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Best Ideas for Creative Kids Rooms: Before & After

By 06/29/2014April 17th, 202225 Comments

This post is written by Irene Hill:

In the Spring of 2014, when Maria and I started this project of love, I carefully interviewed each of my nieces and nephews to find out what would make them love their rooms the most. I found out what they were interested in and spent hours shopping and scouring the internet to get all the little pieces exactly right. At the end of the day I wanted to see wonder and awe in each set of eyes and was over the moon that we managed to do just that!

Blue Bedding

The first step was an invasion of local painters who came to paint each of the bedrooms (including Aimee’s) and two bathrooms the fresh and perfect colours Maria had chosen. Benjamin Moore sponsored all the paint! Thank you so much!


 Some of the painters: Trevor (third from the left) with his crew from Arrowsmith Painting, along with Andy (far left) as well as Arlene (not shown) from Arlene’s Painting.

These amazing guys (and girl) came without looking for anything other than the privilege of being part of the continuing story of this family’s healing and journey of taking their rightful place in the world. We can’t thank them enough for their generosity and kindness and for not spilling one drop of paint in the process.

Dan’s Room (before)

Dan 1

Cool Aqua

BM 2056-40 Cool Aqua

Dan’s wish was for an ‘underwater world.’ The size of his room (tiny with a low ceiling) was, in fact, perfect to create this look . His blue bedding from Ikea looks like plankton (according to Dan). A red rug is actually coral (again, according to Dan) and, along with a red dresser (both from Ikea) made his red bed frame look brand new and on purpose. Maria’s choice of Cool Aqua created the perfect backdrop for the fish and sea life that now decorate every wall.

The low t-bar ceiling suspends a school of fish ‘swimming’ through the room. A local artist, Claudia Borrayo, took her inspiration from the school of fish and hand painted the incredible custom decals that were applied to the walls. A four-foot puzzle was mounted and hung in the small closet above his dresser.

Dan promptly named his room, ‘Dan’s Undersea World.’ He is so proud of his space and can’t wait for visitors to come and see his undersea world so he takes great care to tidy and keep it clean.

Dan’s Room (after)

Red Octopus

Puzzle Art

Jelly Fish

Joe’s Room (before)


Joe already knows he wants to be a palaeontologist when he grows up, so it was easy to guess the theme that would be exactly right for him. His room is the only one that wasn’t painted because, as far as he was concerned, the colours were ideal. The light-coloured wood of his bunk bed, dresser and bookcase were neutral enough to need only one more thing.


Along with an area rug that looks like rocks and coordinating bedding from Ikea, Joe has a six-foot tall Velociraptor looking at him from across the room. And what could be better than one ginormous dinosaur? A whole bunch more. I found a model dinosaur in a toy store and enough dinosaur figurines from a thrift store to fill every surface.

We created stories about each one of the different types of dinosaurs as we nailed them to the walls and the bed and set them up on vignettes. Some were eating, others were being eaten. It’s not everyone’s idea of beauty, but it certainly fills Joe with glee and fuels his imagination with endless possibilities.

Joe’s Room (after)

Bunk Bed

Dinosours Gathering

Dinosour Vignette

Sam’s Room (before)


Pear Green

BM 2028-40 Pear Green

Sam was born with a heart condition and faces daily physical and mental challenges in his little life. He greatly benefits from a calm and peaceful environment so, along with his love of Lego, I came up with a plan that would give him a peaceful woods scene to look at and lots of room to play with and store his collection of Legos.

The large wall mural came courtesy of inkshuffle. They have a millions of designs in a wide variety of subject matter. The only hard part was choosing which one to have!

Home Depot donated the foam puzzle rug that covered up the ugly tile and provides a soft surface to play on. Ikea’s Trofast storage system with tubs gives Sam buckets to organize and store his different Lego buildings.

The labour-of-love art on Sam’s wall I assembled with lots of Lego pieces and figures, mounted in Ikea frames.

Sam loves being in his room so much that he’s hardly left it in the past week. He spends endless hours creating Lego masterpieces and his smile says it all.

Sam’s Room (After)


Sams Lego Room

As I mentioned earlier, our local Ikea was so helpful in working with us to furnish Aimee’s house. We ordered the vast majority of the furnishings, bedding, curtains and some accessories from them and they were generous enough to pull the entire order together and have it delivered to Aimee’s town, ready for assembly as well as donating some of the items.

Jen Knight had this to say, ‘At IKEA, we believe that children are the most important people in the world. Aimee’s story of how she has remained strong for her family is so inspirational, and we were very happy to be able to help create a warm and inviting home for them. IKEA offers a wide range of products that are versatile, functional and stylish, and we know that as Aimee’s kids get older, their furniture and rooms will grow with them!’

Jen and Omar from Ikea


 Esther’s Room (before)

Est 1

Violet Mist

BM CC-880/1437 Violet Mist

Esther knew exactly what she wanted in her room makeover. Her room is larger than a typical bedroom as it’s actually the downstairs family room, and comes complete with fireplace. It’s the perfect spot for a teenager who needs a private place to do her homework and get a break from her little brothers and sister.

Her preferred colours were blue, black and brown and we found them all in the Ikea bedding she fell in love with. The duvet cover set the palette for the rest of the room and the Violet Mist along with lots of white gave the right touch to make her space still look soft and light.

Two large tree decals look magical flanking her bed frame and, lucky girl that she is, give her something interesting to look at when she’s curled up in one of the chairs she inherited from the old living room.

Esther’s Room (after)


Emily’s Room (before)

Em 1

Pear Green

BM 2028-40 Pear Green

Before this makeover Emily’s room was bare and empty – one lonely little bed and a small desk that she didn’t use. That has all changed!

Emily’s delight is written all over her face as she sits in her brand new red chair and beams at every detail of her beautiful room. She loves, loves, loves the flower pendant light that glows over her new red bedding, red storage unit, turquoise table and green rug (all from Ikea). And although she can’t read she’s so happy to have a lamp by her bed just like the other kids!

She especially loves the birds and branches decorative stickers (Ikea) that match perfectly with the swarm of butterflies, ladybugs, dragon flies and bumblebees flying on her walls.

Emily’s Room (after)

Emilys Trophies

Emilys Ladybugs


Below: Emily with her special new friend,
Kevin, the Painter (from Langley)


It’s impossible to describe what a difference you’ve all made for Aimee, Esther, Emily, Sam, Joe and Dan. They are so used to having little or nothing of value and beauty and have always ‘made do’ with life’s leftovers.

I believe this gift has elevated the way each of them view themselves and is absolutely contributing to re-establishing them in their rightful place in the world — as loved and valuable individuals with a destiny and calling in their lives.

Thank you to every one for your contributions – thoughts, prayers and financial. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts.”

Related posts:

Aimee’s Happy Home Makeover: Before & After

Best Paint Colours for Kids Bedrooms

Do You Need an Accent Wall: Take this Test?

If you would like your home to fill you with happiness every time you walk in the door, become a client. Online or In-person.

To get your exterior colours right, download my How to Choose Exterior Colours with Confidence webinar and get my go-to list of colours.

Download my eBookHow to Choose Paint Colours – It’s All in the Undertones to get my complete step-by-step system on how to get colour to do what you want.

To make sure the undertones in your home are right, get some large samples!

And, if you would like to learn how to choose colour with confidence, become a True Colour Expert.

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  • Heddybing says:

    This was so amazing! So beautiful to bring joy to this family!

  • Judy says:

    You’ve done a truly wonderful job.

  • Lorrin says:

    Yay!!! What a joy to see smiles light up their faces. Their rooms are simply adorable! Thank you for loving your sister with not just words, but with action and in truth.

  • Karen Savage says:

    Thank you for sharing your beauty!

  • Mary-Illinios says:

    This is so sweet I’m tearing up. God bless these kids.

  • Kay says:

    Such a beautiful difference for these children. I pray for God’s continued blessing on this family.

  • Becky Noelker says:

    Great blog post, Irene! Thanks for taking the time to chronicle this heartfelt project! It turned out great – you are truly the Director of All Things Wonderful!!

  • Kim says:

    Oh, the joy!

  • Jody says:

    Irene, you are such a blessing to all the lives you touch. Director of All Things Wonderful couldn’t be a more appropriate title. The rooms are beautiful and it warms my heart to see the kid’s smiles. Thank you for sharing their story and allowing others the opportunity to feel connected to your beautiful family.

    • KA says:

      I agree with everything above. Looks lovely and those kids are truly loved. As they should be. I had a green room like the pear color when I got to pick my room color as a 5yo, so those are kids after my own heart. Plus your sister’s green room. Darling undersea room, future paleo and the violet room looks better than most adult rooms. Brava!

    • Irene says:

      Thanks so much, Jody!

  • Susan S says:

    What joy to the heart this brings! God bless them all!

  • Chere says:

    Just a Terrific outcome from an out pouring of love , kindness,caring and hardwork… Many Blessings to all for a great job ! I also teared up.. One Positive change brings change to all ! May this inspire all of us !

  • Kathy says:

    Love the way you made each room individually special to the child! Thank you for doing such a wonderful thing. God bless this family!

  • Jami Cordry says:

    I loved this sweet and joyful post! I’ve been following the story and it was heartwarming to see the results of your hard work. I continue to be amazed by the transformative power of adding beauty to our living spaces. Thank you to everyone involved in this project.

  • Big smiles from here! Love to all of you!

    • Irene says:

      Thanks, Jennifer! My face actually is hurting a little from all the joy and smiling. 🙂 See, there I go again.

  • Carol J says:

    Oh, this brought a smile to my face. Wonderful.

  • Kathy says:

    So much better than Extreme Makeover with over-the-top kids rooms that they are likely to outgrow in a year or two. Totally doable for the average person, and changeable to adjust to changing tastes.

    Just a little concerned that Dan’s room doesn’t meet egress requirements for a bedroom, even if they ceiling tile by the window is taken out.

    Also wondering how to make custom decals. That looks like a great solution for a wall mural that you don’t feel too guilty about changing later.

    • Irene says:

      Aren’t the custom decals amazing? Claudia, the amazing artist who hand painted them, just bought a roll of clear vinyl contact paper from Walmart or some store like that. She rolled out the contact paper and painted directly on it. I just peeled off the backing and stuck them on the walls. Easy for me, thanks to the talent of her. And my heart does have a little pang over Dan’s lack of egress. He was just determined that he wanted a little room all to himself. He promises to keep the door open and his room is right around the corner from an exterior door. Not ideal, I agree.

  • patricia says:

    I do not know why, but I cried when I read each of the stories of the kid’s and their wishes for their rooms.
    What a gracious and beautiful gift they were given.

  • Kimberly says:

    It all turned out wonderfully! So happy for all of them!

  • Adedayo Adeyemi says:

    Mariam , you are truly an expert on what you do.the decorations are truly amazing and couldn’t take my eyes off them. And what a giving heart youvegot. . On another note i want to be such an expert on interior decorations and designing , can you advice me . Thirdly how was the paintings and murals on the wall done..? ?thank you .

  • gdcall says:

    Beautiful job, loved the rooms – so happy to have been a small part of it.

  • Marissa says:

    I wish the ceiling were also painted – it would be amazing especially in kids room – and makes the drop ceiling looks less like a drop ceiling.

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