Kids rooms: how to create the ultimate multi-functional space

As part of my renovation project I decided to join two small box rooms together to create the ultimate kids room for my two boys. It would be a space, not only for sleeping but also for learning, playing and growing – not to mention storing a mountain of toys and books.

So, as you can imagine with such a long wish list, this wasn’t an easy feat but with so much inspiration and clever tips out there, I achieved even more than I hoped for (keep a look out for my renovation blog for more…)

Children change so quickly and outgrow what they might have liked years before so it’s important to find a style that can evolve with your child. A place where your little ones can express themselves and enjoy spending time. Striking the right balance between fun and function, and providing a place for them to enjoy downtime, read and learn, develop new skills, and sleep, will not only benefit your child but also means the scheme will last longer, work harder and help you avoid costly mistakes.

Laurie Davidson has shared the very best in kids rooms, with some top tips too…

Ideas for kids rooms

Regardless of your kid’s age, getting a good night’s rest is crucial for their wellbeing and growth, which is why it’s so important to get the sleep space right first. But what is the formula for a sleep-enhancing bedroom?

There are a few factors to consider. Light, for example, is key when your child wants to play or get dressed, but at night you’ll need to limit illumination so as not to disturb their sleep. Blackout blinds will help, while a nightlight for smaller children will add comfort and ensure they don’t trip over any toys if they do get up.

kids rooms
Lighting goes a long way to setting the bedtime mood. These Balloon designs from Christopher Wray, from £225, are made from translucent satin polyethylene, hiding a low-energy fluorescent lamp. Choose from either a ceiling or wall light.

On the subject of toys, having them so close to hand can make it tempting for a child to get out of bed and play – which is why zoning the areas within the room, with storage for toys and a clear space for sleep, can help them focus on what they need to do right now.

“Decorating children’s bedrooms can be a lot of fun, but knowing that the space will be used to sleep and play means that balance is key,” says Benjamin Moore at Benjamin Moore Paints. “It’s important to create a scheme that feels inspiring and exciting with plenty of colour – however, it also needs to be somewhere that is relaxing when it comes to bedtime.”

Compact rooms will benefit from custom-made bunks, such as these. Ask the kids to choose their own paint to personalise their space. Blue Danube and Windmill Wings Regal paint, £24 for 0.94 litres, Benjamin Moore.

Then of course there’s the bed. As soon as your little one is old enough to have their own proper bed, you can start to think about what design to choose. Picking a frame that’s unique or fun will make children more inclined to want to snuggle up in it at night. If you’re short on space, then a high-sleeper design is ideal as you can add a desk or toy storage underneath.

kids rooms
Making a game of getting into bed is an easy way to encourage little ones to sleep. This is the Christopher midsleeper treehouse with underbed, £549, Nöa & Nani.

Kids rooms with play areas

The more imaginative and colourful your child’s bedroom, the better to spark their imaginations.

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“Think of it as a place of freedom, expression, and lots of activity – and it will be used frequently during the colder months, when outdoor play opportunities are limited,” says Medina King, creative director at MK Kids Interiors.

“Children love climbing, sliding, hiding, bouncing, building, art, and making a mess, so the bedroom should be zoned with these activities in mind. Oh, and colour is a must – I always prefer to go wilder in this space.”

Create a den to spark your child’s imagination, with a fabric teepee like this one, £110, by LittleMe Teepee from Not On the High Street – ideal for hosting a tea party, playing camp, and allowing their creative side to run free.

Storage for toys

Toy storage is absolutely key secret to a successful scheme. Dual-purpose pieces, such as trunks that double up as a seat, are always handy. “Keeping the room orderly can be a challenge, but the right storage can help,” says Peter Erlandsson, co-founder at String Furniture. “As adults, we’d fit shelving at our own height, but installing it so your child can easily reach items is much more effective.”

kids rooms
Storage doesn’t have to be boring. Here a trolley and easel are painted in Antibes chalk paint, £5.95 for 120ml, Annie Sloan. The Chalk Paint wall mural is by Lucy Tiffney.

Also consider flooring. Hard surfaces are easy to clean and can be softened with a colourful rug.“If your little one’s bedroom doubles as a playroom, consider carpet tiles,” says Anna Del-Molino, buyer at Carpetright. “They don’t need to be fixed down and can be replaced individually should an area become stained or damaged.”

If your child is likely to be colouring, painting, or bringing muddy football boots into their bedroom, hard flooring is ideal as it’s easy to clean. Amtico‘ Spacia Noble Oak, from £39.99 per sq m, is dark enough that marks are unlikely to show, too.

Kids rooms with space to learn

Creating an environment that helps your child develop is achievable whatever their age. From babies in their cots, where bright colours can stimulate their senses, all the way up to teenagers, where you can offer them a creative space to read, enjoy hobbies, and revise for school.

kids rooms
Certain colours are known to affect a child’s learning development – green for example, is calming and scientists have found it may also improve learning and productivity. This room has been painted in Spring Bud and Khaki Twist matt emulsion, both £14 for 2.5 litres, Crown Paints.

Starting with the décor, why not use a wall mural to help teach your child? “There’s a range of options created with a blend of wow-worthy design and educational content for kids in mind,” says Anna Fell at Murals Wallpaper. “You can enjoy the stylish look of your child’s room while also knowing that your little one will gain new knowledge, and be encouraged by their home environment to keep their mind active through learning and memorising.”

Use a mural to help your little one learn – whether it’s a world map, alphabet dinosaurs to teach them their (often tricky) names, or even the periodic table of elements for budding scientists, these ideas are guaranteed to make learning fun. Intrepid wall mural, £27 per sq m, Murals Wallpaper.

When it comes to the practical considerations, remember that your child’s tastes are likely to change as they get older, as will their needs.

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However, a dedicated workspace is worth investing in at any age. Put a corner or alcove to good use and add in a low table and tiny chairs for toddlers – somewhere they can learn to read or do a jigsaw – while a desk for older children will allow them to study.

Add shelves or storage as a place to store homework and books. If you’re short on space, there is a good selection of flip-down or ladder desks available – try Made, Ikea, or Habitat.

kids rooms
An all-in-one cabin bed, complete with desk, drawers, and storage, is a great way of incorporating a work station in a smaller space – plus the desk can be tucked neatly underneath when not in use. Oliver sleep station, £429, Nöa & Nani.

As well as the desk, a cosy reading nook can be helpful, whether it’s part of a small child’s development or a teen’s chill-out zone. Beanbags, soft seating, or a small sofa provide a place to enjoy time out. Go for a wipeable fabric.

Kids rooms that will help them grow

With children growing at a rate of knots, it can be tricky to create a room that’s set to stand the test of time – but there are ways in which you can increase its longevity.

When you’re thinking about décor, it’s worth considering the future, as planning a playroom for a toddler is obviously going to be very different to a cool pad for a teenager.

Use wall stickers as an easy way to add pattern or colour without lots of effort. These Sprinkles wall stickers, £7 from StickeredDeco at Etsy, look sophisticated and are kid friendly, too.

Furniture that grows along with your child will mean that you won’t need to update it so quickly, whether that’s an expanding bed or a table with legs that can be raised.

If you don’t want to be peeling off wallpaper, paint or stickers can be an easier option. “In order to avoid a look ageing quickly as your child grows up, ensure you consider a scheme that offers longevity and can be easily updated with new accessories or furniture,” says Benjamin Moore.

“It doesn’t mean you have to avoid a bold or bright colour. Consider blocking shades to create different zones in the room while also adding a fun pattern to the walls.”

An extendable bed, such as the Busunge, £129 from Ikea, pulls out and lengthens as your child grows – ingenious.
kids rooms
A wall of built-in cabinetry, as in this room by Pascoe Interiors, means you won’t have to replace dated-looking wardrobes in a few years’ time. Simply update the colour blocks as your child grows.

Need to cater for more than one child and different ages? Rather than a room of two halves, keep the colour palette consistent but let each child personalise their half of the space with individual prints in frames, rugs under the bed, and matching shelving where each of them can display their treasures – at heights to suit them, of course.

Modular shelving allows you to create a solution that is unique to your child and their needs. Prices for String Furniture’s system start from £72 at Utility Design, and it is available in different shades should you want to add an accent of colour.

Featured image: This Lego-inspired playroom from MK Interiors features dinky-sized furniture kids can climb on, along with a slide and low-level storage. There’s plenty of out-of-reach cupboards for those items you don’t want them to access, too.

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