The trials of decorating for an 8-year-old boy

Marian ParsonsBoy's Bedroom, Decorating, My House, Room Makeovers

Decorating for kids is hard.  I’m learning that as I’m working with my eight-year-old on transforming the guest room into his room.  We have conversations about it that go something like this…

“So, let’s talk about your room, bud, and how you would like it to look.”


“What colors would you like?”

“Ummm… Red, green, black, gray, orange, blue.  And some yellow.”

“Hmm.  Okay.  How about a theme?”

“Oh!  Broncos and Star Wars and Ninja Turtles.”

“Um.  Okay.  Which is your favorite?”

“I want to paint the walls and have you paint a big Mikey over there and a light saber over there…”

And it just deteriorated from there.

Now, I’m all for letting him have a say in his room.  I want him to love it.  But, I also know that most eight year old boys lack a design sense or the concept that when they are twelve, they might not want cartoon characters splattered all over the wall.  Or the fact that this room will double as a guest room and has to have some level of taste!

So, I’m doing what I do as a designer.  I’m taking ideas, filtering them, and then putting together a design plan that I know will work and I think he’ll love.

This is what I’ve come up with…

Calvin's Room



I’ve already shared about the Star Wars watercolors I painted for him.  This was to appease his request for characters on the wall.  I know they aren’t large murals, but they are much easier to switch out when/if his tastes change.  And he loves them.  He loves them so much, he asked me to paint more and he has even been painting some, too.

mms-0061 mms-0064

I bought some black frames with black mats from Michael’s, so they would pop against the creamy walls.

And just about everything looks important when it’s framed and matted well.


We just have a small cotton rug in the room right now and it’s not quite big enough to be a comfy place to stretch out and draw or set up a Lego battle, so I’m getting a rug that is a softer wool/cotton blend.  And also one that fits with the blue, gray, black, and white color scheme I went with.  Yes, he asked for more colors than that, but I decided to stick with my typical palette of blue & white, with some gray and black thrown in to enforce the masculine vibe and Star Wars theme.  Keeping the color palette simple will make the pieces I select for the room more versatile down the road and it means I can move them into other rooms if that ever arises.

If he’s really insistent about adding more color, we can add some pops with artwork, accessories or a couple throw pillows.


Again, I’m keeping things simple with a solid blue quilt.  It’s masculine, but neutral.


I already miss my raspberry buffalo check curtains in the room, so I decided to replace them with navy and cream buffalo check!  I had some of the fabric already, so I was able to clip it up to see if it looked nice and to see how Calvin felt about it.  Both mom and boy were happy with the results, so I bought a few more yards, so I can make two panels for the window behind the bed and a valance for the dormer window.

I wouldn’t usually pick full-length drapes for a boy’s room, but since this will double as a guest room, it makes the room feel a little more grown up.


That’s just fabric clipped up there right now, but I’ll hem and iron it and it’ll look really sharp.  I’m also going to swap out the curtain rod for a simple black one.


I originally planned on keeping the white metal bed frame, but once I stripped the room of the “guest room” decor and started adding in some of the boyish elements, the bed frame looked girly and out of place.  It’s a bit of a challenge for me to pick something that is so masculine, but it is for a boy’s room and, with this being such a small room, the bed frame is a main focal point.  The frame is masculine, but it still feels neutral and a little rustic, with a modern edge.  I think it’ll work well in the space.


We don’t have room for a full on reading nook, but I love the idea of a bean bag chair, so Calvin can easily move it around wherever he wants to lounge.  I liked that this one had a playful look with its faux fur, but the color is neutral.  In reference to the Star Wars theme, it feels like having a wookiee or ewok in the space.


I have also been shopping for a very small desk and chair as well as some wall storage options, like floating shelves or a narrow bookcase.  It’s a small, awkward room, so I have to be crafty to make every inch count!

We’re moving his dresser from his old room and I’ll be selling the pretty old dresser from the guest room.  His dresser will get a coat of MMS Milk Paint in either Artissimo or Trophy.  Or maybe a combination of both!  I need to get the other elements in the room and then decide.

I’ll share more on the sources as I get the elements in the room…

The trials of decorating for an 8-year-old boy

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