6 Cool Features Every Kid’s Room Should Have: How Many Did You Miss?

Baby nurseries get tons of decorating attention. (Adorable duck stencils! A bright-red toy chest!) But once those little ones are not so little anymore, what’s the best approach for bigger kids?

Think beyond a basic bed, dresser, and desk, and imagine a personal retreat that’s whimsical, creative, and bursting with color. But don’t forget that kids’ tastes will keep changing as they age (that Buzz Lightyear theme will probably be a no-go when he’s a tween).

“Think neutral colors with ‘touches’ they love, including curtains, carpet, and accessories that are not a major project—or expensive—to change out,” suggests Karen Gray-Plaisted of Design Solutions KGP. Stick-on decals and removable wallpaper are two smart examples for a room that’ll grow with your potentially fickle child.

Here are six more tips for rolling out the best looks in your child’s room.

Install bunks—with stairs

Photo by Archetype Architecture

Every kid whines for a set of bunk beds, so if you can swing the price tag, it’s a great addition to the room. Carole Marcotte, an interior designer with Form & Function, prefers the type with integrated stairs over a ladder, as they’re much easier to navigate. Stairs are also better for changing the sheets, because you can access the back wall to tuck them in, she points out. Plus, they’re safer for nighttime bathroom trips.

And while we’re on the topic of safety, always use a rail on the upper bunk to prevent kids from tumbling down—and hold off on this type of bed until your tot is coordinated enough to climb in and out—usually at around age 6, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Debate the desk

Photo by Into interior design

Think your kid will sit up properly at a desk to do his math homework? In the real world, he’ll flop on the floor to scribble, and older kids prefer to lounge in bed with their books or laptops. Some homeowners will want to maximize the space with a built-in desk underneath the top bunk bed, but if the seat goes unused, it may not be worth it.

“I think two single beds or plain bunk beds are better than a bunk with a built-in desk, because this setup accommodates more sleepers,” Marcotte says.

Add a statement wall

Photo by Lucy Interior Design

Take advantage of one wall and make it a focal point. A pop of bright paint, funky wallpaper, or a piece of oversize kid-friendly artwork are two possibilities. Marcotte recommends big, modern florals or colorful geometrics, which play well against bright toys but can also outlast the little-kid years.

But think twice about a hand-painted mural filled with monkeys or Noah and his ark, warns Darla DeMorrow, author of “Organizing Your Home With SORT and Succeed.”

“A kid will want to redo this before you know it, and you might not have the energy or be able to emotionally unhook from your original design plan,” she says. Instead, consider a simple stripe pattern. Or skip a wall treatment that might become dated and just install accent lighting.

Use built-ins with (lots of) storage


Another smart addition for kids’ rooms? Built-in furniture that’s anchored to the wall.

“Built-ins might limit your furniture placement, but most kids’ furniture is essentially built-in, because anything that’s taller than it is wide should be anchored to the wall to prevent tipping anyway,” says DeMorrow.

No one ever complained of too much storage in any area at home—and kids’ rooms are no exception. As a step beyond the usual baskets and bins, Marcotte recommends a wall-hung hex box (Crate & Barrel, $69) as a cool sculptural element for holding books.

“And a vintage or new version of a chicken nesting coop would do wonderfully as storage for toys—plus, it’s great for channeling an industrial or Americana country vibe,” she adds.

Look to the ceiling

Photo by Stonebreaker Builders & Remodelers

Don’t forget the “fifth wall,” otherwise known as the ceiling, when you’re putting together a kid’s room, says Gray-Plaisted. Her ideas: floating clouds, the constellations, or a design that makes it look as if you’re in a rainforest, looking up through the canopy of trees and leaves.

Make a book nook

Photo by Morgante Wilson Architects

“Kids love any space that seems secret, hidden, or mini,” notes DeMorrow. Continue the theme of blanket tents and pillow forts with a cozy nest for reading. Put jumbo pillows and light in a cleared-out closet, erect a teepee, install a hanging chair from the ceiling, or drape curtains under a bunk bed and add a bean bag.

“Or see if the room has an architectural detail that might accommodate a window seat,” suggests Gray-Plaisted.