Rx for Hospital Room Decor

Children's HospitalI spent four days last week at our local children’s hospital with my youngest daughter.  She’s fine now, and we’re very thankful to the many folks that helped her to a quick recovery.

But I’d be remiss if I didn’t take a moment to talk a bit about hospital room décor.  Four days is a long time to be sitting in a room with faded walls and vertical blinds.  And don’t get me started on the furniture! Lol

So I happily did what I could to improve our situation. I brought in sheets that tied the salmon/off-white color scheme together (I had some “vintage” PB kids aloha sheets with a pop of orange), and a few accents pillows and throws for a homey feel (not shown in this pic).

Then I taped my child’s butterfly craft she made while she was there on the wall as a focal point (using surgical tape I found in a drawer).

To pass the time, we watched a lot of kid movies together.  Observing “Mary Poppins” rearrange the nanny room at the Banks home with her magical carpet bag, I got to thinking about inexpensive ways children’s hospitals could spruce up their patient rooms.

Because they serve all ages of kids, rooms should not be too cutsie or bright.  Rather a sophisticated toned-down color palette would be soothing and appeal to all ages, including parents.

I realize that most hospitals don’t have big budgets for interior design and there are many safety concerns that take top priority.  Here are a few easy and inexpensive ideas:

Paint: Paint is cheap and color is powerful.  Opt for a palette of several soft colors inspired by nature that play well together and don’t show wear and tear as easily. Save the bolder colors for accents that can be easily updated.  For example, neutral tan walls play well with leafy green, sunny yellow and bright orange or turquoise accents.  Anything goes (but do avoid the color red)!

Wall Art: Spice up the walls with easy-to-use wall decals.  You could use large circles on the wall randomly like bubbles in the wind. Or perhaps silver stars.  To go bold, how about a wall mural that covers an entire wall? PB Teen has lots of interesting ideas.  Here’s one of my favorites – wouldn’t that pooch make you feel better faster?:


Windows: Replace those vertical blinds from the 80’s with fabric window treatments – Not only do they look nicer, they absorb noise too!

Bedding: Take some cues from hotel rooms.  Rather than all dingy white bedding – just add a colorful throw blanket at the bottom of the bed to tie in with the room’s décor.

Lighting: I noticed that the florescent lighting was all or nothing.  How about adding a sconce or two with a 3 way bulb or dimmer?  Great for soothing children while allowing parents to read, or comfort for a teen who likes to read at night.

Personalization: It can be scary to be away from those you love.  Create a gallery setting so children could put up pictures they have drawn or display favorite photos of family and friends.  To do this, create a faux frame area on the wall using simple crown molding.  Attach a few clips inside the frame to hold their personal reminders.

Assuming no budget, what’s a hospital to do?  How about an adopt-a-room program?  Local businesses in the community can sponsor the redesign of a room. Or perhaps one of the many interior design association communities could take on a project and get some good PR out of it.

So next time you go visit someone in the hospital, forego the flowers and bring them a reading light and soft pillow!  Or, if you are so lucky, find a magical carpet bag!

I love reading comments and yes, I read every one!


  1. says

    I am seeing more hospitals lose the stark white. Several of our local hospitals have been redesigned, especially the children’s areas.

    During a sleep study a year ago, my daughter’s room at the hospital had cute window decals on the mirror, a reading light, a TV and a DVD player!

    I love your adopt a room idea!
    .-= Jenny´s last blog ..Hooked On Fridays: The Zoo =-.

  2. says

    Your ideas for freshening up hospital rooms are all practical and easy enough to do. A hospital isn’t a fun place to be as it is — being in drab & dreary rooms just makes it even worse.

    I was at the children’s hospital a few months ago for an MRI. The room I was in had wonderful colourful images painted on the ceiling. I think that’s a great idea — patients spend a lot of time lying in beds, it would be nice to have a bright and fun ceiling to look up at. Wall decals could work just as well on a ceiling.

    Sorry to hear about your daughter’s hospital stay, but good to hear she’s OK now.

    Kelly @ DesignTies
    .-= DesignTies´s last blog ..Thank you, Michelle!! A fantabulous rendering… =-.

  3. says

    Great point, if surroundings can make such a difference to how we feel when healthy, then aren’t they even more important when sick?
    The decals are a brilliant suggestion as they’re so easy to do and relatively inexpensive.
    I’m glad your daughter’s fine now.
    .-= Struggler´s last blog ..Giveaway Day! =-.

  4. Bridget says

    Your comments are so very true. Hospitals can be such a scary place. “Homier” decor could sooth some of that anxiety.

  5. says

    Thanks for everyone’s kind words! I really feel for families with chronically ill children who are regulars at the “Hospital Hotels” – I might see if a group of CT redesigners would like to take on a project like this.

    Oh, and my little girl is bouncing off the walls aready! Love it!

  6. says

    That’s a great idea and people would heal quicker too! I’m happy your baby is fine now…Have a wonderful weekend!
    ~Really Rainey~

  7. says

    So glad your daughter is feeling better now, bless her heart.

    Great post! I always have similar thoughts when I’m stuck in a hospital room. The decor can make the experience more depressing when you’re sitting in an all-white room for days on end.

    Hope you have a wonderful weekend, Susan! :-)
    .-= Julia @ Hooked on Houses´s last blog ..Hooked on Red, White, & Blue =-.

  8. says

    I know how all of you feel. Not only are hospital rooms scary for kids- the medical devices and equipment are too! I think people are beginning to realize this and hospitals Child Life Centers are too. Check out Shrinkins The Healing Art, ( http://www.shrinkins.com ) it’s one of the cool new products available to help decorate devices and medical equipment – even orthopedic casts, to help make healing more fun for kids!


  9. says

    The hospital is focused on efficiency and cleanliness. Not much you can do to their rooms…
    What happens when you have to bring a loved one home and they need to be in an “at home” hospital bed. So ugly and institutional. We developed a way to make that environment look just like home!
    All home medical companies address the medical needs of the patient, no one, until TenderCare beds, addressed the emotional side. No one wants to be in a hospital bed…we want home to fell like….home!

  10. Samantha says

    My teenage daughter is in adn out of the hospital every other month. She has cystic fibrosis, and we are always coming up with decor ideas for her rooms. Out stay is 10-14 days and the hospital is a very drabby place, so to make out saty more enjoyable we decorate by the seasons. She is now 17 and does not really care to go all out like we used to but now comming up with ideas for a teenager is not easy. So all ideas are welcomed.

  11. says

    I am totally agreed with you. Maximum hospital rooms look scary to kids. I think it is a great step to decorate the hospital for kids so that they don’t get scare.

  12. says

    I have offered to buy wall decals for our unit they have turned me down…would love to chat with you to see what you have come up with


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