Summertime seems to bring out a creative decorating streak in us all, but why let adults have all the fun? Children's rooms are the perfect place to let your impulses run wild as summer days are long.
Children are natural art directors, so take advantage of their great ideas. For instance, if your little girl adores reading fairy tales set in an enchanted forest, let her spend her vacation in one. Entwine grapevines in her canopy bed, and trim the canopy corners with dried hydrangea or silk sunflowers. Go ahead and make curtain rods from tree branches, too. Glue pine conesand acorn tops onto ordinary frames to display photos of past vacations in the woods. Furnish her dollhouse with tiny tables and couches made of twigs glued together. Let her run barefoot in the "grass": Scatter in a few indoor-outdoor forest-green rugs, the kind you find at home building supply stores.Does your little boy dream of Peter Pan-style pirate adventures? Then let him spend the summer on a "boat": his own bedroom. Scatter nautical accessories of any kind around the room. Garage sales are good sources for binoculars, barometers and other wall-mounted weather-telling instruments (they don't have to actually work).
Hang a fishnet canopy over his bed to make him feel like a real sailor. To give him a place to fill out his captain's log and plot his course, decoupage a desk with old maps. To do so, fill in any holes with wood putty, then sand. Using decoupage glue, apply either whole maps or cutouts of islands and continents, then seal.
Maybe your child is the artistic type and would just love a summer studio. In this case, look for whatever room around the house you can spare (my own mother donated the hall closet to me as a child, and I was thrilled). Maybe you have an unused area in a garden shed or the garage. Put up a few shelves for children's art books and supplies, set up an easel, and bring out jars and cans for paint mixing. Also equip the studio with brushes and more unusual art supplies like toothbrushes for spattering paint, sponges, combs for raking patterns in paint and rubber stamps. Equip your budding artist with a smock, and remember to always call this spot the "studio," however tiny it is.
If you have the time and resources to build a playhouse, take care to furnish it with child-size items so that it seems like a real house. Hang up a peg rail, a cute and clever way for your child to redecorate on a whim, whether by dangling daisy chains or gum-wrapper necklaces. Salesmen's samples of furniture, ticking clocks, tiny tea sets, window boxes that are the child's responsibility alone, even a little mailbox outside for correspondence with friends - these are the touches that make the playhouse distinctly a kids-only spot.