Designing children’s bedrooms

Create a practical, well-planned and fun Childrens' bedroom that’s perfect for playing and studying in with this design advice from interiors expert Julia Kendell

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Designing a bedroom scheme for an older child or teenager can be a daunting task, not least because they will have plenty of ideas of their own, many of which will be totally unsuitable! However, this is a great opportunity to connect with your son or daughter and learn more about them. I redecorated my daughters’ rooms several times throughout their teenage years, and it was the perfect excuse to understand them better, ensure they continued to feel valued within the family, and to encourage a regular spring clean.

  • Getting started
  • Plan ahead
  • Space planning
  • Work places and play areas
  • Choosing flooring
  • Lighting and electrics
  • Make sure there’s room for storage

Getting started

Sit down with your son or daughter and draw up a list of what they feel they need in their room, for example, space to study, the ideal-sized bed and storage space. Encourage them to have a look through magazines and online for inspiration for their room. Having a collection of images will help them to define their preferred style and be more realistic about what is or isn’t achievable. It’s also a good idea to list their interests, likes and dislikes to help build a potential theme or colour palette. If you can, persuade them to put together a small mood board to build a better understanding of what they want from the space.

Using squared paper or a Computer Aided Design (CAD) programme, draw the room to scale adding in windows, doors and radiators. Between you, add in the furniture to work out the best possible layout and what is physically possible to fit in the space. The website is a fantastic resource for planning your layout. This is also a great way to get your children involved in the planning stage of the process, where they can start to learn the importance of working to a given budget.

Plan ahead

Children’s requirements change at an alarming rate, so make sure your new room scheme won’t need updating within 12 months of redesigning; think a few years ahead. This is particularly important when designing for a five-foot- tall, 10-year-old boy who, within just a few years, could be nearly six-foot-tall. Bear in mind that girls can change, almost overnight, from wanting posters of horses to decorating their rooms with pictures of the latest boy band, for example. This should help guide your choices when selecting more expensive or difficult to replace items.

Space planning

Flexibility is key for a teenager’s bedroom. They need to be able to sleep, study, hang out with their friends and store any amount of ‘stuff ’, which they accumulate at such an alarming rate. To maximise space, include furniture with more than one use, such as a bed fitted with integrated storage or a desk area.

Consider wall-mounted TV screens to free up desk space, and remember to maximise the available height in the room – high-level shelving is perfect for storing things that you don’t need constant access to, such as seasonal clothes and boxes of mementoes. If you have two children’s rooms positioned adjacently, and budget allows, it might be worth considering using part of each of the bedrooms to create a bathroom between them – this will also benefit the family as the children grow older and queuing for the shower becomes an issue in the mornings.

Work places and play areas

A well-designed study area is crucial to ensure a healthy approach to homework. If there is a television in the room, try to position it so it isn’t visible from the desk, to discourage ‘multi-tasking’. Desks should ideally be placed where there is good natural light and have enough space around them to work comfortably. Ask your child how they like to study (which, I appreciate, is probably an oxymoron!). For example, are they artistic and therefore require space for materials, such as large drawing pads? Do they prefer to spread out several books at once? Again, it’s essential to think ahead to exam years, when they will probably require more space for books and computers.

A good-quality office chair is always a good investment. Many adult back problems start during teenage years when we are growing at speed, slouching and generally not paying attention to our long-term health.

While a good study area is important, even older children need somewhere to ‘play’ and this is the area where you should permit some free expression. Oversized beanbags are always popular and are available in many shapes, sizes, colours and designs. Beanbags designed for outdoor use have added flexibility for the summer months – try for a great and unique range of designs. If your children are keen to decorate their new room with posters, an oversized pinboard is a very good investment as it will prevent any damage to newly painted or papered walls without devaluing their input.

Choosing flooring

This is a tricky element for a teenager’s bedroom. Depending on your child, either soundproofing or practicality, such as an easy-to-clean surface, will take priority. Vinyl flooring can provide a low-cost, functional and hardwearing surface, and will help to make a small room feel larger and brighter. There are many high-quality metal-, glass- and wood-effect vinyls that are perfect to create an urban look. Carpet tiles are also an excellent option that will give rise to creativity with colour and texture. Also, single tiles can be easily replaced if there is localised staining. Try the range available at

Lighting and electrics

In any room scheme, electrics are an important aspect. When designing a child’s bedroom, consider the number of appliances that will be plugged in, such as games consoles, hair straighteners, docking stations and chargers. For safety purposes, install additional sockets or provide surge-protected extension leads, which will need to be checked regularly to prevent the risk of overloading.

It’s worth spending time to get the balance right between good-quality lighting and over-stimulation. Ensure adequate lighting is provided over study areas to protect against eye-strain. You could even consider installing more than one lighting circuit in order to create a flexible lighting scheme that will suit a variety of tasks. A colour-change light, for example, can be set to suit the mood and bring colour to more neutral schemes.

Make sure there’s room for storage

You can never have enough storage in a child’s room, although the specific requirements change markedly over the years. Be realistic about your child – are they naturally tidy? Would they relish tidying things away in labelled drawers and boxes? Or would large baskets that they can throw things into be more appropriate? Giving your child the opportunity to be organised, without putting undue pressure on them, is likely to have a successful outcome. Under-bed drawers are always a useful addition, providing extra storage in what would otherwise be a wasted space.

For a pretty, vintage look, try using old fruit crates for storage. Painted birdboxes are another innovative way to display collections of smaller finds, which often clutter up children’s rooms. For a boy’s room, think outside the box and look out for discarded car and industrial parts for possible alternative storage ideas that will add plenty of character.

I hope this has inspired you to have some fun with your children’s rooms. At all times keep them involved; after all, the more they take ownership of their space the more likely they are to respect it.