How to get the family involved in home decorating projects

Attacking structural walls like a landlocked Viking? Relax and take a time absorbing flight of the imagination. Together with some actual, well-considered DIY, start at the beginning — planning for change.

Involve the whole family in projects using the classic interior designer’s tools of graph paper, cutouts, modelling and mood-boards. Then, stir in some of the latest virtual visualisation tools and online libraries to leave everyone flush with enthusiasm and creativity. Home improvements don’t have to be all about adult edicts. Why not let kids have some say about that home territory?

How to get the family involved in home decorating projects


Start with an overhead view of the great indoors room by room, and then mock up every wall that matters. From this, and given your ceiling height, an in-house designer of kitchens or wardrobes can create a CAD image to walk through when the stores finally erupt into life.

Online room planners are available, but the initial measurements will have to be equally accurate. Suggest youngsters try hands-on scale drawing first.


  • Graph paper — pages from a science jotter or print off some you source online
  • A pencil and eraser
  • A transparent ruler (have the kids ransack their dusty rucksacks)
  • A 5m measuring tape or a laser measure (not a toy!).

    Sketch a rough plan, then take length by width measurements subtracting 5mm for skirting if you don’t roll the tape over the floor. Break these down into increments between say the corner and the start of a window, the width of the window and so on. Jot these on your plan in centimetres.

    Include openings and recesses and take note of which way doors open. Look up the common symbols for features used by interior designers and architects.

    Having chosen a scale that will fit on the page (say 5cm to 10cm for every little square), start by putting down the outline of the room and then inserting obstacles, recesses, windows and doors. Mark the position of power points and plumbing fixtures.

    Have children try out a drawing of each wall as if facing it. Your other drawing will supply the measurements to scale. Let young children scribble freely.

    Now measure up furniture and fittings — things staying in the picture. Scale them to suit the plan, and cut them out in little pieces you can finger push around the space. This primitive approach is extremely useful for spatial issues without yanking muscles. For example — is there 90cm to pull back a dining chair if you lug the table to another room?

    The ultimate family project would be to continue and construct a 3D (rough) scale model of the house from card and cardboard with lift-out floor. Up to the challenge?


    Journalling — using ephemera, scraps, tear outs from magazines and small flat, found objects — even callused teenagers lose their puss when immersed in a highly personal project. Mood boards are a planning tool used by decorators to accrue ideas and arrange them in a short story of colour, texture, design and scale.

    Here’s a simple way to conjure something tangible. Find a large (A3) card or say the long side of a cardboard box, cut to suit. We’re aiming to create a feeling, and for children it could be a magical vibe of sweetie wrappers, twigs and My Little Pony stickers or a fantasy record cover. There’s no right or wrong.

    Room-scape mood boards. Lay your materials out (daubs of colour/ images from print/ sample strips/whatever) as they would appear in a room, floors at the base of the board, wallpaper a little higher. Accessory ideas, for example a flash of silver can go anywhere, to catch the eye — suggest with foil.

    Think scale. If you have a wall colour in mind, do a generous paint daub or cross-hatch in marker to represent the meters it will cover.

    How to get the family involved in home decorating projects

    Shift the materials around, adding and subtracting. Put the board in the room and study the colours in the altering light of a day. Make other, wildly different boards. Don’t go straight to the electronics to drag and drop —send the little magpies hunting for real materials in the house and garden.


    With 2D and even 3D abilities, free online room planners offer thousands of common items and imported product content to match to shift around and realise in colour and texture.

    Try, or the simple intuitive planners offered by B&Q for kitchens and bathrooms, Ask your kids what they like and dislike about the home as is along the way.

    My teenage daughter’s favourite folio tool after the gloriously easy adventure of Instagram and the wit of Pinterest, is the Morpholio Board.

    This allows the user to swipe ideas from furniture types to floor colours, assembling an easy to read collage. It’s very interconnected to other sourcebooks — a sleek portal straight to Pinterest,

    Crown ( and Dulux (Lets Colour, download at offer superb visualising tools for their collections. Drill down on product design in real rooms with the IKEA planner suite, here, and others using augmented reality digital spaces like Room Creator,

    Like all great adventures, design and décor should be enjoyed for the journey as much as for the arrival. Prepping? Well, that’s a brilliant homeschooling whatever your age.

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