Transforming a nursery into a toddler's room

While many babies start out sleeping in their parents' room (and may sneak back in for years to come!), it's important to create a space for toddlers and older children to call their own.

As children outgrow cots and baby mobiles, it's time to invest in furniture and accessories that will see them through to primary school. Here's a few tips to get you started.

Fun furniture
If you're short on space, a toddler bed with side rail makes an easy transition between a cot and a ‘big bed’. Other children are happy to go straight to a king single bed. A chest of drawers and wardrobe are the other key items a room will need. Personalise furniture with removable stickers or DIY paint work.

Great themes
Having a theme makes shopping and decorating easier. Themes may be as loose as a colour scheme, an object or a movie or television character. Choosing a theme your child already loves will help her get excited about her new room; give her the choice between a couple of themes so she feels involved in the decision-making process. Use your theme on everything from bedspreads to curtains and wall art. Common themes include:

Big transition ... The change from cot to big bed, and baby to big kid's room, is an exciting one.
Big transition ... The change from cot to big bed, and baby to big kid's room, is an exciting one. 
  • transport (cars, trains, airplanes)
  • Thomas the Tank Engine
  • Toy Story 
  • Ben 10
  • Dora the Explorer
  • Disney princesses
  • butterflies
  • flowers
  • fairies
  • animals
  • circus
  • space/solar system.

Favourite colours
Think outside the box when it comes to paint colours - after all, all pink or all blue can be overwhelming to the eye!

A red feature wall can look great with wall decals, or try green or lavender for a soft colour which will last through to the teen years. Off-white is a practical colour which is useful if you plan on only using the room for a couple of years. Beige and other neutrals can also work over a long period, as you can furrnish with different colours over the years.

Home comforts
Encourage your child to feel comfortable hanging out in their room with soft furnishings like cushions, flip-out sofas and curtains to block out the bright morning sun and the chill. Some children like to listen to music while drifting off to sleep - a small CD player in their room will help. In some parts of Australia, mosquito nets can be practical in summer, as well as providing a romantic look.

Handy storage
One of the biggest issues in any children's rooms is toy storage! And generally, the more storage the better.

Make cleaning up fun with a mini wheelie bin to hold toys and other bric-a-brac, or use toy hammocks and other ceiling storage options to keep clutter off the floor. Sort toys into colour coded containers with a picture clue on the outside to help your child know which toys belong where. There are so many containers to choose from: storage units with sliding drawers, racks, wooden toy chests or soft-sided containers.

Do you have any other ideas for changing a nursery to a toddler's room? Or on how to renovate with a family? Join the discussion in the Essential Baby forum