Cover British designer Laura Hammett crafted a cosy nursery using a tactile mix of materials

Give your kids an inviting and nurturing environment with these ingenious children's bedroom designs

“Size is the first consideration in understanding how the modern house is transformed by the presence of children, followed by questions of space and about stuff; they need furnishings couched to their frames but also their abilities,” writes Alexandra Lange in her book, The Design of Childhood.

The architecture critic’s statement embodies the complexity of designing children’s bedrooms, which require both functionality and adaptability without losing a sense of delight. In essence, a well-designed space can have a lasting impact. “A young child’s emotional and cognitive development is directly affected by the environment in which he or she grows up,” says Sarit Shani Hay, a Tel Aviv-based designer who has spent 25 years designing children’s spaces.

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1. Stick to a neutral palette

There are many ways of going about the process, depending on the size of the room, and the child’s age and aesthetic preferences. To start, a child does not need bright colours and cartoon prints to enjoy using the room; these can limit the decor options when the child grows older and can quickly make the room feel dated.“In general, the design should be relatively neutral and calm. It is the children who will inject the content,” says Shani Hay.

London-based interior designer Laura Hammett agrees. She prefers colour palettes that are gender-neutral for children’s bedroom designs. Lively hues and patterns can be applied to accent pieces that are inexpensive to swap out later.

“Artworks, soft furnishings and lighting are perfect ways to add colour and personality to the space,” says Hammett. “It is the same for curtains; we tend to go for neutral fabrics with colour trims that can be removed or replaced over time.” Wardrobes can sport fun, changeable handles, and wallpaper can be added onto wardrobe panels instead of walls. 

Here, these experts share tips on how you can craft inspiring spaces for your children to dream and slumber in.

2. Choose kid-friendly furnishings

When it comes to furniture selection, Nikki Lim, product manager at furniture retailer Xtra, suggests age- and height-appropriate products that are easily accessible, especially to young children. “Open shelving fosters play and the independence of choice.

Child-sized furniture—be it desks, chairs, wardrobes or toddler beds that let children climb in or out by themselves—empowers them to manage activities independently without an adult’s help.” Modular shelving systems and cots that can convert into toddler beds also expand the shelf life of kid-friendly designs.

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3. Embrace material play

Of course, safety and durability are paramount in designing children’s bedrooms. This affects your choice of materials. “I use natural wood, which has a timeless aesthetic. Formica has wonderful functional properties for surfaces such as desks as it lasts and is easy to clean. Soft, durable fabrics for carpets and soft objects to sit on and play with are also essential,” says Shani Hay. 

Hammett reiterates that easy-to-maintain materials are useful, should scribbles migrate from paper to armchair. Stylish but washable vinyl coverings such as those from US upholstery brand Phillip Jeffries, as well as stain-resistant upholstery options from American firm Perennials Fabrics are ideal, especially for nursing chairs.

4. Double up on storage

Integrated shelving and storage contain clutter while making the best use of limited space, particularly when several children share the room. “Beds can incorporate drawers or a pull-out mattress; perfect for older kids who enjoy last-minute sleepovers. They can be elevated to accommodate desks and storage space underneath. Closets can include pull-out desks and bookshelves can be incorporated as part of the desk design,” says Shani Hay.

Dennis Cheok, creative director of local design firm UPSTRS_, employed such strategies in several children’s bedrooms. In one project, the Crate Apartment, he designed a bed frame that grows with its inhabitants. By removing components, it is transformed from play pen to junior bedframe; toys are hidden from sight, yet easily accessible from under the timber panelled walls. 

See also: 9 Cosy Ideas For A Family-Friendly Living Room

5. Make room for magic

Factoring a child’s personality into the design will foster a sense of belonging, Cheok emphasises. “Instead of dictating a certain look or aesthetic in a child’s private space, we design in a way that encourages children to shape their own space. There is a certain thrill about having ‘secret’ spots or ‘hiding’ places, and we try to create spaces where a child can feel safe and protected.”


In the White Brick House, another project by UPSTRS_, an awkward niche becomes a personal nook for an older child, tucked away behind curtains. For his own daughter, Cheok fulfilled her request for a space to clamber into to read, rest and daydream.

“The treehouse-like space is where she can climb up into, draw the drapes, and be surrounded by her books and ‘stuff’ all tucked away under cork ledges or behind linen curtains,” says Cheok. He took advantage of the ample space beneath the elevated bed to include built-in storage for books, toys and clothes. The result is a compact and holistic habitat for growing children, in their crucial formative years.

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