7 home design elements to consider when decorating a child’s bedroom


Kids are fickle creatures, but their whims don’t have to come at the price of fun or function when it’s time to update their rooms. The current growing trend in kids’ room design is to find the right mix of personality and practicality in a room that serves as a play to sleep, play, study and relax.   

The key is to “give kids a room they will remember,” said Melissa Soto, founder and creative director Nico & Yeye, a Los Angeles-based kids furniture company that offers minimalist, versatile designs.

That said, it’s also important to consider how the room can be adapted over time, Soto said: “Parents want durable, smarter solutions that flow with the aesthetics of their home.” 

  • A small, stylish desk, like Crate and Kids’ Atticus desk and hutch, can do the job in a kids’ room; a chalkboard wall provides lots of creative space. (Photo credit: Crate and Kids)

  • Bunk beds and loft beds allow you to tap into the vertical space in a kids’ room; you also have the option of different bedding for different kids, as seen here in this Crate and Kids bunk bed.
    (Photo credit: Crate and Kids)

  • Nico & Yeye’s Kabano six-drawer dresser comes in mint, a trending color in older kids’ and teens’ rooms. (Photo credit: Nico & Yeye)

  • Subtler shades of pink like the blush hue of this Crate and Kids bed can work with a variety of coordinating styles and colors.
    (Photo credit: Crate and Kids)

  • Nico & Yeye’s Domo canopy bed stands out. (Photo credit: Nico & Yeye)

Places like Nico & Yeye and other sellers that offer their own lines of kids’ furniture and décor lines – including Cost Plus World Market’s new kids’ offerings, IKEA, West Elm Kids, Pottery Barn Kids and Pottery Barn Teen, Crate and Kids and Restoration Hardware’s RH Baby and Child and RH Teen – each tout a variant of “furniture that grows with your child.” Based on that, here are the top seven things a child’s room needs in 2021:

1. In a word, storage.

Kids = stuff. Even their stuff has stuff (some American Girl dolls need their own closets). For all parents who have stepped on a Lego piece or tripped over clothes, shoes and books, some kind of storage system to keep stuff out from underfoot is imperative.

IKEA’s new SMÅSTAD storage system is designed to grow with your child, with wardrobes, cabinets, bookcases, chests, a desk and more that can be combined and configured based on your needs. Most pieces feature pull-out drawers and units, so your clutter is tucked behind closed doors. Pottery Barn Kids’ wall systems offer a clean, organized look and also can be configured to fit your needs. They can last through the teen years, as toy boxes become storage for sports equipment, video games and more.

Another option for older kids and teens is to look for legacy pieces for them to keep when they move out, such as Pottery Barn Teen’s leather trunk ($400).

2. Beyond-the-basics themes and colors.

There is a move away from going all-out on a specific character theme – the coordinated bed, bedspread, wallpaper, clock, desk light and more – toward a more subtle infusion of kids’ tastes and interests. 

Crate and Kids, for example, in its Spring 2021 Lookbook, features several travel-themed bedding and other décor choices from its Born Wanderer collection that can take kids from a Brazilian rainforest to the mountains of Peru to climbing Mt. Everest. Space, animals and nature are the predominant “themes” for younger kids, while tweens and especially teens tend toward simple patterns or lifestyle themes. 

In a market once dominated by primary colors or soft pastels, most sellers now offer bedding and decor that include grays, whites, navy blues and natural shades. You will still see pinks, but it’s usually less bubblegum and more of a “blush” tone, as seen in Crate and Kids Peruvian travel-inspired pieces. As for older kids and teens, teals and turquoises (think “Breakfast at Tiffany’s”), metallics and surf themes are being embraced. Cost Plus World Market’s Alameda bookshelf ($349) in teal, Nico & Yeye’s dresser and bookcase lines in mint, Kelly Slater’s Make Waves bedding (starting at $23) at Pottery Barn Teen and West Elm Kids’ metal wallscape planters ($40) fall into this category.

3. The right bed.

Your space and budget will go a long way in determining what kind of bed to get. If space isn’t an issue, some parents go straight from toddler beds to full- or queen-sized beds to last through the teen years. No matter the size, options range from canopy beds like Nico & Yeye’s Domo offering (starting at $1,300) to a simple headboard. 

What’s more likely is that space is an issue in smaller-sized bedrooms. Almost all the big-name sellers offer either bunk beds or loft beds with a study or play area underneath. These offerings include IKEA, West Elm Kids, Crate and Kids, Pottery Barn Kids and RH Baby and Child.

Another option is a storage bed elevated over two to four drawers. For instance, West Elm and Pottery Barn Teen have collaborated on a modern line of furniture that includes the Quinn storage bed ($2,500) featuring a fluted design that would look at home in any midcentury-modern space. 

4. Working or chilling.

For school-age kids, it may seem logical to include a desk and chair, but it’s something worth considering as to whether your child will use the workspace. Many kids choose to forgo the desk unit and instead plop down in a chair to do schoolwork. 

The most common “work and lounge” kid varieties are bean bag and round chairs, poufs and fold-out loungers. Another option is a swivel chair that gives kids a chance to their wiggles out. RH Baby and Child’s orbit chair (starts at $1,649) is an eye-catching, low-to-the-ground sphere that can surround a child with a space-like vibe. Or there’s the West Elm Kids’ groovy swivel chair ($449), a circular, plush seat that swivels 360 degrees.  

5. The walls as a canvas.

As HGTV put it recently, “Big and Bold Murals Are the New Statement Wall” – as a way to enliven the space and pull together the elements. Other wall treatments include tapestries, chalkboard paint and wallpaper. West Elm Kids and Crate and Kids have a large selection of removable wallpapers (all the better for kids’ rapidly changing tastes) and Anthropologie also has many kid-friendly wallpaper designs and wall art.

And don’t forget the “fifth wall”… a ceiling can come alive with painted clouds, glowing adhesive stars and other visual elements. 

6. Going the distance.

Sustainable, earth-friendly materials get their due among kids’ furniture and décor sellers. There’s also the idea of repurposing as a way to be eco-conscious, whether it’s easily reusable picture frames in which you can substitute your kids’ art or turning a stylish toy box into an end table or window seat. 

Crate and Kids takes environmental awareness for kids in a pragmatic direction with its collaboration with famed primatologist Jane Goodall and her namesake institute. The collection of kids’ furniture, toys and textiles is designed to spark kids’ interest in the natural world and the importance of conservation. 

7. A sense of whimsy.

This is where personality and play come in. Kids want something of their own, something that reflects their interests and style. 

“If you have a little artist, make sure you give him/her own art wall or workspace, or if you have a Lego master, think about how to display all their masterpieces,” Soto said.

For active kids and sensory-seekers, indoor hanging swing chairs and rock-climbing and activity walls have become increasingly popular. And for kids who need some alone time, hideaway spaces like indoor tents and canopies can do the trick. With some fun mixed in with all the function, kids will be asking to be sent to their rooms.

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