Can I be honest? I didn’t get much done for Aubrey’s bedroom in the One Room Challenge this week. We installed her fan and that is IT. It was Canadian Thanksgiving here and we enjoyed family night after night… and the makeover was the last thing on the priority list. Plus, yesterday was my birthday so I didn’t even get this post up in time. Too busy living life. But this is an important post I think! Designing rooms with kids… not just for them. This isn’t something that’s new to me. Even at our last place, when our kids were all sharing one bedroom, this is something I found a challenge- but a fun one.
If you missed my announcement, I’m taking part in this season’s One Room Challenge (a 6 week room makeover) as a guest participant and am taking on Aubrey’s Bedroom. I shared the plans RIGHT HERE. I thought that since we’ve done very little in progress on Aubrey’s bedroom, I’d take this week’s post to give some tips and share some of my experience in designing a bedroom WITH your kids… not just FOR them. And also designing a room that you love to have in your home, not one that looks like your kids did all the decorating/choosing. This seems to be a hot topic for some reason when I’ve mentioned it before with friends, family, or on the internet… If you WANT to have a room in your house that your kids get free reign on- do that! This post is for those families who love decorating and want to find a way to include their kids- or those families who have very strongly opinionated kids (that’s me!) and you want to create a room you both love together.
My daughter just turned five and this space is one she’s been dreaming about for a while. She knew when we started looking at houses that she wanted a room to herself and was so excited to paint it pink. This was the ONE big thing that she mentioned when we would look at bedrooms that could potentially be hers. Once we knew we were moving and she would get that- she started pointing out things that she wanted in her special room. When I was flipping through my paint decks to choose paint colours for our kitchen- she chose the brightest pink she could and declared that would be her room. When I made a macrame chandelier for a dinner party– she decided it would be hers once the party was over. When I was scrolling Instagram past a wallpapered wall- she decided she needed pink wallpaper. When we were looking through a fan catalogue for the boys room, she decided she needed a gold fan. She has lots of opinions.
I always had lots of opinions too (and still do!). I feel pretty lucky that growing up, I got to participate in decorating my room and that I didn’t just get to participate, but make lots of decisions. I always felt empowered to make my vision come to life. From bright white walls with a tie dye border to fuchsia and lime green diamonds painted with precision to black doors and trim in my teenage room… my parents were always game for my decorating decisions. I feel like that gave me such confidence when it came to designing my own space once I moved out. I want that for Aubrey and my boys too! But even though they were game for a lot of my ideas (sponge painted walls! Curtains instead of closet doors!), they also taught me some things about design. Like not putting my pinstripe wallpaper around the room because that would give a dizzying effect… but putting it vertically instead. That’s the goal with this for me.
The thought of a hot pink room with flowers everywhere… I just want to be in love with every space in my home more than I want to give them TOTAL freedom… at this age. The twins (oldest) are only just 5. So I do think that this advice is age appropriate. If you have older kids… some of this will apply but you might find that they crave more freedom.
There are a few things that I think are totally key to working WITH your kids on design plans or decorating.
TRY TO UNDERSTAND THEIR GOALS
The first is to sit and spend time to understand what they really want. What do they want to do in their room? Colour? How about a small desk? Play barbies? Make sure there’s storage for them! Do they like to read cozied up in bed? Treat them to some throw pillows. Or do they like to play on the floor? Consider an area rug.
LOOK AT INSPIRATION TOGETHER
Then when they comment that they want THAT thing… whether that’s a fan (like Aubrey) or wallpaper or a shark on their wall… hit Pinterest! I love to sit with Aubrey and show her photos on Pinterest to see what she notices that she likes. It helps me understand who she is and the things that she likes and she loves telling me about it. I make sure to tell her that her room won’t look the same as these ones but that it’s giving us some great ideas.
GIVE THEM OPTIONS YOU LOVE
The other thing I find is so helpful to both of you feeling like you’re getting something you love is to take their big direction and return it with a small set of options you love. For example… Aubrey says she wants pink so I picked 5 pink paint chips that I liked and let her choose her favourite. She’s thrilled and I’m happy it’s not magenta. If they want sharks on their walls (this is something Emmitt really wants me to paint on there for him), come back with some options that you’re going to be happy with. So I showed him some cool shark decals (that don’t involve me painting sharks on his walls) or some rad shark art prints or maybe some shark wallpaper… anything you’ll be happy with but that meets their basic request.
PICK DETAILS THEY CAN COMPLETELY CUSTOMIZE
Last but not least- I love to pick a couple things that they can take charge of. In the kids last bedroom (shared with three of them), I made them each a holiday pillow with penguins. I bought a set of penguin designs and asked them to pick out their very favourite and we could make it together. Aubrey picked sparkly iron on for hers and the boys opted for no sparkles. They picked penguins with skates or presents or earmuffs and they loved to show them off.
You could also pick a photo frame and have them create some art special for their room. Or take them to pick out their throw pillow or their lamp or something specific that is needed but that they can pick and feel in control of.
Alright, those are my four big tips- I hope that if this is something you’ve struggled with in your home that these are helpful or have given you some new ideas on how to work with your kids on designing their bedrooms! I personally think that if our kids are interested in design, it’s just like anything else that they learn- someone has to teach them. So explaining that a colour will look much brighter on a wall or explaining that it’s good to leave empty space in the room so it feels bigger and there’s room to play… that’s all part of it.
Now… I’ll leave it at that and hopefully get some work done on this room this week! I need to get started on demolition for that valance and cutting in a new window before we can really do any of the fun stuff… WISH ME LUCK, friends!