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Designing the kid-perfect house
Posted on 08 Mar 2021

How to decorate a home to suit wee people is front of mind for Auckland-based interior designer Katie Scott.

The Sticks + Stones founder is about to become a mum and has just finished decorating a nursery in preparation for bubs. Unsure of the gender, Katie’s opted for green-toned walls. Tongue-and-groove walls are painted in Resene Haven, a dewy grey green, refined and quiet in mood – perfect for a baby who needs to sleep. The wardrobe doors and wall that surrounds are painted in the mid-grey green of Resene Rivergum while the change table and drawers feature Resene Twizel, a terracotta with a hint of burnt orange. Oak furnishings, natural linen and terracotta pots for toy storage complete the picture and add to the delight of the room.

Katie knows well that young families have a lot on their hands when moving into their first home or apartment, and knowing where to start on the decorating front can be a big deal.

Before starting a decorating project, Katie advises the following:

  1. Keep your goals within reach – don’t take on too much.
  1. Set a realistic budget. Then start with the things that are going to stay there long-term, like flooring, tiles and window dressings - then you’ll know how much you have to spend on the fun stuff. Unlike a coat of paint, it’s not easy to change these long-term aspects.
  2. When choosing which room to start on think of the room with the most impact, for example, the main living area which is the heart of the home. It’s also a good starting point, providing a flow on effect for the rest of the house.
  3. Don’t go all out before thinking a few months or years down the track. Keep in mind your children won’t be small forever.
  4. Bear in mind that young ones do test things, so make decisions with durability in mind – but don’t sacrifice your desired look too much. It’s about finding the balance and there are a lot of products that can help, such as washable paint for an easy clean, and removable corner protectors for coffee tables.
  5. When trying to decide where to start, think paint – it’s a great way to inject style and personality and make your place your own.

Painted in colours from the Resene Classics Collection, this kid’s bedroom looks fun.  Project by Vanessa Nouwens, photo by Bryce Carleton.* See Resene image credits below.

Once it’s time to swing into action, start with a room, finish that room and then move on, Katie suggests.

“Otherwise, things can get overwhelming, especially with your children in the mix requiring attention and taking up time you anticipate you have for decorating.”

“If it is your first home then you are probably being especially budget conscious so work with what is there. Choose paint colours that will work in with things that are expensive to replace. For example, if you have a timber floor, work around that,” Katie says.

“Resene Sea Fog, with its very neutral tone is a hit among many – not many people dislike it. It’s not too warm, not too grey and tends to go with most things,” Katie enthuses. For those looking for something ‘very white’, Resene Barely There and Resene Black White are her top suggestions.

A colour palette for a kids bedroom built with neutrals doesn’t have to be boring.  Project by Vanessa Nouwens, photo by Melanie Jenkins.* See Resene image credits below.

“Resene Alabaster and Resene House White are also easy to blend with other colours and are popular choices.”

Living rooms are often the easiest, Katie says, as they are usually one open space comprising kitchen, dining and lounging areas and tend to rely on one cohesive colour scheme with pops of colour introduced through décor. Painting up some plant pots or vases is a quick and easy way to incorporate more colour. It doesn’t always need to be bright colours, either. Even a painted mirror framed in Resene Nero can add interest to a simple room.

Bedrooms – especially for the kids – offer the scope to inject different themes as they are dressed to suit individual personalities. Duvet covers, bunting, wall decals, playful furniture and framed artwork, for example, reflect personality and are easy to change out as children age. Bedrooms that take inspiration from favourite picture books or fairytales can also be a hit. Decals are a great idea or even simple murals made with paint and masking. 

Paint becomes a real friend in kids’ spaces because of its ease of application and the change it affords. As a child’s personality develops, his or her room can become more of a reflection of their individuality and tastes, and a different colour paint can go a long way to achieving this. Pairing stripes in bright colours is an excellent way to create a playful vibe. Try Resene Super Duper, Resene Twilight, Resene Yabbadabbadoo and Resene Tutti Frutti together for a cheerful look. Whatever you choose, a child's bedroom design should be fun and functional – and the options for kid-friendly paint colours is virtually endless.

With the right paint colours, even a kids room can look trend-forward. Project by Gem Adams, photo by Melanie Jenkins.* See Resene image credits below.

Katie says she prefers a fresh white bathroom herself rather than one with colour on the walls, but If you have a separate toilet room, consider a feature wall in a design from the Resene Wallpaper Collection. It’s a great way to add character and involves minimum expenditure for what can be maximum impact.

Katie’s top tips for creating a space that children won’t grow out of too quickly:

  • Katie advises keeping the paint palette natural and simple on walls and then adding colour through décor touches (this is especially worthwhile for those who feel they may outgrow their starter home in the near future). Anything that stays with the house is best to keep colour neutral. It’s simple to change out the pops of colour as children age. For example, the baby pink touches in a baby girl’s bedroom can easily be changed as the child grows up
  • If whites and naturals aren’t your thing, consider a colour that’s gender neutral. Also select a colour that is suitable if the room is no longer a young child’s bedroom. The pastel green of Katie’s nursery, for example, is a mature-enough colour that can potentially grow with a child. It’s not gender-specific or bedroom- specific. The room could be an office one day
  • If you want to inject personality through wall colours, consider feature walls, as changing out the paint colour of simply a few walls isn’t a big deal. A feature wall can add spice to a room without overwhelming it and it's easy to update as your child grows
  • If being bold and brave with wall colours is your thing, remember changing paint colours is not a majorly expensive exercise. Don’t hold back with painting colours if you want to.  Most people like to refresh with paint when selling a house anyway
  • If you’re after paint longevity choosing a darker paint colour for the lower section of a wall will help reduce the appearance of smudges. Washable paints are also an option.

For more colour, paint and wallpaper ideas and inspiration see the latest looks online or visit your Resene ColorShop.

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  • The Resene Jack ‘N Rose 2 Wallpaper Collection includes may designs that are sweet enough for kids spaces but neutral enough to blend right in with the rest of your home’s décor, such as design LL-07-11-5 (above left) or LL-06-11-6 (above right).
  • Painted completely in colours from the Resene Classics Collection, this kid’s bedroom still looks fun despite the timelessness of the palette. Walls in Resene Bunting, floor in Resene Sea Fog, house-shaped bookshelf in Resene Hammerhead, shadow boxes on walls in Resene Breathless, Resene Jalapeno and Resene Hammerhead, pendant light in Resene Jalapeno, bedside table in Resene Breathless and wallpaper ‘headboard’ and bedside drawer front in Resene Wallpaper Collection LL-05-07-4.
  • A colour palette for a kids bedroom built with neutrals doesn’t have to be boring. Walls in Resene Bone, floor in Resene Blanc, bed in Resene Cashmere, toy Box in Resene Santa Fe, book ledges in Resene Kalgoorie Sands, bedside cabinet in Resene Santa Fe, pendant light in Resene Moccasin, hook rack in Resene Moccasin, round play table in Resene Santa Fe and stools in Resene Moccasin.
  • With the right paint colours, even a kids room can look trend-forward. Top half of wall in Resene Helix, bottom half of wall in Resene Artemis, floor in Resene Poured Milk, shelf and hooks in Resene Quarter Bokara Grey, bed and pendant lamp in Resene Green Meets Blue and vases on shelf (from left to right) in Resene Cleopatra, Resene Collins Wicket and Resene Swiss Caramel.