Designing Children’s Bedrooms – Part 1 The General Rules

Posted by Phoebe Oldrey in Family Home, Interior Design Advice

As well as being an Interior Designer, I am a mother! Even more intense, I’m a mother of two crazy full-on boys with two very different characters; they’re now 9 and 12. So not only do I design children’s bedrooms for my clients and can look at them with a professional approach, I know what a child’s bedroom goes through. I know that the beautiful pictures last a moment before their stuff explodes all over the room.  That is how it should be!!!

Designing the right room for your child at each stage of their life is great fun but it can also be daunting as they change so quickly. To cover all the tips, I have split this blog post into two parts. In the first part I will cover some of the broad brush strokes that work for all kids at any age! In the second post Designing Children’s Bedrooms – Part 2 How to design for the different stages of Childhood, I talk about the different milestones in a child’s life and how we can design rooms that meet their needs at each stage.

There are a few key elements that work for any kid’s bedroom which I always use when designing a room and I’ll get them out of the way now!

This beautiful calm nursery was designed by Katy at Apartment Apothecary for her new baby.

General Rules

A child’s bedroom has to have a balance between being a place full of security, so they feel safe there, a place to have their treasures and somewhere they can express their creativity.

When starting to design your child’s bedroom, start by understanding them. No point designing a bedroom that looks great in a magazine and has all the furnishings YOU love. If it doesn’t represent who they are, they won’t spend time in it and will fill the rest of your house with their stuff as they escape to play somewhere they feel more comfortable. We would hate it if someone marched into our home and painted it just the way they think it should be. Now we are talking kids here, so they aren’t always the best at expressing their design tastes and I know that they don’t see the price or longevity of things but do take into account WHO they are. You are their parent and you do know them best. If they aren’t into skate boarding, then don’t fix their room up as if you have designed it for Tony Hawk Jr.

Design ahead! I look to have a room design last for 5-7 years between revamps. With the idea that the kids love it for 4 and can make a mini change to cover you between 4-7 years with what is there to bridge the gap to the next big milestone. To do this I have the rule that if it’s glued and screwed and a long-term item, I keep it either neutral or a little bit grown up. You want to keep the cost down of replacing things so curtains, furniture and beds need to work for as long as possible. I also often go second hand – better a great quality second hand item than a cheap disposable one.

A classic child’s bedroom in this holiday get away, designed by Smartstyle Interiors for all ages. Amazing accessories put together by Sarah Akwisombe for her daughter. This space expresses Marley’s personality perfectly for her age! 

Stay away from “stimulating” colours. Red is a colour to get the blood racing, so it is an awful idea for a room you wish your little one to settle down in. Greens and blues have calming effects; the colours of tranquillity.

TV and Movie themes – You know they all fall in love with their TV heroes, but that love can be quite fleeting. So don’t make the commitment to the “Bob the Builder” duvet set. It may be cool today but I can guarantee that next year it will be social-suicide as Power Rangers are now their thing. If you want to represent that love in their room, do it with stuff that is easy to change like framed images of “My Little Pony” or a throw cushion. So when it’s out it can easily go and be replaced.

Bedroom designs in calm duck egg blue by Smartstyle Interiors for our Sevenoaks clients’ daughters.

Safety is such a key, so you can feel confident leaving them to enjoy this space on their own. The regulations on blinds (I spoke about them in detail in this post about Building Regulations ) and curtains changed a number of years ago after some tragic strangulation incidents. Make sure blind cords have breakaway chains and are clipped to the wall and that curtains have any cords clipped to the wall, though I would stay away from corded curtains in a child’s bedroom altogether. Place cots away from cords and curtain treatments.

Always buy a mattress they are comfortable on. Think of it as an investment in your own night’s sleep. Children’s spines are developing so they need their little bodies properly supported so they don’t have posture issues. So, don’t just grab the cheapest thing you can and if they are old enough to participate in the shopping trip take them to lie on the mattress. They will quickly tell you if they are comfortable or not.

Though I have given you many practical points in this piece, I hope it has provided a framework into which you can throw the decoration together. Designing children’s rooms is a joyful thing to do and it is normally the place everyone lets themselves run free. Go on, love it and then they will!

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