When it comes to decorating kids' rooms, color is key.
Fortunately, it is fun, easy and good for the budget, too. Whether you're working with a boy or girl, teen or infant, the starting point is the same. Shop for fabric, wallpaper or paint in lively colors to set the tone for the look you want.
Depending on the age, consider his or her interests. What's important? Is it science, animals, sports, dance? That will help you choose a theme and color scheme. Perhaps a space theme works for a science buff. Paint a space scene on the wall, with words and objects to carry out the imaginative look. Coordinate with fabrics and pillows for the bed and furnishings.
For a garden-fresh feminine look, look for floral fabrics in pretty colors. Paint a floral headboard directly on the wall, or stencil topiaries on the doors of an armoire.
For a gender-neutral nursery, bright pastels work well for stencils, borders, crib bumpers and dust ruffles. Paint a rocking chair for middle-of-the-night sessions, and pick a colorful rug to tie the scheme together.
Stretch your nursery budget with unpainted or used furniture, such as chests or changing tables. If you use an older crib, however, make sure it meets safety requirements, with slats no more than 2-3/8 inches apart. Add stamped, stenciled or hand-painted decorative touches for a fresh look.
In an animal-kingdom setting, always a good choice, look for appropriate coordinating fabrics for shades, comforters and pillows. Many animal prints are youthful, but not babyish or too trendy.
Do you want soft pastels or crayon-bright primary colors? You'll find coordinating accessories in both looks at baby-specialty- or mass-merchandise stores.
Consider storage while you're planning. Will unfinished storage cubes or small bookcases serve your needs? What furniture will carry your child through several years?
Remember that quality fabrics and well-made furniture move from toddler times into elementary school years, and some, even longer.
Flea market finds, such as folding chairs or small tables, make good room accessories, painted to coordinate with the scheme you have planned.
In a child's room, let imagination rule. In the right situation and for the right child, a fantasy bed and novelty fabrics and accessories work well. Decorative ceiling and wall designs, such as maps, can add a touch of whimsy. If you don't feel as if you can tackle those projects, consider bringing in the skills of a high-school- or college art student or instructor.
Better Homes and Gardens Bed & Bath Decorating Ideas & Projects (Meredith Books, $14.95 soft cover).
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