Designing Children’s Rooms

The "Fence Bunk Bed" from Posh Tots is double the fun and double the sleeping space, as well as the perfect place for a little girl's slumber party.

The "Fence Bunk Bed" from Posh Tots is double the fun and double the sleeping space, as well as the perfect place for a little girl's slumber party.


Many designers would agree that one of the biggest trends in today’s kids’ rooms is mixing and matching patterns and furnishings to create vibrant, stimulating atmospheres for children. Experts are also sure to consider the practicality of certain elements, like color and storage spaces because of the changing tastes and needs as kids grow.

Katherine Crosby, an associate at Jenkins Baer in Baltimore, is a mother of three children 2, 5, and 8 years old. Crosby says that a child’s taste will change over time, and cautions not to put a lot of money in the design of kids’ rooms when they are very young. “My own children are young, and they don’t have a strong opinion about things yet,” says Crosby. She adds, “I like to make a child’s room a practical space. It should be a place to play, to sleep and have sleepovers…and eventually a desk for homework. Trundle beds really come in handy.”

Kids’ rooms revolve around the practicality of design. “Wall color and fun bedding are simple and easy to change. You can switch it out if you get tired of it,” says Crosby.

Sherri Blum, owner of Jack and Jill Interiors, a Gettysburg, Pennsylvania company that specializes in the design of children’s rooms, says a hot color in kids’ décor for 2011 is coral. “In fact, Pantone has named ‘Honeysuckle,’ a sweet pink/coral color, the color of the year,” she says. Other strong colors include: lemon yellow, mossy green, purple, and, of course, Blum continues to see lavender challenge the ever-popular pink in the girls’ rooms.

According to Blum, mixing patterns is the key to designing children’s rooms. Blum says that floral is always popular for girls, but it is being combined with plaids or stripes to keep the pattern from being too stuffy. “We will continue to see lots of texture in kids’ rooms with pleats, puckers, and frayed edges on the fabrics. Denim is also making a strong comeback,” says Blum.

Susie Fougerousse, mother of four with children ranging from ages 2 to 13 is the owner of Rosenberry Rooms in Raleigh, North Carolina, a high-end children’s furniture store and design center. “There are no rules or limitations when designing a child’s room…the sky’s the limit and the possibilities are endless,” says Fougerousse.

Fougerousse agrees with Blum when it comes to mixing styles. “Mixing the old and the new is essential, as is balancing the modern elements with the earthy ones. Pairing modern furniture and linens, with a plush shag [carpet], whimsical lighting, and playful artwork is a great way to design today’s children’s rooms,” says Fougerousse. She adds, “I like to warm up a modern room with handmade items that provide texture and add character. I find Stray Dog Designs lighting, which features a lot of colored glass, bright colors and papier mâché, Blabla hand knits and Oopsy Daisy canvas artwork irresistible in any room.”

A modern boy's room by Rosenberry Rooms displays a Ray Storage Unit with Vines by Muu, a Nathan Glass lamp by Stray Dog Designs, the Tree of Life-Citters canvas reproduction

A modern boy's room by Rosenberry Rooms displays a Ray Storage Unit with Vines by Muu, a Nathan Glass lamp by Stray Dog Designs, the Tree of Life-Citters canvas reproduction

Today’s eco-consciousness has also had an impact on the design of children’s rooms, and furniture is often designed to grow with the child. Blum says, “Parents are choosing multi-functional furniture, such as a dresser with a removable tray on top, so it is also a changing table for the first two years.”

Lead designer, Pam O’Hallaron of PoshTots in Richmond, Virginia agrees and says, “Reclaimed wood is a home trend that I am seeing branch into the children’s market. It has a clean modern look, is a sustainable resource, and makes clients feel good about reducing the environmental impact,” says O’Hallaron. She adds, “I also love the straight, sleek lines in modern furniture and the soft wood tones of espresso and white, especially for children’s spaces.”

As with other spaces in the house, lighting is key to creating ambiance in a child’s bedroom. Crosby recommends Stonegate Designs because they have a lot of great pendant lighting, which can make the room fun. O’Hallaron has seen creative lighting options in new bed styles. “An innovative new bed style for us is one that incorporates a light into the headboard making it a restful retreat for reading,” says O’Hallaron.

Another critical element in the practical design of a child’s room is storage.

Kids’ rooms tend to be smaller than other rooms in the house, yet they sometimes hold the most stuff. “It is important to find creative ways to control the clutter. We utilize walls with built-in shelving and cabinets, organized closets, and under-bed storage containers. We cram in storage wherever practical and aesthetically pleasing,” explains Blum.

While young children may like Hannah Montana and Justin Bieber, teenagers are looking to rid themselves of the babyish items in the room. Bloom says, “It’s important to consider that a child’s taste might change as frequently as his/her shoe size, so don’t purchase a set of furniture that reflects his current love of Star Wars.” O’Hallaron advises, “If your child insists on something ‘Hannah Montana,’ make it a pillow or throw that can easily be replaced with changing tastes.”

According to Blum, teens are most concerned with reflecting their own personalities and showing their friends what makes them unique. “Teenagers like a very cozy bed and are usually particular about color. When we design these spaces, we generally use fun bedding and keep the walls simple,” says Crosby. “Girls like big lounging chairs to sit around and gossip and do their nails, so we create a very social aspect to the room. Boys want more of an activity spot. They have things they want to do, like play music or video games,” says Crosby.

Whether you are designing for the very young, the preadolescent or a teenager, kids’ rooms should scream versatility, practicality, and fun.

Jennifer K. Dansicker is the Special Projects Editor of Chesapeake Home + Living.

Jack and Jill Interiors: or 717-323-0288
Jenkins Baer: or 410-727-4100
PoshTots: or 866-767-4868
Rosenberry Rooms: or 877-214-6875

Blabla Kids: or 404-875-6496
Oopsy Daisy: or 619-640-6649
Pantone: or 866-726-8663
Stonegate Designs: or 269-429-8323
Stray Dog Designs: or 866-478-7297