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Designing bedrooms for children

IMG_6343In my experience, this is how we feel about children and their bedrooms.

“It’s time for bed. Turn the light out – go to sleep!”

“Will you get out of bed? It’s time for school.”

“Have you tidied your room? … this place looks like a bomb’s hit it…”

We’re desperate to get them in there.

We’re desperate to get them out.

And the constant mess means either a lot of pleading, shouting or realization that the job’s best done by you.  Again.

But, can we design our children’s rooms to help our children?  Help them to become responsible for their environment.  To be proud of their surroundings. To respect their belongings.

Oh, believe me, I’m well aware of how I sound.  I sound like a parent of young children.  Not teenagers (I haven’t given up yet, nor am I banned from the premises) and not babies (because I’m optimistic they’ll contribute to the chores).

Whether you are with me, have been there and done it, or have it all to come, here are some thoughts on how to design a child’s bedroom.

Screen shot 2014-05-13 at 14.15.18

As with all rooms, it’s worth pulling a “brief” together.  Do this by answering the following fundamental questions.

  • Who will be using the room? One child or two?
  • How old are they?
  • Do they need a bed, a cot or a sofa bed?

Image above supplied by Dragons of Walton Street

  • What will they do there?
  • Sleep – just at night or during the day too?
  • Nappy changing or getting dressed?
  • Homework or is colouring-in still supervised
  • How much storage do they need? A handful of beautifully displayed teddy bears or a decade’s worth of plastic toys that have been passed down from older siblings, cousins and neighbours?
  • What’s their ‘taste’?  Princess pink or surfer dude?
  • If there’s more than one to accommodate – how do they get on?
  • Do they need separate spaces, fair and equal or are they the types who’ll enjoy battling over a bunk bed?

Knowing the personality of the owner is a fundamental part of any design brief.

Tasteful children’s spaces

The problem is that we have a tendency to ask our children what they like.  Now, I’m all for getting them involved but I also know what will happen if they take full control.

The classic mistakes:

  • Bubblegum pink room only Barbie would be at home in
  • Black room with space theme that requires 17 layers of paint to cover in 6 months time when he hates it
  • A red ceiling that will keep them awake and the 17 layers of paint are doubly painful to apply
  • A boudoir (when you still think she’s your little girl)
  • A gaming area (but no room for homework)

Yes, we should let them learn by their own mistakes, but realise, it’s at your expense.  And while decorating needn’t be expensive, it is time-consuming, and I don’t think you want to spend more than one weekend knee-deep in self-assembly furniture.

Design plan

A bedroom has zones (be it a teenager’s, a baby’s or a bachelor’s bedroom) so ensure your child’s room has the following:

Screen shot 2014-05-13 at 14.26.46Sleeping zone

  • A comfy bed positioned in the room where there will be no disturbances during the night.  Keep charging facilities and flashing lights away from this zone.
  • A bed, bedside table, lamp and possibly a headboard to add a splash of colour, texture and individuality to the room.


Dressing area

  • Changing area for babies.  Design this within an inch of your life. You’ll quickly learn that you only have one hand free to reach wipes, nappies and creams.  They’ll be wriggling soon, turning over next and master escape artists before you know it.
  • A chest of drawers for little people who simply do not get the concept of a hanger.
  • A wardrobe for older kids but keep lots of shelves (for shoving neatly laundered clothes into).

Work/Play area


  • A desk and chair – something that looks cool (or cute – dependent on their age) and will entice them to work there.
  • A bookshelf – again something that is fun and they’re proud of.  I genuinely believe that if we encourage them to keep books on display they’re more likely to read them
  • Storage – the more you give them, the more they’ll collect.  Teach them early about recycling and handing on to others!

Image supplied by Dragons of Walton Street


  • Something overhead for getting dressed and playing
  • Bedside – something very dimmable so they can leave it on if they feel the need
  • Task light – for their desk

One last point about communication

One day (quite soon) they won’t want to be with you as much as they once did.  Don’t encourage this behavior by creating a mini-home for them upstairs/in the garage.  Make sure they eat with you regularly and hang out often – so they can share their day with you and ask for your help – with homework, friend problems, or makeup application.  A kid zone might seem a cool idea but don’t exclude yourself too early!

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