After living in a tiny rental cottage for years and our two kids sharing their tiny bedroom space we have been so grateful to live in house which has more space! What did we learn from bedroom sharing has been priceless in planning. We undertook the challenge of re-doing both kids bedrooms ourselves. This meant we did ALL the work ourselves. We also realized that much of what you already own can be reused and repurposed and that second hand purchases are a winner!
We decided to make both rooms have a neutral base, neutral carpets, walls, curtains and basic white linen. This will allow us to either dress-up or dress down the room as the child grows up without major changes and more purchases.
Here are our top tips when affordably recreating child’s bedroom. We hope they will be helpful to you.
1. Plan the areas of the room carefully according to the many types of activities that a child uses the room for including crafts and storage for their many games! Decide which areas should be included and draw up a floor plan which allows the activities you select to be included in the room.
-Toy storage- sets and games
2. Decide on the non-negotiables
This is a list of the things that either will or won’t change at this time or things that you are sure you want to be used in the room.
Here are our lists:
Bed must move to the inner wall
Cupboard must be made smaller
Curtain rail must be lifted
Plug point installed
Light fitting will stay the same
Curtains will remain
We want a neutral base for the room
We want to make the room feel light
Needs updated pictures
Needs to be painted
Curtains will stay the same
We want a neutral base for the room
3. Have a meeting with the child (age dependent!)
Ask them few questions about their room. This is age dependent, older children will have much stronger ideas. Pre-school children can give you some yes/no answers about their likes and dislikes whilst toddlers well, some you pretty much and choose on their behalf, unless they are like our daughter who at 2 yeas had her own strong opinions! Write down any core things your child mentions, ‘I like that picture, I want blue’ and use this as your starting point. Explain that some things will stay the same (see your list) and other things in room will change and it’s a project you will work on together
4. Formulate a visual board
Get a firm idea of WHAT you want the space to be like in a visual form. I used Pinterest to search for ideas, narrowed my thoughts and created very small Pinterest board with about 10 picture of the ideas I liked the most. Pinning too many pictures confused me and I found pinning and then deleting those that I no longer liked helped me sift my own ‘plan’. I shared these pictures with my children and they could pick and choose their favourites. I then deleted others.
5. Decide on flooring
Do you have the budget to change this? Flooring is expensive! Is it adequate? Or does it need anything added like a rug on a tiled floor). We decided to go with white washed laminate wood in both rooms as it is a lovely surface. It’s affordable, durable, and easy to clean, not too cold to sit on, great for playing on and dust-free! We got rid of two very old textured carpets which really made the small rooms seem even smaller. We installed the flooring ourselves which saved on labour costs, but it was quite a job! Not for the novice DIY. Alternatively, find a recommended handy man in your area to install. We suggest going for smooth surfaces. Small rooms can also be brightened by using lighter flooring. Also take into account what flooring you have used in the other rooms of the house, we chose to use the same flooring in our living areas and bedrooms to consolidate the house. If you can’t change the flooring then take the colour and texture into account when planning the room. A dark floor can seem lighter by keeping lighter walls, a patterned floor can seems less busy if you use plain coloured linen etc. It’s all about balance
6. Decide on furniture, soft furnishings and toys that take up floor space
What will stay? What will go? What furniture you need to purchase? What furniture need repairs or alterations? We moved a built in cupboard in one room to make space for the bed to be on the inner wall and away from the window. In the other room we swung a free standing cupboard around to make the room seem less boxed up. In most children’s rooms they need minimal pieces of furniture and more floor space to play. Draw a basic floor plan and get out a tape measure to check if furniture and toys that take up floor space will fit comfortably.
-Bedside ‘table’ (a shelf or bookshelf can do)
-A cupboard with shelves or a chest of draws (For clothing and toy storage)
-Bookshelf (for book and toy storage)
-Under the bed storage containers (Baskets, wooden crates work)
-Set of hooks for the wall (So useful!)
-Curtains or blinds
-Linen (We replaced these with plain white 100 percent cotton linen which was one of the best choices we could have made)
Once you are armed with a detailed list of ‘need to purchase’ you are ready for the hunt. By knowing specifically what you are looking for it will mean you won’t purchase things you don’t really need.
Affordable places to purchase:
-Online second-hand selling platforms such as Facebook groups and Gumtree. We bought a mat for R75 and a bookshelf for R250!
-Factory shops-Cape Town good options include Sheraton Linen in Diep River, bought a brand new cotton ¾ duvet inner and covers for R500. Raw Pine furniture offers one the choice of painting them or straining them, Pine Options in Muizenberg has great prices.
-Second hand furniture stores or stores that refurbish furniture are often a treasure trove of finds. Ruby’s Cottage in Bergvliet is our favourite. We purchased lovely wooden frames there 3 for the price of 2!
-Online stores such as Nevada furniture (Ikea online supplier in South Africa) or Makro. These are great as one can browse without the hassles of driving around from place to place and they often have great deals.
-Department stores such as Mr Price Home, Checkers Hyper and Woolworths also offer you value for items such as decorations, hooks, frames, curtains and linen. Keep an eye out for their sales!
7. Decide on paint
This was our most challenging area in making a decision. We suggest you get a range of large size swatches and hold these up on the wall in both the shaded and brighter areas. You can also purchase small tester bottles if you are really undecided. Our choices were based on two criteria. Search for rooms on Pinterest with the same colour walls, this gave us a good idea of what we felt was either too dark or light. Our two main criteria were:
-Must be neutral so that it fitted with our plan of a long lasting room
– Must be in a tone that doesn’t make the room seem small
This is the fun part! I’m sure you have many unused items in your house that are just waiting to be repurposed into something new. It really is amazing how simple room decorating can be. There are thousands of posts online about making your own. Don’t go and hang things on every bit of open wall space, rather select items carefully. The other very important thing to prepare for is a space where your child can pin up their own items of choice, either their art, magazine pictures or special photos. I got some fabulous ideas online which I altered according to what I had freely available in my own garage.
We decided to keep with the simple single bedroom roof light and updated on of the rooms light shades to a paper lantern shade. There are many lighting shops with affordable lighting options and lamps. Updating lighting can change the whole feel of the room. We also used an old lamp on a bedside table. We updated this by giving the base a quick paint to match the colour scheme.
When your plan is coming together, I suggest purchasing and working on all the smaller projects first before tackling the entire room. Have these items stored and waiting in the wing. Once the major work is done it will be a quick job to install the other things without you having to run around too much. Have you redone your child’s room affordably? And remember even in a rental house small changes can make a big difference to making the room their own.