Repeating one motif or theme throughout a room is a common method of decorating a kid’s room. A theme can be anything from graphics to characters to fantasy to….well, the choices are endless. There are varying opinions in the design industry as well as with child specialists regarding themed rooms for children. Here are some pros and cons or, in other words, “to theme or not to theme.”
Not a Good Idea?
First point to consider in themed decorating is longevity. Children’s tastes change as quickly as the latest fad hitting the market. What is enchanting today can be uncool tomorrow or, like their clothing, is outgrown before it is worn out. When the interest is gone, the design becomes annoying rather than amusing.
An overall theme locks the room into a specific time frame. Unless you plan to change the room decor frequently, think carefully before creating a realistic jungle, spaceship or dollhouse room for your child. Traces of babyhood are annoying to a ”tween” just as most teenage girls would rather sleep on the floor than in a princess bed or teenage boy sleep in a car bed.
Rooms that are too realistic and detailed leave little room for children to exercise their own imaginations. Leave the authentic, fantasyland design to the theme park and movie set designers. The kids can go to the park or movie and enjoy for a while without losing excitement or squelching their imagination on a daily basis.
Thinking in broad terms when making a decision on a room theme is a good idea. If a room will remain a baby’s room for a long period of time (multiple children planned), then by all means, design with a nursery theme. Select a theme that will be suitable for both boys and girls, gender neutral that can easily be re-accessorized for either.
Children’s hobbies or interests such as dance, sports or science are better choices over cartoon characters and movie stars. Hobby and interest themes are more likely to endure as newly acquired ribbons, trophies and equipment can be used to enhance the décor. These themes are easier for transition as your child grows.
Meeting in the Middle
Classic and easily adaptable themes are the best for longevity. Start with selection of sturdy, non-themed furniture that will last for several years. To this, add themed accessories that can be easily replaced such as bedding, window treatments, artwork, and toys. However, avoid covering every item in the room with the theme. Having trains (or another motif) on the bedding, curtains, wallpaper, rugs, artwork, toys, switch plates and furniture knobs is too much.
For children who have their hearts set on an action figure or cartoon character room, use their favorite toys as a decorative focal point or add a pillow, blanket or lampshade depicting their favorite hero. Your expense will be greatly reduced as they move on to the next thing within a few months.
Transforming one wall or corner that constantly changes is another way to satisfy without bombarding the room (or your budget!). A play area with a tent can create an outdoor theme; a child-sized kitchen, table and chairs set apart from the sleeping area can become any number of places a young girl can imagine.
Let your child participate in selecting a theme but transcend the mass-market blitz and create a room with staying power by relying on traditional decorating elements. If they really want a racecar or princess carriage bed, go for it, but do so with a plan in mind for handing it over to another family member when the thrill is gone.
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