Classic furniture styles are adaptable to any decor phase your child goes through. Photo: Stanley Furniture
If you expect your furniture to last your child through the school years, look for quality, well-built pieces, and consider how they will be used as your child grows. Photo: Stanley Furniture
By keeping the wall colors a constant, neutral color, you can change artwork and accessories as your child's tastes change. Photo: Stanley Furniture
3 Tips for Timeless Youth Décor
- Buy the best quality you can afford.
- Decorate walls and flooring with neutral tones.
- Choose classic furniture styles.
Built to Grow
How to create a room that takes your child from cradle to college.
- by Jane Kitchen
Kids are notoriously fickle. So how do you go about designing a room that will keep them happy through all their varied stages?
“Kids tastes do change with lightning speed, and surprisingly predictably,” says N.Y.-based interior designer Lyn Peterson. “All 6th grade girls like sweet rooms, and all 10th grade boys like black. All small boys want action heroes, and all little girls like American Girl. They go sweet, then mod, then sweet again. It is dizzying trying to keep up.”
Plan for Longevity
How to battle the problem? Start with your surfaces, suggests Peterson. “Your walls and floors need to be constant and have longevity, whereas the top of the bed can be swapped out with little effort and at relatively little cost,” she explains.
Adding different artwork or painting the room as your child grows are other good options, says Richard Goore, vice president of marketing for Sacramento kids store Goore’s. But when it comes to shopping for furniture, look for items with longevity.
“If you’re buying quality furniture, you want it to last for a long time, and it can and it will,” says Goore.
If you expect your furniture to last your child through high school, look for quality, well-built pieces, and consider how they will be used as your child grows, suggests Goore. There are certain rigors to consider in a child’s room—drawers being slammed, beds being jumped on, sword fights, you name it—that are different than other rooms in your house.
You don’t have to buy the top of the line to get good quality, says Goore. Look at the manufacturer’s warranty, and consider its reputation. Look at how much wood is used in a piece, and what type it is. A heavier wood like maple is stronger, but a lighter wood like pine will usually save you some money. Open up doors and drawers and notice how everything moves.
Choose Classic Styles
When it comes to styling, look for classic elements and sophisticated looks that can grow with your child, says Glenn Prillaman, executive vice president of Stanley Furniture.
“With the media exposure that kids have today, if you buy something that’s overly thematic or stylish, they’ll outgrow it,” he explains.
Prillaman suggests also looking at whether additional products in a collection can be purchased down the road, so that you can add pieces as your child has a need for them.
“You’ve got to have a mentality as a parent where you think ahead,” says Prillaman.
Never Too Early
Ali Wing, owner of New York baby and kids store Giggle, suggests starting to think long-term when you’re planning the nursery.
“The more genderless you can pull off your room, the better,” she says. “A lot of people think nurseries have to be pastel, but the child will outgrow that quickly.” Instead, she suggests, use neutrals shades for walls and flooring and add bold colors like reds, blues and oranges in accent pieces that can be changed down the road.
Another option for easily changeable décor, suggests Wing, is decorative wall stickers like Wall Candy, which are relatively inexpensive and simply peel off when you want to change the look.
“You don’t have to be Martha Stewart—the tools are pretty easy now,” says Wing.
Wing suggests looking for products that are multi-stage and can do different duties for different ages. For instance, a six-drawer dresser with a changer on top will have more longevity than a simple changing table. And a crib that converts to a toddler bed and then to a twin or full bed will last your child all the way through to college. Many of the glider rockers now available can easily move to a family room when your child outgrows the need in the nursery.
“It’s also very eco-responsible,” Wing points out. “You’ll use and dispose less.” And while you may invest a bit more initially, investing in products that will grow with your child will save you money over time, says Wing.