You thought that decorating was fun before? Wait until you start revamping a tired old guest room for your new baby, or giving that nursery a makeover when baby is ready for a "big boy" or "big girl" room -- the colors, patterns, fabrics, and wallpapers you get to play with are 10 times more exciting than "grown-up" decor. You can let your inner artist free in a child's room, because the more whimsical and colorful it is, the more they'll like it.
And the best part: There's no rule that says your child's space has to match the rest of the house. So let go of the style rules that have ruled your roost and decorate with abandon!
- Don't rush it. Wallpapering takes time. Plan on about four hours of wall prep, depending on the condition of the walls, and 10 hours to paper a small room.
- Focus on preparation. Wallpapering over a painted wall? First, sand the wall to dull the glossiness of the paint. Wipe with a tack cloth to remove dust. Then wash the area with a strong household detergent, let dry, and start papering.
- Create a smooth surface. Wallpapering over a bumpy or textured wall? You have two options: Either cover the wall to be papered with a thin coat of drywall (honestly, this is best left to the pros, or to an extremely experienced do-it-yourselfer), or simply hang wallpaper liner. Follow manufacturer's instructions and you'll have a smooth wall to be papered in a few hours.
- Plan carefully. You want your last strip to end in a low-visibility part of the room, because it may be the one place where you cannot match the paper's pattern exactly. A good place for the mismatch is against a window frame, where it may be obscured by window treatments.
- Get a good start. Use a plumb bob to ensure the first strip you place on the wall is perfectly straight. That strip locks in position all that follow.
-- Written by Suzanne Morrissey
Chalkboard Paint Tips
- Use it everywhere. Chalkboard paint is best used on previously painted surfaces. It comes in cans or spray paint versions. Try it on walls, of course, but also on old play tables, backs of doors, or drawer fronts.
- Apply it correctly. Plan to paint when the air and surface temperatures are above 50 degrees. Make sure you have plenty of ventilation, and wear a safety mask.
- Plan on multiple coats. Chalkboard paint works best when you layer three to five coats painted in different directions (if using a brush). When using the spray-paint version, spray back and forth evenly to produce the best finish. If you linger too much in one spot, you'll get ugly drips!
- Make cleanup easy. A damp sponge cleans up the finished surface and cuts down on chalk dust.
- Add a frame. Once you've painted a wall area, you can frame it with molding or paint a border around it. This can help very young artists understand that not all wall surfaces can be drawn on. Stenciling or stamping the chalkboard along the edges is also a great way to create a frame. Simply allow the chalkboard paint to dry completely before applying the stencils or stamps.
-- Written by Emma Sarran
5 Fun Art Sources
We love the wispy, detailed characters that artist Nicole Lathouse creates, from Bella Bug to Theodore Frog. The images captured in the framed prints are also available on infant loungewear and accessories for your wee one. Lathouse's giclee prints are surrounded by handmade painted wood frames, in various sizes, finished to impart a cottage-style look.
Murphy Smith Designs
With the motto "Art to inspire your child" and a special knack for classic storybook style, artist Roxane Murphy Smith creates pieces that you'll love long after baby is out of diapers. She also gives her painting new life on furniture and growth charts as well as canvases for wall hanging.
Studio Avo and Oopsy Daisy
The artists represented in these partner art collections are too numerous to mention. But if we had to pick a few faves, we'd direct you to the ultra-colorful work of Stephanie Bauer, Maria Carluccio, Caroline Blum, and Max Grover.
Artist Muffy Pendergast must grin all day long in her studio, because the creatures in her paintings all seem to be smiling from the canvas, teaching us our ABCs or just being silly. Coming soon: Clothing, furniture, and other items painted with Pendergast's signature, color-saturated look.
American Postcard Art
Get a mug of tea ready, because once you're on this site, you won't want to leave. American Postcard Art promises quality art prints made from vintage postcards. There are hundreds of topics appropriate for kids -- we noted the nursery rhymes from the early 1900s. Getting your art is easy: Follow directions on the site for choosing the finished size of the print and the desired medium.
-- Written by Suzanne Morrissey
Great Wall Letter Sources
Many parents agonize over what to name their new baby -- or at the very least, they go through gallons of ink writing up lists and confabbing on favorites and "can't stands." Now that you've selected the perfect moniker for your little monkey, spelling it out on the wall of his or her nursery is a stylish accent to the room's decor. You can also use these hangable letters to spell out happy messages, such as love, laugh, sing, smile, and dance.
For the artistic child, you can't beat Catfish Bite's bright pieces with curlicued lettering.
This is a great source for basic wood letters that you can finish or paint to match the decor of your child's room.
Each letter in Tatutina's "bright" and "pastel" set is painted differently; some shine with stripes and dots, and others boast hearts, flowers, or stars.
Specializing in simple and rustic typefaces, this company's wall letters add country charm.
The Well Appointed House
This Web site offers the largest selection of wall letter styles in a variety of colors and patterns.
-- Written by Joanna Smith
5 Unusual Products
Rust-Oleum Magnetic Latex Primer
Turn a wall, cabinet, or play table into a magnetized surface with this new product. The best part: You can paint over the magnetic primer in any color! (Note: Small magnets are choking hazards. Use extra big magnets that aren't a danger in little hands.)
Find puzzles, building block sets, and (our fave) mobiles featuring college mascots. Junior might still be learning how to stand on two feet, but that does not mean Mom and Dad's alma maters can't be a part of his world. (For the pro fans, Mascotopia also carries Major League Baseball and NBA collections.)
Along with cool educational toys and games, HaPe has created the Bamboo Collection, the world's first collection of bamboo toys. Bamboo is highly sustainable -- once cut, it grows back completely in three years -- so these toys are environmentally friendly. The Bamboo Collection offers 14 games for kids 3 years and up.
Follow the directions on the Web site and your digital photos will be turned into a unique wallpaper border. You can select from themed designs in the catalog, or start from scratch with your snapshots. We love the border featuring a newborn's teeny inked footprints, interspersed with the child's name and date of birth.
JELD-WEN Custom Carved Interior Doors
Create a unique design for a child's bedroom (or playroom) door -- virtually any symbol, name, word, or image can be routed into these MDF doors, available in a variety of sizes. The door comes primed and ready to paint. Choose from 70 designs or submit one of your own.
--Written by Suzanne Morrissey
Originally published on AmericanBaby.com.