I am in the middle of rethinking of my youngest daughter’s bedroom. We’re far beyond the nursery phase since she is speeding towards age ten at breakneck speed. As the youngest of my four daughters, she needs a space to call her own. Right now she has a gallery wall with a lot of art from her older sisters. We’re looking for art that reflects her interests and that inspires her to be kind, love herself, and dream big.
As a mom and an artist, I have several things I look for when I’m shopping for art for my house. Sometimes my daughter’s veto my opinions about what they hang on the walls in their rooms, but here are some tried and true hacks that I’ve learned about choosing art for a child’s room, particularly if you’re doing a redesign:
Ask questions. Be a detective and ask a question or two to get your child talking about what they love about their room right now and what they hate. Avoid barraging them with questions, but casually ask a question when you’re together. Saying something like, “What is your favorite thing in your room right now?’ or “What makes you happy when you walk into your room?” will get them talking and give you lots of clues of what needs to stay. The answers to questions like that will also give you insight into what matters to them. If they are little, they may not spell it out explicitly, but their actions will. If they love to cuddle that huge teddy bear in the corner or love to play with certain toys, you’ll want to make sure those things stay. Another time to ask questions is when reading picture books to them. You’ll want to explore the kinds of images they love and make notes on which ones make them feel happiest. Those are the kinds of images you’ll be on the hunt for when you shop for art.
Gather ideas that they like. In addition to the images from books your child loves, you’ll want to harness the power of Pinterest. It’s a great place to get ideas for your child’s room and store them in one place. By yourself, you may want to create a Pinterest board where you gather images you feel your child will like. You’ll also want to gather all the art pieces you already have for their room. Then, sit down and spend 10-15 minutes with your child, going through those ideas, images, and existing art. Have them save a few of their own ideas to the board and delete the ones they don’t like that you’ve chosen, so you can prioritize finding things they love. Also, have them choose which art pieces they want to keep in their room from the existing pieces you’ve gathered. Your child will love being asked for their opinions on their room, which will result in a room they will love.
Think of the art before you start. This means that if you’re doing a design overhaul, you may want to look at art before or while you’re looking for furniture and paint colors and accessories. Use your Pinterest board as your guide. Lots of places sell art online and you can browse in the comfort of your own home. Some artists will even create custom art for you that you won’t find anywhere else. Many times you’ll find art that you and your child love and you can design around it. If you find a piece that you both love — don’t hesitate to buy it, then take a photo of it, and bring that photo with you when you shop for the rest of the items you need for your room redo.
Give them a freebie. This means that there might be something your child wants to put up that you don’t particularly like...maybe it’s not attractive, or it’s old and worn out, or it’s just tacky to your eyes. Let them know ahead of time that they can choose one thing that you don’t have to agree on for their room. This means that you have to let them hang on to it, so you’ll want to clearly define what this freebie can and can’t be (nothing smelly, offensive, or dangerous). Setting the parameters early should take away any potential argument down the road about hanging up. I always let my kids choose which of their own art to hang and they love seeing their own work up on the walls alongside the professional original art. A great way to display their original art is to give them a premade gallery, like this one I found from Heather at The Caterpillar Years. She has more great ideas for how to create a gallery wall on her blog. If you decide to make a DIY gallery wall, your kids will love helping out.
I’m currently working on step one and two with my youngest, but I’ve done all four and it gets easier with practice. Let me know what kinds of art your child loves for their room and how your experience went!