I quite often get asked ‘how do I decorate my child’s bedroom on a budget?’ If you're like me and doing it the hard way (had the child first, bought the house second, renovated last) then you now know why people usually do it the other way around. There is something to be said about tradition after all!
Some people spend thousands on their children’s bedrooms and believe me - it is really easy to do! BUT it is also possible to have a stylish nursery with out spending a fortune – you just have to pick your battles. I did a room for somebody recently who wanted to spend about $600 dollars all up. Her theory was the kid would out grow it in a few years and she would have to start all over again. While this is partly true, good choices can ensure that this isn’t a problem. However, the customer is always right and I was up for a challenge. I agreed to take her one but on the condition we were going to have to do some ‘hunting’. If you don't want to spend hundreds instead of thousands – you cant be snobby.
The cheapest way to tart up any room is paint. Paint not only makes a room feel fresh (as well as covering up faults and blemishes) it adds new life and comes in thousands of exciting colours. The problem was my customer didn’t know if she was having a girl or a boy. Eventually we decided not to interrupt the flow of the rest of the house and painted the room in Resene Tea, so that it all matched.
Now that we had a base it was time to spend our money.
I advised her on either a vibrant wallpaper or colourful curtains. Modern wallpapers are designed to be strip-able, which means once you become tired of it, the wallpaper is easily stripped off and replaced with another or just painted over.
The secret of decorating on a budget is to spend up large on one quality item that makes the rest of the room look quality as well. I thought she would go for one of our designer kids wallpapers to do a feature wall, since the room was small she might only need 1 or 2 rolls. At just $80 they would hardly cut in to her budget. Instead she took one look at the newly imported Saffron Craig fabrics and wanted a Roman Blind made out of that. Problem was she had 2 windows and her budget just didn't stretch to that. I also advised her that two blinds in the powerful purple colour she liked would probably over power the small room. But the lady just wouldnt budge.
SOLUTION, we visited a few second hand shops and found an old white Roman Blind that was being given away. Next we went to Spotlight (any good craft shop would do) and for $4 bought some purple felt fabric. Carefully tracing the patterns off the expensive Saffron Craig fabric we transferred them onto the felt and appliqued matching shapes onto the free white blind. We then sewed on a variety of pretty buttons for added texture and fun. A word of advice, this is extremely time consuming and guaranteed to give you an actual pain in the neck, but the rewards can be well worth it! The room now had colour and life but was missing any furniture and we were nearly at the end of her budget.
An option probably not a lot of people are aware of is your local recycling centre. The local one in our town is run by the Nelson City Council and attached to the town ‘dump’. Needless to say she was a bit hesitant but after some selective rummaging, we came away with a tatty free standing wardrobe for $15 and an old cot for $10. The next stop was Mitre 10 Mega who sold me a tin of paint for $10 with a Resene tint of my choice for $5. They also informed us that it was not led based which is great because toddlers have a nasty habit of chewing their cots. She had originally wanted a red cot but a little bit of internet research informed us that pastels were best to encourage sleep! (I have a feeling by this stage she had found out what she was having because she selected baby blue). We then painted the wardrobe and cot in the same colour for continuity. Noticing that we still had a little bit of cash and Saffron Craig Fabric left we decided to make the Roman Blind and lampshade match so ordered in a matching fabric lampshade, which really pulled the room all together. With the last of her money she ordered some cute decals to stick on the wardrobe.
1 x lined large Roman Blind – $450 including installation.
1 x White Roman Blind – Free
1 x Purple Felt $4
Selection of buttons – $4 from the local Salvation Army Shop
Paint for Wardrobe $15 (including colour tint)
Matching Lampshade $120
Decals (wall stickers for wardrobe) $30
Just over budget but the room looked fantastic and the design chosen for the Roman Blind would be suitable right up to ages 10 or 11. She still didnt have a matress (it is recomended these days to have a new matress for each child – so the recylicng centre was not an option in this case!) or any duvets, sheets or blankets (she was hoping to get them at her baby shower).
There are hundreds of alternative ways to decorate your child’s room, local markets, garage sales, recycling centres or trademe and ebay have great second hand items that are begging to be recycled and re loved - it just takes a little imagination. And if you spend up large on one item all the second hand bits and bobs you acquire on the way will also take on a new lease of life.