|Candice Olson, host of W Network's Candice Tells All, suggests designing a room that is youthful but the child will grow into. (file photo)
Decorating a child's room can be a daunting task as you worry about their tastes changing almost as soon as you've completed the finishing touches. The key to avoiding decorator blues is to create a room that grows with them and to allow for a bit of give and take.
"When I start any project, particularly a child's bedroom, I'm really down to earth both as a designer and a parent," says Candice Olson, host of W Network's Candice Tells All. "Design is an investment in time, energy and money - particularly in a child's room where their tastes change, grow and evolve so quickly."
For starters, she recommends forgoing pint-sized furniture in favour of good quality pieces. Not only will they give you the biggest bang for your design buck, they'll also yield the longest return on your investment.
Olson recommends purchasing a twin bed - or double or queen if space allows - when it's time to bid farewell to the crib. As an added benefit, it offers plenty of room to cuddle up for bedtime stories. "I don't want to design for the age the child is now. I love that they can grow into elements of their room," she says.
Next, consider how your son or daughter will use the room. Is it a place where they will do their homework, hang out with friends and have sleepovers? Make sure it's as functional as it is attractive - though the latter doesn't mean your child should have free reign.
"It's so important for kids to have a space where they feel safe and comfortable. It is about self expression but there needs to be boundaries," Olson says. Parents should have the final say on core investment pieces but kids can help with custom touches.
Wallpapering the back of cabinets is but one example. "In five years time, you can change it from polka dots to mirrored foil," says Olson, a mother of two. Paint is another example. "When it comes to biggest bang for your buck, it's definitely paint and it's so easy and inexpensive to change a wall colour."
In keeping with her decorating philosophy, Olson recommends bedding that is "youthful and spirited" but not age specific. Leave that to the child's toys, books and stuffed animals, which can be displayed on open bookcases. "Those elements allow a child to personalize their space and make it their own but also mean mom and dad aren't repurchasing things every few years."
Another must-have feature for young children is an area to display artwork, medals and other collectibles without damaging walls with thumbtacks and tape. Take a large floor mirror with an ornate frame, replace the mirror with acoustical pin board, wrap it with fabric and use it to back the frame.
Another fun way to display artwork and collectibles is to paint a wall in magnetic blackboard paint. "Kids can pick up a piece of chalk and draw on it and/or pin up favourite pieces of artwork," says Olson. "The whole wall becomes all about them."
If space allows, Olson encourages you to add an inexpensive table surface that lends itself to imaginative play. Also, incorporate plenty of storage, such as baskets and bins on cubbies or behind closed doors. "At some point in the day, you need to clean up and you want to keep it as simple as possible," says Olson.