- - Friday, July 20, 2012

If the idea of designing your children’s bedrooms brings visions of bubble-gum-pink fairy princesses or a roomful of Spider-Man artifacts, think again. Most interior designers recommend staying away from a theme and reaching instead for colors, furnishings and accessories that can grow with your child’s changing personality.

“Designing a room for a child requires a very different level of seriousness than designing an adult’s bedroom,” said Nancy Twomey, owner of Finnian’s Moon Interiors in Alexandria. “In a child’s room, washability, toughness and durability are more important than almost anything.”

Ms. Twomey also said it is important to create a plan for a child’s room with some flexibility for future changes in the youngster’s interests and preferences.

“It’s in the nature of kids to change their minds often, so unless you have unlimited income to change everything every three months, it’s best to stay away from a completely themed room,” said Jessica Bonness, an interior designer with JGB Interiors in the District.


Susan Nelson, owner of Susan Nelson Interiors in Great Falls said homeowners should be practical when it comes to decorating a child’s room.

“You want the room to look nice, but this isn’t the place for a high-end fabric for the bedspread,” Ms. Nelson said.

While they are hired to work for the parents, interior designers take time to consult with children, too.

“I let the kids flip through my paint samples and look at my mood board to see what kind of color palette they like,” Ms. Bonness said. “If a child has a favorite color, we can try to accommodate in some way, but of course, when the child wants the room to be neon green, that’s more of a problem. You can find a way to work that color in the bedding or art pieces or accessories in a less permanent way.”

One little girl wanted a soccer-themed room, so Ms. Twomey brought in a black-and-white striped chair, strong green and blue colors for other fabrics and some art with the right colors to evoke the sport rather than fill the space with soccer-ball wallpaper. For someone who wants an orange room, she suggested purchasing orange toss pillows instead of painting the walls orange.

Ms. Twomey recommended starting with a simple, tidy foundation for a child’s room.

“The more chaos you add, the further down into chaos the room will go,” Ms. Twomey said. “A lot of people assume they have to go neutral, but all that really matters is that the room is unified one way or another. For instance, if the walls are one color, then the window treatments should blend with them, and the color should be picked up in a focal piece of art or something decorative. Then when the kids inject their personality the room won’t seem unkempt.”

Ms. Nelson suggested avoiding busy wallpaper and traditional baby pink or soft baby blue, but she said a more sophisticated shade of pink or peach could work well in a girl’s room.

“A simple, striped wallpaper will be appropriate at any age,” Ms. Nelson said, “but paint is even better.”

Once the color scheme has been established, the next step is to determine the layout of the room. Children’s rooms typically are smaller than adult bedrooms, so homeowners will need to be careful in estimating the appropriate sizes of furniture.

“Even if there’s space for two twin beds, I always recommend switching to a double bed right away because the second bed tends to become a dumping ground for everything,” Ms. Nelson said.

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