Friday, September 2, 2011

Circus Chic Carnival Sweet Kids Room or Nursery

A while ago I did a post on the movie Water for Elephants and Decorating Big Top Style.
(Since I wrote that, I have been trying to convince my husband to put an outdoor plug near our deck so that I can have those cool lights hanging in my backyard.)
Then I thought, since that post seems to be doing well and gaining interest, it might be time to do a post on circus style in the nursery/kid's room. So here goes...

In my hunt for awesome circus themed nurseries I came across, where the talented Jennifer Grasso designed this nursery:

Ordinarily you wouldn't see a chandelier in a circus tent, but you would see shiny, sparkly things, so this chandelier in the nursery really makes a "wow" impact. Also note the vintage circus posters.

Don't feel like mastering the canopy-like ceiling shown above? Just paint (or wallpaper) the walls in stripes, as thin or as wide as you like, and pick one of those shades for the ceiling.
Want the room to be less "loud?" Just add hints here and there, such as a wall decal, artwork, an animal print rug, vintage photographs, or big gold letters spelling out your child's name.

And this website led me to which seems like a great inspiration. It had these cute circus cribs:

If you already have a crib, just paint it! If you want something more elaborate, look at this:
A custom piece in the style of the Barber Circus wagon by

I also came across these picture from Sweet B Folk Art (

I love the tiger under the crib, the drapes, the "concessions" art and vintage elephants!

And check out this room by Pottery Barn:

I love this nursery found on, done by Lisa Samalin of DeersTooth Murals.

Check out this circus/carnival boy's room from Kate Dixon via Design Sponge. I particularly love the way the striped canvas-textured window covering is hung and the use of a soft mint color on the walls to prevent the room from being overtaken by primary colors.

I know there is a distinction between a circus and a carnival, but when it comes to designing a room in a house, they can look deceivingly similar. The tents, stripes, lights, food stands, and sometimes even animals, all appear the same. The one thing that sets the two apart are the rides at carivals and fairs, and the big top filled with assorted acts at a circus. So you can choose to play up one of those distinguishing factors, or let people guess which one you're trying to show.

One big thing to remember is that the circus creates a certain ambiance by being enclosed in the big top. A big top is like its own building, and every main event happens inside. This is unlike a carnival, where the majority of events happen outside. So if you're trying to achieve the look and feeling of a circus, make sure you pay attention to the ceiling and walls.

It doesn't matter too much what colors you choose, as long as you master the staple: bold colors. In fact, there should be a healthy mix of dusty neutrals (like canvas or linen) and bright, bold colors like magenta or red, yellow or orange, baby blue or royal blue, and lime green and pink.
This room with bunk beds doesn't scream "circus," but the colors, oversized letters and stripes sure do.

If you don't want to be quite so bold, try white walls with red and white or blue and white striped window coverings. Even this awning stripe tent canopy from Pottery Barn Kids is simple, yet has that circus feel to it.

And one last thought: as children, I'm sure we were all amazed by the swinging trapeze acts, and while our children might have swings and trapezes in the backyard or on the playground, how fun (and appropriate for a circus bedroom) would it be to add a swing to their bedroom?
Skona Hem via

And for that matter, what about giant stuffed animals, a rocking elephant, or a papier mache giraffe head? Did you know that elephants in the home, with their trunks upward, are supposed to be good luck? (other animals available)


  1. Wow! I will be sure to blog about your site on my next post. =)

  2. The name in the frame with birds is my favorite! I wish I had space in C's room for that!kids wall decals