Furnishing

Painting a child’s room: tips on colors and surfaces

Torben Schröder

Pink or blue, yellow or green – the only time parents get to decide on the wall color of their child’s room is when the child is still very young. The older they get, the more they want to influence the colors and patterns in their own little kingdom. Here we provide tips on colors, motifs and individual possibilities for painting a child’s room.

Close up of a child painting a wall with blue paint. In the background a woman is also painting.
© Getty Images

In this article

General points to bear in mind

Before you go straight to the paint brush and bucket, here are a few general tips:

  • Use well tolerated products: you should always make sure that you choose harmless paints. This is especially important in a nursery or baby’s room because the immune system of very small children is not yet very well developed, so they react more sensitively to synthetic components. When buying a product, check that it has been awarded the environmental label for varnishes, paints and plasters by the independent “Schweizer Stiftung Farbe”. This is an indication that they contain as few solvents, plasticizers and preservatives as possible.
  • Light rather than powerful tones: of course, children love bright, strong wall colors. However, a child’s room is not only a place for romping around and playing, but generally also a room for resting and sleeping. Make sure that the color you choose doesn’t result in an agitated, frenzied impression on the walls.
  • Accentuate instead of overloading: sure – your child will initially be quite happy about the idea of painting their bedroom entirely in one color. But be warned: they might soon tire of this monotonous look. This means it’s better to opt for several different colors or to only paint certain walls halfway up.

Choose the right color

Green has a calming effect and yellow is exhilarating – have you heard that before? Each color has a psychological effect on us. This applies to children even more than adults. That’s why you should choose the wall color for a child’s room with care. We explain the effects here.

Blue: relaxing and pure

Blue tones radiate a general calm and have a stress-relieving effect. This makes them particularly suitable for bedrooms and children’s rooms. In general, impressions are constantly pouring in on your children when they are away from home. They need a chance to process these thoughts. A relaxed atmosphere will help them to do so. Blue is also the wall color you should choose for particularly anxious children.

Green: soothing and fresh

Similar attributes are attributed to green, the color of nature, as they are to blue. Green conveys peace, hope, harmony and recreation. It is refreshing rather than tiring on the eyes. Discreetly used green tones lift children’s moods and help them to sleep. Strong green tones can have an invigorating effect.

Red: animating and powerful

You should avoid painting an entire child’s room in red because the color has a very strong effect – in several ways. Red can animate and motivate us. This makes it ideal for use in one corner of the room, for example where the child has a desk for studying. Even reserved children can benefit from the effect. Conversely, red can, in extreme cases, cause aggression.

Pink: stimulating and playful

You can easily paint the entire room a softened form of pink. If you choose a stronger tone, the result can seem overloaded and stressful, in a similar way to red. If you wish, you can also use pink for furniture and accessories to create a harmonious room concept.

View into a children’s room with a pink wall and a crib.

To add a subtle pastel emphasis, pink can be combined with shades of gray and white without being obtrusive.

Yellow: exhilarating and confident

Yellow is often given the same attributes as the sun: it is exhilarating, friendly and radiates warmth. This puts children in an optimistic and self-confident mood – the darker the shade of yellow, the more likely they are to be in a good mood.

Purple: stimulating and balanced

Pastel shades of purple are said to have the same calming effect as blue. More powerful purple tones increase creativity, promote decisiveness and restore emotional balance.

Orange: motivating and warm

Our secret tip for a child’s room is that orange tones help with concentration and have a motivating effect. This can have a positive impact, especially on sleepy children. Earthier tones radiate great warmth, coziness and security.

White: to be avoided

A white child’s room may look very stylish in the eyes of us parents – but it is not exactly positive for the development of your child. This is because colors and contrasts promote spatial thinking, stimulate the imagination and encourage activity. The older the child, the more important these aspects. If you decide to paint the room white, at least let the furniture and accessories stand out in bright colors.

Surfaces and shapes

Once you’ve decided on a wall color, certain questions remain: should I paint the whole room? Or only half? What about patterns? We give you some tips below.

Paint the entire surface

If you are painting individual walls all in one color – i.e. from top to bottom – then you can be a bit bolder and choose strong tones. If you want to paint the entire room in a single color, you should opt for a lighter tone so that the room doesn’t appear too narrow.

A mixture of colored and white walls is a good idea. The choice of which walls to paint which color depends on various factors. In a long room, you should paint the end wall in a dark color – then the room will look less like a tube. If the room is quite low, paint the walls slightly darker than the ceiling – this results in a stretching effect. In general, it is also a good idea to paint the emptier walls.

Partial painting

A structured arrangement of color in a child’s room sets a striking emphasis. Only partially painting the room is worth considering. Common divisions are, for example, one-third to two-thirds or half to half. If this procedure is too mathematical for you, use elements in the room as a guide, for example by painting as far as the lower edge of a window, the upper edge of a dresser or the start of a ceiling slope.

A little boy is playing with an airplane in his bedroom. In the background a wall can be seen that is painted gray up to the slope of the ceiling.

A half-painted wall with a specific tree motif – various ideas have been implemented in this child’s room.

Geometric shapes

Lines, rectangles, circles, triangles – geometric shapes on the walls of a child’s room are a source of great interest that will stimulate your child’s imagination. As with an abstract work of art, the figures can also be placed at an angle or over two walls. The overall picture should of course remain harmonious and neat. Use different wall colors that either go well together, such as purple and white, or that come from the same color family, such as apricot, orange and light brown.

Striped patterns are a special subtype of geometric shapes. Smaller rooms can be made to look a little larger with horizontal stripes. The thicker the stripes, the calmer the room appears. It’s best to combine a bright color with white – this also ensures visual coherence. Vertical stripes make a child’s room with low walls look higher. Stripes on the ceiling are a particularly eye-catching feature.

Specific motifs

Images and specific motifs on the walls also stimulate a child’s brain. However, they require more effort to prepare and implement. It’s also important to remember that the motif your child requests today – such as a favorite cartoon character – may meet with rejection tomorrow. Timeless, less specific motifs are therefore more sensible.

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Alternatives for wall design

It doesn’t always have to be the classic wall color that gives the child’s room its character – we present some alternatives in more detail below:

  • Chalkboard paint: let your children design the walls themselves. Chalkboard paint is becoming more and more fashionable because it has long since ceased to be available only in the classic school colors of green or black. The trick is that the special composition allows the painted surfaces to be written on with chalk and then simply wiped clean again later. Your child can let off steam on the walls to their heart’s content.
  • Borders: borders are a very discreet way to add a pattern, color or motif to a wall. You can paint a decorative edge design or buy borders in the form of stick-on wallpaper strips or nail-on garlands. Borders for children’s rooms consist of age-appropriate motifs such as animals or stars.
  • Wall tattoos: does your child desperately want unicorns on the wall, but are you a little skeptical about how long this phase will last? A wall tattoo could be the solution. If your child decides they don’t like it anymore, you can remove the tattoo without much effort and without leaving any residue.

The most important questions and answers at a glance

How should I paint a child’s room?

Make it as colorful as possible to stimulate the child’s imagination. Shapes and patterns can help too.

What do I have to consider when painting a child’s room?

Use only harmless products with the “Schweizer Stiftung Farbe” seal of approval. You should also make sure that the room doesn’t look cluttered after painting.

What color should I use for painting a child’s room?

This is entirely for you and your child to decide. All colors have different effects. Blue, for example, has a calming effect, whereas red is stimulating.

Can I paint a child’s room white?

You should avoid white because children can quickly get bored in a neutrally painted room.

Should I paint a child’s room all in one color?

If you decide on this solution, the color shouldn’t be too obtrusive – red is out of the question. You can also paint just some walls or certain walls halfway up.

What patterns and shapes can I use when painting the child’s room?

Geometric shapes that stimulate the child’s imagination, or stripes that make the room look different, for instance.

How can I design the walls of a child’s room without painting them?

If you decide against painting in the traditional way, you can also paint the walls with chalkboard paint, or add a border or a wall tattoo.

Conclusion: give free rein to creativity

All the walls in one color, geometric shapes or specific motifs – there are various possibilities for designing the walls in a child’s room. Depending on the age of the child, you should however discuss the ideas with your children first.

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