Mainly organizing and moving a cabinet out, etc. Ikea opened fairly close and in late May want to buy some of their storage goodies.
    Thanks for the post!
    Best,
    Kara

  4. These were great ideas and pictures! I just found your blog and I love it so. I have 2 little guys and we will be moving soon to a bigger house and I am going with a nautical theme in there rooms and I just blogged about finding an awesome Pottery Barn bed set for only $35.oo. How great is that and these pics will help give me ideas about filling the rest of the space. Thanks and bye-the-way love your home and beach house. Be blessed.

  5. Brilliant post! I’m going to direct my son and daughter-in-law to it for certain. Such wonderful ideas for beautiful rooms without being themed. I LOATHE themed rooms.

  6. Bart Lewis - Parents, Geeks & God says:

    Right on with the tips Melissa! All of those are great for all people decorating children’s rooms, whether on a budget or not. I especially loved the “reality check” tip. So true!

  7. melissa lewis - off the wall
    Twitter:
    says:

    Oops! I was accidentally logged into my husbands blog account in that last comment. So sorry.

  8. Oh, Giant Spiderman on a Monday morning. That scared me! I think I am going to take a nap now.

    I love all of your ideas. We are going to have to do bunk-beds in our beach house, so I am going to remember to keep this post as a reference. You are so good at what you do, my dear!

    Hugs and love,
    Debbie

  9. This couldn’t been written at a better time. We’re adopting a 4 year old boy & are getting ready to decorate his room. The challenges are huge with this kiddo. He has all kinds of sensory issues, no cause & effect thinking due his disability and multitude of other issues. I was beside myself to think how I can change our former teenaged, now married daughter’s room into a safe, calm but pleasing room for him. I vetoed all of his choices of the Disney marketing madness. He’s really into cars and tools. I was thinking maybe painting the walls a soft dove grey and taking it from there with the automotive theme.

  10. Great entry, jam-packed with common sense and useful ideas. Just exactly what’s needed with the topic of children’s rooms! You rock, Melissa!

    Now to pass the link to it, on to my d-i-law. Who has three kid’s rooms to deal with. Eeeek! :-)

    Monday hugs,
    Mari-Nanci

  11. I love these ideas. I have 2 boys, and their rooms can be challenging for a variety of reasons. But I’m not into trendy themes either. Thanks for the inspiration again Melissa. Love,RAchel

  12. Melissa, this is a wonderful post. I’m going to tell a friend to check this out because they have been trying to decide how to decorate their child’s room.

    BJ and I both noticed that you had posted somewhere that you had sent a picture of a rooster. Neither one of us has received one, so would you please send it again to BJ. We don’t want to accidently omit any of the fine fellows. Thanks

  13. Chie Nicolaisen says:

    Hi Mel,

    I love the double decker beds…my style. Hope i can do my spare like that. I wait & see what’s the outcome of our moving.

    2 more weeks…lots to do…

    TY heaps for dropping by to my humble blogsites & hope we can change ideas.

    See u around, girl!
    //chie
    http://pikitinianos.blogsite.com

  14. Esther Sunday says:

    What wonderful tips and lovely rooms! My daughter is an avid softball player. She and I painted her furniture blues and reds, and put lots of baseball touches around the room – including softball buttons on a painted blue lamp shade. It was fun, and it is so her! Love, Esther

  15. This is such a great resource, Melissa— will definitely bookmark this for when I decide to pop out the leetle ones! :)

  16. Such a great post. Bookmarked this for future reference. I love the photos you used, great inspiration there.

  17. Good tips–thanks. I’m currently in the frustrating process of decorating for a boy and girl who have to share until the baby boy gets bigger and trades places with my daughter. Finding gender-neutral, but still fun quilts/duvets has been challenging, so thanks again for all the advice.

  18. Great post. I’ve tried to decorate my kids rooms in styles that will last for a while or can be easily modified. I’ll have to do posts on them sometime soon.

    Another good source for inspiration is the Neiman Marcus website. They have some wonderful children’s bedding. It’s all very expensive, but still a good place to look for inspiration.

  19. Hi Melissa,
    Love reading your post. I have three boys 13, 11 and 9 almost 10 and I must be lucky because although their taste in cartoons and movies seem to change all the time their basic interests remain the same. I redecorate the boys room at ages 5, 10 and I will again at 15 and since I normally go over the top when decorating it has to be a theme that will last 5 years. So currantly I have a football (my sons ambition is to play football for a living), Army this is what my middle child wants to do for a living and I am working on a Medievil/castle theme for my youngest (something he has been interested in since he was two.) One big thing I did find with boys is that they don’t use much hanging space for their clothes only draws, so I took all the doors of their built in cupboards installed down lights and put their bed or desk in there, it looks wonderful all lit up at night.
    Cheers Linda

  20. Wow Melissa!
    What a great post! I think this is great advice that can be used for us adult kids too. :)
    Thank you!
    Melissa

  21. Thanks for this fabulous post Melissa. I embarrassingly was one of those mum’s who got sucked in to surrounding my son with action hero’s both in clothing and decorating lol. If there’s one piece of advice I give my sisters and friends who have babies is don’t fall for the hype. Children especially boys change their minds so quickly so now I have a basic theme of red and blue and if my son is into a particular theme at the time he can add his own touches by the way of toys and pictures on a pin board. Last year it was dungeons and dragons therefore knights and dragons were displayed on his shelves. This year it’s aeroplanes. Next year, who knows? lol

    Anna :)

  22. love this.
    soo true melissa.
    my boys have kept their end of the bargain of keeping their oom clean…spotless for 30 days. now my end of the deal is that their room is next to redone. (stripping more wallpaper…painting…all that)
    they want a KU Jayhawks room.
    hmmmm. what will we do?
    i will let you know. :)

    i needed the reminder of the lamps and shelves.

    sorry about the spring fluff…are we still BFF’s?

  23. Love this post Melissa…. I think childrens rooms are so much fun to decorate… the possibilities are endless and there is an innocence with the decorating that you dont find with an adult room…. I myself feel its easier because most children are easy to please on a budget… then again .. its been a while… so I could be wrong eh??

    HUGS

  24. Great post… love the bit about making the kids appreciating their own space !

  25. Hi there!
    I can understand children would love to have such a place. So many lovely rooms.
    Hope you have a great day.
    Love Elzie

  26. WOW!! What a post, even the kids room are prettier than mine…so jealous and my son will love the spidey bedroom, tks for the inspiration!!!

  27. What great kids rooms! My room never looked that good when I was a kid!!! LOL
    ~Des

  28. This has given me some great ideas to add to what I’m trying to accomplish with my son’s room. And THANK YOU SO MUCH for your nice comment. I felt like the ROCK STAR had given her approval.

  29. Hi dear Melissa! I find that budget, space, and time are my issues. The good thing is my daughter does not like too much clutter – but she definately has “style” and “immagination.” Paint works for me, because it’s cheap and transforming. I totally agree about the organizational tubs, etc.
    Great post! Do you have any photos of your kids’ past bedrooms?

    Sandy :)

  30. Emily-Sarah says:

    Wonderful! Thanks for more excellent suggestions and photos.

  31. melissa lewis - off the wall
    Twitter:
    says:

    Melissa, Thanks SO MUCH for the link to my post on our nurseries! You’re such a sweetheart:)

  32. Thank you so much for stating what I’ve tried to stick to all along!!”Pleeease Mom! Why can’t I get a Star Wars Room?!!”
    AHHH no!
    Why not pick timeless items that will grow with them AAAND maybe be worth something one day..ie. vintage game pieces..antique quilts… vintage toys!
    Thank you also for showing some ‘rockin’ boy’s rooms..so many focus on Princess Rooms and the gentlemen get pushed to the back burner…lol…
    Happy Tuesday!
    XO

  33. Beautiful!

  34. Amazing tips and inspiration!!
    mary

  35. I loved all of these great ideas. That last room was gorgeous!! Forget the little boys! *I* will move on in! So nice!!

    I am always looking for ways to help my daughter organize her room. Pottery Barn and Ikea both have sweet things that she likes.

    I never fail to leave without a new idea and some lovely inspiration!

    Thank you!!

    Hugs,
    Sue

  36. Melissa —I had such a good laugh about the comment you left on my blog today about painting your son’s room!! The thought has crossed my mind to “surpise” my daughter too and I can just see the results being similar to yours!! LOL!!

    At my starter home, my daughter’s room (which started off as a nursery) was white painted bead boarded walls that went three quarters the way up the wall. The bead board and the top half of the wall were all painted the same creamy-white colour.

    I did this because we didn’t know if we were going to have a boy or a girl. The room started off with mint green bedding/accessories from Pottery Barn. I figured if it was a boy, we could go with navy blue as the accessorizing colour and if it was a girl, we would go with pink as the secondary colour. It was the best decision I ever made and if we had continued to live in that house, the basic room (with the bead board) would have been so versatile. It would have lasted her until her teens and beyond.

    Of course, then we decided to move!! LOL!!

  37. Hi Melissa,

    As always, your page is a delight to visit. What a fun post….I especially love the skateboards on the wall. How clever is that? Thanks for all the creative inspiration!

    Blessings and hugs,

    LaurieAnna

  38. One of the best posts I’ve read. I saved this particular page to my favorites because I agree with every piece of advice. Spectacular pictures, too! You can’t go wrong with Pottery Barn.

  39. Love this post it is just what I need Tricia

  40. This site has shown me some good tips on how to keep my son and daughters rooms clean. If you could keep giving good tips to moms and maybe even dads on organizing rooms.

    Cheryls last blog post..DIY: Fall Warm Up For Your Floors

  41. I love this. My husband and I have been thinking about kids alot lately and it’s almost too irresitable reading about kids rooms. I’m not sure we are quite ready but I love tips in reference to the future. Thanks.

    PS. I’ve been blog stalking your old entries and I have to say you amaze and inspire me daily. Thanks.

  42. may helmi says:

    thank you for your help

  43. Amber T. says:

    I am so glad that you’ve archived all your posts! I was sitting in my son’s room this morning trying to figure out how we are going to reorganize and redecorate his room when I remembered reading a fantastic entry here. Sure enough I was able to come back and find it-more than a year later, thank-you!
    ~Amber T.

  44. love superman but read the artilce

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