Design Lesson

8 rules for designing a kid's room

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Design Lesson

8 rules for designing a kid's room

Kids' rooms have changed since we were growing up. How much? Well, the immensely trend-focused Interior Design Show featured a special children's decor area for the first time in 2007, for starters. Add to that a boom in upscale children's houseware boutiques and newsstands full of magazines dedicated to savvy urban parents, and you've got a home decor revolution in the making. But as any parent of a child older than age three will tell you, it's one thing to design a stylish nursery (you're “the client” after all), but another thing altogether to create a kid- and mom-pleasing “big kid” room.

Here are 8 rules to help your family make the leap to a big-kid bedroom with flair.

1 Let her pick the palette
It's her room after all. Letting your kid select the wall colours is a great way to empower her design sense. Besides, even the nuttiest of preschooler (or punky pre-teen) picks can simply be painted over if you put your house on the market, or her tastes change.
  • HOT TREND: Loft-tastic hues like lime green, tomato red, and vibrant aqua, or, at the opposite extreme, nature-inspired neutrals and chalky pastels.

2 Avoid the theme park look
Steer clear of branded TV show or movie characters. Sure, your kids like Disney movies, but must their room be decorated like Disneyland? Toys, books, DVDs, clothes even – but draw the line at decor unless you want them to confuse corporate advertising with decorating.
  • HOT TREND: Reproduced illustrations from children's literature, or fun, boldly graphic wall-art decals prove kids rooms can be fun minus the branding.

3 Go natural
Create a safe nest for your little one by using eco-friendly materials where possible. It's better for the planet he'll inherit, as well as his health. Low-VOC (volatile organic compound) latex paint, solid wood furniture (as opposed to chemical off-gassing fibreboard and plywood) and linen or cotton window treatments (instead of vinyl shades) are all wise choices.
  • HOT TREND: Extend the natural home trend with organic cotton towels, bedding and natural cleaning products.

4 Stay healthy from the floor up
Promote a healthy room environment with hard-surface flooring. (Carpets trap allergens like dust, mould spores and pet dander, and off-gas when they're new.)
  • HOT TREND: Eco-friendly reclaimed wood flooring is super-hot (look for antique planks from places like, and will always be classic. Other attractive, lung- and earth-friendly options include bamboo, cork and linoleum (made from linseed oil). Soften things up with a washable cotton rug.


5 Buy some investment pieces
Well-constructed, high-quality pieces will stand the test of time, providing more design bang for your buck and avoiding a cheapie, assembly line look. Look for adaptability like a toddler bed that converts into a twin, or versatile styling that could work in other rooms of the house, to maximize each piece's design life.
  • HOT TREND: Clean, modern designs, like Nurseryworks dressers. These sleek, high-end pieces look fresh in kids' rooms, but would be equally chic as uber-modern dining room buffet units.

6 Throw in some cheap ‘n' cheerful accessories
Use inexpensive throws, pillows, wall art, stuffed toys, area rugs, novelty clothes hooks, lamps, and the like to add hits of colour and pattern to the room. As with paint, accessories are another area where your mini decorista's tastes should reign supreme.
  • HOT TREND: Avoiding that cookie cutter look. Hit stores like Winners and HomeSense for inexpensive and on-trend pieces that aren't sold by the bushel-load.

7 Address work needs
While the preschool-to-kindergarten set won't be carting in loads of homework just yet, it's good to provide some “work” space now, where they can comfortably draw and practice their letters. A craft table or small desk, with proper illumination, is worth working into their room.
  • HOT TREND: A reading nook. Demarcate this cozy spot with a comfy padded throw rug and pillows, or even add a wall-mount canopy (IKEA has great leaf-shaped ones).

8 Add some grown-up storage
Finally, help minimize the a-hurricane-swept-through-my-bedroom look with plenty of storage. A customized closet solution with plenty of hanger and shelf space is a smart investment, as is a dual-purpose storage bench (safety hinges are a must), plus bookcases and baskets.
  • HOT TREND: Old-school storage, like locker-style units. Vintage-inspired, rectangular wire baskets (the kind public swimming pools used to provide) are also cool looking and make it easy for kids to see what's inside.



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Design Lesson

8 rules for designing a kid's room