Room to Grow

By Lesley Myrick

Designing kids bedrooms with the future in mind

I have two kids. That means in the past few years I’ve designed a nursery for my son, Ford, then a bedroom for him when he was about 1 and a half. Following that, it was a nursery for my daughter, Hasley, when she was born last August, and recently I updated 4-year-old Ford’s room into a shared bedroom for him and his baby sister.

Ford’s nursery was in California where he was born, and Hasley’s was here in Waco. Oh, and did I mention that until last month Hasley’s nursery was in my master closet because we don’t have an extra bedroom? Ford’s bedroom has changed location in our house to accommodate the needs of our family, and now that both kids are sharing a room, we’ve had to create a space that suits both a baby and a preschooler.

Are you keeping track of all this?

The takeaways of my above ramblings are these: the number of kids you have could change. Where you live could change. The needs of your growing kids will change. And kids bedrooms are best designed with the future in mind to make these inevitable transitions, upgrades and changes easy-peasy.

While I love to design offbeat interiors using lots of color and pattern, I actually keep things much simpler when designing a space for children. I’ve learned to stick with a base of neutral colors and textures like white or soft gray walls, wood floors, black and white decor and furnishings, and metallic accent pieces. (Because even a kids room needs a chic metallic touch, right?)

I love the balance that this neutral foundation brings since kids toys, books, bedding, decor and clothes are so colorful. Color isn’t needed much elsewhere — all their “stuff” certainly provides enough of it! I want my kids to have some breathing room in their bedrooms and not feel totally overwhelmed by color and pattern.

There’s an added benefit to keeping the fixed elements in a kids room neutral, which is that it’s much easier to change and update the decor as their preferences change. The versatile gray hue we just painted the kids’ room (Sherwin-Williams Agreeable Gray, if you’re curious) is kid-friendly while also sophisticated enough to carry them through their teenage years. Although if it were up to Ford, he would have orange walls.

Sorry, kid. That ain’t happening.

But I introduced a splash of orange on his draperies, which he loves. Orange accents on a pair of curtains is going to have a lot more staying power than electric orange walls. When Ford does eventually tire of these window treatments or Hasley gets old enough to share her opinions on home decor — which will happen sooner than I’m ready for — it’ll be a simple swap for a more age-appropriate pair.

In addition to intentionally selecting colors and finishes that can transition from baby to teenager, I’ve also been conscious of incorporating small-scale furniture that can be repurposed as my wee ones get bigger. A kid-size set of table and chairs will only last a few years before being outgrown, but a small-scale coffee table paired with several chunky knit poufs as seating has a lot more flexibility. It still provides the same function while the kids are small — a seating area where they can color and play — but the pieces can be moved around the home and given new life later on.

While of course there will be bedroom furnishings that need to be kid-specific, beyond that, it’s smart to choose versatile pieces that will continue to be useful. When Ford outgrew his crib, we chose a simple white twin trundle bed for him with storage drawers underneath. Right now, it’s functioning as the bed of a 4-year-old, decked out with a “Paw Patrol” blanket (which totally kills my aesthetic buzz, but it makes him so happy I couldn’t say no) and an assortment of stuffed animals. In the future, this bed can become either a daybed for extra seating or a king-size bed for guests with the trundle pulled out. It could stay in the kids’ room or move into an office or guest bedroom and look right at home. The bed frame itself is simple and unadorned, which allows the interest and personality to come from the linens, pillows and drawer hardware. Simple updates will give it new life when needed.

I know it’s cliche, but it’s so true — kids grow up fast. Four years feels like it’s gone by in a matter of months. And while I don’t want to admit it, Ford won’t be needing a twin-size bed forever.

I want to get the most value for my design dollars by choosing furniture pieces for my kids that are well-made, flexible and can be given new life in a few years. While my son might want to sleep in a bed shaped like a racecar now, I know in a few years he’s going to be wishing for something a little more grown-up, and I’ll be glad to have planned ahead.