Let’s get real: I decorated my kid’s room for myself

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Our family has at last reached a seriously longed for milestone: our son finally has his own room. I’ve mentioned it here and there, but up until the end of January, he was either bed sharing with me and his dad, or sleeping in his own bed in a corner of our room. We recently moved into a slightly larger apartment that came with the most wondrous of all things: a second bedroom.

When I asked him what color he wanted his room to be, he said black (it’s his favorite). When I asked what he wanted on the walls, he said black things. When I asked if he still wanted his thrifted Harry Potter blanket, he said ok, but he wanted black everything else. I politely and sweetly smiled at him, told him there was no way my preschooler was going to have an all-black room (we can save that for the teen years, guys), and proceeded to tell him I was thinking of picking a color from the cover of The Cloud Spinner and decorating the room in our usual style of hand-me-downs and hodge podge. He begrudgingly agreed.

While I was painting the walls it dawned on me that this is probably how most people approach decorating their baby’s nursery or young child’s room — they do what they want, and assume the kid will like it. I’ve always been of the opinion that kid’s rooms are for playing and dreaming, sometimes sleeping and often times growing, and that they should reflect that.

What’s great about this interpretation is that it’s open — if your aesthetic is monochromatic or all white and sort of Scandanavian, then you can get all dreamy with sheep mobiles and clouds hanging from the ceiling. If you’re more into rainbows and bright colors, you can rainbow the room. If you’re like me and your style is best described as flea market chic… you can go crazy.

There IS a mobile hanging from the ceiling — the 3D solar system kit.

What factors led you to decide on what your baby’s nursery would look like? For those with older kids: at what age did you let your kids weigh in on their room decor?

Comments on Let’s get real: I decorated my kid’s room for myself

  1. My almost-1-year-old’s son’s room was totally decorated in my style, in fact, it’s the only room in the house that I really went wild in because while I love bright and colorful, I had to admit to my husband that I do find the toned down (but still awesome) nature of the rest of our house more calming and pleasant to be in. In any case, I wanted his room to be gender neutral, bright and fun. It has two walls that are a rich aqua blue and two walls a jewel-toned yellow. There’s a grass green rug and his crib bedding is bright and multi-colored. There’s also a really nice birch tree decal with birds and leaves “blowing” around on the walls. The rest of the decor is a mix of owls, foxes, colorful robots and homemade fabric pennants. It has kind of a woodland circus feel…but in the future where there are robots.
    When he starts expressing a need to change up his space, we’ll re-work things, but for now, I love it and he seems to love the colorfulness of it.

  2. My parents didn’t let me choose the paint color for my own room until I had gone off to college, so although I finally got my purple walls spring break of my junior year of college, I’ve never “lived” in it. Unless you count the two and a half months of summer break!

    • I totally don’t have a mind with J picking his room color in the future… but if we’re going all black, it’s going to be in the far away future. I can’t imagine my precious small child in an all-black room! If he’s still broody as a teen, that’s his call. 😉

    • Love this! My mom let me choose the colors for my room when I was in my sophomore year of highschool, so I did get to live in it for a couple years. By then, I chose a vivid deep blue, neon green and a light lavender… most of the room was blue, with one green wall. The blue walls also had green dots on them at random (generally starting out huge at the bottom & getting tiny at the top… I traced a pizza pan, a few different sized plates, and a cup until I decided it was easier to just freehand). The lavender was just used for the trim color. For how bright it was, the track-lighting in my room made the whole thing very calming and atmospheric. I loved it.

      We painted our nursery blue, yellow, and red in a circus-y type theme (yellow & red stripes on the bottom half of the walls, light blue on the top half of the walls & ceiling). I wanted it to be bright and fun… my husband and I aren’t shy to color on walls, but I think this is one of the few rooms in the house that I’ll be able to really get away with something so vivid. We’re still in the process of figuring out what to paint the rest of our rooms, and so far those discussions have mainly landed on softer, more muted colors.

  3. Love this post. My daughters are 8 and 5 and have, in probably the last year or so, been taking a much more active role in decorating their room. We have many more posters and pictures of ponies and horses. However, they’re still keen on keeping their purple and green (accent wall) colors for now.

  4. my parents always asked us, and then gently steered us in a direction. Like my sister and I really wanted hot pink walls when we shared a room, and got pale pink instead. But when I turned 15 and moved to the basement room my parents actually gave me a budget and told me to decorate however I wanted. It was a good lesson for me in picking the things most important and what happens when you run out of paint! they’ve let each of my siblings do the same (though at younger and younger ages) and my youngest sister had me help her paint and fantasy forest mural. my mom loves it and instead of painting over it they have moved her into a different room and turned that into the grand kids room

  5. Not kidding you, I literally wrote this post a while back and then sat on it… Not only did I decorate my kid’s room for myself, I made it the cave of things I wanted to keep that didn’t seem “grown up enough” for the rest of the house.

    Charley Harper poster? Kids room. All the wood knicknacks I made in shop? Kids room. My old stuffed animals? Kids room. Ginormous screen print of hot air balloons? Kids room.

    I don’t want to get rid of those things so I convince myself that my kids love them. My old dude is getting dangerously close to the age where he’ll be putting his foot down and saying, no, I don’t want your Rainbow Brite sheets, thanksya.

    • Yup, I was pretty glad I had a daughter first because I had all these toys/dolls/pictures that were stacked up in the junk room that I didnt have to find a new spot for when it became Billie’s room!

    • That’s exactly what we did! Well, guided by colour too…anything that didn’t ‘go’ with the rest of our house (which is mostly warm colours, yellows reds and oranges with lots of black and grey) went in the daughter’s room (which is the exact shade of turquoise from a Charley Harper alphabet book we had).

    • Haha I did this too, I didn’t even really think of it til I read your comment. My rocking horse, the Micky Mouse print and my circus posters needed a home xD

  6. We mostly went with things from around the house that we love, and hope our wee Zuzu will too. The room was already purple, so that stayed. We put up a huge, old-fashioned map, a winged wooden frog, and a Van Gogh print. There was a little wooden desk in there already, so it became a change table (the spot one would normally sit was just right for the diaper bucket) and will return to desk functions once she’s ready to sit and color and so on.
    I never had my own space when I was growing up, so it is really important to me that she has a space which will gradually become more private for her, and which she will start to take ownership of. Our house is currently blue, purple, orange, green, and (soon) hot pink inside, so hopefully when the time comes that she wants to paint and redecorate, anything will go.

  7. My daughter got her own room at 5, and got to pick the wall colour. For some unknown reason, she went with pink – she’s never been that “everything pink” girl, so we can’t explain it. lol When she was 8, she and I moved out, and I’ve lived in rentals since, so no control over wall colour.

    She started agitating for a black bedroom at her dads when she was 12, but he vetoed it on the grounds that it would be too hard to paint over. Instead her room is purple and green, and looks great. Although she’s been thinking of changing it lately – it has been the same for nearly 5 years. Everything she can control the colour of here is black and/or dark red – very elegantly goth, and I’ve threatened to redo the whole place to match.

  8. I want my kids to feel like their room and this house is THEIRS as well as mine. HOWEVER, I definitely steer them in the direction I want them to go (they are 6 and 4) 🙂 LOVE this – so much better than black! (although my friend let her daughter paint one wall in her room black and it is pretty kickass…)

  9. My husband had no interest in planning how the baby’s room would be decorated…until I mentioned sock monkeys. Then he was totally on board and I thought it was a cool, not-too-overdone gender neutral theme. Plus that stupidly huge sock monkey that had been floating around the apartment for years finally got a proper place. Win!

  10. My two girls share a room, and picked the colour (dark pink) when they were 4 and 2. Other than that, I’ve decorated it with stuff that I know they’ll like. On request from the younger one, I’m about to add patterned yellow polka-dots to one of the empty walls in the form of patterned cardstock circles. I also have plans for a pelmet and some low white bookcases for their books and treasures.

    The nursery is in my style, but once bub is old enough to express an opinion (and stick to it) then I’ll decorate his/her room to suit. Unless all three are sharing a room…then they’ll have to vote and compromise.

  11. I think the only time I got to decorate my own room was in high school, at around 15. Because back then, the fashion was to have wallpapers and fitted carpets all over the place, and wallpapers and fitted carpets are a lot harder to change on a whim than paint. So until 15, I had a pinwheel-wallpaper room. And after that, yellow painted walls and a blue fake-hardwood floor (go figure what was in a teenage girl’s mind in 1999…).

  12. We recently moved, which meant we got the chance to redecorate the kids’ rooms. My daughter is only a year old, so I totally decorated the room for myself (and it looks damn awesome!). My son is six, so we decided we would let him pick his wall color… red. I really tried to persuade him to a less, shall we say intense color. But he was bound and determined to have red on his walls. We ended up doing wainscoting in his room, so the red only went on the top half so that toned it down a bit. Then the Star Wars and Indiana Jones posters went up so half of the walls are covered anyway. The way I see it, letting him choose how to decorate his room is a way of helping him create his own personal space. It may not be what I would choose, but that’s why I don’t let him decorate my room!

  13. We’ve always rented so no painting our walls, but my brothers used the unfinished basement as their shared bedroom, so when we moved in (I was 13, they were 10) we painted the walls white and then went to town. We painted a handful of trees, an elven gate leading down a path, and the entrance to the Mines of Moria complete with inscription. We also painted in runes part of the “One ring to rule them all…” lines. It isn’t perfect, but it’s pretty freakin’ cool even now that we’re in our 20’s!

    • We’ve always rented, also.. I just can’t not paint. We paint it back, and right now our current place states that if we stay for at least 18 months we don’t have to paint it since they automatically repaint (without charging us) after that point.

  14. I guess I’m the odd one out. If my child had really expressed an interest in black, I would have let him at least do accents in the room that color, such as one of those giant wall decals of trees or something. Or the baseboards and some designs halfway up the wall.

  15. I have two sons, and one daughter.- triplets. Collin was born first and he is the biggest and rules the household! We recently moved to a large house and now my almost six year olds can all have their own, perfect rooms. Collin has a light blue room with red stripes on the ceiling, just like he asked for, along with Indiana Jones and Disney posters in his room, and his bed is a twin with a blue bedspread/set with yellow pillows, a white bookshelf, and a little beanbag in the corner, with of course tons of toys. He loves it! My bold, elegant little girl is China, and she chose a pale green walls with purple trim and Selena Gomez and Big Time Rush posters with movies stacked to the ceiling in bookshelves, along with half-read childrens books. Her bed has a quilt I made her from her old kitten t-shirts. My artsy, shy boy is Charlie, who chose a travel-themed room. He has a light pink wall (Yes, he asked for this and of course, I happily delivered) with lavender trim. If anyone walked into it, they’d think it was China’s room! But no, my little boy proudly pranced his Doctor Who and Harry Potter posters onto his pink walls along with some “Shopping in London” paintings, a mural of the Great Wall of China, the Moscow Towers, Big Ben, Eiffel Towers, etc on one wall as well. He has globes and a giant map near his closet, and he puts pins where he wants to go. He reads a lot, so he has TWO bookshelves.

    My kids absolutely love their rooms, and now we have twin girls arriving in two months- Alexei and Ella. These two girls will have a yellow bedroom with pink trim and sweet blue dots on the walls, with a cute white crib and some chairs and beanbags for sitting and feeding!

    Love the room ideas!

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