I wrote a piece for Trouva on how to design a kid’s bedroom
Designing and decorating a kid’s bedroom is a process that inevitably draws out the inner child in us: an opportunity to create the bedroom we would have liked for ourselves had we been in charge all those years ago. However, embarking on this journey – a potential melting pot of stripes, sparkles, neons and pastels – requires exercising a modicum of restraint to avoid having to swallow an unpleasant-tasting dose of, ‘I told you so,’ later on down the line.
Many beautiful qualities abundant in children – imagination, creativity, expression – can be usefully harnessed when decorating a kid’s room, but the whimsicality we so admire in them can often be a false friend: just because they wanted a Minions themed bedroom yesterday, doesn’t mean they’ll want one in two years’ time. Be open to ideas and suggestions, but if you’re designing a bedroom to last, keep one eye focused on the future.
A child’s bedroom needs to serve multiple purposes – playroom, study and sanctuary – but its most important role is to provide your child with a place of comfort and safety to lay their weary heads at the end of a busy day. Whatever your budget or space constraints, below you’ll find 10 tips to help you design and decorate an enduring space for your child to flourish in.
L: A neutral wall colour can be lifted with accessories such as bunting | R: Choose gentle patterns that won’t date too quickly
For a scheme with staying power pick a neutral colour for the walls that will serve as a blank canvas for transient decorative objects, and the rapidly changing tastes of the room’s occupant. If you want to introduce colour and pattern perhaps limit yourself to just one wall or the ceiling; and if you can’t resist a bit of wallpaper, make sure the motif is gentle enough so as not to dominate the entire space.
L: Hus & Hem, Tellkiddo Bear Paper Storage Sack, £16.95 | R: Quirky shelving and funky toy boxes
The key to any well organised bedroom is good storage, but in the context of a child’s room it is of paramount importance. Where once the only destination for storage containers was the nearest Argos, now we’re spoilt for choice with online access to a veritable Aladdin’s cave of pompoms, raffia and woven seagrass. Whatever type of storage you plump for, it should embody the perfect triumvirate of form, function, and most importantly: fun.
Customize a vintage cupboard (L) or cast iron bed (R) in daring colours
Designing within a limited budget requires patience and a discerning eye for a bargain. Persistence in hunting down the perfect feature piece – be it an antique wardrobe, a storage chest or an unusual bed frame – finds its reward in singularity. Alternatively, if you don’t have the time or financial resources, try modernising an existing item by painting it in eye-catching, jewel-like colours.
L: Get creative juices flowing by asking kids to help curate their wall art | R: Truce, Tom Pigeon Play Geometric Letterpress A3 Print, £45.00
Art is a great way to bring visual interest to a bedroom, and can be a useful tool when it comes to dictating a colour scheme: pops of colour can be mirrored in bed linen and soft furnishings, helping to unify the space in a subtle and harmonious way. Graphic or modernist prints can lend a more sophisticated tone to spaces inhabited by older kids.
L: Wall stickers can dress up a plain wall | R: Chalkboard paint help make homework fun
If you’re keeping your walls simple, bunting, vinyl stickers and wall hangings can dress up a plain backdrop and be easily removed as your child’s interests evolve. If you want a feature that will inspire creativity and the inclination to enjoy homework from toddlerdom to teenagehood, think about installing a strip of chalkboard, or daubing some chalkboard paint across part of a wall.
L: A reading light for focus, and a chain of fairy lights for fun | R: Printer And Tailor, Scotty Dog Lamp, £85.00
Layers of light
The importance of lighting should never be underestimated when decorating a kid’s bedroom: fairy lights help to create a cosy ambience, spots create warmth, task lighting above or beside beds helps to encourage reading and lampshades on ceiling lights bring focus to a room. Falling asleep under the gentle glow of fairy lights, or a friendly canine face, gives some much needed reassurance and comfort to those of us still a little afraid of the dark.
L: Hanging chairs are fun and great for chilling out in | R: Mini tepees provide the perfect setting for hours of reading
Hang out areas
Kids bedrooms aren’t just for sleeping in, they also function as a space for quiet contemplation (after a telling off), for study, and for play. As such, it’s a good idea to define these different spaces: make reading more fun by introducing bean bags or hanging chairs, encourage study and crafts with a desk, or install a mini tepee for some cosy play time.
L: A striking canopy creates a cosy corner | R: Give their feet a soft treat with this fluffy sheepskin rug
Rugs, curtains, cushions and bed linen all provide opportunities to introduce pattern, colour and texture to your kid’s bedroom in a relatively inexpensive way. A canopy draped around the head of the bed provides an abundance of slumberous security when a trip to the Land of Nod beckons. Bed linen of contrasting colour and pattern heralds an element of fun, and an oh-so-soft sheepskin rug provides some warmth and texture for little feet.
L: A chest of drawers that doubles as a baby changing station | R: Beds with handy pull-out storage
Maintaining a ‘buy-one-get-one-free’ attitude when designing a kid’s room is a sensible thing to do. A chest of drawers can double as a baby changing station, and revert back to its original purpose once nappies are a thing of the past. If you don’t want your child’s room overrun with toys and general clutter, beds with pull out storage drawers are a no-brainer.
L: Pom moms and fairy lights make for a magical ceiling | R: Ottie And The Bea, Flensted Automobile Click-A-Mobile, £18.50
Ceilings are woefully undervalued areas of bedroom real estate. Often left bare save a light fixture or two, a ceiling offers a chance to make a bold move where mistakes won’t matter quite as much as those made on the floor or walls. Release your inner artist, channelling Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel with a ceiling mural, or Alexander Calder via a serenely floating mobile whose gentle motion will softly lull your little ones to sleep.