Designing a Child’s Bedroom That Grows with Them

Another school year has begun, and those first-day-of-school photos are yet another reminder of the passage of time. 

Your little ones are growing up. They’re developing their own interests, opinions, and perspectives, and with each year, they seek out new ways to communicate who they are to the world.

As interior designers, we believe your living space can serve as a canvas for meaningful self-expression. Allowing your little one to showcase their personality and creativity through their room design is a meaningful gift any parent can give their child.

But as the adult in the room, you must weigh those benefits against practical concerns. Kids can develop new interests and discard old ones in the blink of an eye. It’s simply not feasible to overhaul your child’s room design every time a new passion emerges.

How do you design a child’s bedroom that can evolve and grow alongside your little one? We share foundational advice for parents at any stage of their journey looking for children’s bedroom design ideas.

Don’t Lean Too Heavily Into a Theme

We’ve all been drawn in by the siren song of a perfectly-themed child’s room on Pinterest or Instagram.

Whether you’re excitedly browsing nursery pictures as you prepare to welcome your first baby or you’re looking for inspiration to bring your preschooler’s racecar room fantasy to life, those glossy online images can make going all-in on a theme seem appealing.

In reality, though, fully embracing a theme leaves you stylistically cornered. When your newborn becomes a toddler with their own interests, or your preschooler sours on cars and wants to pivot to sea creatures, backing out of a fully-themed room is difficult.

Instead, ground your room with a neutral palette. Select a paint color that can serve as a blank canvas for your broader design – a shade of white or grey offers the ideal base on which you can build. Keep your trim, any millwork, and furniture pieces neutral, too. 

If that sounds challenging or limiting, remember that neutral does not have to mean light or white. Shades like navy, taupe, and greige are all considered neutrals but can add more drama or depth to a space.

Incorporate Theme Through Decor

Once you’ve established a clean base from which to work, you can add personality through your decor choices. Introducing thematic elements via items you can easily remove gives you the flexibility to make changes over the years without starting from scratch each time.

If your theme is dinosaurs, rather than creating a prehistoric mural or plastering your entire space with T-rex wallpaper, hang some framed artwork with various dinos, or opt for lampshades featuring a Jurassic scene.

Instead of purchasing a dino-themed duvet and sheet set, add stegosaurus covers to your throw pillows. When your child’s interests shift in the future, you can retain the pillow inserts and simply swap out the covers.

Design Your Kid’s Room with Durability in Mind

Children will put a space through its paces, so you want to select materials meant to withstand some wear and tear.

This begins with choosing your wall covering. Instead of opting for a delicate wallpaper, go for paint with a satin finish. Glossier paints are easier to wipe down, so if your little one turns their wall into a Crayola marker canvas, the situation is reversible.

The same approach is true for furniture selection. Solid-wood pieces, rather than composite items, are easy to clean and maintain. Choose a durable material for any fabric elements or upholstered furniture and rely on slipcovers or stain guard technology to fend off permanent stains.

Finally, keep an eye toward durability when selecting storage pieces. We love the look of woven storage baskets in other areas of the home, but a delicate rattan may not stand up to a high-energy play session. Storage cubes in sturdy plastic or flexible canvas are the best fit for children’s room designs.

Select Adaptable Children’s Bedroom Furniture

Buying furniture is an investment. While some items will need to be replaced over the years – you can only get so much mileage out of a bassinet – finding other pieces that can do double (or even triple) duty is ideal.

Many children’s furniture designers build with adaptability in mind. For example, you may select a crib that converts from a mini-crib to a full-sized crib to a toddler bed. While it won’t take you all the way through the teenage years, it helps you get some additional life out of that single piece of furniture.

A piece like this dresser can serve double duty as a changing table for your infant but remain useful well beyond the diaper years.

Some other items may not be explicitly designed for convertibility, but you can turn them into multi-use pieces. 

For example, you may purchase a waist-height dresser that can serve as a changing table for your infant – complete with diaper storage – and then retain its usefulness as a place to keep clothing.

A children’s desk may serve as an arts-and-crafts spot for your toddler, with drawers for markers and construction paper. As your little one reaches grade school age, it can transform into a homework station with room for pencils and lined paper.

Incorporate Storage from the Start

Children’s rooms always need storage. Whether you’re looking for a place to house onesies in various infant sizes or your high schooler’s summer reading books, shelving and adaptable storage solutions will serve you well.

Consider adding built-in storage from the start, with modular components made to adapt as your child grows.

If you install custom bookshelves, you may fill them with storage cubes during the infant years – the perfect place to keep plush toys and all those baby clothes your child is rapidly outgrowing!

As your little one enters grade school, the cubes can disappear, and the shelves can house early chapter books and Lego creations or figurines. 

The bookshelves remain useful into the high school years when they become a place to keep novels, textbooks, and framed prom photos.

From Acampora Interiors’ Wellesley New Traditional project. Photo by Joyelle West.

The same is true of modular closet storage solutions. Installing adjustable-height shelves and rods allows you to maximize your closet space. As your child grows and clothes become longer, you can move the rods to create more space between them and adjust the shelving to make room for bigger shoes or bulkier sweaters.

Designing a kid’s bedroom with an eye toward longevity from the start can help you create a room brimming with personality and practicality. Selecting the right durable, adaptable elements allows the space to evolve as your child grows so they always feel at home in their room.