Plane, sports, maps and more: Boys' bedrooms get creative

McClatchy-Tribune Information Services

Bode Chandler, 3, has his bedroom decorated in an airplane theme in the Chandler home on Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2014 in O'Fallon, Mo.

When it comes to decorating kids’ bedrooms, boys’ spaces can get short shrift. Unlike the volumes and catalogs of styles for girls, only a few predictable themes seem to come up frequently when creating a bedroom for boys.

Angela Sage Larsen, an artist who has painted at least a hundred children’s murals, says the key to creating an aesthetic for a boy’s room is to consider the sort of interests a childhood will encompass over the years.

"What could this really look like if we took off limits?" she said. "If you are more broad, you can come up with something that can grow with them, and it can stimulate and inspire imagination."

Kelly Chandler of O’Fallon, Mo., has decorated three boys’ rooms for her sons, Dylan, 13; Zach, 9; and Bode, 4.

She learned some lessons from each age and offered these practical tips:

1. Keep it simple: The older a boy gets, the less he cares about filling every inch of the room. The longer he is in sports and activities, the more awards, trophies and memorabilia he will collect, which will, by default, become décor.

2. Encourage creativity: For some children, not everything important to them fits into a tidy theme. Chandler’s middle son wanted to have not only a theme, but also a way to express other interests such as displaying Minecraft posters, class photos and old license plates. "As parents, sometimes it’s hard to let go and allow our children to express their creative side because it doesn’t ‘go’ or match," she said. "However, it’s his room, and he is the one living in it, after all."

3. Pick a theme that will grow with your child: For their youngest son, Chandler said they finally learned they should choose a theme that would last beyond his toddler years. They chose a timeless option, vintage airplanes, that doesn’t scream "baby."

Here are some ideas for boys’ bedrooms that are classic and creative:

VINTAGE PLANES

Chandler said they already had a nice furniture set for this bedroom and wanted artwork on the wall that would last beyond his preschool years. She enlisted Larsen’s help for painting the large mural.

By choosing a vintage plane, she worked that theme into the plaid bed linens and small antique planes that decorate the dressers. She also found miniature luggage for storage cubbies.

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WORLD MAP

Saira Malik Rahman, of South Bend, Ind., also has three young boys. She found a watercolor image of a world map that inspired her drawing on their wall. She picked a few paint colors from Sherwin-Williams, along with using leftover paint from the previous owners.

Originally, she planned to project the map on the wall and trace it, but she couldn’t find a projector, so she started drawing it freehand.

"I wanted to get some of the contours of continents right. I’m sure some things are missing," she said. Her sons Raafe, 8, and Romaan, 5, requested a plane, so she added that on another wall along with some clouds, creating a theme of world travel.

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NAUTICAL

Rahman’s youngest son, Eren, 2, moved into a room painted navy blue by the previous owners of the house. She decided to use the color to her advantage and began laying painters tape over the blue in various geometric patterns and shapes.

An image of a sailboat popped out, and she decided to make it a nautical theme. She added medium and light blue, and used red as accent colors. She decided to add a lighthouse in a similar technique on the opposite wall.

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HOCKEY

Amy Bertrand, editor of the Home & Away section, has two sons who play hockey — all the time. She and her husband decided to create a hockey goal in the room the boys share. They mounted one permanently on the wall. The boys had an open wall about 5 feet wide, and they used Velcro to attach large rubber play mats to the wall. The mats help absorb the sound and keep the wall free from damage. They took an old plastic outdoor goal and cut it to fit the size of the wall. They screwed the goal into the wall in few places and rethreaded the net.

Next, they mounted a remote-controlled hockey light above the goal. They added photo cut-outs of the boys playing hockey above the bunk beds and displayed three 24-inch, framed autographed photos of Blues players. They used hooks to hang the boys’ first sticks above the bay window. They also painted the fan blades dark blue to match the paint on the walls below the chair rail.

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EXTREME SPORTS

For Chandler’s oldest son, they wanted to do something a little more along the lines of preteen interests. He loves sports and nature, and his room reflects his interests in rock climbing and snowboarding. By this age, a child will want to have more input into the style and accessories chosen to decorate their space. Be sure to consider your son’s individuality.

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CONSTRUCTION

Larsen was hired by a family who owns a demolition company and says she felt the pressure to make an accurate rendering of a "wrecking" scene. She did a lot of research and visited many of their demolition sites. The playroom included the "shop" where she painted a tool chest with the drawer open for aesthetic purposes.

"I was told no ‘good’ shop would allow a drawer to remain open, it just wasn’t safe," she said.

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BASEBALL

You can always tell which local team is excelling because there’s a higher demand for immortalizing the sport on the walls, Larsen said. She created this baseball mural for a Cardinals fan that shows the "arches" around the top of old Busch Stadium.

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ALL-AMERICAN SPORTS

Chandler’s middle son really likes sports and already had a lot of red, blue and white linens and accessories. They decided to build the look of the room around those colors and continued with the idea of all-American sports teams.

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MOVIES

For boys with a more artistic or creative streak, Larsen suggests considering a movie- or music-themed room. In this mural, everyone in the family chose a movie to be depicted, but it can be personalized by a child’s favorite films. You can incorporate framed movie posters or album covers.

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FIREHOUSE

Larsen said she thought the details of the interior of this "firehouse" were most interesting, but the 5-year-old she was painting the room for was fascinated watching her paint the faux brick exterior. Any firefighter or firehouse theme lends itself to costumes that can be purchased new or used online.