With two sons, I’ve had the great fortune of designing two boy nurseries and even transitioning one of those into a “big boy” room.

Creating a beautiful, functional space for a boy is easy if you focus on the basics and forget the rest. Here are nine simple design tips that will help you create a great space for the boy in your life.

1. Map out your room plan.

I have found that making a plan helps me create a better room. I put together a list of items I have and need, a color palette, and a general idea of what I want in the room, up front.

I even put those items together in a Pinterest board before starting a project. A complete room that looks truly finished is much more likely if you plan out your room before starting.

2. Create one statement decorative piece.

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Go simple on everything else. I have put together one design statement in each of my boy’s bedrooms.

My son’s paper lantern cluster is a statement and makes his room look so unique. My baby’s book nook corner is my favorite spot in his room. Everything else, including art, is simple. I spend the majority of my creative energy on only one thing.

3. Use photo ledges for changeable art.

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We use photo ledges to create gallery walls in our home often. I love them because you can change out art easily and hanging ledges is much easier than attempting to hang multiple frames in a nice pattern.

Free printables from Hellobee, books, small toys, photos of your child, and other items can make the picture ledge gallery wall unique and affordable.

4. Stick with simple bedding.

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Instead of splurging on fancy duvet covers, I’m a fan of simple quilts and soft comfortable sheets. I add color with throw pillows and other decor.

Simple bedding is easy to wash, easy to make the bed, and is affordable to replace if a child destroys it.

5. Stick with a simple color palette.

While putting a variety of colors into a room can be fun, it will look much more put together and cohesive if you pick a color palette and stick with it.

For my older son we used grey paint, white furniture and trim, and then stuck with lime green and aqua for the main accent colors. For my baby we did aqua walls, but stuck with greys, whites, and some yellow for the accent colors.

The possibilities are endless. There are no rules around which colors you choose, but be sure you decide on your colors before you purchase anything.

6. Pick a theme and use it lightly.

I’m not a fan of a room with a very obvious theme that’s overdone, like sports, a particular character, or animal. But I do love a subtle theme.

We used a travel theme when transitioning my older son to his big boy room. You may not even catch it if I didn’t tell you. I put some airplane garland in his paper lantern cluster, put a map on his gallery wall, and added a few city prints throughout the room.

A subtle theme is helpful in keeping the room consistent and fun.

7. When in doubt, choose white.

I know that dark wood tones are often used in boys’ rooms, but white can be a great choice for boys’ rooms just as it is for girls’ rooms.

Bright, airy rooms are healthy for children and help keep the room feeling light and clean. White furniture and even bedding can be a great base. Color and texture can be layered in easily and you can change your room’s look without replacing the key expensive pieces if you or your child gets tired of it.

8. Decorate with books.

Both of my boys have IKEA Ribba picture ledges in their rooms and we put their favorite books on them. These serve as decor in both boys’ rooms and it allows them to choose which books get a prime spot. This also makes it easy to find a book that we love at bedtime. Handmade Charlotte has some more creative ideas for book displays.

9. Keep it clutter-free.

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If you can, I highly recommend leaving toys out of bedrooms. Bedrooms are best kept for sleep, rest, and relaxation. Keeping a child’s room clean is much easier when there is less stuff in the room.

If it’s not possible to put toys in a playroom, for example, be sure to only place favorite toys in the room and have baskets and shelves for all items. Children can put things back if they know where they go. I love using baskets from The Land of Nod for quick cleanup in nearly every room in our home.

Jessica Flannigan is a Minneapolis-based freelance writer, blogger, event stylist, photographer, wife and mother of two wildly active boys, Bodhi (4 years) and Ezra (13 months). Jessica is a home design and do-it-yourself lover. She shares her latest home improvement and event planning projects on her blog, Live the Fancy Life, and fashion finds on her boy fashion site, Oh Boy Style.