Quick Decorating Do’s and Don’ts
• Do ask for help and donations of materials.
• Do remember that storage and function are important parts of
• Do create an environment that’s age-appropriate and
gender-neutral (not too pink and girly, and not boyish
• Don’t overdo it. This is a learning environment-not a bedroom,
play room, or arcade.
• Don’t be afraid of color. Too many pale colors look
• Don’t paint licensed characters on the wall-such as from Disney
or Nickelodeon-it’s illegal, inappropriate, and cheesy.
• Do use semigloss, latex paint in a classroom or any high traffic
area. It’s washable.
• Do use primer-no matter what. Primer is an essential base for
paint to adhere well. It also provides a canvas for easier
coverage, so you actually use less paint. Primer is less expensive
than paint, so if you use one or two coats of primer, you usually
will only need one coat of the more expensive top paint. If you’re
using deep colors, have your paint store add pigment to the primer.
Ralph Lauren paint has excellent deep-based primers for bright
colors such as orange, purple, red, and green-and we had our primer
matched to the exact pigment of the top coat of the paint. Primer
also provides a good chip-resistant base so future nicks and bumps
in the paint don’t look so obvious.
Follow these steps for any design project you start in your
1. Assess the needs of the children and teacher.
• Does the room have adequate storage?
• How does the room serve the purpose for teaching?
• What does your room communicate to children and parents? Is it
inviting? Is it distracting? Is it age-appropriate?
• Remember — designing a classroom has a different purpose than
designing a child’s bedroom or play room. Kami calls it “friendly
2. Set a budget and time frame.
• Besides volunteers for painting, locate people who can help with
special skills such as carpentry and sewing.
• Borrow any tools that can be used and returned, such as
paintbrushes, drop cloths, caulking guns, and tools.
• Establish a work schedule, and stick to it. Remember that you
may need as much time for preparation and cleanup as for the actual
work itself. Give yourself a goal date to be done, and then be
3. Visualize your design.
• Take pictures of the room, and bring them with you when looking
at paint and supplies.
• Spend time alone in the room. Look around while assessing the
needs, and think about color, lighting, theme, storage, and
• Wander through your local home store aisles that you don’t
normally venture down to imagine what you might do with new
materials. Roof flashing, gutter screens, PVC pipes, and galvanized
wire for electric fences are all products that can perform
functionally and give unique decorative touches. Open your
• Be flexible to change. Your ideas, budget, or time frame may
change your initial vision significantly. Prioritize the main
things that need to be done, and let go of details that don’t go
4. Gather your prep materials (either borrowed or purchased) and
Gather all borrowed materials first, then make a list of what you
need to purchase. Shopping smart takes time and may require trips
to many places to get the materials you want at prices you can
5. Celebrate the new room.
Present the room to the kids with a prayer of dedication.