Tips for designing a practical kids bedroom

Kids bedroom

From making dens to sleepovers (with very little sleep), these are some of my fondest memories growing up. Yet the best thing about having my own space was that it was where I could let my imagination run wild. When it comes to kids’ bedrooms – it’s where the decorating fun really is.

When I’m writing for These Three Rooms and Kitchens Bedrooms & Bathrooms magazine, I love it when a kids bedroom feature lands on my desk. The colours, the patterns, the teepee tents…the cuteness overload that follows is all sorts of happy. Have you seen those beds with slides attached, or bunks shaped like helicopters? I wonder what the age limit on those is…

Okay, back to business. Decorating a space for your kids is just as much fun for you as it will be for the kids when it’s finished and, really, it’s an opportunity to introduce some bright colours, fun prints and den-worthy accessories into your bedroom.

Don’t forget (Miss Sensible coming here), the design has to be safe and practical, too. Before you go all-out for rainbows or a cool space theme, here’s what to remember…

Go for sensible storage
For kids, bedrooms are not just for sleeping in, they’re also a place to (let’s be honest) make a whole lot of mess in. As well as being a play area, it will soon develop into a workspace too – especially once they hit the teenage years. So, the first step is to create a storage checklist. This will help you make informed decisions on what to keep and discard. Bear in mind, you should think about choosing a material that’s durable as well as stylish, such as a solid wooden box that not only adds a new design element but gives you the option to keep toys hidden away. Remember to keep it varied with either fabric baskets and lightweight open-top designs, for example. They are good options when placed on the floor or lower shelves as they offer easy access, and more importantly, encourage your child to tidy away after they play.
Bedroom storage Grey storage baskets in bedroom

Add textures with rope storage baskets. Available from Great Little Trading Company, they are priced at £24 each.

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Lighting is key
While getting your kids to sleep is a challenge all in its self, keeping them asleep all through the night often proves to be even harder. However, it could be made better by simply updating your window dressings. Firstly, you need to make sure that their room is dark enough. This is especially important for early nights and light summer evenings, when even for adults it’s hard to hit the hay. Go for black out blinds and cordless designs which are safest for kids bedrooms, but as they grow you can opt for a corded design. I remember I always had to keep my door ever so slightly open when I was younger, just enough that I had some light coming through. A nightlight is very reassuring during the night and to light the way should they need to get up at any time. As they get older and homework starts to pile up you’ll want to think about placing directional task lighting and table lamps to create ambience when they’re hanging out with friends or socialising.
Be smart about decorations
If you were to ask your little one what they want, chances are their answer would change on the weekly – and why not? After all, there’s so much out there that can attract their attention. However, when it comes to their room, it’s best to incorporate the latest things your little one loves in a way that can be easily changed. Yes, an all-pink princess dreamland might be well received now, but think about how quick your kids change and look to the future. They might not like the same thing in a few years, or even a few months, and having to redecorate the entire room will bring plenty of upheaval – so opt for more neutral, but still warm, shades on the hard-to-change items and add the princess (or dinosaur, or football, or underwater, …) theme through accessories. This way, you can easily swap them when interests change, but your little one will still be happy.
Night light

Add personality with this Cloud Silhouette battery night light, £12.99, available from Lights 4 Fun.

Think about layout
As with any room, to get the layout right, it takes careful planning. It all starts with a good design, which offers everything you need for your kids bedroom to be able to work, rest and play. For a bit of fun, look out for multi-functional beds that incorporate storage and more importantly, space for a den underneath. A cabin bed with drawers and cupboards either side, or perhaps a mid-sleeper with a desk below, is great for adding personality into the bedroom, as well as making it a multi-functional space. I used to share a bunk bed with my sister, and while they are great for maximising floor space, I mainly used it for getting up to mischief by climbing onto the frame, pretending to be bats (this is not recommended). So, if your bedroom is compact, the added room will give your little ones the option for sleepovers with friends too. Some bunks can also be split into two single beds, which is ideal as children get older.
Don’t be afraid of colour
I know, I said to choose neutral colours for the wall and big-ticket items earlier, but that doesn’t mean you have to hold back elsewhere. This is your child’s space and easily one of the most fun rooms to decorate, and as such a healthy dose of brightness won’t go amiss. Pink and blue are, of course, the classics, but why not stray away from what’s been done thousands of times and go for shades of yellow, green, orange… whatever strikes you and your kid’s fancy, really. Paint the door, too – it can easily be changed when tastes change, but is sure to add a fun accent. If you’re happy to do some more painting, you could also choose furniture that can be repainted, so you can update it as and when you need.
Kids bedroom

Pastel shaded furniture adds personality into this space. The Nidi Bedroom, priced at £800, and available from Go Modern.

Safety first
This is a slightly more boring point, but also serious enough to mention. Children get themselves in all sorts of pickles – some bigger, some smaller – thanks to their heaps of curiosity. This extends to their bedroom, of course, which means it’s paramount that you ensure everything is as safe as possible. Don’t choose blinds with cords, as these pose a strangulation risk; instead, choose a cordless system or curtains, which will be much safer. Make sure furniture is sturdy and, where needed, anchored to the wall so it’ll withstand even the wildest adventures, and if you choose a bed with slats – such as one designed to look like a little house – make sure your child’s head will not fit through the gaps. There are also the supposedly small things, such as dresser knobs (don’t pick some that are too small, because they might be swallowed), and toy placement (don’t put stuff on high shelves – we all know how creative kids can get when it comes to scaling furniture…) which can make a big difference.
Involve your child
This one is short but sweet: unless they’re really little, don’t spring the change on your kids – let them be involved in the design process, instead. That doesn’t mean they’ll have to choose everything, or that you’re not allowed to say no, but especially more sensitive children might not take too well to such sudden, big changes. Let them pick colours or decorations, for example, or even just ask them what they really like right now. This way, it’ll be plenty of fun for the both of you and everyone will be happy with the result.

Right, all this talk of beds, is making me sleepy – I’m signing off for a power nap.

Featured image: Add fun into your scheme with a quirky bed. This Kids house bed, is priced at £545, and available from Cuckooland.

Post updated on: 20/08/20

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