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Quick fix: kids’ rooms

Simple do-it-yourself ideas from the experts to transform your space without emptying your wallet

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For a quick fix and a modern update, Suzanne Saul, co-owner of Attica Furnishings Ltd. in Halifax suggests overhead lighting. “A lot of times homes come with standard flush mounts that aren’t very attractive,” says Saul. “Pick something fresh and modern and bold for overhead lighting in a children’s room.”

COST: $135+
TIME: An afternoon shopping and installation


A big way to refresh all rooms but especially kids’ rooms is fresh paint. “It goes such a long way,” says Kelly Anderson, design coach and owner of Refreshed Designs in Fredericton. “It can change the look and feel of the whole room.”Use your child’s favourite colour or something more sophisticated like a soothing neutral or pastel that grows with your child.

“There are so many different looks you can achieve, but work with a colour palette,” says Saul. “Something not so multi-coloured, something a little more restrained to create visual interest.” Saul explains how 10 different colours can be overwhelming and a colour palette is more cohesive. She recommends using one primary, one secondary, and one tertiary colour.

Saul also suggests an interesting wallpaper with a fun print, maybe on the wall the bed is on. “I look for a clean-looking wall,” says Saul. “One with not a lot going on, without doors and windows.”

Anderson suggests adding a vertical stripe, an accent wall, or creating a chalkboard paint wall and let kids draw to their hearts’ content. “It’s one of the most inexpensive ways to change a room,” says Anderson. For standard paint, choose an eggshell or satin finish. It offers enough protection to wipe down when kids put their hands and feet all over it.

COST: $30–$75 depending on size of room and quality of paint
TIME: One day


Pay attention to floors and beds and incorporate different textures and textiles. “People have told me, they do these great rooms up and kids don’t stay in them,” says Anderson. Layer pillows, rugs, and throw mats around to make it really comfortable so kids get down on the floor to play or read.

“Flooring stores have remnant pieces of rugs in different sizes, shapes, colours and textures,” she adds. “They will cut and stitch them for you at a very low cost.”

When it comes to an area rug, Saul says to choose something a little more sophisticated but still youthful. “It doesn’t have to scream ‘I’m in a kids’ room!’ It can be colourful or neutral but it doesn’t have to be purchased from a kids’ section.” She says there are so many other possibilities that will transition as your children grow.

“A persian-style rug that works with the colour palette in a kids room has youthful energy and sophistication.”

COST: Remnant pieces $100, depending on size and quality chosen. Smaller throw mats to layer, $20–$50
TIME: Several hours shopping


Anderson is a big fan of repurposing furniture. “You can change it up as they grow, and you don’t have to buy expensive new pieces every time,” she says. Try thrift stores, garage sales, and on Kijiji to find vintage dressers, chairs, and side tables. But only, Anderson says, “if you are willing to put some work into fixing them up, to sand and paint them.”

She suggests letting the kids choose colours, and making something bright and fun. “Take a dining chair, paint it and use as a bedside table,” says Anderson. “Take a coffee table or end table, use chalk-style paint and it becomes an art table where they can sit on the floor and make crafts.”

Refreshing their room is not something young children can do for themselves so give some overall direction for the space. “You don’t want a hodge-podge but a flow that’s visually engaging as well,” says Saul. “I don’t tend to go too heavy on themes for decorating in case they fall out of favour when interests change. Definitely it’s great to incorporate a few favourite things.”

Saul says storage solutions to minimize clutter are also important. “Use creative storage, be it trundle beds with space underneath or bookcases with baskets.” Anderson suggests painting and securing old milk crates to the wall with screws to become storage for toys and books.

COST: $20 and up
TIME: 2–3 hours of thrift shopping

East Coast Living