Designing kids rooms can be both fun and challenging, especially when you’re limited on space. With a little creativity, a small space can be big enough for work, play, and sleep. What are the keys to a pain-free and successful small space design process? Planning, planning and more planning! We’ve got you covered with some design tips for space-efficient, multifunctional kids’ rooms.
1. Measure carefully and draw a floor plan of the way the room looks now (these are your existing conditions). It doesn’t have to be perfect, but you have to know what you’re working with. Every successful design starts with a plan!
2. Be honest about what works and what doesn’t work in the space. If you are moving into a new home, think about what worked and what didn’t work in the previous room. Or even what worked or didn’t work in your own room when you were a child. Did you have a window seat that you loved? Or not enough storage space so your room was always a mess?
3. Make a list of what will really take place in that room (well, everything you want to know about): Sleepovers? Homework? Model trains? Painting? And what about a few years down the road? Do you have a ballet dancer in the family?
4. Think outside the floor plan. Most layout issues can be solved by thinking creatively. Don’t go on autopilot – there are a lot of really innovative solutions available these days that can make a small space function like one twice the size. A wall bed or “murphy bed” can make the biggest difference in a small room, since the bed is what takes up most of the floor space – but it’s only used for a fraction of the day!
Modern wall beds like the Kali Board or the Altea Sofa, made in Italy by Clei provide two functions in a single space. During the day, the Kali Board is a spacious desk, but folds down (without removing the items from the desk!) when the “Murphy bed” hidden behind it is pulled down at night. That’s 21 square feet that work like 42. How about storage cubes that double as seating? Or a flip-down table that gets out of the way when the Wii comes out?
5. Get input from the kids. Not only do they have to live there, but if they feel like they have some input (even if it’s just incorporating their favorite color) they will be much more likely to take pride in the final outcome – and maybe even keep it neater. But make it clear that not every wish will be granted!
6. Determine your budget. But make it realistic so you don’t wind up with a half-finished space at the end. Do you have to do construction? Get more than one estimate. Do your homework ahead of time and you’ll save yourself a lot of headaches down the road.
7. Long-term vs. temporary? Know what items need to be high-quality and where you can cut some corners. Don’t skimp on the bed, the mattress and the storage pieces. They are the things that get used daily and that you want to last the longest. Buy pieces that you know will last, and look for a long warranty (like the lifetime warranty offered by Resource Furniture on all the Clei wall bed mechanisms). But a small amount spent on the dinosaur comforter can make a little boy very happy – until he moves on to Hot Wheels, of course.
8. Be careful where you personalize. Repainting is cheap and relatively easy. Buying new furniture when the fuchsia obsession wears off isn’t cheap or easy. Keep the style and the color palette of the large, expensive items simple, and personalize the space with the extras – go wild with your pillows, bedding, window treatments and rugs. They’ll need to be replaced soon enough anyway.
You’ll be way better off in the long run if you purchase long-term items (like the bed and storage pieces) in a style that won’t phase out in a few years (is there a 15-year old alive who wants to sleep in a pink Pretty-Pretty-Princess bed? Nope – even if it did cost half your budget!) You would have been way better off if you only had to replace the Pretty-Pretty-Princess curtains and pillows, right?
9. Shop without the kids until you narrow down your choices and make sure that everything will fit the space – and fit your budget. And don’t show them anything that you aren’t willing or able to purchase.
10. Ask for help. Redesigning kids’ rooms can be very rewarding, but also overwhelming. Don’t be afraid to ask for help if you aren’t sure. Consider hiring a designer to help with the big – and small – details. Not only do most designers have experience in working out tricky space plans, but they should know where to shop, and that can save you a lot of time and energy. A good designer will cost some money, but it can be well worth it. Ask for references, look at their portfolio, make sure they understand what your goals and budget are and get a written quote. If you really just need help specifying a product line, ask the showroom or store if they offer design assistance, like Resource Furniture does.
And just remember that the smiles at the end of the project will be worth all the effort you put in along the way!