Those colorful dinosaurs are awfully cute. But now your son is into Spiderman and other super heroes. No wait, he's moved on to football players. Next thing you know, he's in high school and only cares about music and movies.
No problem, just don't make any of these themes part of the permanent decor of your kid's room. There are plenty of temporary decorations that can mirror his interest du jour, such as printed rugs and bedding, or art for the walls.
Sheets and comforters come in all manner kid-friendly subjects. It even pays to put a baby-themed slipcover on the nursery rocking chair, suggests Jamie LaPorta, merchandising director at retailer The Land of Nod in Northbrook, Ill., a unit of Crate & Barrel. The cover can be removed, and the rocker can later be moved to a different room.
Save some money for a final overhaul when your child hits the teenage years. By that time he or she will be hankering for a more sophisticated look say a bright floral design, or perhaps a hip plaid, denim or khaki fabric, experts say.
Colorful area rugs, with motifs from butterflies to Disney characters are perfect for toddlers, who spend a lot of time on the floor. They even present opportunities for play — some area rugs are designed with a layout of twisting roads or city streets that kids can run their cars and trucks along.
Walls may present the best opportunity for creativity. There are many possibilities from soft colorful and washable wall hangings in the shape of kites or shooting stars to canvas artwork that can be rolled up and stored for future use. "Many of today's families find themselves moving more frequently than families of the past due to job transfers," says Sherri Blum, a Westminster, Md.-based designer who specializes in children's rooms and sells her own line of wall hangings. "This way, you have a portable mural that moves easily and gives your child an immediate sense of home and belonging."
New York designer Jamie Gibbs is a fan of vinyl peel-and-stick wall decals that can be marked up, washed and repositioned. They are inexpensive you can purchase a package of five circles for about $10 and also travel well.
"A kid can put them where she wants and that activity can keep her occupied for hours," Gibbs says.
Another way to let kids express themselves is on a chalkboard or whiteboard. They can be quite large — nearly taking up an entire wall. Surrounded by an attractive frame, they can last well through the teenage years, says Celia Tejada, senior vice president, product design and development for San Francisco-based Pottery Barn.
"A kid can be an artist," she says.
A huge corkboard or bulletin board also lets kids express themselves, whether it's to display their own artwork or posters of basketball players. By the time they're in high school, they can use it to post class schedules, homework assignments or even deadline dates for college applications.
Use the canvas of the kids rooms to create one or two focal points, Tejada suggests. "It will create memories later on."