Reader Question: What are some ideas to decorate my daughter's room?

A reader contacted me recently to ask for some inspiration for her daughter's room.  She explained that her daughter is two and a half and was thinking of a forest/animal theme.  She said her daughter likes blue, purple and orange.  She also asked for tips on decorating inexpensively.  

I loved decorating Rudy's room.  We chose a colour scheme that was atypical for a baby girl's room and we ran with it.  Children's rooms are fun to decorate because you can go a little crazy with a theme and still have it work.  I've created a couple of inspiration boards below but I also have some tips that many help save money:

1.  Open shelving does double duty for art and storage.  We use Ikea shelves in Rudy's room to display some of her beautiful toys.  We make sure the toys that we display follow the theme of her room.

2.  Less is more.  The best way to save money is to (obviously) buy less.  A room that is decorated with some restraint and not filled with objects, usually feels more peaceful and more expensive.

3.  Take the time to shop smartly.  When I think of my biggest blunders and decorating regrets, they're because I was rushing to finish a room and didn't slow down to figure out exactly what I needed.  When I start planning early or don't rush to complete a room, I am always happier with the result.  When I look at Rudy's room (linked above) I remember that I was able to get her crystal chandelier and grey floor pouffe at great prices because I had planned the room and I had months to find the accessories I was looking for.

4.  DIY what you can.  Can you sew curtains, a bed canopy or a special baby quilt?  Perhaps you have your eye on an alphabet rug but you can buy a plain low pile rug and use paint.  If I see something I like, I always ask if it makes sense to try to make it myself.  Sometimes the answer is no, but often it isn't.  Usually, someone else has already had the idea.  Here are some lovely items that you may be able to make yourself:
  • This rocking horse.  It actually has instructions if you have access to the woodworking tools.
  • These baskets.  I'd just buy plain baskets from the dollar store and make pom poms out of yarn.
  • This rug.  We actually own this rug but the pattern could be easily painted on to another rug.
  • This toy storage desk.  This is from our own house and it was an easy and fast project.
  • This mobile.  It would only require very basic sewing skills.  In fact, a mobile or wall hanging is one of the easiest things to make and I think they're totally suitable for an older child's room.  To be honest, I'd like one as an adult.  ;)
  • This fox stool.  This is so adorable and would work in either room!
5.  Repaint old furniture.  Do you have an old dresser or wardrobe that has seen better days?  A coat of paint and some new pulls can make it seem as though it was custom made for a specific room.

6.  Consider alternative functions.  Rudy's change table is actually an Ikea bathroom vanity that didn't fit our bathroom space.  Her book shelves were painted spice racks but now we use picture ledges.  Consider alternative functions for inexpensive items.

7.  Set the tone with paint.  Right now, Rudy's room is dark blue.  There are very few items in her room that colour, but that is the colour of her walls.  Most of her things are actually neutral colours but the colour of her room is unmistakable.  If we spent $100 on paint and painted the walls pink, her room would be pink without us changing a single thing besides the paint.  The moral of this story is that paint is inexpensive and easier to change than most things.  If you want a blue room, consider starting with the walls and keeping other items neutral.

8.  Splurge on a couple of really special things.  This point is key.  If you can afford to, buy at least one "wow" item that sort of makes the room.  Make it a focal point and consider even building your theme around it.  It will make you feel good each time you enter the room.

Now, here's a look at my inspiration rooms:

For the first room, I'd paint the walls a pale blue and keep the furniture very neutral in either a very pale grey, white, cream or light wood.  I'd include pops of fox-red to stand out against the pale blue.  I'd definitely keep the emphasis on light blue and foxes.  (Clockwise from top left: chair, art, bed, rocker, fox, rug, quilt)

... And I should note that I used light colours, since that's what most people feel most comfortable with but switching the light blue for a dark navy would also be striking.

I actually really like that fox red against the navy!

For the second room, I'd display many different dark and medium woods.  Any rug would be very neutral with focus on the wood floor underneath.  I may include other woodland animals like rabbits and fawns (as well as foxes) but all in neutral colours or wood grain.  I'd also work some lavender and purple into the room.  (Clockwise from top left: chair, artbed, rocker, foxes, quilt)

Which room is your favourite?

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