Wall to Wall Trends: Designing and Decorating for Your Children’s Room

by Cassandra McCullersJanuary 19, 2017

Designing a kid’s bedroom is perhaps one of the trickiest choices to make when it comes to decorating your home. Of course, designing for someone else is always a challenge, and young children are often a mixed blessing when it comes to picking out colors, decorations, and sometimes even a theme. If you don’t just get a shrug when asking their opinion on decor, you’ll likely be treated to a deluge of ideas on mismatched colors and tacky decorations that they’ll hate in a month or year. Of growing concern in the design world is making bedrooms that will grow with your children. Kids are also often rough on their furniture and surroundings, meaning you’ll need to think about durability and child-proofing when designing a room.
In terms of colors, pastels are an enduring classic. Pale pink, blue, yellow, lavender, and peach are the most popular pastels, but plenty of other colors have made their home in kid’s rooms. Pastels can be in a pattern with neutrals, darker and lighter shades of the same color, or other pastels for visual interest.

Softer neutrals, while usually associated with more mature designs, are also becoming more popular as a base color for children’s bedrooms. Shades of gray combined with brighter accent colors like blue, yellow, pink, tangerine, or coral make for an interesting yet still soothing room. Plus, the color scheme is gender-neutral and will likely age well with your child. White walls and furniture with brightly colorful accessories also remain popular, since they tend to flow well with the rest of the house and avoid overwhelming the space with too much color.

Chalkboard paint is also a great way to make a room easily customizable, especially if your kid is particularly artistic, and now comes in a massive array of different colors. Chalkboard paint can cover all four walls, but it can also work well as a single accent wall, as a separate color below the chair rail, or on a tabletop. Similarly, a painted corkboard panel can make a fun place to display a kid’s own artwork.
Stripes are a popular pattern, in paint or in wallpaper. They work well with any color scheme, for any age group, and can add visual interest to walls. A light and dark shade of the same color, white and gray, white and black, white or gray and a color, or two complementary colors all work especially well in a stripe pattern. If you’d rather avoid striped walls, stripes can also be a fun touch on blankets, pillows, or furniture.

Although accents in kids’ rooms are typically bright solid colors or stripes, natural wood furniture is becoming popular, especially in rooms for kids old enough to know not to damage it. Metallics, whether as a metal appliance or as a bright splash of color on a pillow or blanket, are also showing up in an increasing number of rooms. Gold is especially popular as an accent in rooms with a lot of cool tones and in darker rooms, with rose gold popping up in rooms with warmer tones like pink or orange.
While many designers and parents are opting for timeless, unthemed rooms, adventure themes also remain popular and will allow your children to express their individuality and character. Luckily, more and more options for easily changeable designs are on the market. Removable vinyl decals offer a great way to decorate a room, without the hassle or commitment of painting designs or putting up wallpaper. You can also either frame posters or mount them on a stiff background, even a large piece of cardboard, for an easily changed and often fairly cheap decoration, especially with older kids. A blue wall can make a perfect backdrop for ocean, pirate, flower, or space themed decorations, and still be a good base color once your child grows older and wants a plainer room. Similarly, a light cream wall is a good backdrop for princess themed decorations, and is far less likely than a bright pink wall to need to be painted over once your child grows into a teenager. Vintage revival is also seeing a rise, especially in girl’s rooms, as is ‘granny chic,’ a style that incorporates pastel florals, quilts, and crochet blankets. Colorful geometric and abstract designs on a neutral background are also popular, especially as quirky furniture or storage.

Although simple paint is currently in vogue, wallpaper isn’t entirely on its way out. A single accent wall is a popular way to add visual interest, without the pattern overwhelming the room entirely. Wallpaper that has a repeating pattern over a white or lightly colored background is more likely to work as an accent wall. If using the wallpaper on an accent wall or two, either paint the other walls a complementary color, a different shade of the wallpaper’s background, or a color picked from the pattern. Painting the walls a color too similar to the wallpaper might end up looking strange, especially since you’re unlikely to be able to match the colors exactly.
Extending color or decoration to the ceiling is becoming more common, and expanding beyond just tacking on a few glow-in-the-dark stars. Bold colors and stripes are making an appearance on many ceilings, usually either in the same shade and pattern as the walls or a contrasting color.

In terms of furniture, creative or decorative headboards are catching on. This can range from upholstered headboards to headboards with painted stripes, or even to fully custom do-it-yourself headboards. Modern furniture styles are also a new favorite, especially in seating options that are seeing a wide range of quirky and unique influences. Poufs, a cross between beanbag chairs and ottomans, are a comfortable and popular seating option that can add a splash of color and interesting shape to a room.

Lots of storage is a major functionality-orientated trend. A number of smaller drawers rather than one big toy bin helps with staying organized, and keeping toys and games in their own storage spaces helps prevent the closet being taken over by a slowly increasing pile of toys, books, games, and boxes. Freestanding shelves, drawers, and cubby holes can come in a huge variety of colors, themes, shapes, and styles, helping make a space fun. Beds with built-in drawers underneath are also popular, as are kid’s desks with a place to keep paper and art supplies. A headboard can have shelves as a place to put books, extra blankets, a clock, or a lamp.
Lofted spaces are becoming more popular, especially as the more people find themselves starting a family in places with a narrower floor plan. Smaller rooms will benefit from having a desk or playspace under the bed. If the room has high ceilings, you can create a cozy, lofted reading nook, perfect for curling up in. If multiple kids are sharing a room, a loft or bunk bed can divide the space nicely, granting a sense of privacy.

Of course, the main point of a bedroom is sleeping, and with many kids having trouble getting to or staying asleep, an increasing number of parents are looking to incorporate good sleep hygiene into a room’s design. Dividing the use of spaces can help tremendously, by having the bedroom solely for resting in, whether by sleeping or spending time quietly, and places for playing, reading, and doing homework elsewhere in the house. If a kid associates a room just with being quiet and resting, they’re more likely to be able to drift off once you’ve tucked them in, rather than wanting to resume playing.

You can also set up the lights on a dimmer switch, and slowly dim the light over the course of the evening, or have smaller, softer lights that get turned on an hour before bedtime, while the bright overhead light is turned off. A natural and gradual reduction in light helps us feel sleepy, while we’re more likely to still be wired at bedtime if we go straight from a bright room to one lit only by a nightlight.

One of the most important things you can do, regardless of your design preferences, is to allow your children to be an integral part of the planning and implementation process, with guidance from you as needed. Let them pick out their own colors and decorative pieces. Worst comes to worst, you can always repaint later. Let them decide on furniture arrangements. Later, pieces can always be moved. Then let them help make it a reality. Give them the paint brush, the stenciling kit, or the decals. Encourage them to express their creativity. It may not end up being the winning entry on the cover of Homes magazine, but it will be something much more valuable… a validation of their own creativity and expression. And a room that they can truly call their own.

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About The Author
Cassandra McCullers
Cassandra is a writer with a background in engineering, enjoying the rural life in the Virginian Appalachians. When not working, she enjoys writing fiction, running a blog, camping, working in the garden, and tending to her flock of chickens! In addition to writing, she has a passion for art and graphic design. Her interests include disaster preparedness, homesteading, landscaping, cooking with natural ingredients, history, and animal husbandry.