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Choose a bed that can grow up with your child, then have fun with the less expensive accessories.

Sure, designing a kid’s room can be a lot of fun, but the truth is that it isn’t as easy as you may think.

Yes, there’s a lot of inspiration around that’ll help you create amazing rooms that range from nursery to teen bedroom, but let’s face it: Kids change a lot along the way, and the idea of redoing a room every two to four years is not especially appealing. We’re all so busy these days, plus creating one of those picture-perfect rooms every few years can be costly.

The trick is, of course, to create a room that grows along with the child and remains relevant till he or she leaves for college. That means crafting a room with timeless elements, says Lancaster designer David Lyall.

“A good-quality campaign chest is a good example of a piece of furniture that’ll work from nursery through all the formative years to the teens,” he says. “And down the road, it can be re-purposed, perhaps in a guest room or even a first apartment for your offspring. Another thing is not to be too decor-specific. Kids’ tastes change so quickly. A princess-themed room may seem cool right now, but in a short while, it may well turn boring.

“So be conservative with the major elements,” Lyall says. “But don’t worry. There’ll still be plenty of opportunity to make that room a place for creativity, self-expression, comfort and fun.”


Color counts

Picking a classy color scheme is the first step toward a kids’ room that will stand the test of time, Lyall says. “Again, because kids’ tastes and interests change so rapidly. These days it’s not unusual for a 9-year-old girl to be be crazy about vivid pink or purple, but a couple of short years later she’ll declare her devotion to black and white”

So unless you want to keep repainting, start off with colors that are sophisticated and mainly neutral, he says. And, no, this needn’t be boring. Add those vivid colors kids love in other ways — with wall art, a painted dresser and toy box, rugs, pillows and shelving.

Jim Doran agrees. As owner of Phillips Paint & Decorating Center in Lancaster, he says the kind of neutral colors people use elsewhere in the house are trending for kids’ rooms.

“If people want to add some kid drama, they’ll use a bright, contrasting color on a chair rail, or window frames or some pieces of furniture,” he says. “Or they might choose removable wall decals, a feature wall with a mural, such as a world map, or some graphic print. One popular new print features outlines of art so the child can personalize it with their own interpretations and colors. And stripes and animal prints are trending. Stripes, chevron patterns and intricate graphic prints work well because they add vibrancy to a kid’s room and yet are part of the adult world as well.”

Chalkboard paint is another kid-friendly surface.

“Today, it comes in many colors,” Doran says. “Some people like to make a whole wall a chalkboard. Others like to limit the chalkboard to the inside of a closet door. “

And check out crafts stores, which sell an additive to paint so it glows in the dark. What kid wouldn’t like stars and a moon painted on the ceiling? Or a cityscape on a wall?


Furniture finds

Shopping for kids’ furniture, it’s easy to fall for beds shaped like race cars, boats or airplanes. But designers like Lyall recommend investing in some good pieces that can grow up with the child and instead have fun with inexpensive pieces, such as dressers, shelves or chairs. These are the pieces to paint in great colors, and you might even have the child help paint it. That help might consist of the child’s fingerprints for a polka-dot design.

According to furnishings retailers like Pottery Barn Kids, Pottery Barn Teens and Ikea, bunk beds remain popular and keep evolving. Some are designed with upper bunks shielding a desk on the first level; some come with steps rather than ladders; and some come with built-in storage.

For safety, choose plush, soft furnishings for the digs of rambunctious toddlers. Carpet tiles are perfect for young children, too. You can not only replace damaged tiles, but also choose them in myriad mix-and-match colors.

Kids also need lots of storage. Rather than toy boxes, the furnishings retailers suggest pieces that will last for years to come, such as woven baskets, bookcases, shelves and a bedroom bench.