Homes Photo Credit: Nyla Free

Kids’ Rooms 2.0: Designing for Contemporary Tots

We chat to Calgary interior designer Nyla Free about design tips for today’s kids’ rooms.

Gone are the days of wall-to-wall pink and cartoon princess decals. According to Calgary interior designer Nyla Free, today’s kids’ rooms are about the parents, too.

“The baby doesn’t appreciate the room like the mom would,” says Free. More families are looking for nurseries and kids’ rooms that fit into the style and aesthetic of their home. Things are softer and more sophisticated, the palette is more neutral, and decor and furniture are being chosen with longevity in mind.

This boy's room shows an area to display one of his loves: a grouping of vintage style airplanes, as well as a large chalkboard to show off his creativity.
This boy’s room shows an area to display one of his loves: a grouping of vintage style airplanes, as well as a large chalkboard to show off his creativity.

9 Design Tips for Today’s Kids’ Rooms

1. Go with a neutral background. When it comes to walls, things are moving away from the cliche pink or blue, with a softer, sophisticated neutral palette of whites, creams and warm greys. Wallpaper is still happening and a great way to make a huge impact with a punch of colour and pattern. This way colour is brought in through accessories and textiles like pillows or blankets. Free also says decals can be a great option for a temporary look that can be removed easily without having to repaint a wall. Colour starts to come into play more as the kids grow up and develop their personality and preferences.

This girl's room is for a four year old, however our approach has a neutral background and hits of colour without being too juvenile or overpowering. Plenty of room to grow!
This girl’s room is for a four year old, however our approach has a neutral background and hits of colour without being too juvenile or overpowering. Plenty of room to grow!

2. Get Comfortable. Because it’s a room people spend a lot of time in, it’s important to have things that make the space comfortable, like a nice chair and layered lighting. “There are times where you’re up in the middle of the night and you don’t necessarily want the light on full blast,” says Free, who recommends a floor lamp beside a chair, dimmers and things where you have a few more options for moms feeding in the wee hours.

3. Long-lasting decor.“It’s becoming less about baby and more about moms, as far as the decor and furniture are concerned,” explains the designer. Vintage items and antiques are increasingly popular in the latest kids’ rooms because they have staying power and fit better with the whole home’s style. Any pieces too juvenile might not work as the child becomes a toddler. If you’re investing in a piece, choose something that would be worth it and well suited anywhere in the home.

Free loves the Muuto 'Mini-Stacked' shelving system because the modern stacks bring in a bit of colour and much-needed storage without being too juvenile. (Photo muuto.com.)
Free loves the Muuto ‘Mini-Stacked’ shelving system because the modern stacks bring in a bit of colour and much-needed storage without being too juvenile. (Photo muuto.com.)

4. You can’t have enough storage. “Not only for clothing, depending on the closet situation, but also for toys,” says Free. Multiple storage options keep toy debris in check, as kids often want at least some toys in their room even if there’s a play area elsewhere.

One key bunny decal is enough, there's no need to go full rabbit in the bedding, the pillows and all over the walls. (Photo uwdecals.com.)
One sweet bunny decal is enough—there’s no need to go full rabbit in the bedding, the pillows and all over the walls. (Photo uwdecals.com.)

5. Conceptual design vs. thematic. If your child loves horses, instead of horses-horses-everywhere, Free suggests building a room with warmer, richer browns and incorporating items like leather and woods—keeping the horse factor to a selection of some smaller equestrian accents or items with a Western feel. It’s good to find a balance between what the children love and what fits with the rest of the home.

6. Furniture they can grow into. “I’ve always approached it from the perspective of growing into it,” shares the Calgary designer. “A twin bed is necessary if you have a size of space that can only handle that scale of bed, but I’ve always been a fan of using the largest furniture you can for that space.”

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“One of our favourite lines in bedding is Surina and Lily; it washes so beautifully,” says Free. They have everything from basics to bold prints and colours. “A patterned sheet with a basic neutral duvet cover so you get a little bit of that interest and detail—that’s one of our go-tos.” (Photo serenaandlily.com.)

7. Choose bedding and textiles that are kid-friendly. Linen, although beautiful, would not be the most practical choice for a young child’s bedding. Free recommends picking fabrics that are durable and maintenance friendly, for all those spills and wayward colouring sessions. “Ikea has great pieces that give that modern aesthetic … but people aren’t going to be too concerned if they need to toss it after a few years.”

More people are requesting bean bag chairs, so Free and her team try to find that balance between what the children love and what is a fit with the room and the rest of the home. (Junio Marimekko Fat Boy - photo nulinedistribution.com.)
More people are requesting bean bag chairs, so Free and her team try to find that balance between what the children love and what is a fit with the room and the rest of the home. (Junio Marimekko Fat Boy – photo nulinedistribution.com.)

8. Organize with boxes and baskets. Another great way to keep things organized and reduce the tripping hazard. Err on the softer side of things, opting for wicker and canvas baskets versus a plastic. This is also another way you can bring in colour and pattern in subtle details. “I don’t think the entire room has to have personality—not every aspect has to be screaming colour and pattern.”

Tweens love their photos! Concentrate them in one area with a gallery wall or photo hanging decor like this Metal Photo Clip String Set from Urban Outfitters.
Tweens love their photos! Concentrate them in one area with a gallery wall or photo hanging decor like this Metal Photo Clip String Set from Urban Outfitters.

9. Tweens are all about the photos. For older kids on the way to teenhood, Free says room decor is all about the friends and all about photos of the friends. It can be a challenge to fit tons of photos in the space while maintaining a cohesive look. Bulletin boards with strings or clips can help, as well as a gallery wall. Photos can get a little messy, but these add some formality and concentrate the memorabilia in the space.

 

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