Creative summer fun: Include kids in home makeover

Photo By: Courtesy of Gina Viscusi Elson
Photo Courtesy Of Gina Viscusi Elson

Finding creative options for boys bedrooms may take more effort, so work with them to integrate the colors and themes they suggest.

Summer is a great time to begin a remodel. With school vacation approaching, what better way to engage and expand your children’s horizons than to involve them in the process?

No matter which room you choose to renovate, allow children to express their opinions and articulate their style.

Your children may not be interested in a kitchen or great-room remodel, but they get excited about changes to a family room, playroom or their bedroom.

Guide them to, a site that invites visitors to create an idea board of styles, colors and items they like, encouraging their computer and design skills. As children “pin” pictures of inspiration, they will begin to express their emerging style, which you can help translate into a design for the space.

Once they have developed an idea book, sit down as a family and let them show off their dream space. Ask them questions about the colors they selected and communicate your excitement and appreciation for their efforts. Then discuss how to make their ideas reality. This could open up entire conversations on coordination, geometry, spatial recognition, budgeting and other life skills. Interior design teaches and reinforces many educational concepts.

Incorporating a child’s ideas

My firm, Viscusi Elson Design Group, is currently designing a room for my 10-year-old son. Through the process, we discovered a hole in the design field: the overlooked boy. There are abundant products for girls – colors, clothes, toys, fabric and bedding options. Finding unique and creative solutions for boys takes much more effort.

When I asked my son about his dream bedroom, I was pleasantly surprised that he had many ideas. He had strong opinions on keeping certain aspects of his room the same but was easily willing to let go of others.

His list comprised something like this: cars, army, kittens, American flag, moose antlers and a different color on every wall.

Too many ideas, or eclectic choices, may make parents nervous. To help understand their selections and consolidate them into a cohesive design, ask your children what the colors make them feel, why they like a certain product or how they would reuse an existing element. You can easily transition some boyhood furniture to tween-appropriate items with a simple change of color.

During a meeting with my son, he blurted out, “Fatheads! I want a Fathead!” Because I had no idea what a “Fathead” was, he explained that they are life-sized, transferrable stickers of many themes. My son also said he wanted to incorporate his pride in his father, who recently left on a tour of duty, and his love of NASCAR into his new room. He mentioned that there was an Army-sponsored NASCAR, and we were fortunately able to find a 7-inch Fathead of it.

It was significantly more challenging to include my son’s affection for kittens, guinea pigs and, well, anything with fur. We decided to keep a couple of his favorite stuffed animals and hung a furry-friends-themed calendar above his desk. Above the calendar, we plan to add a shelf where he can showcase awards, trophies, handmade objects, collectibles and more.

A blue camouflage bedspread, a star pillow and modern American flag drapery complement my son’s design with a slightly more sophisticated feel, easily transitioning his environment to suit a teen in a few years.

You want just enough playful elements mixed in with the personal and practical, so, most of all, have fun with that liberating philosophy. Play with wall color (it’s just paint) and artwork as you celebrate your child’s transition to tween and beyond.

Some ideas may sound crazy and wild, but let your children explore and experiment. If they struggle to find inspiration, set a time to help. Browse magazines or go online to create an idea book together. If all else fails, call a member of our design team.

Stay tuned to see where the moose antlers end up.

Gina Viscusi Elson, owner of Viscusi Elson Design Group and Rutt of Los Altos Custom Cabinetry, is an award-winning interior designer with more than 20 years of experience. Her new showroom is located at 147 Main St., Los Altos.

To sign up for the company’s monthly email blast, which offers helpful hints on design and will publish “after” photos of Viscusi Elson’s son’s room, send your email address to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. d

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