A child’s room (whether a playroom or bedroom) should be as joyful as the child who inhabits it. For the parents’ sake, it should also be stylish and functional.
These four rooms — a nursery, a playroom, and two bedrooms — are all of the above, but each is as unique as the kids themselves. They all have a few things in common, however: style, plenty of storage, and functionality for miles. Here, the three designers behind these rooms share tips on creating a fun and functional space for your child, no matter his or her age or interests.
Two Distinct Bedrooms
A child’s bedroom is just as much an oasis for that child as a grown-up’s bedroom is for that child’s parents. That’s why it is so important to create a fun, safe but also serene environment for children to play in and, most importantly, sleep well in.
For these two bedrooms (shown above), one for a 3-year-old boy and one for a 2-year-old boy, designer Debbie Gottlieb of Fineline Interiors in Armonk used fabric as her inspiration: one a dinosaur-patterned fabric that the client bought, the other a Mr. Fox fabric. “Both patterns are fun and whimsical and easily changed as the boys grow up,” says Gottlieb. “I like to design kids’ rooms that will grow with the child; pieces like accessories, artwork, pillows, and bedding can be easily changed as the child gets older.”
Gottlieb also prefers kid-friendly materials such as soft fabrics that are indoor/outdoor. “I like to use bookcases and benches that are easily reached, beds at lower heights so [they’re] accessible, 100 percent wool carpet (most practical for cleaning and wearability), and cozy reading nooks.”
And just like any other room kids find themselves spending a lot of time in, a child’s bedroom also seems to collect a lot of stuff. “I like to add a top shelf on one wall to store stuffed animals, dolls, or trophies later on,” says Gottlieb. “That way, clutter stays off the dresser, desk, or night table. Another fun idea is to make a pocket wall, so fabricated big pockets can store various items.”
Gottlieb’s other ideas for making a child’s bedroom fun and stylish include adding circular area rugs, a tent-like window treatment above a bed to make the room feel cozy, low seating for reading, and a corkboard wall for kids’ artwork.
And when thinking about the palette for a bedroom, Gottlieb says, “no colors are off limits if done well. However, if a child is active, it might be a good idea to choose a calm color palette.”
The palettes chosen for each of these rooms were driven by the fabrics: blue/chartreuse/taupe for the dinosaur room and terra cotta/olive for the Mr. Fox room. “My client selected colors that defined each son’s personality,” Gottlieb notes.
Overall, she says, “It’s important to have a child feel that their room is ‘their’ space.”
Must Have: A comfortable bed.
Best Design Tip: If you have two rooms that are mirror images, change the floor plan to make them different.
Best Bedroom Tip: Make sure there is good lighting.
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Get the Look: Furniture from Ducduc, tie-dyed wallpaper from O&L, and fabric by Zoffany.
When getting started with a nursery design, Denise Davies of D2 Interieurs says the first thing you should ask yourself is: “Is this nursery going to be used for just this one baby, or will it be passed down to other children?” This will determine the palette, furniture choices, and how you divide the room.
“Sunshine and happiness were the big inspirations for this neutral nursery,” says Davies. “The bookshelves were inspired by the client’s love of art and serve as both storage for books as well as a way to display books and artwork. And because the house has a midcentury vibe, we used three different Nelson pendants.”
If you are working with a larger space, Davies recommends dividing it to create an intimate and cozy environment. She also suggests floating the crib in the middle of the room rather than pushing it up against a wall.
“[In this nursery], we built the loft by dropping the ceiling, [and] we were able to give the room a more intimate feel,” she says. “It is currently being used for storage but will be an awesome fort once the children are old enough to safely enjoy it.”
The elements that every nursery should have in addition to a crib are a soft and comfy rug (“Do not skimp on this, Davies says, “because there is a lot of floor-time with babies.”), great artwork, a professionally designed closet, and a well-designed bookcase with interchangeable bins.
Davies also recommends using a regular dresser that can be used as a changing table by adding a changing pad, ”and I always tell parents to invest in a rocking chair rather than a traditional glider. That way, the chair can be used for years to come.”
Must Haves: Crib, soft rug, rocking chair, great artwork, storage, and a dresser to which you can add a changing pad.
Best Design Tip: Divide the room, to make a more intimate and cozy space.
Best Nursery Tip: Float the crib in the middle of the room instead of pushing it up against a wall.
Get the Look: Rocker is from Monte, crib is from Oeuf, pillow from Jonathan Adler, bedding from Castle and Things, lighting from Modernica, and sconces from Jonathan Adler.
“The room layout is the first thing to consider,” says Tara Kantor, local homeowner and owner of Tara Kantor Interiors. “You need to determine what setup will be most conducive to the way your children play. [That] changes so much as they grow older, so you need to make some decisions based on that. You don’t want to spend a lot of effort or money on a playroom that the children won’t want to be in by the time they turn 10.”
For example, an art table for younger children can be used as a game or card table as they get older, or the area devoted to a train table might become a perfect spot for a foosball table down the road. “It’s important to consider future, as well as present, use of space,” says Kantor.
Storage is also key in a playroom. In this particular room, there is a lot of hidden storage. “The toys are all there but not visible,” says Kantor. “The four pieces of the play-table top slide off, and underneath are Legos, Magna-Tiles, and Playstix. The two benches also have storage compartments underneath where I store board games and blocks. Additionally, hidden storage was built into a part of the wall that holds more board games.”
Kantor also suggests having stylish storage buckets in fun colors scattered around the room for easy cleanup after playtime. In addition to good storage, Kantor also recommends having good seating. “I love soft poufs, ottomans, and beanbags for play spaces,” she says. “Not only do they provide extra seating, but kids always find a way to use them as toys, whether it’s creating an obstacle course, making a fort, or just jumping on them.”
And, Kantor adds, in this day and age, when kids spend so much time on iPads or other electronic devices, “creating a space that is appealing is even more important. Really think about how your kids play, what their needs are, and what kind of space would be most inviting — not just for your kids, but for friends too.”
Must Have: Comfortable and stain-resistant seating.
Best Design Tip: Get the kids involved in the design but narrow their options. “Present two or three acceptable choices to your child,” says Kantor. “This way you can give them a feeling of contribution, but they don’t have carte blanche to paint the ceiling in sparkle glitter.”
Best Playroom Tip: Make play stations where different toys are organized. “For example, keep the dress-up station in one area, the blocks in another, and the trains somewhere else,” says Kantor.
Get the Look: Play table, benches, and credenza from Ducduc; sectional from Cisco Brothers; carpet from ABC Carpet & Home; foosball table from All Modern; lighting from Circa Lighting; and shades from The Shade Store.