My son was interested in Peter Pan and watched the movie almost every week. In his room I papered a pirate map on the wall behind his bed and, by using two oak curtain rods, created a ship's mast with a muslin sail above his headboard. It was perfect for him and made him happy for years.
My daughter's room was done in pink and white polka-dot with a crown canopy above her bed. It was a room fit for a princess.
There are fantastic resources available now for those interested in decorating children's spaces. The Pottery Barn Kids, Garnet Hill and Serena & Lily catalogs are great resources, as is one of my favorite online apps, houzz.com.
Houzz is a free website that allows you to spend hours flipping through beautiful images of rooms from all over the country. You can look for children's spaces with something as specific as carpets, canopies or ceiling fans. It gives you the option to save images that you like to Ideabooks. My clients share their Ideabooks with me so I can see what they love and, often, what they don't.
Houzz had an interesting article on children's rooms that received the most saves to Ideabooks, and interestingly enough the rooms tended to be classic ones that offered something extra, like a color on the ceiling, a lofted play space or a brightly colored rug.
If you are looking for inspiration to start, select one thing to play off of: a fabulous rug or a pretty ceiling fan, for example. One thing I recommend is not overdoing the decor: There need not be vinyl stickers on every wall. If you want to get the most time out of the space, the key is creating a grown-up look with whimsical accents.
Kids love secret hideaways and a loft bed can be a great idea if your ceiling height is greater than 8 feet. IKEA has a number of styles and most of them are under $460 and include storage and a homework station below the mattress. They are available in a number of different colors and even different heights to accommodate younger ages. I find that in order to make these beds you have to have performed with Cirque du Soleil, but the good news is that they are hidden by the support walls.
One more tip, do not let your child pick out the wall color. I know this must sound harsh but I can't tell you how many rooms have been ruined that way. Instead, consider making a few selections on your own by putting the swatches up in the room and offering your child a few "approved by you" choices. Their affection for that color will pass before the paint is dry and by controlling their selections everyone will sleep better.
I recently had the opportunity to travel to Houston to work on a new house and had only nine days to do it. By researching my favorite furniture brands I found a large furniture store called Star Furniture that had a variety of styles. Everything on their floor was available for delivery in three days! In nine days I finished the dining room, living room, TV room and two bedroom-bath combinations.
In addition to finding the nearest HomeGoods, my client brought me to Hobby Lobby. Have you ever been? What a great resource for people like me who like to decorate on a budget. There was an entire aisle of just knobs!
One of the first things I did when I returned was bring one of my designer friends, Beth, to the Seekonk store. As we walked the aisles we decorated an entire children's room in our heads with a fun carpet, wall accessories, lamps and fabrics for the windows. There is another Hobby Lobby in Warwick; check them out when you are in the area.