Thinking of doing up your child's bedroom? Use our smart decorating ways and kids' homeware best buys to create a room they'll be desperate to show off to their friends.
First, our top tips for decorating kids' rooms:
Skip that garish Ben10/Dora/ Hannah Montana wallpaper (they'll go off it before the month's out anyway), and instead paint walls with tough, scuff proof, wipeable emulsion. Funk things up with a strong colour on one wall, or all of them if you're feeling brave and the room can carry it off.
This will be cheaper than wallpaper, simpler and will form a 'futureproof' blank canvas (apologies for the naff interior designer cliche there...) you can add interest to with smaller items which are easier to change as your kids get older.
2. CURTAINS/ BLINDS
Curtains and blinds are also too expensive to commit to a theme, so as above go neutral with plain, striped or possibly checked fabric. Do the five or ten year test – would someone five or ten years older than your child cringe at that particular choice? If they would find it too kiddyish, look at something else.
Remember too that blackout linings or blinds aren't just for babies' nurseries – they can be handy to block late evening and early morning sunlight in summer for older kids as well.
Unless their room is very small and you need to save space, there's no reason to go for scaled-down child-size beds, wardrobes and the like - grown-up versions will have more longevity. Seemingly 'fun' beds in the shape of fairytale castles or trains should be avoided like the plague, no matter how much you think they'll please your kid now – they will not want to sleep in them when they hit their tweens, never mind their teens, and are pricey mistakes in most cases.
If this is all sounding a bit staid and boring so far, don't worry, this is where we liven things up. The key is to go with a theme which reflects your child's interests and personality but which won't be so expensive that you'll faint at the thought of changing it in a couple of years' time.
Wall stickers are a fantastic way to add interest to a child's room. They're cheap (compared to wallpaper), easy to put up and can be removed when they move onto the next big thing (and they're designed not to leave marks on the walls afterwards).
Add a dash of colour with a funky lampshade, rug, bean bag or floor cushion plus a cool bedspread or duvet and even they will wonder why they were ever eyeing up that hideous Disney character wallpaper in the decorating shop....
BEST STORES AND BEST BUYS FOR COOL KIDS' ROOMS
1. John Lewis Little Home range – Flower Fairy Cotton Cushion, £18, www.johnlewis.com
John Lewis has just launched its new Little Home range, with 11 different co-ordinated themes designed for children aged 4 to 9 and encompassing everything from cushions to quilts and curtains.
Shown here is the pretty fairy cushion. Matching items include coat hangers (£10 for two) and a single bed duvet cover set (£35).
2. Great Little Trading Company – rugs, from £55, www.gltc.co.uk
Children's retailer GLTC has a good selection of room accessories, plus excellent storage options to cut down bedroom clutter. Look out for their discount codes when buying - they often have promotions which bring costs down a little.
Cover up grubby carpet or add cosiness to wood floors with these bold and bright rugs. There's a football pitch, union jack for the rock star look and a cool road track design for playing cars on, plus more options online.
3. Not on The High Street – Zoom robot bedding set, £95, www.notonthehighstreet.com
If you want to go, as the name suggests, beyond the high street to find more unusual products, this website is certainly worth checking out.
The robot bedding set is not the cheapest around but is 100% organic cotton and would look fab in a boy's room. Other robot-themed items include wall stickers, currently reduced to £19.16 (normally £23.95).
4. Bouf – London Bus Wall Sticker, £19.99, www.bouf.com
Another source for 'something a little different', Bouf is particularly good for wall stickers. Prices start at £9, with lots of cool designs around the £20 to £30 mark.
Shown here is the 75cm by 60cm London Bus sticker in red (also sold in other bold colours). If this isn't your son or daughter's thing, there are tens of alternatives, from brightly-coloured animals and space invaders designs, to retro 'silhouette chandeliers'.
5. Hunkydory Home, Mini Cupcake Lampshade, £24, www.hunkydoryhome.co.uk
We're loving the ecelectic gear on Hunkydory's site, especially their lampshades. Matching cushions help tie the look in and start at £15. Their quirky grown-ups' homeware is also worth a look too.
Where else to check out:
Laura Ashley, Zara Home and The Little White Company: Pretty bedding and accessories collections for boys and girls.
Habitat: Bright and contemporary and good for toddlers through to teens.
Ikea: Cheap and often cheerful. Some of their range is now available online.
BHS: Pretty bedding and cushions in the general homewares department (not specifically for kids but perfect for girls' rooms)