One year it’s butterflies; the next it’s ballet. And somewhere along the way, there’s a dinosaur fad. Kids’ constantly changing interests can make it challenging to decorate a bedroom they’ll like for years to come, but that doesn’t mean their new rooms have to be boring blank canvases. As founder of Little Crown Interiors, in Irvine, California, Naomi Alon specializes in interior design for children’s spaces; she shares her tips for designing kids’ bedrooms that can grow up with them.
Stage 1: Build Out the Basics
Start by getting the room’s essential elements in place.
Alon says key furniture pieces such as a bed and dresser should last into adulthood (which probably disqualifies the race-car bed). “Choose pieces that are versatile — more or less neutral in design, not themed furniture,” she says. “Things you can use until they go to college.” Just be sure that kids can easily open lower drawers; those will be the main storage for clothes until closet rods can be reached.
Bedding, though, can be replaced periodically as kids’ tastes mature, so feel free to say yes to that robot blanket. Invest in multiple sets of inexpensive sheets rather than a single set of high-end ones; you’ll thank yourself when you peel back the blanket to find a stash of Cheerios!
And don’t forget to buy window treatments early on: Children, especially younger ones, can be sensitive to light and may require thicker blackout shades to sleep well.
Finally, let your kiddos pick the very first piece of décor: their own special night-light. One child may like a cartoon character and another may prefer a light that displays constellations on the ceiling — either way, when kids get to choose, they feel more comfortable in their new space.
Stage 2: Add Embellishments
Layer in a little something extra.
Where there are kids’ bedrooms, there are toys. Give them a nice home — even if they don’t often end up there. Bins, baskets and boxes are useful, especially those that can be hidden under a bed. But as with bedroom furniture, Alon says, consider storage solutions that last through the ages. “If you buy a nice bookcase,” she says, “you can buy bins that will fit on the shelf.” When the kids outgrow their blocks and balls, simply remove the bins and use the shelves to store comics, collectibles, novels and trophies.
Another idea: Storage ottomans can hold plenty of toys for now, and then take on other uses (such as a hiding spot for a diary!) later in a child’s life.
Also consider adding a sturdy, timeless desk sooner rather than later. Eventually, kids will need a spacious surface for homework, but even toddlers can use a desk as a craft table, a block-tower construction zone or a secret fort.
Stage 3: Give It the Wow Factor
Load the kids’ rooms with items that take it to the next level.
Add color and cuteness, starting with a rug — ideally a patterned one that can conceal a juice spill. “The sooner you get the right rug, you can easily find other things to match,” Alon says. Rugs add nonpermanent color and texture to an otherwise neutral room and invite kids to play on the floor — a win-win!
Next, purchase a lamp or two for young readers (or for kids who sleep better with a little light). If there’s room for seating, select a comfy oversized chair that you like, too — it’ll become your home for story time. Then, add themed pillows to the bed or chair; if that’s not enough, try a throw blanket. “You can fold it up and put it away if they’re sick of it,” Alon says. “Or if you’re sick of it!”
Now, cue the butterflies — or whatever the theme of the moment is — by incorporating framed artwork and décor, such as wall decals. “They’re inexpensive, removable and they can be rearranged,” Alon says. Kid-friendly calendars and maps do double duty: Sure, they’re educational, but they also provide pops of color and graphic elements, adding further layers into the room’s design.