How to Design children’s rooms: Tips for designing better kids rooms

A Parisienne style baby girl’s nursery concept.

There are many things to consider when thinking about how to design your children’s bedrooms but function and safety are the most important. Everything has to work – from storage to play space to cosy nook to getting in and out of bed to finding clothes for the mad early morning dash. Everything should be safe – from plug sockets to bookcases to baskets to curtains and blinds. Children’s rooms should feel cosy, have the correct sense of scale and shape. They should be tidy, adaptable, colourful, light filled, personal, private and let’s not forget- fun.

So dig in for some tips and things to consider as you embark on designing your child’s room.

How to design children’s rooms so that they are Fit for purpose. 

Allowing children access to their belongings helps them to feel a sense of achievement and accomplishment. So I create spaces with child height storage for toys and clothes to encourage the quest for independence and autonomy. Open cube storage with baskets and versatile deep shelving is a practical solution to allowing easy child access to their belongings. 

How to design children’s rooms so that they are Safe 

When children feel safe they can get creativity through lessening their stress. Soft. Surfaces and rounded edges can help with fearless and undisturbed exploration and playtime, encouraging confidence in your child and you, their parents, will worry less about them hurting themselves. Think non-slip flooring, covered sockets, child safe blinds – all the practical, safety precautions you can implement in your home. 

How to design children’s rooms so that they are Cosy

Children love to cuddle so filling your child’s room with cuddly toys and cosy cushions and throws so that they can learn to self sooth and become more independent is important. Fluffy rugs and soft bedding provide a cosy backdrop to your child’s interaction with their space. A “cosy corner”, den or fluffy rug are good examples of how to add a cosy feel to your space.  Take a look at my cosy living blog for more details

A Bohemian baby girl’s nursery concept.

How to design children’s rooms so that they are the Correct Scale 

The scale of a space can have an affect on child behaviour- a lower ceiling (or at least the sense of a lower ceiling) can make  the space feel more intimate and comfortable and encourages younger (smaller) children to cooperate as they feel less overwhelmed. So for spaces with more height, adding in a mezzanine, mobiles, canopies or sensory surfaces can help to create a more intimate space for your child to thrive in. You could even try painting your ceiling in a darker tone to give the appearance of lowering it. 

How to design children’s rooms so that they are the Right Shape

Spatial layout impacts children’s behaviour too. Linear spaces bring attention and  focus to the end while radial spaces encourage movement around the space. Play with the layout of your child’s room until you find the right flow. For instance, by creating floor space for play, enough child accessible storage, a quiet area and a study/craft zone. 

How to design children’s rooms so that they are Tidy

I know- this one is controvercial, I’m all for free expression but please hear me out…

Tidiness encourages clear thoughts and structure. A clear path can make a room look more open, inviting and dynamic as well as more spacious.  If your child’s belongings can be put away easily their room will be tidier and your child will be happier and less stressed.  Having a tidy room limits overstimulation and therefore stress. Chaos causes sensory overload which in turn leads to anxiety  – so having a place for everything, and everything in it’s place is key when design a child’s room. It is crucial to make a lot of storage and to make it flexible so that it grows as their interests develop. it is also crucial to make it accessible to the child so that they can easily access and then tidy away their toys and possessions.

How to design children’s rooms so that they are Flexible 

Babies change almost daily so having a flexible nursery space that grows with your child is vital. 

A child’s room needs to reflect who they would like to be in the future, not just who they are now. Your child’s room should grow and change as your child grows physically and their interests change and develop. Use adaptable furniture and multipurpose furniture.  Flexibility in the use of space also promotes your child’s creativity. Themes are fleeting so should be interpreted loosely with items that can easily be changed such as accessories and bedding. Incorporating extra beds for sleepovers or desks for homework into your child’s room from an early age will future proof your design and allow for your child’s growth and changes in how they use their room. If you can create a space that is peaceful, comfortable and houses their interests and caters to their needs your child will feel more positive and secure. 

A rainbow themed playroom concept.

How to design children’s rooms so that they Bring the outside in (Biophilic Design) 

Bring the outside in using natural textures such as wood, wool, linens etc, indoor plants and taking inspiration for your palette from nature’s own colour palette. Openness and access to nature give a sense of freedom, independence and liberation to a child’s room which is essential in mental development. Wall art can be used to bring the outdoors in – try to use photos over paintings as photographs help children to look at the details around them and to connect to the world around them. Please see the Benholm Group’s guest blog on Biophilic design for children’s spaces for further details. For the some interesting effects of Biophilic design head to Benholm group’s biophilic design study.

How to design children’s rooms so that they are Colourful – embrace colour psychology

Colour affects mood so choosing the correct colour for your child friendly space is important. Children’s bedrooms are often multi purpose rooms where they can nurture their growth and exploration, their rooms also need to be oasis of calm and restfulness. Using a calming palette with fun exuberant highlight colours in zones is a useful way of fulfilling both briefs. 

This is why I use colours that brighten a room and that make children feel happy and calm. 

As babies see mostly in shades of black , grey and white a monochrome colour scheme with contrasting patterns and shapes in a nursery will give baby plenty of visual stimulation. Colour blocked artwork works well for the first 5 months of baby’s life as they can see it and then is a lovely focal point tin the  nursery as your baby begins to toddle. Please see my blog on how to help your children sleep for more ideas.

How to design children’s rooms so that they are Light and airy

Light really has a huge influence on the psychology of design and space. Natural and artificial lighting need to work in balance so that the room can fulfil all it’s functions no matter what time of day. 

Bright natural light helps boost mood and concentration, especially in young children. Research has also shown that morning sunlight exposure can help prevent erratic and delayed bedtimes and problems with children’s circadian rhythms. And we all know that in order for children to behave well and perform at the top of their game they need to have slept well. In an ideal world your child would have one room to sleep in, one to play in and another to study in – we find that in most homes children do a combination of all of these in their room – though truth be told, you should associate their bedroom mostly with sleep so choosing calming tones in at least the sleep zone of their room will really help.  Please see my blog post on how to make your child’s room happier for more details.

Bright natural light boosts mood and concentration. Consider the view out of the windows and skylights which can help provide a visual release for children while helping to regulate their circadian rhythm. To ensure you make the most of your natural light ensure your curtain poles are long enough to allow the curtains to be fully pushed back away from the window when open. 

A lighting scheme can make or break the design and feel of a room and is vitally important in a space used by children. Use full spectrum light bulbs, not fluorescent  or spiral bulbs – poor lighting which can be too yellow, too cold or too blue-white can cause anxiety and depression. 

How to design children’s rooms so that they are Personal – Let them reflect their personality

Interior design helps you give meaning to your space, it reflects your likes, interests and lifestyle – this is especially true of children’s spaces. Studies have shown that children with positive perceptions of themselves go on to have good social and academic skills later on in life. To help promote this in your children ensure that there is space in their room 9or the den or the kitchen or the family room) where they can indulge in their hobbies. A strong sense of identity is crucial to your child’s development and nurtures good self-esteem and individuality. This sense of themselves can be encouraged by creating a space for them to display their awards and trophies, or to show off their treasures and using wall space to display their art. 

How to design children’s rooms so that they are Private

The need for privacy is a natural part of growing up. They start out life unable to be left alone and a few years later we have to allow them to take the first steps to solitude and independence. Space privacy is a psychological impact of interior design. Allowing your child to explore this newfound independence in a safe and interesting environment can build familial trust and a sense of competence which in turn help with decision making skills and resourcefulness as they grow older. Add a mezzanine, a secret room or space in a wardrobe, or divide your child’s space into zones, pop a tepee in a corner, hang a canopy above their bed. Any little nook like under the stairs or a hall landing can be transformed into a little person’s idyll. 

How to design children’s rooms so that they are Fun and whimsical

Even though your primary goal when designing your child’s bedroom should be a room for them to sleep in – calm and cosy, exploring and whimsy should also feature in your child’s room design so that they are interested in and engage with their surroundings. Adding a mezzanine to separate sleeping from play or work zones, adding a secret door, or dividing the room into sections with dividers all add to the sense of theatre which a younger child’s room should have. Creating an environment where your child finds it easy to play and to be active physically will greatly enhance their creativity. Add a climbing wall, swing chair, tepee, tunnel, slide or hidden reading nook to bring some childish delight and whimsy into your home. 

How to design children’s rooms so that they are Acoustically pleasing

The materials you use within your child’s room can be used to help sound from bouncing all over the room – think soft. So rugs on wooden floors, curtains, fabric blinds, throws and cushions will all help to soften the acoustics. Keep their noise in and your noise out of their room. 

Summing up How to design children’s rooms

There are many aspects to designing a room that is child focused – it needn’t overwhelm or frighten you – take on one aspect at a time but think ahead so that you don’t create extra work for yourself. Alternatively you could hire me to worry about all these details and get presented with the design for a beautiful, practical room where your child’s emotional, physical and mental development will be catered to.

Which aspects of designing your child’s room are you struggling with?

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