How to Decorate a Cowboy Bedroom Your Child Will Love
Where To Begin
Your little cowgirl or cowboy is asking for a Western theme for their bedroom and you're wondering where to begin . . .
Begin by carefully thinking through the following:
- How much do you want to spend? Determine your budget.
- How old is your child and how long do you think the cowpoke/Western phase will last? Do you live in a rural area and will your child's bedroom transition into a more mature western as they grow into their teenage years? Or is your little cowgirl likely to become a ballerina next week?
- What colors does your child like?
- Decide what about the room itself you intend to keep (already love the color of the walls?) and what you intend to change (hate and want to toss the old carpet?).
- Do the same for your existing furniture. Is the twin mattress old and do you plan to upgrade to a full or a queen size in keeping with your child's upcoming teenage years?
- What new furniture will you need once you've tossed your old . . . or did you always need but never had?
- What does and does not work in the room in terms of functionality? As children become tweens, a desk and bookshelves might become more important. Was there never a good reading area? Does your child have a hobby that requires a certain amount of space, such as a drum set?
The following design suggestions are not meant for baby or toddler rooms. They are geared towards children four and older with the possibility of the room transitioning into the teenage years.
This article is also not meant for those whose budgets allow for intricate built-ins or custom made beds (such as in a mini covered wagon, for example). The concepts below are some relatively inexpensive ways to decorate a child's bedroom in a cowgirl/cowboy or Western theme without spending an arm and a leg.
Floor, Walls and Ceiling
Unless you are prepared to spend quite a bit of money on construction, the floor, walls and ceiling of your child's bedroom will remain a given. Look carefully at the room to be redecorated.
What does the room have already that you are not willing to change. A wood floor? Perfect - already "western". Ugly carpet? A workable problem.
What does your soon to be redecorated room have that you are willing and can afford to change? Scuffed and dirty walls needing a new coat of paint? Great! There's nothing like paint to completely change the feel of a room. Old, broken and dirty blinds? Throw them out and start anew.
The cheapest and easiest way to change the feeling of any floor is with rugs. The following are options beyond actual cowboy themes that add a western feel to a room:
- bold stripes
- Native American rug patterns
- multicolored or denim rag rugs
- multicolored or denim confetti rugs
- plaids or checks
- faux cow hides or sheepskin
- jute or sisal (just be aware that some of these types of rugs can be very scratchy!)
Throw Rugs / Runners • If you already have a wood floor, then a rug will add softness and color - and warmth if you live in a cold climate. Small bedside runners may be all that is necessary in a room with a wood floor.
Full-size rugs • However, if your floor is the most hideous carpet you've ever laid eyes on but ripping it out just isn't in the budget, get a much larger rug to cover it instead. And remember that it is perfectly acceptable to layer one rug over another so long as the patterns and colors are complementary. For example, two different patterned red, white a black Indian rugs might look very good together.
Whatever the condition of your floor, a faux cowhide rug is almost a must for any respectable western cowboy themed bedroom. This one is made from durable synthetic materials and much larger than an actual hide.
TIP: be sure to use a non-skid rug pad to prevent rugs from slipping - especially on wood floors.
Paint • Paint is a relatively inexpensive and easy way to completely change the look of a room. It can be applied in various ways depending on the level of complexity you feel comfortable with:
- Paint the walls all of one color.
- Paint the wall behind the bed an accent color and all other walls a neutral.
- Apply a faux finish to all walls.
- Create a painted border with stencils or stamps.
- Paint approximately 6" wide vertical or horizontal stripes of varying colors on an accent wall.
TIP: don't paint a room without painting a trial "swatch" on a wall or piece of foam core first! The color of a 30x30 swatch can look completely different than the color of a paint chip. Colors also change under different types of lighting (both natural and manmade) and when viewed on vertical versus horizontal surfaces.
Wallpaper • Instead of painting the wall behind the bed an accent color, get an old barn wood effect by using a wallpaper of photographed weathered wood - which can be applied vertically, horizontally or diagonally. There are numerous options of this type of wallpaper available in different colors and patterns, some even with a texture. The best part? This wallpaper is removable!
Wainscots • Create a wainscot encircling the room using the rustic wood wallpaper topped with a border. Or design a wainscot using real old barn wood, corrugated tin or even burlap fabric.
Wall / Door Murals • Want something a little more dramatic than a barn wood accent wall? Try a full size wall mural. Or, if you don't have a wall on which to place a full size mural, jazz up a door with a door-sized mural instead.
Paint • Paint the ceiling and approximately six to eight inches down the walls from the ceiling a different color than the walls. Place a wallpaper border below the edge of the paint or paint in a decorative border with a stencil or stamps.
Paint and decals • Feeling really creative? Paint the ceiling and approximately six inches to eight inches down the walls from the ceiling black. Stick 150 glow-in-the-dark adhesive stars to the finished blackness and your little cowpoke will feel as though he is spending the night out on the range.
Of course, the focal point of most every bedroom will be the bed itself. Here, too, there are a variety of options and materials, especially in terms of the headboard, from the very inexpensive to the very pricey.
Decals • Most inexpensive are a variety of headboard decals. Options that give a western feel are picket fence, antique iron headboard and slatted wood headboard designs.
Quilts • Buy a fairly inexpensive quilt and hang it on the wall at the head of the bed. It would probably be best if your favorite grandmother's quilt isn't used as it is likely that portions of it will fade if exposed to the light from a window.
Upholstered • There are several options available when it comes to upholstered headboards:
- Buy a new upholstered headboard: buying a finished upholstered headboard could easily turn into the most frustrating or the most expensive route to take. Frustrating, because finding an upholstered headboard in a fabric you like might be very difficult - most of them come in a bland colored fabric such as white, cream or taupe; expensive, because if you find a particular fabric you love, it will be fairly costly to have a custom upholstered headboard made.
- Make an upholstered headboard from scratch: if you have done upholstery before, building a headboard should be a snap as headboards are a fairly simple piece of furniture to build yourself (so long as you have the tools). If you would like to learn to do upholstery, there are many tutorials on the internet giving step by step instructions and a headboard might be a good place to start because of its simplicity.
- Upholster an unfinished base headboard: however, if you feel most comfortable taking baby steps, buy a simple base headboard and reupholster it in the fabric of your choice. The 15-1/2" x 15-1/2" block headboard below is a perfect example of this.
Wood • There are also a wide variety of options when it comes to wooden headboards. Simple painted headboards can be fairly inexpensive; log pole headboards can cost more but lend a very rustic, cowboy feel to a room. Intricately carved wooden headboards, while beautiful, can be extremely pricey.
Iron • An antique iron bed can be a very attractive, rustic addition to a bedroom. Real antique iron beds came in twin and full sizes and can still be picked up relatively cheaply on Craigslist, although they are becoming harder to find. Many of the curlier frames can give a feminine twist to your little cowgirl's room.
New iron beds are typically much more expensive. The advantage is that you might be able to find one with a decidedly cowboy theme.
TIP: the bed should always be placed in a room in such a way that when walking into the room you face the foot of the bed. This is not always possible and may not even be ideal in your particular room, but it's considered a standard.
When it comes to linens, whether sheets, bedskirts or coverlets, there are many wonderful cowboy/cowgirl themes - but they're not the only way to give a western feel to a bedroom. Think also in terms of the following types of fabrics and patterns:
- stripes - wide stripes, chevrons or ticking
- Indian rug patterns
- denim - there are now a wide variety of colors and finishes
- cowhide patterns
- ginghams / checks
- flowers - think shabby chic type rose patterns
- burlap - probably best for bedskirts only due to its roughness
- faux leather or sheepskin
TIP: Don't be afraid to mix patterns. Cowhide print sheets and a denim coverlet combination could work perfectly together. Or combine cow print sheets with a striped or Native American rug patterned woolen blanket.
By now you've probably decided upon a general theme, colors and a headboard. You've tossed your old furniture or decided which pieces to rehab . . . or maybe you're starting from scratch.
What other pieces of furniture might you need? Thinking about the size of your room and how your child will use the room, consider the following:
dresser / chest of drawers
chest / trunk / ottoman
loveseat / chaise
A wingback chair with an ottoman could create the perfect reading nook for a growing girl who loves to curl up and read for hours. For a young, rambunctious boy, a large beanbag may be all that he needs as a seating area. The right size table could be both a desk and a nightstand beside a bed. An interesting trunk could provide storage for toys for a younger child but transition into a storage place for quilts or coverlets as the child grows.
There are several ways to find the furniture pieces you don't have but need. Thankfully, running to a new furniture store is not your only recourse!
Used Furniture • Yard sales, flea markets, thrift stores and estate sales are great places to find lightly used furniture. Craigslist is another option. Below are several possibilities that would work perfectly in any Western, cowboy/cowgirl themed bedroom - all found in a quick five minute search!
If you're new to refinishing furniture, it's probably best to get some direction before starting a project. Getting the desired result can sometimes be more complicated than it first appears. The book, Furniture Makeovers, takes you step by step through that process.
New Unfinished Furniture • Don't want the hassle of dealing with Craigslist but have a vision for a custom finish you can't get out of your head? Buy a new unfinished piece of furniture and make it a reality. If this is your first time attempting a furniture project, take on a small piece like a nightstand.
New Furniture • Don't want or don't have time for a furniture project? Buy a finished piece new.
- Pros: one of the benefits of buying furniture new is that you do not have to put up with the mess and time of refinishing a piece yourself. Buying new furniture also gives you access to a manufacturer's methods and finishes that you may not be able to achieve yourself.
- Cons: one of the drawbacks to buying new furniture is the cost and that unless you can recognize and are willing to pay for good quality pieces, you might end up with furniture that looks wonderful initially but falls apart within months. Buying furniture new also restricts your choices of finish to those provided by a manufacturer. What's more, dealing with furniture manufacturers when problems do arise can sometimes be a long and extremely frustrating experience.
TIP: do not buy an entire bedroom suite, as in matching headboard, nightstands and TV armoire. It is considered tacky to have all of your furniture matching. The exception to this is identical nightstands.
There are actually more decisions to make about window treatments than many people realize - which can make the process confusing and intimidating. Consequently, window treatments are usually one of the forgotten-until-the-last-moment parts of a room. The following three steps can help simplify the window treatment decision making process.
Step 1 • Decide on the most important reason for having window treatments in the first place - their functionality:
- do you want the treatments to provide privacy?
- do you want the option of having total darkness in the room?
- does the treatment need to cover the entire window or only part of the window?
- is sound abatement a necessity?
- do you live in a climate that is very hot or very cold and need window treatments as a barrier?
- can the fabrics require dry cleaning or do you want only those that are washable?
- is the treatment covering an operable window and if so what are the accessibility requirements?
- do the treatments even need to be functional or merely decorative?
Step 2 • The decisions you make in Step 1 will limit your choices when it comes to aesthetics. You will not have privacy from the neighbors by using only a valance; a thin fabric will not keep out cold, heat, noise or light. Decide on the type of style, fabric and pattern (or solid) you want, keeping in mind how the window treatments are to function.
TIP: if the fabric pattern for the bedspread is a large print, use only small prints or solid colored fabrics for your draperies - and vice versa.
Step 3 • Decide how you will acquire the window treatments you would like. Treatments can be custom, complicated and expensive or very simple and relatively inexpensive to produce yourself - probably the best option for a child's room. Or, you may decide to combine purchasing a new product and a DIY project - buying blinds but making a valance for the window your self, for example.
DIY: creating your own drapery can be both cost effective and provide greater latitude for creativity as you are not restricted in terms of fabric choices and treatment styles to what a store sells. If you sew or would like to learn to make your own drapery, The Complete Photo Guide to Window Treatments is considered to be one of the best books to explain how. It provides instructions on how to make 50 different types of draperies, promising professional results.
New Window Treatments • If sewing your own draperies is not something you care to attempt, you can find relatively inexpensive window treatments that would work well in a cowboy/cowgirl bedroom.
Wooden roman shades are perfect for bringing a rustic feel to a room. Some are comprised of heavier wooden elements, but other options have much finer wooden components, some looking almost like burlap - in a surprisingly wide array of finishes. If wooden shades feel too stark to you, soften them with a fabric valance or full length drapery.
Some type of lighting in a bedroom is, of course, essential. Unfortunately, general, or ambient, lighting in most bedrooms comes in the form of a standard light fixture installed in the center of the ceiling. Typically, this light will require the help of additional task or accent light fixtures in the room.
Table Lamps • Lighting next to the bed, if only on one side, is really a necessity. Table lamps are the easiest of fixtures to install to fulfill this need. Be sure that a bedside lamp is tall enough so that a child can use it to read by while in bed and heavy enough that it won't tip over easily.
TIP: bedside lamps do not have to match - but if they don't they should be about the same height and have the same shade style and color.
Sconces • Sconces on either side of the bed are another option, although more complex to install. Adjustable swing-arm wall sconces are probably the most preferable as they will provide the best light for reading.
TIP: for a western feel, select rawhide lamp shades with lacing, linen or burlap shades or shades with a cowboy print. Don't shy away from colored shades, such as red. Punched metal is definitely another option.
Pendant Lighting • Yet another alternative for bedside lighting are pendant lights, although they, too, require more effort to install.
When it comes to accessories, there are an endless choice of options. Depending on your child's activities and hobbies, accessories will accumulate by themselves. Buy them or create your own. After time, decluttering will probably become more of a priority than accessorizing!
If you are starting from scratch, the following accessories might be a good place to begin as they will not only add interest to a room but also serve a purpose:
DIY accessories can not only be amazingly easy to create but a fun project for both you and your child. Use the following list of items to spark your imagination:
• old western belts
• horseshoes (new and old)
• glass mason jars
• jute trim / fringe
• rusty barbed wire, chains
• old cowboy hats (felt or straw)
• old barn wood
• old cowboy boots
• cowboy upholstery tacks
• silver conchos
• western / cowboy decals
• old bridles, saddle parts
• old pitchforks or rakes
• denim jeans
New Accessories • However adept you may be at making your own accessories, there will always be those that can only be purchased. This hand painted iron horse double wall hook, both practical and decorative, is a perfect example.
 Collage by Gemini Fox of following photos (clockwise):
- Sky: By DHPersonal, CC-BY-2.0, via Foter
- Horses: CC0 Public Domain, via Pixabay
- Cattle in Field: By Tambako the Jaguar, CC-BY-ND-2.0, via Compfight
- Jeans: CC0 Public Domain, via Pixabay
- Bullrider: By dbking, CC-BY-2.0, via Wikimedia Commons
- Old Horseshoes: CC0 Public Domain, via Pixabay
- Cowboy: By Base Camp Baker, CC-BY-ND-2.0, via Compfight
- Green Painted Wood: CC-BY-2.5, via Kave Wall
 Gemini Fox
 Collage by Gemini Fox of following photos (clockwise):
- Burlap: CC0 Public Domain, via Pixabay
- Black/Yellow Plaid: CC0 Public Domain, via Pixabay
- Black/White Cowprint: By glamrock39, Public Domain, via Photobucket
- Denim: CC0 Public Domain, via Pixabay
- Red Paisley Bandana: By Cnssbb, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons (portion of image cut out)
- Faux Sheepskin: CC0 Public Domain, via Pixabay
- Green Ticking: By Sharandra, CC-BY-2.0, via Compfight
- Pink Roses/Blue: By simplydivinethings, Public Domain, via Photobucket
- Brown Leather: By Brett Jordan, CC-BY-2.0, via Foter
- Red/White Gingham: CC0 Public Domain, via Pixabay
© 2015 Gemini Fox