- The Washington Times - Saturday, October 9, 2004

Two children can peacefully, even neatly, coexist in a small bedroom. It even can be done with each child getting to express his or her interests and tastes, says Kelley Proxmire, a Bethesda interior designer.

The first item to consider is space for each child, Ms. Proxmire says. Ideally, each should have his or her own bed, desk and storage space.

“If you can divide the room, that is great,” she says. “It doesn’t necessarily teach sharing, but each can have his own space.”

There are some concepts to keep in mind when planning a room for two, Ms. Proxmire says.

First, there is color. Say one sister likes pink and one likes blue. There are ways to satisfy both. Try a neutral background and a border with the two colors and bedding in both colors.

“I like the idea of a reversible duvet cover,” Ms. Proxmire says. “You could have pink and white on one side and blue and white on the other.”

Getting color and design input is important so each child feels he or she has an impact on his or her space, says Ro Logrippo, author of “In My World: Designing Living & Learning Environments for the Young.”

“We all have a desire for our primal space to reflect our interests,” she says. “You can have the bedcovers look the same, but the sheets can be different. That will give each child an opportunity to choose.”

Ms. Logrippo also likes the idea of color-coding items, particularly for young children. When one child has say, red, as his color, he knows everything in the red bins or in the drawers with the red handles are his. This also can carry over into the bathroom. It will give children a good sense of ownership, she says.

With two (or more) of everything, storage is going to be at a premium. Ms. Logrippo offers several ideas for having equitable storage space:

• Because there are two beds, use the space under them. There are all sorts of roll-out, under-the-bed boxes that can hold clothes, shoes and toys.

• Take a look at the closet. “Young kids, in particular, are not using the upper portion of a closet,” Ms. Logrippo says. “You can do some really neat things with a closet.”

Families can customize a closet to create cubbies and other areas to hold items, she says. A large closet even can be outfitted as a loft hideaway, Ms. Logrippo says.

The room can be made larger — or at least made to look larger — by removing the closet doors, she says.

“You can replace the door with a curtain, which softens the look of the room and opens the space,” Ms. Logrippo says.

Some curtains and shower curtains have pockets that can be used to hold small items and stuffed animals, which also increases the storage space, she says.

• Find privacy. Privacy is a big issue for older children who share a room.

Ms. Logrippo says one family she worked with had a long room, and they installed a sliding pocket door in it so each child could have occasional privacy.

She also likes the idea of using curtains for privacy. Inexpensive panels can be installed on a ceiling track (as hospitals do) and can be moved around when needed.

Modular cubes not only can be used to store a number of items, but can be stacked and arranged as room dividers, Ms. Logrippo says. They can be painted each child’s “colors.”

“You can stack them three-high to form a divider,” she says. “You can put a bulletin board on the back of some of them so the other child can use the outside. You can put some on wheels to move them around. It is a nice, effective way to go.”

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