Designing Rooms for Children

Creating a kid’s bedroom that both you and your child will love



Garnet Hill offers bright bedding that come in patterns, everything from horses and cupcakes to superhero masks and spaceships.
Photo courtesy of garnet hill

Good-bye pastel-hued baby rooms, delicate flowered wallpaper and Grandma’s rocking chair: hello bright colors, bold stripes and comfy chairs.

Stylish design has crept into the bedrooms of the infant and toddler set, offering more options than ever before for a fun, functional space. With all the inspiration available — online, in stores, through designers — pulling together a space you and your child will love is like child’s play.

“When people get their baby furniture, they’re often already thinking about what they want to change,” says Amy Parker of Parker House Designs in Alton. The solution: design a room that can change along with your child’s tastes.

Unsure of where to start? Here are a few ideas that range from how to use bold colors that will grow with your child to a few design tricks such as removable decals and wallpaper.

Bold Colors Rule

Page through a children’s furniture catalog or browse Pinterest and one trend is evident: bold, bright colors rule, particularly those that can be combined with neutrals for different looks. The key is choosing a color that has longevity.

“Pick a color that’s universal and can travel through a child’s younger years until they’re teens,” says Anne Cowenhoven of Accent & Design in York, Maine.  “Colors like bright yellow, crisp mid-tone greens and blues give you flexibility. I think pink and purple are good accent colors; they can be used to complement another strong color like green.”

Another trend: patterns like stripes and chevrons in hot yellow, bright pinks, purples and turquoise.

Forget pastels. Use bedding, like this set from Garnet Hill, and pieces of furniture for pops of color.
Photo courtesy of garnet hill

Adding color or patterns is as easy as painting or wallpapering one bedroom wall (or even the ceiling). There are also temporary options — self-adhesive wallpapers that can be removed (check out selections at tempaperdesigns.com) or even wall decals that can be peeled off after your daughter has lost interest in her princess-themed room. For budding artists, a wall painted in chalkboard paint provides a surface on which your child can express himself without causing parental angst. The wall can easily be repainted later.

Accessorize

If the thought of a bright turquoise or purple wall is overpowering, introduce color through accessories. Rugs, pillows, bedding and window treatments add color to a white or neutral room.

Franconia-based retailer Garnet Hill (garnethill.com) sells bedding, pillows, rugs and decorative accessories, inspired by Scandinavian designs.

“We try to design pieces influenced by children’s imagination,” says Wendy Thayer, public relations manager for Garnet Hill. Bedding with crowns, superhero masks, cupcakes and puppy dogs, as well as colorful striped area rugs, pillows and canvas storage containers, add whimsy and “pop” to a children’s room.

Pick bedding that’s washable and can withstand daily wear and tear; Garnet Hill claims their linens are so well-made they can “be passed along to a sibling,” according to Thayer.

Window treatments, custom-designed or purchased online through retailers like Smith+Noble (smithandnoble.com), add fashion and function. “If you choose a striped fabric for drapes, they may have a longer use. Then you can change the bedding,” Cowenhoven suggests.

Furniture and Storage

Under-bed drawers are a great way to add extra space.
courtesy photo

Good furniture — especially a bed — may be your best investment. “You can purchase a bed that converts from a crib to a toddler bed to a twin bed or invest in a bed with built-in storage,” says Parker. “It just makes sense.”

Options include a traditional twin or queen bed, bunk beds, a platform bed with storage drawers underneath or a loft bed, custom-built or available as an all-in-one unit with bookshelves, a desk and space underneath for relaxing or to add another twin bed. One catch with a loft bed: once your child gets tired of clambering up and down a ladder to reach their sleeping area, you may be shopping for a new bed.

As any parent knows, storage is key to controlling the towering amount of “stuff” kids collect. Canvas storage bins and bookshelves help contain young children’s toys, blocks and stray stuffed animals. Desks and bedside tables (especially with drawers and shelves) are useful for older children. For parents concerned about technology use in their child’s bedroom, Cowenhoven recommends placing a desk outside the bedroom, even in a hallway if space allows.

What’s Old is New

Sometimes the best decorative accessories are items you already own. “Think about how to use pieces that you own differently,” says Parker. 

Freshen up old dressers and beds with a new coat of paint or new hardware. Add a trundle bed under an existing bed for additional sleep-over space. A low bureau can be transformed into a changing table by adding padding on top and placing baby necessities in the top drawers. “Often you can shop in your own home for something that has more charm than what you can find in stores,” Parker says. “And it makes the room unique.”

With a little creativity — and perhaps a few coats of paint — your child’s room can become a space to enjoy for years to come.

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