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The Ultimate Kids Room Decorating Guide

MAY 1, 2022



When your child graduates from a nursery to their own (or a shared) bedroom, it’s an exciting time for your little one, and you may also be anxious to freshen things up. Your child may have some input about color choice and furnishings—bunk beds or no bunk beds, the ultimate dilemma! There’s a lot more to consider when it comes to furnishing your child’s room, both aesthetically and functionally. Read our Kids’ Room Design Guide for a few pro tips on this exciting endeavor.

Determining Your Color Palette

“What’s your favorite color?” is a question often posed to children, so your child may have already given you some immediate ideas about color. If so, get them involved! Decorating is a fun way to teach your child about color and space, and you undoubtedly also want them to love their room. Luckily, it’s highly unlikely he or she has gotten as specific as “Decorator’s White” or “Oval Room Blue,” so you can use their favorite hues as a jumping off point for further color research. Find a few sophisticated color options that earn your seal of approval and then come back with options for your little one.

Word to the wise: children’s interests can change as fast as they grow, so if you suspect your child’s “favorite color” is a “color of the moment,” try to make sustainable choices. Wall color is relatively easy and affordable to change, as well as accessories, while custom curtains and upholstery can be much more of a commitment.

Selecting Long-Lasting Furniture

Photo by Matthew Williams for Domino, Design by Decorist Elite Designer Charlotte Lucas

Your mini-me may beg for a race-car bed or a sofa shaped like a football, but be forewarned; the novelty will soon wear off. Instead, invest in high-quality furniture pieces that can last a lifetime, rather than a season. For instance, a beautiful wooden twin bed can be used through your child’s teen years, and you can add a simple bed rail to it for peace of mind as your little one transitions to a big kid bed. A high-quality upholstered armchair might be something a small child will grow into, but it can be used (and reupholstered) into adulthood. Low stools are also great choices as they can be used as side tables or seating for little ones on the move. For these pieces that you hope to last, vintage and antiques, which tend to be of much higher quality, are great options.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, pint-sized pieces, such as play tables or miniature chairs, which your child will only use for a few years, are a place you can “save” rather than splurge. You might be able to get with less durable materials, such as MDF, on these briefly used items.

Strategizing Storage Options

Let’s face it: Children are messy—and they have a lot of stuff. However, they also have to learn to be neat. Because of this, your storage pieces need a strategy. You’ll want a combination of closed and open storage. Frequently used items, such as toys, books, and school supplies, should be readily accessible to your child. We recommend purchasing a matching set of bins for organizing toys. Uniform wicker baskets or fabric bins will serve him or her well for some years. Keep them at your child’s eye level on a bookshelf so that they can put their things away each day. Be sure to secure standing bookshelves, dressers, and cabinets to your walls to prevent tipping. Store clothing in a closet and/or dresser, using different drawers for each type of clothing, so apparel is easy to find for both you and your child.

Outfitting the Bedside

Photo by Spotted SF, design by Caitlin Flemming Design

Bedtime rituals begin at a young age, so be sure you set up your child’s sleeping quarters with everything he or she needs to sleep soundly. Choose a nightstand with a storage shelf or drawer to store one or two of the latest favorite books. Keep a table lamp within arm’s reach, and be sure the on/off switch or pull is easily accessible for your little one. A small box or vessel on the nightstand is also helpful for hair elastics, jewelry, and other small odds and ends that kids tend to collect.

Lighting Your Kids’ Room

It’s important to have a mixture of task lighting, ambient lighting, and accent lighting in your child’s room. You’ll want overhead lighting to ensure your child can properly and safely move around at night; There should be a switch within easy access of the bedroom door. A bedside lamp is essential for reading, as well as in case your child gets up in the middle of the night. When your child is old enough to do homework, you may want to install a desk—if so, pick up a task lamp to ensure it’s properly lit while your child works.

Window treatments are also key, as they’ll help to get your child to sleep if bedtime is before sundown—not to mention for privacy. Be it blinds or curtains, any window treatments, aside from sheers, will do a great job of keeping the light out of your child’s room.

Preparing for Guests

Design by Decorist Celebrity Designer Linc Thelen

When furnishing your child’s room, keep in mind that it’s common for children to have playdates and sleepovers. Bunk beds, trundle beds, and even full or queen-size beds are excellent choices if sleepovers are frequent in your household. But if you only have room for a twin, you can undoubtedly suffice; We recommend purchasing a sleeping pad and keeping extra linens or sleeping bags handy for when your child has a sleepover.

Designing for Activities

Design by Decorist Elite Designer Natalie Myers

Children’s rooms tend to be multipurpose spaces, used for sleep, play, homework, and even the occasional timeout. If you have a designated playroom in your home, you can reserve that space for play tables and a majority of toys, but you’ll like still need storage in your child’s bedroom for toys. Depending on your child’s interests, you may want to outfit your playroom with comfortable lounge chairs for video games, a drafting table for art projects, a piano or drum set, and the like. Especially in a playroom, avoid decorating with breakables like ceramic accessories or mirrored or glass furniture—children will be children!

Choosing Linens and Fabrics

Photo by Kara Coleen for People, Design by Ashley Redmond for Decorist

As a parent, laundry day is every day, and you’ll find yourself washing bed linens and spot-cleaning upholstery more often than you’d like. To make it easier on yourself, if you’re selecting fabric or upholstered pieces like headboards or chairs, look for performance fabrics that are durable, stain-resistant, and washable.

When selecting bed linens, a mix-and-match approach is always wise, as it will allow you flexibility in case anything becomes stained or torn. Choose a couple of different sheet sets that complement each other. Duvets, rather than quilts, are also great for children’s rooms, as duvet covers can easily be washed.

Sourcing Artwork

Artwork can be difficult to select, but no matter the room, our advice is always “Buy what you love.” In the case of your child’s room, choose what your child loves, too! We love to see children’s artwork framed—put any piece in a simple white frame or behind acrylic, and it will look infinitely more polished. A gallery wall of children’s artwork, along with photos of family and friends, is always a foolproof option as well! If your child is approaching the teenage years, they might love to have a memory board for pinning their inspiration, personal photographs, and other memorabilia.

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