When we first made the transition from a 4 bedroom house to a 2 bedroom flat almost a year ago, the fact that the girls would have to share a room was one of my biggest sources of apprehension. Lucy was only 3 months old at the time, and to parents of newborns, sleep is everything. Lucy slept in our room for the first few months after moving in, and surprisingly, when we finally bit the bullet and moved her in with Penny around the time she turned 6 months old, things actually went a lot smoother than expected. I can share all that we have learned about getting siblings to sleep in the same room at another time if you are dying to know, but that’s not what we are here to talk about today!
Today, we are discussing the fun part, the part I was definitely NOT dreading about moving into our new home- designing a shared kid’s room. Children’s rooms are a blast to decorate, period. They are fun, whimsical, and you can take design risks that you may not be as apt to do in other areas of your home. There are no rules! Except that really… there kind of are. But do not fear, because I am here to share the dos and don’ts of kid’s room design, and I promise they are few and easy to follow.
In Penny and Lucy’s shared bedroom, I wanted to incorporate elements from Penny’s previous woodland fairy tale nursery, Lucy’s Neverland inspired nursery, and decor from their old playroom. I decided that instead of doing a theme this time around, I would just stick with a color palette and an overall feeling of adventure and whimsy.
Here are the guidelines I followed to create a space that was both engaging and imaginative for the girls but also a well designed space that I could happily see everyday:
- Pick a color palette that includes a balance of both saturated colors AND neutrals. This is where I think the biggest mistakes in kid’s rooms are made. Susie loves pink and purple so naturally her entire room should be pink and purple, right? Wrong. If you or your child loves color, then treat it right and let it shine, because a little goes a long way. An overdose of color on the walls and the bedding and the accessories is just going to look like a big jumble of color overload, and none of it will stand out. In this room, I chose to go with white walls and furniture, so that the coral, silvery blue and yellow in the bedding and decor could really stand out. The colors are definitely vibrant, but because they are done in small doses they don’t impede the soft calming feel of the room as a whole. Which leads me to my next tip…
- Create a calm and peaceful vibe. Above all else, this room is for sleeping, and I believe I’ve already mentioned how important sleep is to parents. I chose to keep the girls’ toys elsewhere, with the exception of some stuffed animals and books, so that they wouldn’t be distracted when it came time to rest. I realize not everyone has the option of housing toys in a separate area of the home, but if it is possible to remove distractions, or at least make them less visible with baskets and such, do it. We kept most of our toys in a separate play area and stored the rest in their closet.
Focus instead on bringing in lots of cozy textures with blankets, pillows, curtains, rugs and chairs.
Hang something interesting up high for them to look at while they drift off into dreamland, like the bunting and flower mobile draped from the ceiling in this room.
- Make if fun. When else can you have pillows shaped like foxes and rhinoceros taxidermy and lamps in the form of bunnies, if not when you’re a kid?!
Take your child’s interests into account and go from there. That doesn’t mean that if she’s going through a Frozen phase you should go all out with Frozen bedding and posters and curtains. Just like with favorite colors, do it in small doses so that it is not overwhelming, and also easily changeable when your child’s favorites do inevitably change. That cute Scandinavian inspired blanket at the foot of the bed can be swapped out in a jiff- that giant mural of Elsa’s ice castle that you had commissioned for the wall? Not so much. Penny was going through a Little Mermaid phase herself at the time, and I had fun incorporating some sea inspired artwork (done by Amanda Seifert, who also took these fabulous photographs), an octopus and starfish pillow, and a mermaid doll. All things that can easily be changed later if we should chose to.
- Make it functional. We needed a dresser to store clothes and also to use as a changing table for Lucy. We also needed a place to store our ever growing collection of children’s books, and the popular Ikea Kallax storage shelf was just the ticket, with space for baskets full of board books as well as room for displaying some special knick knacks and treasures.
Ikea picture ledges were placed in a cute reading corner as well, as I am a firm believer that young children are more likely to read books when they can see the beautiful covers. I am also a believer in displaying items when they are both pretty and functional. Double win.
Those things that aren’t so pretty, however, like diaper wipes and rash creme, hide away in a cute basket.
- Make is safe. Bolt any climbable and tippable furniture to the wall, use outlet and cord covers, and be conscious of what you place on the walls above where your child sleeps. We in particular live over a major earthquake fault line, so I made sure to hang only soft lightweight items above the girls’ beds. I talked recently about the string art I made in this post, and the dream catcher was handmade by a local artist.
The P and L initials, which added some personalization to this shared bedroom, were bolted to the wall, and the deer and rhinoceros taxidermy are papier mache and extremely light.
And that’s it! I really loved the way this room turned out, and the girls loved it too. It was such a happy and fun place to be, and because I followed some guidelines when designing it, I didn’t feel compelled to close the door every time I walked by. While certainly more childlike in nature than the rest of the house (as it should be), it was still a balanced and well designed space that emitted a feeling of joy each time we entered.
Since moving a couple of weeks ago, Penny and Lucy are now sharing a new room. It is much smaller (comparable in size to the walk-in closet in our old house), but don’t feel too badly for them. Their bedroom is oozing with charming little details (including a set of french doors that lead out onto a balcony- it’s all very much like Madeline’s quaint Parisian bedroom after she gets adopted would be and much less like Harry Potter’s sad little cupboard under the stairs that you may have initially pictured when I made the closet comparison), and it is so comfy and cozy in there that I find myself wanting to join them for their afternoon naps. I look forward to sharing their new shared space with you very soon!