Decorating With Kids: Hide the Wallpaper Samples!

Right now my to-do list looks something like this:

  1. Redecorate the living room, the upstairs hallway, and our old bedroom;
  2. Buy a mini van with the highest safety ratings and also hopefully some cache (that’s possible, right?);
  3. Clean all surfaces in the house with non-toxic products, including walls and ceilings;
  4. Clean all surfaces in the basement with straight bleach (cats are supposed to be clean, so why are mine so filthy?);
  5. Push a human out of my bits.

Of course I can’t actually do any of these things myself (except #5, hopefully), because I’m laid up with a huge belly and a condition called PGP, but I’ve been making plans and scheming hard for when I’m able-bodied again.

Our plan is to have baby boy in our room for the first few months, and then to move him into Opal’s room, and move Opal into our old room.  Opal is down with this plan on one condition: her room has to be purple and pink.

Red House West || Plans for Opal's Room

Our old bedroom, soon to be Opal’s new bedroom.

Purple and pink are surprising favorites for a kid who refuses to wear dresses even for special occasions, and whose current interests include dinosaurs, construction equipment, and slugs.  But she’s a person all her own, and her absolute favorite colors are, and have been for a long time, purple and pink.

I love pink, but purple isn’t one of my go-to colors.   I wanted to use wallpaper in Opal’s room, and I thought long and hard about Hygge and West’s “Daydream” on the ceiling, like in this room:

I ordered samples in green and in purple.  I loved the green and figured I could work in lots of purple and pink through textiles and art, like this:

Yet another girl's room

But I made the mistake of not hiding the purple wallpaper sample, and Opal got really attached to it, and to the idea of purple birds in her room in particular. And by attached I mean she slept with the sample in her bed for weeks.  Trouble is I didn’t like the purple version at all.  The hue was cold, and having lived in her future bedroom through many long winters, I know that room does best with warmer tones.  So I started looking for a purple bird alternative.

After lots of searching I came across wallpaper that fits the bill from Trustworth.  I ordered a sample, and started putting together a design.

Red House West || Plans for a Big Girl Room

The wallpaper is beautiful, and maybe just the tiniest bit creepy in that art nouveau way I love.  The purple is more of a warm mauve than chilly lilac, which I like better, and while it’s hard to tell from the photo, the background is the prettiest blush pink.

I put together a mood board to see how it might come together, and this is what I ended up with:

Big Girl Room Plans

This rendering is more matchy than I think it would be in real life, and while I like it, I’m not totally sold.  Somehow it doesn’t feel very “Opal” to me.  If I can get her off the purple bird kick, or incorporate purple birds in some non-wallpaper way, I might scrap the wallpaper idea altogether and do something a little less involved, but more playful, like this:

Another girls room

Still pink and purple, but more fun, and more flexible if she changes her mind about her favorite colors.

What direction do you think I should go?  Give in to the icy purple birds, go with the mauve Trustworth avians, or not use wallpaper at all?  Do you let your kids decide what their rooms will be like?  Or just let them offer general guidelines?

32 responses on “Decorating With Kids: Hide the Wallpaper Samples!

  1. Emily

    I have no experience with wallpaper so this probably wouldn’t work, but – could you use the green Hygge & West wallpaper (which I LOVE), and then just paint one or two of the birds in purple as an accent, once it’s up on the ceiling or wall? As in, just one of the birds nearest her bed? That way she gets her purple birds, but you get to use the lovely wallpaper – because that first scheme is totally beautiful.

    1. Mera Post author

      Great idea, but unfortunately I don’t think that would assuage her. She said to me “I will not be happy if there are green birds in my room.” Alrighty, then!

  2. Elvie

    Hello! Long time lurker, first time commenter! I feel with you because I’m also a mother who wants to give artistic freedom to her child but at the same can not stand weird colours/prints. I think I have an idea that makes both of you girls happy: using the icy purple bird wallpaper on a mdf board and using that as a headboard, or more subtle, frame the wallpaper and hang it as an artwork on the wall. I say this as a mom of a tomboy girl who really insists on pink cherry blossom wallpaper in her modern black/white/neon yellow room. Good luck!

  3. Margaret Campion

    I don’t often have a strong desire to comment, but this time I do. Mera – I hope you’ll (you and Opal will) opt for the non-wallpaper route: “less involved, more playful,” in your words. No one should care what I think. But I’m putting in my 2 cents this time because of your to-do list that leads this post … “Less Involved, More Playful” .. Yes! I ALWAYS love your spaces and this time I want to stand up for you to support this new motto and the new family emerging.
    Good luck with the remainder of the pregnancy. I am thinking about you a LOT. (My daughter is pregnant, too, with our first grandchild … due mid-late September ….. ) I am rooting you on. Love from the East Coast. xo Margy

    1. Mera Post author

      I care what you think! And you’re right, “less involved, more playful,” would be a really good motto for my family at the moment, especially because this baby could make his debut at any moment. Hope you’re daughter is feeling fantastic!

  4. Nina D

    While I like Emily’s suggestion, I really like the third, no wallpaper option the best. It gives you – and Opal – the best platform for future tweaking. And, um, you did describe the second wallpaper choice as creepy, so…..

    Hang in there. Wishing you the best.

  5. Hilary

    I agree, the Art Nouveau birds are a bit creepy. Would it be possible to convince hygge and west to custom print you some of the daydream fabric in lilac, since they already print it in other color ways, and do the throw pillows in daydream instead of the walls? that way they can be swapped out later when Opal is done with them but for now she can actually have the purple birds in her bed. I do really love the purple bird prints you have in the third mood board, So maybe skipping wallpaper on the walls is your best bet after all. If getting fabric in the purple color way isn’t an option , and sadly, it probably isn’t, perhaps you could wallpaper a small piece of furniture like the back walls of a bookshelf,or the inside drawers of a dresser, or frame the wallpaper sample, so that Opal gets her beloved purple birds, but it doesn’t make you crazy every time you walk into the room. Good luck, all of your mood boards are beautiful, and I feel your pain.

    1. MC859

      I was going to suggest using the paper samples as wall art, but Hilary had better ideas about pillows and papering the inside of a bookshelf. I think the room will be easier to change up as Opal gets older that way.

      Good luck with the decision and hope you’re back on your feet soon.

    2. Mera Post author

      I like your fabric idea, and it can’t hurt to ask. I know Hygge and West has printed custom scale wallpaper before, so who knows, maybe they’d be willing. Sadly the wallpaper sample isn’t a full repeat–the bird is sliced in half–so not really framable. Thanks!

  6. Carol Bryner

    My mother let me choose wallpaper for my bedroom in our new house when I was a teenager – I chose pink with butterflies. It plagued her for years after I left home for college. I let my daughter choose her room colors. First one was pink and purple! “Circus Pink” with shiny purple trim. Then it went to white with black trim, and in high school she painted the whole room orange. I still love the orange.
    I go for no wallpaper. Maybe a neutral color and then decorate with paintings or cutouts of purple birds and pink birds. Her painter granny could help her make birds to put on her walls. Or even a wallpaper border might be nice.
    Thinking of you in these last weeks, Mera. Glad you have some projects to distract you, even if they’re still just in the conceptual stage.

  7. joyce

    In my humble opinion, since you are asking for opinions, I would avoid the icy purple birds at all costs and go for the creepy-in-a-fun-way, mauve Trustworth avians.

    Also, I would ask Opal’s opinion and give it serious weight, but I think you should make the final opinion. Is she still sleeping with the icy birds? if not, let it slip to the wayside…

    1. Mera Post author

      Yay, a vote for the Trustworth birds! I really do love that wallpaper and Opal does too, but I feel like it limits what we can do with the rest of the room too much. She’s not sleeping with the icy birds sample anymore–now she’s most excited about helping me paint a bed green! 🙂

  8. Sally

    My daughter (then 6) wanted a purple room when we moved to a new (100 year old!) house. We compromised by putting a pale grey on the bottom 2/3 of the wall, and the room already had molding with shelves at the top third, and put a more purple color above the picture railing. The colors (both BM) were Angelica on bottom, Violetta on top – bottom is lovely grey with undertones of purple, and top is more purple. I LOVE it – it’s her without being TOO purple (aka Barney) and now that she’s 10, she can change it and make it more age-appropriate without changing the color. You can email me if you want a photo…

    Also, I had SPD during my second pregnancy – it was AWFUL but physical therapy with a specialist in pelvic disorders in pregnant women helped so much. It did resolve immediately after I gave birth. My sympathies!

    1. Mera Post author

      Your daughter’s room sounds beautiful, Sally! And thanks for sharing your SPD experience–I’ve struggled to find credible information about the condition, and it’s really nice to hear stories of women recovering right after giving birth (the internet is replete with horror stories of cracked pelvises and lifelong disability). Fingers crossed!

  9. Donna Matthews

    Having cut out about 1000 paper birds to fly overhead and from twiggy trees for your sister’s wedding, my reaction is to replicate this visual in Opal’s room. Lots of suspended pink and purple birds hanging from webbing or lace overhead, swaying as the air moves them. Or now that I know Opal loves stamping, you could have stamps made or create your own with sponges and she could stamp the wall in shades of pink, purple and maybe a little blue here and there. (No green!) Love the round night table and goose neck lamp! I vote no on wall paper, too.

  10. Lea

    Our son’s room used to be a guest room with a north facing window painted pale peach with white curtains. We threw down a rug, hung a little artwork and almost never went in there. While I was pregnant my mother-in-law gave us art which had hung in her children’s rooms back when they were children and we hung that along with some of the pieces that were already there. We kept the paint, curtains and rug and have since added and removed a rocking chair, added bookshelves, moved from a crib to a twin mattress with new bedding (picked out by me, now him). All of the other changes in that space have been initiated by our son.
    We let him put whatever he wants on the walls and ceiling. That has included: a mirror and artwork he has spotted selling cheap at yard sales, newspaper clippings, post cards, a craft paper cut out of a giant pouncing saber tooth that his group made at a summer camp, a stock photo picture of calla lilies from a picture frame purchased for another purpose, garlands of felted wool balls that we made for the Christmas tree and that he now has permanently draping from his ceiling, a paper lantern hanging from the ceiling instead of his table lamp, and perhaps most oddly a few favorite pieces of clothing that he outgrew and couldn’t bear to part and now has thumb tacked to the wall over his bed. He’s also added a whole cabinet of supplies and toys for his pet mouse. It is definitely eclectic in there and not very soothing to my eye, but my thinking is that is his space and he has decorated it with things that bring him joy.
    My two cents: It’s worth it to let a kid make choices about what to have in their space. Don’t paper the ceiling with green birds if she is that set against it, but don’t use the purple birds either. Instead buy some smaller quantity of the lilac Daydream birds and paper her closet or the backing of bookshelves then go with the more fun flexible approach for the overall room.

    1. Mera Post author

      I agree, I want her to love her room and feel like it reflects who she is at the moment. But I also think that at 4 years old if I gave her complete freedom to make all her own choices she would end up with something she didn’t actually like. As things are now, she’s excited about helping me paint a thrifted bed green and forgoing the wallpaper, so I think we’re back on track! Thanks Lea!

  11. Laura (PA Pict)

    I loathe wallpapering with a passion so I have never wallpapered one of my own homes so I am not best placed to advise on the decor front. However, since I am currently in the (glacier-like gradual) process of updating our 1970s home, I do have some experience of negotiating with kids over their decor. As you mention yourself, self-expression is important. Everyone deserves to have their style and interests represented somewhere in the house if it is to feel like home and kids’ bedrooms are the best places to let them express themselves. Now, since I do not wallpaper I appreciate it is much cheaper and easier to just repaint every time they change their taste. There is not that same degree of investment and risk of changing taste. My experience is that you can often find a compromise. For instance, my teenage son wanted black walls and I said absolutely no way so we then looked together at lots of charcoal and dark smokey greys until we found one that I considered to be warm and natural enough for my taste and which was dark enough for his taste.

  12. Laura (PA Pict)

    PS I had SPD in all but my first pregnancy. It is truly gruesome to get through. I still, 7 years after my last baby was evicted from the womb, have chronic problems with my pelvis. I, therefore, empathise with you.

    1. Mera Post author

      Laura, there you are! We’ve missed you!
      I like your approach to letting your kids express themselves, but making sure that things don’t get too crazy for parental taste. Opal has a style all her own, and I adore that about her (today, for example, she is wearing her favorite red T-rex shirt and bright purple sweatpants. She’s rocking it!) and want her room to reflect that.
      I am so sorry to hear about your lingering SPD. Gruesome is a good word for this condition. I will say that I’ve learned a lot about the various tolls that chronic pain takes on a person, and I think it’s made me more empathetic to other pain sufferers. All I can do at this point is get through each day, try to trust my body, and keep my fingers crossed for a full and fast recovery. xo

  13. Lea

    There are lots of smaller scale ways you might incorporate purple birds without papering the walls with lilac.
    Like switchplates:
    Or pillows:

  14. Shari

    As the mother of two grown “boys” I wish I hadn’t worried about the carpet and about animal hair and had let my kids have a dog. I wish I had painted their rooms the colors they wanted. I wish I hadn’t worried about what others thought. It is most important for your child to know you respect her ideas and taste. She will never forget it. You’re asking a bunch of strangers for input. The only opinion you need is your daughter’s. You are adept at design. You can make her wallpaper choice work. Consider it a design challenge.

    1. Katy gilmore

      Weighing (as a granny) in here to testify to the great respect given to Mera’s daughter’s taste and opinions – also to the presence of dog (and cat) fur aplenty in their warm family home. It’s fun and helpful to discuss design options with readers, but in no way would override the room’s occupant’s wishes. I admire Mera’s balancing act in that regard – and her daughter will grow up watching good design happen.

    2. Mera Post author

      Opal’s opinion is definitely the most important, and I love to watch her developing her own sense of style. Thanks for your wise words, Shari!

      1. Shari

        The daughter of a friend wanted hot pink, leopard print, and glimmering gold in her bedroom. It is one of the best bedroom designs I have ever seen. My friend’s a stylist, but I’m just saying you can run with your daughter’s idea and come up with something terrific that you would never have considered it even thought of previously.

  15. Jen

    Mera, how about using a stencil to create a painted accent wall or ceiling with purple birds? That way you can pick a purple, or even a couple different shades of purple that would work better with the kind of light the room gets. And paint is a lot easier to change than wallpaper if/when Opal grows out of the decor. Here are two options from a quick google search, but I am sure there are a lot of other options if these don’t appeal.

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