What makes a ‘clever’ kid’s room? In our eyes, it’s the skillful combination of playfulness and practicality. It’s a thoughtfully-designed space that ignites imagination, entertains young minds, and encourages rest while doubling down on storage.
The bedroom in the image above by Studio Lifestyle may be the stuff of dreams and big budgets, but it’s undeniably inspiring. It shows how fun and coziness can easily co-exist along with more pragmatic things like decreasing clutter.
Let’s take a look at some of our favourite kids’ rooms, and what makes them so clever.
Kids tend to keep company with a lot of stuff, and finding places to tuck it away can be a challenge. Shelving units with bins and large floor baskets are popular solutions but if you have the budget for built-in storage, you can customize and get creative at the same time. The above comfy alcove bed with a trundle, drawers, and niches is a great example of smart storage. A similar but more traditional approach would be to frame a window with bookshelves, cupboards, and a window seat with drawers.
Kids exist in a creative, highly imaginative world only for a few years. Indulge in one of their favourite things, something that they treasure or love to do and make it the highlight of the room. The terms ‘playful’ and ‘play’ are open to interpretation—it might be the physical play or perhaps it’s the room’s fanciful aesthetic. What makes it polished? Not going overboard with the playful elements.
Pro Tip: Because interests can be fleeting as kids grow, choose one playful, non-permanent element. For example the climbing structure above can be easily removed leaving the rest of the room ready for the next age & stage. Too heavy a dose of ‘playful’ can also be overstimulating. No one wants to be stuck negotiating bedtimes in a room that’s a front-to-back jungle gym!
Innovative Bunk Beds
Some of the coolest kids rooms have bunk beds—and while bunks can seem utilitarian (hello, summer camp) and unnecessary for one little body, most kids will tell you they LOVE this type of bed. Bunks hold the promise of sleepover guests or an extra place to hang. If it’s a shared or smaller room, space-saving bunks free up valuable real estate for other fun things.
The smartest bunk beds aren’t straight out of the box. Whether it’s an IKEA DIY hack or a custom built-in, the key is to adapt the bunk design to the theme or shape of the room. For example, the playful ‘portholes’ on the bunks above allow light through, brightening up the bed/play area while staggering the lower bunk creates a larger storage bench by the window.
A multipurpose bed is another ingenious choice. In the Amber Interiors design above, the bed includes shelves and drawers. We’ve also seen built-in desks, closets, or trundle beds for sleepovers. But the hybrid bed doesn’t need to be a bunk—a daybed is a sharp choice for a room that does double-duty as a play space (seen below).
This is when you go all-in on a theme in a brilliant way. In the above bold black & white retro-modern room, they’ve balanced playful with prudent. There are a few high-impact pieces that carry the room without it looking like it’s all too much. The challenge is to simplify and unify elements of theme.
Above is an adventure theme that the designer wanted to be playful and interactive “yet still Scandinavian and not too busy.” The resulting room is high impact, but remains restful because of the restraint with big features like the tent and climbing wall, as well as the soothing colour palette.
The opposite end of the room has a climbing wall (easily removed when the kids grow) and two cozy reading nooks.
Cunning Use of Space
Spark imagination with a special retreat filled with pillows, blankets, and books. It doesn’t need to be as elaborate as the ones shown here—it could mean taking advantage of a space under the eaves, or converting a crawl space into a hideout.
Kids use their rooms differently than adults. For starters, they need more floor space to roll or lounge around in. We’ve spotted several children’s bedrooms that unconventionally place the bed ‘out of the way’ along the wall to free up space in the middle of the room, or to leave walls open to be used in other ways.
In the room above, the bed could be placed between the windows or on two other walls. By tucking it in the corner, it becomes cozier and a great spot for gazing out the window. It also creates room for a stunning floor-to-ceiling gallery wall. A large desk is placed against the fourth wall, near the door.