Really make the bed a bed.
August 19, 2011 9:27 AM   Subscribe

How can I decorate my daughter's new bed?

I've nearly finished building a bed for my daughter. It's a simple wood construction as seen here. It's been stained cherry colour and before I apply a polyurethane finish, I am wondering if I can personalise it somehow. I'm looking for suggestions. (she is nearly 3)
posted by Frasermoo to Home & Garden (12 answers total)
Have you asked your daughter what kinds of decorations she'd like to have on her bed? Maybe her name, butterflies, a stencil of some kind...but get her input of what she'd like to have.
posted by litnerd at 9:34 AM on August 19, 2011

Hmm, I would caution you to not personalize it in any way that's permanent, as she'll presumably have this bed a long time. You don't want to saddle her with a pretty pretty princess bed or something that she'll be stuck with as a sullen teenager. (When I was in middle school my mom painted/decorated my room in pink and flowers--she insisted that I picked out the colors when I was four, even though I had no recollection of it and hadn't liked anything pink or flowery for years.)

If I were making it for my hypothetical kid, I would be tempted to paint dinosaurs all over it (because dinosaurs are cool and all kids like dinosaurs!) but I'd also realize that in a few years, maybe my kid wouldn't think it was so cool.

Here are the things I WOULD do, though:

1) Find an excerpt from a poem or song lyrics (something suitably I-love-my-daughter mushy) and write it on the bed slats under the mattress. It would be a little hidden secret of well wishes that she probably wouldn't find for years until she starts changing her own bedsheets or hiding things under her bed. It's the kind of thing that a kid would say "omg, dorky!" about but secretly be touched that you cared.

2) Figure out a way to make a (temporary) canopy/fort. I had a canopy bed when I was your daughter's age, and I thought it was great. I'd toss sheets up there all the time to extend the sides and pretend it was a fort. This could be something as simple as some zip-tied dowel rods, or as complicated has drilling holes into the posts to affix poles. It's up to you how technical you want to get, but canopies are fun.
posted by phunniemee at 9:40 AM on August 19, 2011 [4 favorites]

How about a pair of 3-year old handprints on the headboard? Hard to get sick of your own handprints, and they'll be a constant reminder of how much she has grown.

I agree that the danger is that any design might seem un-cool in a few years. Keep any decoration subtle. If you're painting something on, use a color just a bit lighter or darker than the stain.
posted by Kabanos at 9:58 AM on August 19, 2011

I say go nuts with the personalization -- when I was her age, I was given a little coat hook in the shape of an ice cream cone, and it had my own name painted on it. I thought it was the most awesome thing ever. You can always repaint it in a few years, or every few years she can start repainting it herself!
posted by mochapickle at 10:27 AM on August 19, 2011

(My recommendations are her name, and maybe animal tracks from her favorite animal or little fleur-de-lises and flourishes.)
posted by mochapickle at 10:30 AM on August 19, 2011

- Outward-facing footboard = chalkboard paint!
- A nice little blessing/passage somewhere she can see it right before she goes to bed that can hide behind a pillow or just be seen along the edge
posted by Gucky at 10:36 AM on August 19, 2011

One of the nicer kid decoration things that have come onto the market in the last 10 years is removable stickers. Once every couple months I get a new set, hand them to my child (recently turned 4) & let her go to town decorating the wall over the bed. It is a good, good time, and they can be peeled off & rearranged as much as Mini-Ys wants. Sometimes I even get to play too.

I got my current selection of safari animals & planetary bodies from the housewares section of Dollar Tree, but there's quite a few really neat high end options out there if you want a more put-together look.
posted by Ys at 10:36 AM on August 19, 2011

Hmm, you're not painting it, you're staining it. So any decoration that you do now, she could paint over if she "grows out of it" but you'd lose all the nice cherry look that you've been going for.
I'd say no, go ahead and do the poly coat, and paint decorations over the top. Then a light stripper will get off all the color without even having to take it all the way to bare wood, and you can just reapply the topcoat of poly. Or use stickers, they'll come off.

OR, be ultra-classy with your design right now, make it permanent, and hope for the best. Say, wood-burning feminine but cool patterns, geometric swirls like Indian henna designs - it's "adult" but also pretty enough to appeal to a child, and it's not trendy or grandmotherly but a foreign flavor that may impress her friends as a teenager.
posted by aimedwander at 11:12 AM on August 19, 2011

On Design*sponge the other day they did a before and after using copper leaf on the edges of a dresser. As a little girl I know I loved anything shiny, and this might be a way to make the bed fancy for her without making it too "little girly" for down the road. Also, I bet copper or gold leaf would look really nice with the cherry stain. You could use it either to bring out details of the bed or go with a very simple motif along the edges?
posted by Sweetchrysanthemum at 11:43 AM on August 19, 2011 [1 favorite]

We have made custom bed knobs for our daughter. Currently, we have small resin owl statues on a glitter painted base. when owls are no longer the ultimate cool thing, she can put in just plain filials, or we can make whatever is the next cool thing.
posted by Malla at 12:16 PM on August 19, 2011

You don't want to saddle her with a pretty pretty princess bed or something that she'll be stuck with as a sullen teenager.
I disagree with phunniemee. She's not even three - don't worry about whether she'll like it when she gets to middle school.

My daughter's first bed had similar flat-topped head posts. We painted colorful birdhouses and mounted them to the top of the posts, and strung flowery garland and clear lights from side to side. Wallies of fairies, hummingbirds, and dragonflies were applied to the woodwork and adjacent wall. It was whimsical, pretty, and she loved it until she reached her tween years (when she requested a full-sized bed).
posted by kbar1 at 1:17 PM on August 19, 2011 [1 favorite]

Don't go nuts trying to decorate the headboard. From the looks of the picture, by the time you put a pillow on the bed, there won't be much headboard left to see.
posted by NoraCharles at 8:10 PM on August 19, 2011

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