We’ve recently given the upper floor of our house a bit of spruce-up. Nothing designy; just a repaint, new carpets, some ingenious storage items I masterminded, while I should have been working, and a few decorative additions, especially to the boys’ rooms, which were more Sleeping Child Storage Facility than Mentally Nourishing Cocoon. Until now, in lieu of having the time or energy to actually create such havens, I had curated a most delightful Pinterest board, filled with décor ideas that little boys would love and thought myself a wonderful mother for having been so sensitive to the things that delight children. Meanwhile, the baby slept in a room of white walls adorned with one cream rabbit canvas, and the big fella wasn’t much better off. They were warm and dry, but that was about it.
Then, suddenly, I had one of those unpleasant moments where you realise Pinterest isn’t real life and the urgency of the situation became apparent. The rooms of shame needed enlightenment. Considering the ever-developing nature of children (so inconvenient), committing to painting the mountain murals I’d been pinning felt shortsighted, if not futile. So I set about adding personality that’s temporary, easily changeable and, most important of all, easy to implement. The husband was already in the long midst of my “let’s paint every old paneled door in the house blush” plan, so any requests for genuine labour on his part, might have resulted in tears.
Focusing on the walls, which are reasonably unsusceptible to destruction by one-year-old, I took five easy steps to bring my pins to life. Hey presto: perfect childhood.
Step 1: Cheats wallpaper
Decals are fast becoming the wall decoration of choice for chic kids; triangles and polka dots epitomise the trend, but stars, raindrops and clouds are also acceptable. Ferm living do the ones you’ll have seen all over every blog, but at €21 per pack, plus about €15 postage, they’re pricey, so you may want to look at DIYing it. Try cutting out the shapes you like from coloured contact paper – or, even lazier, use whatever wide Washi or duct tape you have lying around the house. My design process was delicately considered – we have thick black duct tape in our toolbox; black triangles, it is.
Step 2: Make books art
Regular bookshelves are just not built for children’s storybooks. Given the thinness of the average book you can neither read the spine, nor see the cover, without some effort. Coupled with that, the books slip and bend, making for a thoroughly messy library and books that just won’t last well. And, anyway, most kids books are so beautifully illustrated that’s a crying shame not to use them in your décor; plus, children are such visual animals that displaying their reading material can only serve to encourage glorious bookishness. We hung a few of IKEA’s Mosslanda picture ledges, down low, for easy access – I may even add some more, for action figure and matchbox cars.
Step 3: Weird animal heads
…AKA cheapo plastic animal masks, which I bought for €1.99 each, down my local old person mini-market. Tack in or stick up a few picture hooks, and hang haphazardly on a wall – just make sure the masks you find aren’t too creepy, or you’ll be frightened on nighttime blanket-replacement missions. For a less tacky approach than mine, you could always hand make some felt woodland creatures, as per this tutorial. Though, really, if you have the time for this, you probably don’t even have children.
Step 4: Manipulative hooks
Anything you can do to encourage small people to hang up their clothes/coats/superhero costumes will contribute to a tidier space, not to mention more rounded human beings. Thankfully, young children are quite easily conned, so any sort of novelty wall hook, at child level, is usually enough to start a good habit. We installed a few of IKEA’s Bastis dog hooks (where would you be without IKEA, in fairness) in our coat area and, as if by magic, the hallway floor is coat-free. We also have those fake Hang it All-esque hooks from Tiger in the bedrooms, which offer create storage and look hella cute, too.
Step 5: Hackneyed prints
If your kid hasn’t got a gallery wall, featuring framed inspirational quotes, monochrome graphic prints and washi-taped illustrations, do you even love them? While I’ve balked at the likes of Dream big, little one on the wall of child nowhere near reading age, I found myself unable to resist one in my own plans; mainly because it featured a batman symbol, which I knew the big child would love. Otherwise, I’ve gone with a tasteful combination of smiling apples, super bunnies and horses in hot air balloons (you know, the usual), most of which were free downloadables that I had properly printed, and then framed myself. A good search on Pinterest will yield plenty of cute options, like those I found here.
Main image credit: shelterness.com