YOU CAN TOO: Rooms For Improvement


YOU CAN TOO: The series

It comes with the warm days and clear nights of spring on the Front Range: Time to fix up the nest. What seemed like the coolest idea ever a couple of years ago is now tired and begging for change. Mauve? Ouch. Change is closer and easier than you think. If your bank account is begging to be drained, peruse these ideas and call someone to get them done. But if you’re like most of us, you’re looking for ways to justify some snazzy new cabinet hardware or a fancy bathroom shower head, and the work you will do yourself. You can, and we’ve talked to a few experts to inspire you and get a fresh look at home within budget and within reason. Our own tip? No mauve.

[wc_accordion collapse=”1″ leaveopen=”0″ layout=”box”] [wc_accordion_section title=”ROOMS FOR IMPROVEMENT: Dining Rooms“]



Chelsey Bowen suggests a striped paint treatment — possibly using leftover colors from a living room or other area of the house — to give the dining room more dimension and distinction


Rooms for Improvement: Dining

Bon Appetit

It might be hard to consider putting too much thought into a room where the inhabitants are, for the most part, staring down at their plate.

At the same time, other than perhaps the living room, there’s probably no more central gathering place for your family than the dining area.

Whether your dining room is a small and simple area where the family meets on the regular for breakfast and dinner, or a lavish and ornate room equipped to host holidays and big-banquet occasions, here’s a few simple ideas to help your eating space more resemble an upscale restaurant than the chow hall where dad used to get his meals during that stint in the Army.

Grab a Brush

If it seems like a paint job is the answer to sprucing up a lot of different areas around your home, that’s for good reason: It’s simple, relatively inexpensive and appealing to all skill levels.

And looking past that overdone accent wall and onto more ornate paint designs and treatments allows homeowners a chance to really personalize each room.

HGTV writer Chelsey Bowen suggests a striped paint treatment — possibly using leftover colors from a living room or other area of the house — to give the dining room more dimension and distinction. And that repeat of color helps pull your dining room in with other rooms in the house, especially if it’s a hue used in, say, a connecting living room.

Another idea: Consider highlighting architectural details of the room with splashes of color. And don’t forget the ceiling, where a unique design or custom artwork can add Old-World flair and sophistication. Similar treatment can also add new life to old furniture, taking those old oak chairs from antique to chic.

Light it Up

Because the dining room serves as such a cornerstone gathering place for your family, intimacy is at a premium. Hardly the kind of area you want over-lighted while you watch your family shove greasy pizza down their gullets, soft but sophisticated lighting can act as a silk-screen, giving a warm and comfortable glow to even the most lovingly used dining room set or grandma’s hand-me-down china hutch in the corner.

Chandeliers are the go-to fixture of choice for most dining areas, from the stodgy ones to the more hip and modern. Acting as not just lighting but an overall decorative feature, what kind of chandelier you choose will determine whether you wind up with the former or the latter.

In choosing the right fit, April Sanders with recommends considering the size of the dining space and the other decorative features of the room.

“A large or ornate chandelier will overwhelm a small living space, and a small, simple one will not look right in a formal dining room,” she writes. “The chandelier should complement, not detract from, the theme of the room.”

Mounting your fixture needn’t be too overwhelming: Online guides are easy to find and suggest about an hour of labor at most, especially if there’s already existing ceiling support, like a mounting box or fan brace.

Cover up

Maybe because it’s a place where family can let down their hair and connect about the day, there’s just something relaxed about the dining room. And maybe that’s why repurposed, antique-store pieces seem to work so well in the dining area, where furniture shouldn’t be so much decorative but rather practical — ready to comfort bottoms, withstand the scrapes of a child’s kicking foot and absorb splashed coffee, spilled milk or, shudder to think, toppled wine.

An easy way to bring together a hodgepodge of eclectic pieces you might pull together for your dining area is through some strategically placed slipcovers that can be matched with table linens, or even the drapes over that picture window overlooking the yard.

“Slipcovers are an easy solution for changing the look of any upholstered chair,” writes HGTV’s Bowen. “For added sophistication, have slipcovers made with your monogram.” Oh-la-la!

And if you’ve got a little one like me, slipcovers have the added bonus of making those aforementioned, meal-time accidents more easy to clean up: Just throw the covers in the washer and go.

Again, online tutorials abound on how to make slipcovers, which by all rights seems like an easy enough task, if not a bit time-consuming. The best advice I found? Be sure to launder your fabric — you’ll need seven measured and pre-cut pieces —  first to avoid shrinkage later. Plain, pre-made slipcovers can also be purchased on the super-cheap, but are all about practicality, and offer little from an interior design perspective.

— Jeremy Johnson, staff writer

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[/wc_accordion_section] [wc_accordion_section title=”ROOMS FOR IMPROVEMENT: Kitchens“]

.Caleb Anderson says black and white is dramatic, easy to care for, allows for limitless and easy combinations of contrasts and access colors. Best? it’s timeless, meaning you can keep it forever


Rooms for Improvement: Kitchen

Red Hot In Black and White

You can spell out the easy and long-lasting kitchen design in black and white.

Americans briefly scaled back the scope of home renovation projects after the recession began nearly a decade ago, says interior designer and “HGTV Design Star” judge Vern Yip. But even during the peak of that of that focus on smaller, more sustainable living, the size and complexity of the kitchen designs continued to grow.

“The kitchen is the heart of the home,” Yip says, and people see it as a good place to spend money and recoup the investment when they sell their home.

But a new look doesn’t have to mean a new mortgage. If you’re looking to update colors or a backsplash, even furniture, think contrast.

We’ve asked Yip and two other interior design experts — Caleb Anderson, co-founder of the New York-based design firm Drake/Anderson, and Brian Patrick Flynn, interior designer for HGTV’s Urban Oasis 2016 home giveaway — to share their favorite innovations and thoughts on which trending design choices will stand the test of time.

Black and white are the trendiest colors now for kitchen design, and Flynn point out that they’re also timeless. A black and white palette works with virtually any accent color, he says, so “if you go black and white, you really only have to spend once.”

Right now, “black appliances with more of a matte finish” are among Flynn’s favorites.

Yip says cabinets in both black and white are popular, and look great mixed together.

That’s another trend all three designers are seeing: upper and lower cabinets done in different finishes and materials. Anderson recently designed a kitchen in London that has upper cabinets made of metal and glass, with lower cabinets made from cerused wood. “They need to complement each other,” he says, “but everything doesn’t have a match.”

Anderson also notes that it’s popular to design a kitchen island out of different materials than the cabinets and countertops. That puts a personal stamp on the room, especially if you make your island out of a distinct piece of furniture, like a vintage cabinet.

by using popular materials in unique ways, you can design a kitchen that feels current but won’t look dated as trends change. Flynn is fan of that approach: For HGTV’s Urban Oasis giveaway house this year, he chose a reflective, black marble mosaic tile for the kitchen walls, from the counter all the way up to the ceiling. The look is on-trend, but has a classic beauty that won’t need renovating in a few years.

He also used concrete for the countertops, a popular option now but one with classic simplicity. Along with concrete, Anderson and Yip says quartz countertops are popular. Quartz is more durable than marble, which can easily stain, and is more consistent in color throughout the large slab.

Textured and colored glass is another way to jump on a trend in ways that reflect your own style, Anderson says. He’s seeing glass used to surrounding the hoods above stoves, for backsplashes, and as cabinet fronts.

Gold, brass and other yellow-toned metal finishes have been popular for several years, says Yip, and now white metal finishes like chrome, pewter and stainless steel are catching on too.

Anderson recently used a mix of black and steel finishes in one kitchen, along with brass.

All three designers suggest going with your favorites and feeling free to mix and match.

“The hardware in your kitchen is sort of like the jewelry,” and you can have fun adding that bit of bling, Yip says. Changing your hardware is a nice way to update the kitchen without having to change the cabinets.

You can also bring in a light fixture with a metal that’s different from your cabinet hardware. Yip is seeing many clients opting to splurge on dramatic lighting in the kitchen, rather than in the dining room.

“The old way of thinking is you spend thousands of dollars on the crystal chandelier over the dining table, but lighting over the kitchen was practical,” he says. Now, there’s more emphasis on kitchen lighting “that doesn’t feel functional but has a really polished aesthetic quality.”

Flynn used a wifi-enabled oven (easily controlled from a smartphone) in the Urban Oasis house, as well as a refrigerator equipped with cameras accessible from a digital app, so you can see what you have inside it.

“While you are out, you can decide on the fly what to buy and bring home to be stocked up for dinner,” he says.

Smaller appliances are a priority for many homeowners. “People tend to clutter their countertops with small appliances or put them in the cabinet and have to pull them out,” Anderson says. So designers now routinely figure in storage space where small appliances can be concealed but easily accessed.

Also, says Anderson, “Clients have so many devices, smart devices,” that they need “an area in the kitchen that’s devoted to USB ports and chargers.”

— Aurora magazine staff

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[/wc_accordion_section] [wc_accordion_section title=”ROOMS FOR IMPROVEMENT: Bathrooms“]

A hot trend is bringing music into the bathroom — the better to accompany your shower serenades. The Moxie showerhead from Kohler, for example, has a built-in wireless speaker that uses Bluetooth technology to sync with your music device


Rooms for Improvement: Bathroom

Spa Treatment

You want a better bathroom, but don’t want to put a drain on your finances? Worry not. This is one room in the house where little things mean a lot.

Simple Fixes

Often small and poorly lit, bathrooms can end up neglected. But they’re probably the easiest room to make over, says Ingrid Abramovitch, senior editor and writer at Elle Decor magazine and author of “Restoring a House in the City.”

A very basic change is to buy a new shower curtain and good quality towels.

Is this a kids’ bathroom? Think bright colors and fun patterns. Or, to create a spa-like retreat, look for fluffy towels in serene neutrals, and maybe add accessories like new soap dishes and towel rails in elegant materials. If you want to up the luxe factor, think about installing a towel warmer.

Another easy change is to swap out your shower head for a new, multifunction model. If your water pressure isn’t all it could be, shower heads designed to boost spray power can help. You might also try a shower filter to see if you notice an improvement; basic models can be found from under $30 from brands such as Aquasana and Sprite.

A hot trend is bringing music into the bathroom — the better to accompany your shower serenades. The Moxie showerhead from Kohler, for example, has a built-in wireless speaker that uses Bluetooth technology to sync with your music device. (Suggested retail for the showerhead: $199.)

If you’re feeling even a little handy, one of the cheapest ways to transform a bathroom — or any room — is color.

“You can always very quickly change the aesthetics of a room with a can of paint,” says David Alhadeff, interior designer and founder of The Future Perfect, a furnishings store based in San Francisco and New York.

Is the room white, not always the best look for a room filled with light? How might it look in bright yellow with towels and bath mat to match?

Look for the new humidity-resistant paints that come in flat finishes for a refined look.

Another way to make a big change is to re-evaluate the lighting. A lot of bathrooms still have a single overhead light fixture, which casts unflattering shadows.

“Lighting is everything in the bathroom, and there are a lot of tricks to how we want to illuminate ourselves within that space to make ourselves look best,” says Alhadeff. “If you’re getting only overhead lighting, you’re not getting the clear picture of what you look like.”

If you already have lighting around your mirror, a change of bulbs can work wonders, and lighting along the side of the mirrors is preferable, says Alhadeff. Creating layered lighting is more involved than buying a new towel, especially if you have to hire someone to add electrical outlets for sconces and mirror lighting, but it can make a bathroom much more inviting.

There are plenty of options at IKEA and big box stores that don’t require anything more than setting them up on the floor, ceiling or wall, and plugging them in.

A cheaper, albeit temporary, way to create a soft ambience: Light a few candles.

Our pick? A coat of paint, some chic curtains, shower curtains and towels. You’re done.

Aurora magazine staff

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Try the Park Zone PZ-1600 Precision Parking Aid. For about $25, its bright red light will let you know when you’re far enough in to close the garage door, but not so far you’re running anything over


Rooms for Improvement: Garage

More In Store

Your garage is a mess. It’s always a mess.

One side is a pile of sports equipment you’ll rarely — if ever — use, including that left-handed catcher’s glove that nobody knows the genesis of.

The other side is yard equipment, including that sweet Garden Claw you snagged at a yard sale and piles of empty flower pots that, you swear, you’re gonna use this spring.

There are paint cans there, too, a few busted tools and, if you’re lucky, just enough space to squeeze in your car.

And even if you’re one of those weird 1-percenters with a well-organized and tidy garage — seriously, you people are unicorns and your well-kept garage is a sign that you’re hiding some dark secret — the garage could probably use a quick bit of organizing.

The problem with the garage though, is that other than the times you pass through on the way to or from the car, if you’re in there, you’re already tackling some other chore. It’s why, when you’ve spent a few hours sweating in the backyard sun getting the lawn and garden just right, you’re prone to flopping the rake and hose in a corner of the garage and getting some well-deserved rest.

And yes, you noticed that the sports equipment needed to be organized — and quite frankly, purged — but you only noticed it because you were digging through old paint cans while you tried to touch-up that hallway wall.

But when you have a free weekend afternoon, there are a handful of easy fixes to the garage (read: places to hide all your crap and ways to make the garage a little more user friendly).

Look Up

Next time you’re in the garage, glance toward the heavens. There, you will find salvation from your jumbled mess. Whether your garage has rafters or just a ceiling, the storage options in those spaces are boundless. If you have rafters, turning them into ample storage space is as simple as laying some plywood across the beams. You don’t even need to nail it down, just be careful not to put anything too heavy up there. If you have a ceiling, storage racks mounted to the ceiling are as easy as finding the studs and anchoring the rack in place. Newage Products sells a 4-foot-by-8-foot version for about $115.

Paint That Floor

 Granted, this one veers a little from our storage theme, but it makes a big difference. Once you have the garage thoroughly cleaned out — in other words, zilch still on the floor, meaning you tackled that overhead storage first — mop the floor, then slather on some garage-specific paint. A standard can of Behr’s epoxy garage floor paint will set you back about $30, but you can try some other pricier versions for upwards of $100 a can. No matter which one you choose, the floor will be smoother and a lot easier to keep clean once the paint dries.

Goodbye, Tennis Ball on a String

 Now that the garage is finally organized, those rarely-used tools and devices safely stashed overhead where you will look at them even less than you use them — so, basically never — it’s time to move on from some of your previous projects. That means the tennis ball tied to a string that has many times saved you from slamming your Buick into a weed whacker has to go. You’re ready to upgrade to a more tech-savvy way of not crashing through the back of your garage. Try the Park Zone PZ-1600 Precision Parking Aid. For about $25, its bright red light will let you know when you’re far enough in to close the garage door, but not so far you’re running anything over. Not that there’s any clutter left to run over, of course. It’s just a precaution.

— Brandon Johansson, staff writer

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[/wc_accordion_section] [wc_accordion_section title=”ROOMS FOR IMPROVEMENT: Closets“]

Say it with us: You wear a large now. However obvious, or perhaps depressing in some cases, Dyer demands that her clients only keep clothes that currently fit

Rooms for Improvement: Closet

It Could Happen

No matter how fun hanging with the tribe of “Parrot Heads” was at that epic Jimmy Buffett show back in ’03, the memories — however hazy — are enough of a memento at this point. It’s high time that ‘rita-soaked T-shirt featuring a parrot wearing RayBans met the bottom of a donation bin.

Purging pieces of clothing from college, favorite sports teams or the Tiki Time Tour is just one of the many tips Denver-based professional organizer Leigh Dyer recommends when attempting to re-jig that living Buffett mausoleum that is your closet.

Dyer, owner of local personal organization outfit In Dire Need, has myriad hacks for improving that perennially cluttered nook in your bedroom this spring and summer. Here are a few of Dyer’s easiest and most sage recommendations — Bed Bath & Beyond coupons not included.

Say it with us: You Wear A Large Now

However obvious, or perhaps depressing in some cases, Dyer demands that her clients only keep clothes that currently fit. That means those medium T-shirts you sported sophomore year and that European slim-fit button-up you accepted with a wince a few Christmases ago have got to go. That doesn’t necessarily mean you have to give up on that never-ending, but never-quite-successful diet forever, but those specters of your former self hanging in the closet hinterlands simply need to live somewhere else, according to Dyer. “If you’re a size 12, you need to take out all the 10s and put them in a tub and label it 10s,” she says. “The only thing that should be hanging in your closet are things that fit.”

Rub-a-dub-dub, Stick Those Sweaters in aTub

To that aforementioned end, clothes that won’t be used for at least another six months (see: wool sweaters come May) should be moved out of the closet for the season — only if you have space elsewhere, of course. Dyer recommends making the seasonal swap twice year — once to remove the winter garb and again to put it back in — as a way to force yourself to really think about what you’re wearing. “What’s nice is if you do switch out with the seasons, you can do a purge twice a year as you bring those clothes back in,” she says.

R.I.P. Tiki Time Tour ’03

Dudes, those hole-filled rags stained with that unknown substance aren’t being worn with any sort of regularity, and you know it. Despite the coy smile that crawls onto your face every time you lay eyes on those relics and reminisce about life before mortgages and youth soccer practices, they’re not doing anything but taking up space. They’ve gotta go. “Men tend to keep memorabilia T-shirts in their closet,” Dyer says. “Put those in a bin. If you want to make a T-shirt quilt out of them — great; or visit them to reminisce, but the theme is … stop passing by things you’re not wearing to get to things that you need to wear.”

Does This Shirt Make My … Oh Never Mind

If Martians are guilty of hanging onto beer-soaked memories, residents of Venus have a knack for clinging onto items that they never wear for more than a few minutes. Dyer says any time you put something on but yank it off before leaving the house because it just doesn’t feel right, it’s time to part with that not-so-beloved article. “For women especially, if there is something in my closet that I put on and take it off for any reason — other than it doesn’t match the other thing I’m wearing — it has to go,” Dyer says. “Because I’m going to do that every single time I put it on.”

Zero Doors Down

Out of sight should not mean out of mind when it comes to maintaining a reasonable stock of clothes, according to Dyer, who almost always removes her clients’ closet doors and replaces them with a hanging curtain. She says blowing up the hinges allows people to take a better stock of their wardrobe instead of simply keeping it hidden. “That way can see your whole closet at once you can access all of the space,” Dyer says.

Bonus: Here are a few organizational knickknacks Dyer urges organizationally challenged people to use to improve the general state of chaos in their bedrooms.

• For those who don’t have a formal closet: The Container Store offers a “Chrome Metal Double Hang Clothes rack” that provides two levels of freestanding storage for just $50. The same shop also sells the “InterMetro Clothes Rack,” but the sturdier design and mobile capability — the whole thing sits on wheels — bumps the price tag to $194.

• To simply expand the amount of storage in a miniature closet: Snag the “Commercial Grade Chrome Double Hang Closet Rod” from Bed Bath and Beyond. For only $15, the hanging rack can hold a surprising amount of clothes even for those living in the city’s tiniest shoe boxes.

• For the shoe maniac in your life: Consider the “60-Pair Rolling Shoe Rack” from Bed Bath and Beyond, which, frankly, is pretty much exactly what the title suggests. The unit, which is 3.5-feet long, about 1-foot wide and almost 5-feet tall, holds 60 pairs of foot-huggers, from the ritziest of heels to the cushiest of Hush Puppies. The storage rack will set you back about $60.

— Staff writer Quincy Snowdon

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[/wc_accordion_section] [wc_accordion_section title=”ROOMS FOR IMPROVEMENT: Front porches“]

Make this the year you finally spruce up your entire front porch, from the floorboards to the railings. Swapping out that haggard, wire-hair rug that used to say “Welcome” in spidery script probably wouldn’t be a bad idea, either

Rooms for Improvement: Front Porch

First Impressions

Don’t be like Oprah Winfrey this spring.

As great as Lady O undoubtedly is at, well, just about everything, she apparently isn’t so keen on updating her home decor.

Winfrey — who is purportedly an occasional Colorado resident, by the way — has not been shy about the paralyzing indecision she faces when it comes to welcome mats. That’s right, folks, the queen of the modern talk show is challenged by rugs.

“It’s much easier for me to make major life, multi-million dollar decisions than it is to decide on a carpet for my front porch,” Winfrey is quoted as saying. “That’s the truth.”

So don’t be like Deepak Oprah yet again this year, waffling about how to best address that muddy mess beneath your front door.

Make this the year you finally spruce up your entire front porch, from the floorboards to the railings. Swapping out that haggard, wire-hair rug that used to say “Welcome” in spidery script probably wouldn’t be a bad idea, either.

For generations, the front porch was a staple of single family architecture, providing a place to unwind, sip lemonade, rock in chairs and, maybe, just maybe, spit into a spittoon. (The latter may not have been particularly common in Colorado, but you get the gist.)

Then Henry Ford had to come along and ruin that serene little outdoor sanctuary. Well, that’s what Alex Jewett says, anyway. Jewett, a principal at the Centennial-based architectural firm, Godden Sudik Architects, says that once cars came along, people started pulling into their garages and making a beeline for the dinner table — usurping the power of the entryway and its surrounding porch altogether.

“A long time ago, we had porches that we used all the time, but when people started driving … you just kind of pulled into your garage and disconnected yourself from your front door,” says Jewett, who wrote a paper on the phenomenon while he was a graduate student at the University of Colorado Denver.

But, Jewett says, the front porch is making a quiet comeback, especially in areas with homes that have alley-facing garages and more of a front yard or recreation area than anything behind the home. Kind of an inverted house mullet, if you will: Party in the front; business — and bikes and gardening supplies and all of the other potpourri that occupies a garage — in the back.

Here are five tips and tricks Jewett (and more than a few Pinterest users) recommend keeping in mind as you finally tackle the task of freshening up your front porch this spring and summer. Subscription to ‘O,’ The Oprah Magazine not included.

Address Plaques Can Be Fun, Too

How you announce your address to the world can be so much more than a simple proclamation to the United States Postal Service. Don’t be afraid to get creative with your address plaque — and we’re not talking the reflective stickers in somewhat kooky fonts from Home Deport. A few ideas include frosting numbers onto a glass-paned door, adhering a few large decals directly onto the door, or, heck, even something electric and neon. The ever-knowing world of Pinterest shows off a number of glowing numbers that are, somewhat shockingly, tolerable. Let’s be clear: Please don’t turn South Shore into the Vegas strip. No one wants that.

Those railings can go, you know

Just because your home came pre-equipped with hand rails galore, that doesn’t mean they have to stay there. Getting rid of ornamental railings can make a front porch feel infinitely larger,  Jewett says. However, make sure you check with your local homeowner’s association or code enforcement office to make sure they’re not required under municipal laws, as can often times be the case. If they’re not necessary, and you don’t have a gaggle of tots to keep from toppling into the shrubbery, it could behoove you to bring out the demolition equipment. “Pulling the railings off and doing more plantings or some small furniture out there can really spruce up a porch,” Jewett says.

The green stuff is good

Not that green stuff, Cheech. After you finally take the sledge hammer to those railings, Jewett recommends bringing as many potted plants as you can fit into your front yard fiefdom. “Potted plants can help create a barrier between you and the street, but still be very inviting and bring some greenery to the front,” he says.

Log holders are “in”

Sure, a device to hold eventual fire fuel may not be particularly useful during the summertime, but, then again, is anything you get from Restoration Hardware really “useful?” Yeah. Didn’t think so. If you’re willing to cast out a few shekels for the new deck ornament, you’ll be the pride of Pleasantville. Or, you know, something like that.

Don’t Forget the Doormat

Jokes about Ms. Winfrey aside, people need a place to wipe their feet. You don’t want floors that look like the opening sequence of a Swiffer commercial before the family is given a Swiffer (see: dirty), do you? Doormats made of uncommon materials, such as pebbles or stones, are recommended as unusual centerpieces, and they hold up well in just about any environment. Just please, for the love of all things ,A-Town, don’t get that one from Spencer’s Gifts that says “Let Me Out.” Please, we’re begging you.

— Staff writer Quincy Snowdon


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[/wc_accordion_section] [wc_accordion_section title=”ROOMS FOR IMPROVEMENT: Kids“]

One thing all designers seem to agree on: Let the child be part of the process, especially when it comes to painting

Rooms for Improvement: Children

Kid’s Stuff


There’s probably no place in a home that’s more welcoming to whimsy and fun than the kid’s room.

Because children value different creature comforts than their parents and aren’t bound by the latest fads and trends, the ceiling — within budget — is the limit.

Speaking as a parent and husband whose wife is prone to collecting “stuff” and whose daughter is an apple likely not to fall far from the proverbial tree, organization remains a top function of any kiddo’s corner, along with providing a comfortable and creative space for the mini-me to thrive or hide away for awhile.

And cost is also a reasonable concern because, let’s face it, not everybody has a lot of spare change to throw at a room where the primary tenant is likely to outgrow themes and tastes within the decade, if not much sooner.

Practicality aside, perhaps the most important consideration is the child herself — after all, it’s her (or his) space, not yours.

“I had lots of ideas about how my children’s rooms should look,” Interior Designer Philip Gorrivan told Julia Lewis for a May 2013 House Beautiful article. “But I wanted to empower them, so I consulted with each.”

Based on the opinionated nature of my own little one, I’m inclined to agree.

Bearing all this in mind, here’s a few ideas on how to create a clever and comfortable kid’s room that will grow along with them, and won’t break the bank.

A Fresh Coat

Pinterest boards abound with a million unique ideas for kids’ rooms that look like a giant pirate ship or a faux firehouse, or that have custom-built bunks that maximize space and include a secret floor-chute into the rumpus room below.

But for those of us who aren’t contractors or engineering majors (or even have a second floor), a couple of cans of paint can go a long way in appealing to almost any kind of kid.

In his ‘10 Decorating Ideas for Kids’ Rooms, HGTV Designer Dan Vickery suggests painting stars and a moon, a cityscape or forest scene out of glow-in-the-dark paint (ranging from $10 to $50) Aside from providing that element of fun, the soft glow can also help comfort those kids who are afraid of the dark, Vickery says.

Something like chalkboard paint, on the other hand, is great for more creative kids, allowing them the opportunity to become designer of their own abode.

Removable wall transfers are also a fun and very easy way to decorate, and simple to change. After all, your kid’s love of Elmo won’t last forever. (Or, at least, you hope.)

Finally, a simple, colorful and framed design of horizontal or vertical stripes is another easy way to add some flair, while creating “an instant focal feature” to any room, according to Rebecca Propes of Fresh Chick Designs.

One thing all designers seem to agree on: Let the child be part of the process, especially when it comes to painting. After all, paint’s not permanent, and some of the elements of the room may be liable to change as the kid outgrows certain pieces of furniture or other pieces. Little “flaws” like hand prints and finger smudges can be a happy accident that only adds to the childlike whimsy of design.

On Display

In addition to the aforementioned chalkboard paint, cork-board or dry erase boards — available at any respectable arts and crafts store and easy to hang with little more than a stud-finder — are a great way to keep those little creative types from requiring more coats of paint when they inevitably take decorating matters into their own hands.

Vickery also recommends thinking past traditional display, instead taking pictures or postcards and hanging them from strings in front of windows or clipped to twine stretched across a wall. Cheap galvanized metal can make an easy, instant magnetic board, the designer points out.

Vickery also recommends keeping storage low, where little hands can access their precious collection of dolls, figurines or Lego structures. And for smaller rooms, like my daughter’s, think about looking up.

A simple hanging basket or net placed in the corner makes great storage for those stuffed novelties which, let’s face it, might carry some nostalgic value but otherwise serve little purpose other than collecting dust.

For those other knickknacky items or special toys that make only the occasional guest appearance, catwalk shelves can add another considerable layer of storage that doubles as a display case for all those special items that make your little one who she is.

With both the net and high shelving, consider access: Try to keep things within step-stool reach, or consider a fun “reacher” so kids can access their wares on their own. You may also want to think about storing soft and cuddly items of higher up, so there’s no chance of damage when Teddy inevitably comes tumbling down.

— Staff Writer Jeremy Johnson

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