Can you remember your bedroom when you were eight, twelve, or even sixteen? I bet you do, and you probably know every nook and cranny. Children love having their own special space in the house, their own bedroom evolves from an area they learn to keep tidy (eventually), to a personal space reflecting their identity, to a private place no one else is allowed to enter! When designing your home you can also go a little bit crazy in your child’s bedroom, no need to be too serious as you can always blame it on the baby.
The function of the child’s bedroom is varied. Children will want to sleep there, entertain friends, play, and learn. With that in mind it’s important to create a room that allows them to do just that. If you do so, they may even want to curl up and go to sleep there. One of the most essential parts of designing a child’s bedroom therefore is to build in flexibility.
Themed rooms are lovely, but remember that your child may outgrow a specific cartoon character, but a specific theme may stay with them all their lives. If they must have a contemporary cartoon character, you can get around it by adding a cushion or soft toy featuring the character, easier to replace than a full set of wallpaper. If you do decide to go down the themed room route, the list of ideas is endless. Here are some popular examples for young boys and girls:
Ocean: think of the wide range from fish to pirates, the big blue, and even sunsets on sandy beaches.
Sports: everyday sports in Ireland such as tennis, golf, or football, but also more exotic ones like surfing, skiing, or snowboarding.
Nature: lots of green built around themes like butterflies, wildlife and animals.
Classic characters: such as classic nursery rhymes, fairy-tales, or classic comic strip characters.
Colour stimulates young people, they’re used to it in daycare/montessori and also in junior school, so keep the theme going in their bedroom. Brightness is essential for stimulating their minds. It helps create a happy comfortable environment. Think outside the box. This is a room you can go for lots of colour. Children are inspired by bright, bold colours. There are such great wallpaper and fabric collections for kids - really fun and quirky. White boards complete with whiteboard only markers can be murals for young artists. Mixing textures is also great for stimulating young children’s imagination. You could use faux furs in throws and a mix of velvets, faux suedes, wools and felt for cushions and curtains.
Furniture in a child’s room will be used for doing homework, playing hide and seek, and building forts. It’s a tall ask, but make sure you’re ready for everything. I would tend to prefer chunky and indestructible bright furniture. Get down to your child’s size, Walt Disney famously walked on his knees along Main Street in Disneyland to see everything from a child’s perspective. Do the same for your furniture, make sure it will work for the little people. Not sure how big the family will grow? Not to worry, you can factor in bunk beds as an option for a growing family. Remember though that they tend to be more for your older children, they’re not really suitable for under six years old.
Children are messy, cleanability is an obvious added advantage. You’ll need lots of storage areas for their toys and games and to help keep you and your inner Monica from Friends sane. My favourite areas for hidden storage are tallboys, drawers under the bed, and even brightly coloured baskets/buckets that blend in nicely with the room but also hide the mess.
From a flexibility point of view, you can’t beat good carpets in a child’s bedroom. They’re good for walking around in bare feet, provide some give if/when your child falls, and mean you can add even more colours. Wooden floors and carpets provide too many hazards in my opinion, especially if there’s lots of activity in the room which there is sure to be during playdates.
Safety is of paramount importance with young children, but also as your child grows older so does their curiosity and everyday household items can become potential hazards. Some safety tips included:
Window blinds: a simple safety device fixes all chains to the wall, make sure yours have this to stop children swinging/hanging out of them.
Window locks: ensure your windows are fitted.
Drawers and doors: use stoppers on both to prevent them from slamming shut on little fingers.
Mirrors and shelving: make sure large mirrors and shelves are securely fixed to the walls and won’t fall easily.
Electrics: make sure all plugs and wires are safe and hidden as much as possible.
Lastly, if your child is old enough you should get them involved in the design. If you start well in advance and introduce your child in a way best suited to them, they can really help you with the design and really feel ownership for the finished product. Let them help choose colours, fabrics, and furniture. They’ll be more likely to look after it and keep it tidy if they picked it themselves.