Finding your child's motif

This whimsical alligator on a child's bed quilt inspired a stencil for the wall. Photo from...
This whimsical alligator on a child's bed quilt inspired a stencil for the wall. Photo from Sterling Publishing.
Decorative painter Sunny Goode's goal has always been to get more people painting, glazing, colour-washing and stencilling to create a special environment for their child.

Ms Goode, who has been a decorative painter for more than 15 years, is tapping into a rich market: 21st-century parents anxious to fashion custom environments for their children.

Forget slapping up a Scooby Doo decal: sophisticated parents fret over the decor for a baby's room as much as they do over their living room colour.

"People tend to go all out when it comes to their children," says Ms Goode. "We see circular cribs and gold-leafed fireplaces. Are you kidding me? My last child got a nursery converted out of a closet."

The former closet, however, was given a stylish makeover with colour-washing, glazing and freehand painting of polka dots and curlicue borders.

"Most parents are starting from scratch with nurseries, so they are willing to go one step further than just a fresh coat of paint," Ms Goode says.

The most unusual request she's had for a child's bedroom?"A room based on Where the Wild Things Are. They wanted monsters painted five feet tall all over the pink walls. The girl was 7 years old, and this is what she wanted. It was cute.

"The characters had smiles on their faces, but the big, huge eyeballs were a bit scary."

She says that children of 5 know what colours they like, and they are honest about their likes and dislikes.

"Three- and 4-year-olds change their minds all the time about what they want, so it's too soon.

"What you have to watch out for is that kids pick out a much stronger colour than you would probably want to paint a room. They often pick out the most obnoxious pink or purple or green.

"You have to take that and taper it down into something that will be fun and bright, but that they can live with."

Ms Goode often paints designs on the ceilings.

She likes polka dots and swirls for nurseries, so when babies are on their backs, they can see something up there to focus on.

Stars and clouds are fun for any age.

Ms Goode suggests:
Using patterns low on a wall for children's rooms so they can appreciate the art at their level.

Personalising a room, such as creating a monogram or using the child's first name or initials, makes the child feel a sense of ownership.

Paint a height chart on the wall and record your children's growth, marking it with the date. They will be delighted to see their progress.

Take inspiration from a favourite item, whether a book, a blanket or a favourite place.

Use a low-odour paint.

If your house was built before 1960, beware of lead paint layers below.

Have your walls tested.

An easy-to-use, inexpensive stencil can give the look of wallpaper in a room, but you can control the colour and pattern.


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