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5 Ways to Brighten Your Children’s Rooms

When the first days of spring arrive, I always get the urge to clean up, freshen up, minimalize, and makeover. One area in our home that could sure use some spring updating is our children’s rooms.  Still overcrowded and cluttered from the influx of stuff over holiday season, I’m ready to throw open the windows and throw out the winter blahs. So, while I’m making plans for my own redecorating, here are some simple ideas to brighten up your child’s space and bring in something fresh without having to break open the piggy bank:

1. The Great Outdoors… In.


My good friend Cheyenne at Baby Coco is the queen of shabby chic decor.  I just about fell over the day I walked into the store and saw that she had used a tree branch as a curtain rod. How brilliant! I wish I had a pic of that to share with you, but this one of her tree branch mobile will give you the idea. I also loved these little birdhouses I spotted in a client’s nursery last year. You could have them just sitting on a shelf like this, hang them from the ceiling, or if you get one large enough, attach it to the wall to use as a small “coat peg.” I picked up a couple of unfinished birdhouses at Hobby Lobby today ($3.99 + $10 in paint) as a little springtime paint project for my boys.

Another thought is to make a mobile. Leaves, birds, butterflies…whatever inspires you.  Little rubber bugs would be super cute, too!

2. “I’m no Monet, but…”


It might be a “duh” moment, but you can do a lot with paint, and it doesn’t cost *that* much. These two images are actual painted walls in my home right now. The grid was done by using several shades of paint in the same color family (just pick up one of those paint shade cards and get a small can of paint of each color on the card).  It takes some time to do this because you have to let the first color dry completely before you tape it off to do the next color, but it creates a really neat effect.  For the circles, I used two different sized dinner plates as stencils (traced the designs in pencil) and then painted over the lines.

3. Recovery Effort


Where, oh, where has applique been all my life?! So many uses to create a fresh, fun look in your child’s room! Loved this idea to make letter applique pillows. I recently saw a DIY (can’t for the life of me remember where) on updating a chair by cutting out a design in fabric and then applying that design via applique to the chair. I think this would be great to use on one of those kid’s storage ottomans.

And of course, there’s paper and wallpaper. Check out that adorable paper coat rack and I’m totally using that wallpaper file cabinet idea to jazz up my children’s dresser drawers.

4. Frame old, frame old.


Again, inspired by a client nursery, here’s a demonstration of using an old frame to frame something besides pictures. What a great way to display your baby’s coming home outfit, first shoes, favorite toy, etc.  Or what about a cute sundress or baseball cap hanging from a personalized hanger? These DIY hangers would work, too.

You don’t have to buy expensive prints to decorate your child’s room either. You probably already have beautiful artwork just sitting on your bookshelves (or, if you don’t want to ruin your copy, head to a used book store). The classic images from the pages of Dr. Suess’s children’s books are whimsical and eye-catching. I think it would be fun to frame a series of pages from Pat the Bunny for some “touch and feel” artwork.  I’m planning to frame some pages from Where the Wild Things Are for my eldest and maybe The Giving Tree, too.  Hmmmm…I might just make a collage of all of our favorite classics now that I think about it.

5. Monochromatic


Finally, inspired by this incredible room put together by Wendi Schoffstall, I am reminded that less is more when it comes to creating a color pallet for a child’s bedroom. For a space that’s inviting, calming, comfortable, and looks VERY clean (big point there), pick just one color and use it in a few shades throughout the room. The white on white here is simply breathtaking, but this would work with many soft colors (lavender, sky blue, butter yellow, mint green).  Group items on shelves or display items that are the same color and tuck away items that aren’t (or if possible, spray paint them to match–I’m thinking frames, crates, tins, wooden blocks, things like that).

What of the above ideas would you like to try out soon? I’d love to hear how you freshen up the kids’ rooms on a budget!

About Michele

Michele is a former marketing guru turned child and family photographer in Austin, TX. She is surrounded by three energetic kids at home and a husband who works tirelessly to keep them all educated and fed. Much like her life, Michele's work is chameleon-like... always changing with her mood and inspiration. Her mind is constantly abuzz with new concepts, but thankfully, she is regularly reminded by her kids to slow down and enjoy life's simplest moments. Michele is the owner and photographer of Pinkle Toes Photography and she also provides resources and templates for photographers all over the world via Pinkle Toes 4 Photographers.

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  • Laura @ Getting There

    I absolutely love the idea of framing pages from a classic book. Book lover that I am, I can’t believe I never thought of that before!

  • KDL

    We framed pages from a story about a plain brown caterpillar that turns into a beautiful butterfly. I loved the message of the book and the bright colors. We painted a sky on the ceiling and the wall with the book pictures is green to coordinate with the leaf colors in the book. The rest of the room is neutral so it is not overwhelming. In dd’s room I just hung some butterflies that she decorated along her curtain rod to make it more girly.

  • stacey woods

    Thank you, oh thank you, for the Monochromatic example! I love it!!! My two kids share a room. Parker’s room was painted blue before he was born, and Lila, love her heart, has just moved into it and could care less. 😉 But, inspired by this article, I now have plans to paint the walls a soft warm white, and their white/khaki/brown bedding will completely coordinate and feel so much lighter and fresher. And be less “all-boy” as well. And I’m totally picking up a few cans of spray paint tomorrow. 😉 Thanks Michele, so good to see you here!!

  • Cheryl B.

    We also took a page from a favorite book and enlarged it to make a mural of a farm with a barn for son’s room. It’s the entire top of one wall with chair rail and the bottom of the room is painted. You can use coloring pages or books and go as simple or as fancy as you want. Use an overhead projector and go to work.

  • Cheryl B.

    I took my daughter’s artwork and painted little black letters that spelled “MY GALLERY” and framed all her artwork below it. She is extrememly talented and it’s a great way to showcase her work. Also, took $1 store calendars and framed pics from them for son’s “John Deere” room. Covered a handmade cornice board with John Deere fabric and just used that along with mini blinds. Took all his John Deere tractors, and anything John Deere related and put on the shelf so it’s all together. I also got letters from Hobby Lobby (.99 for 2) and painted their names to go on their bedroom doors but they could go above their beds or closets or wherever. Used the theme of their rooms for inspiration. Example, daughter has animal murals in her room so painted letters pink and make zebra stripes on letters, also did this on ceiling fan blades. She loved it.

  • Rana

    I love the book pages in frames. My daughter loves Fancy Nancy and the colors in those books would look great on her walls.

  • Julie Cadusch

    In Australia we are in Autumn now. However, my boys & I always decorate for Easter by finding a dead tree branch and spray painting it white, leaning it against the wall or putting it into a pot and hang store brought Easter decorations on it – pastel color Easter eggs, little bunnies etc. We also do one with Christmas decorations for Christmas time.
    This could be used in a child\’s bedroom with birds, butterflies/dragon flies, bugs – crystals, silk flowers and anything else that goes with the theme of the room.

  • Meghyn

    <3 white on white

  • Marci@OvercomingBusy

    We freshened up our kids rooms last spring with new paint and wall art. In my sons room, we painted chip board letters that spelled his name and we framed photos of him off-roading with my husband. In my daughter’s room, we framed horse prints we found in clearance bins at hobby lobby and michaels and made lights out of paper lanterns. They both turned out cute.

  • Amanda

    I *love* your grid Michelle! I painted my son\’s room just like that before he was born. I only did one wall in the room but I laid it out in photoshop first to know what it was going to look like then went to work. It took 7 hours to complete and being 7 months prego at the time, it was a lot of work but worth it!

    Finished Room (bad picture)

  • Plain and Joyful Living

    Our family has branch curtain rods throughout our rustic cottage home.
    We do make them as well for others in our family’s handwork shop.
    Thank you for sharing the idea of the sweet birds hanging from the branches.
    Warm wishes and joy, Tonya

  • Angie

    I love the idea of framing pages of their fave books – my 5 year old would be thrilled to have this in his room.

    So many ideas… so little time :) Thanks so much Michele!

  • Quinn

    Oh, wow! I love these ideas! I’ve got spring fever BAD and would love to repaint every wall in my house. Especially craving green painted walls… hopefully will be able to do it soon.

  • Farrar Lindner

    Michelle! These are great ideas. I too did my daughters nursery in the color blocks but I did contrasting colors of peach, coral, black, tan and cream. It was too cute! I am so glad to have signed on to your blog. Keep these great ideas coming!!

  • Stephanie Wind

    I love the \"squares\" on the walls! I am moving soon – going to see if I can talk the husband into that one. :)