My husband and I are expecting our first baby this August, so we're on the hunt for a simple white crib. Infants are usually in their bassinets for the first couple of months anyway, but first-time parents often feel the need to perfect the nursery long before baby even arrives, and we're no exception. We've been busying ourselves with preparations since the first trimester.
Our spare room is already quite traditional — plenty of antiques and old furniture that have been in my family for decades. Since this will become the nursery, we'd like to decorate it in the same style. There are already two old dressers in that room that we'll use for the baby, and my sister is giving us her vintage change table (also white), but we're struggling to find a crib and accents that aren't too modern. Here are some of the cribs we've rounded up so far:
The Dylan crib from Duc Duc has that simple look we're going for, but I would prefer an open base and spindles on all four sides.
The Savannah crib, also from Duc Duc, is more my style, but I'm not sure about the wood panelling below the mattress. You can customize it with one of seven different colours, but I'm not crazy about any of them.
Bloom's Alma Max crib is a top-seller, but I think it's a tad modern for our existing furniture.
Oeuf's Sparrow crib is clean and contemporary — a timeless choice that could work in any style of nursery.
This Liberty crib from Franklin & Ben is a fresh take on the antique spindle crib, and I love the detailing on the legs and spindles. Also, priced at around $400, it's much more affordable than the ones above.
The Barcelona classic crib from Natart Juvenile is just as beautiful, but is made here in Canada. Also reasonably priced at $430.
And then there's the Gulliver crib from Ikea. I always go back to this one. It's simple and fuss-free.
What do you think? Will any of these more modern shapes work with our vintage white dressers?
Check out Katie Hayden's blog for more great ideas for kids' rooms.
I love bookshelves. Partly because I love to read, and partly for the rainbow of colour books bring to a room. And being a bargain-hunter means I can't pass a garage sale or thrift shop without taking at least a quick look at their literary offerings. In addition, my dad, mom and sister have already bought pretty much any new release I'm interested in reading, and pass on most to me when they're finished. So, as you can imagine, my cosy (read "cramped") semidetached house is swimming in books.
I used to clip pictures of other readers' libraries from magazines and books, and now I pin them religiously on Pinterest.
Children's books are really no exception. I love them, and I love the way they look in a room. Recently, I relieved my local Goodwill of 28 children's books in a single visit — and 30 more at the book-sale fundraiser my daycare recently hosted. And as my seven-year-old completes grade two, she's moving into the world of chapter books — a whole new chapter in my collecting!
Obviously, a parent's bookshelf choices will depend on their child's collection. Book hoarders like me can't live without substantial shelving. Deep bookshelves with the spines facing out just plain hold the most books. When you have a collection like ours, they're the go-to style.
Nothing would make me happier than to be able to create a book nook like this one (home to Owen and Dylan, the subjects of the Little Hellraiser blog) for my children. It's an enchanting hideaway, and has display shelves down below and more practical storage shelves up top. (I could live without the mini TV — I'd like to think that the inviting environment would encourage my kids to do a bit of reading!)
Public library devotees and minimalists, on the other hand, can get away with much less shelving. Which allows for other book storage options — a good thing, since it's thought that children, especially the littlest ones, use books differently from us, and that this should be a consideration when we contemplate how to store their favourite tales.
Aesthetically speaking, racks that display books with their covers facing out are the most fun and let kids have a good look at their reading choices. And there's no denying that today's storybooks burst with colour and graphics — making them a playful pick-me-up for any kids' room.
Bin-style storage is arguably the most kid-friendly. Bins can hold a greater number of books and allow little ones to reach their libraries with ease to find just the right read for the occasion.
Here are some of the most appealing storage options I've seen for kids' libraries.
This corner unit in Swedish graphic designer Helena Schaeder Söderberg's house is the mother of all display shelves. It still wouldn't hold all of our books, but I could rotate new books in and out seasonally.
These simple book ledges featured in the Australian magazine Inside Out are low-key in style, letting the graphic storybooks take centre stage. They're made with inexpensive parts from Ikea. (Get the instructions here.)
I love the contrast between the intricate neotoile-style wallpaper and the saturated hues of the books in this colourful bedroom (in the home of Middle Class White Girl blogger Wendel — as shown in Oh Marie magazine).
Tucking book racks at the end of these bunk beds (in writer Anita Kaushal's London home — she's the author of The Family at Home (2007 Clarkson Potter)) is a clever idea — and encourages youngsters to read in bed at night or when they wake in the morning.
These days, many parents are crafting their own book racks. Some — like these little grey ones from blog Wonderful Joy Ahead — are made with simple wooden spice racks. Another project, from Martha Stewart, suggests retrofitting basic plate racks for books.
If you're feeling particularly unhandy, try this smaller, stand-alone option: the Madison 3-Shelf Book Rack from Pottery Barn Kids.
This simple white unit is one of the best book bins I've seen. Berlin-based Danish blogger Christina found it on the street! It lets kids flip through four big stacks to find a favourite read.
Washington State blogger Michelle Allen was lucky enough to find this charming — and sturdy — vintage library cart. I'd definitely grab it if I came across one at a flea market!
The Good Read Book Caddy (this is the Azure colourway — there are lots of others) from The Land of Nod is a similar option — and one that would fit in even the smallest bedrooms.
Finally, a book tower like this brings a distinctly modern aesthetic to a child's room. It would be a great option in an older grade-schooler or teen's room, but I can't picture a preschooler being able to keep it organized (or upright!). Umbra used to make a metal book tower that I coveted, and CB2 has a similar version now.
Watch this Online TV segment of a boy's bedroom makeover to see how Sarah Hartill organized books.
1. Little Hellraiser blog
2. Helena Schaeder Söderberg via Ish & Chi
3. Inside Out magazine
4. My Attic blog
5. Anita Kaushal
6a. Wonderful Joy Ahead blog
6b. Martha Stewart
7. Madison 3-Shelf Book Rack, Pottery Barn Kids
8. Dejligheder blog
9a. Cory Connor Designs via Petite Literary
9b. Luz Vasconcelos' home in Portugal via The Lovely Side blog
10. Michelle Allen
11. Good Read Book Caddy, The Land of Nod
12. Attempting Aloha blog
I haven't met a child who isn't enchanted by a fort. Not the military stronghold type, but the ones built with sofa cushions and blankets. Certainly, they're inspired by the challenge of constructing something so big themselves. But there must also be some connection to having a "room" of one's own — a pleasing universal idea. And perhaps there's also a link to living like the characters do in their storybooks and fairy tales.
One of my all-time favourite magazine tearsheets is a Carolina Herrera ad picturing two youngsters ensconced in haphazardly assembled but thoroughly delightful contraptions built of silk scarves, clothes pegs and rope.
For parents not keen on having rooms ripped apart on a daily basis, there are plenty of options on the market for providing kids with instant architecture.
Diminutive kid-friendly pop-up tents have been around for decades. Years ago, on the way to a week of car-camping, my husband and I picked up an Oscar-the-Grouch-patterned tent (along with a tiny collapsible chair and a wee sleeping bag) at a SuperStore in Barrie, Ontario, as a spot to set down our barely crawling baby daughter while camping. It's still the best $20 we ever spent! It comes on all our camping trips and hosts everything from teddy bear picnics to light-sabre battles, and when Tessa was a baby, I'd open it up in the living room as a fun place to play on grey days. (Fast-forward seven years, and we now have a deluxe model comprised of two play tents connected by a tunnel, and it's a hit anytime we assemble the whole shebang in our dining room, the only room large enough to host it.)
The new classic seems to be the tepee. We were lucky enough to inherit one like this from our friend Evie, who had outgrown hers. (Similar versions are available in Toronto at Advice from a Caterpillar.
Pile a tepee full of blankets, toys and pillows (these darling block-printed ones are from Rikshaw Design), and kids will happily while away the hours.
A simple A-frame tent is a similar option. This vibrantly coloured one from the Ottawa-based Teepee and Tent shop on Etsy has a lighthearted Wild West vibe.
For a sleepover or at a summer cottage, homemade tents like these will be a surefire hit — and can be used to give each child a little privacy.
On the other end of the spectrum, this luxe, fully outfitted bell tent is about as inviting and whimsical as a play spot can get.
Perhaps we'll try for a setup like one of these in our backyard when the weather finally warms up. Rope and simple dowels or bamboo garden poles aren't hard to come by, and between old bed sheets and art drop-cloths, we've got the draping covered. The more quirky or romantic, the better for engaging kids' imaginations. Over the years, I've picked up a number of bright floral sheets at thrift stores and Goodwill, and just given them a thorough wash before handing them over to the kids.
Another new take is the table tent — which in my books is a great way to repurpose little-used dining rooms. Crafty sewers can tailor-make versions to resemble a child's own home or a favourite storybook abode. Here are the DIY directions for this one — the original post is in Dutch, so you'll need to run them through Google Translate.
In my experience, though, the most beloved forts are the handcrafted variety. Children find satisfaction in building their own structures. (And who among us who's ever custom-built their own house would fault them?) My kids construct endless permutations with the mere two blankets and six throw pillows we have in our living room. Left to their own devices for as little as 10 minutes, they'll inevitably rearrange the room's two chairs and one coffee table into two forts — one for each of them — or on a good day, two to share. And anytime we host a play date, Tessa's bunk bed meets the same fate.
It's a place for them to get away — to hide out from the adults and from the more mundane parts of their existence. A room of one's own ... I guess we all need it.
See our gallery of Trendy Kids' Bedroom Ideas for more inspiration.
1. The Well Appointed House blog
2. My First Little Place blog
3. Rikshaw Design
4. Teepee and Tent Shop, Etsy.com
5. Maxabella Loves blog
6. Mommo Design
7. Jollydays Luxury Camping
8. PS by Dila blog, photography by Renee Hindman
9. Runway Hippie blog
10. 101 Woonideeën blog
One of my oldest friends recently announced her pregnancy, and it's been a buzz of excitement between us girls ever since. Since she is the first one in our circle to have a baby, it's a pretty big deal and the following months will be a whirlwind of events before the little one arrives.
This exciting occasion has thrown me into full-on nursery browsing, and after perusing endless photo galleries of baby coves, my favourite look is fuss-free and simple. I've compiled quite a little list of quirky baby what-nots. Check them out!
Rich leather seating is a striking alternative to pastel linens.
This wood carousel horse from Restoration Hardware is a fun (and nice looking!) addition to a nursery.
This mushroom pouf would add a pop of colour to a neutral space.
I love the woodsy animal print on this soft wool rug from DwellStudio.
Nurseries can be a little over-the-top with all the frills and bows that come with baby things. This glass pendant light would tone down the fuss.
This whimsical rabbit scene pillow is lovely on its own or as a grouping with other throw pillows.
This mobile will lull your baby to sleep as it twirls around and around. Have you ever seen anything so sweet?
This Enchanted Forest Mural from Anthropologie brings fairytales to life.
This sweet little vintage art print stole my heart. What a creative way to fill up wall space.
I'm excited to see what Dina comes up with for her baby room!
For more simple nursery's, see Katie Hayden's roundup of Undecorated Kids' Rooms.
1. Carlton Leather Recliner, Restoration Hardware Baby & Child
2. Vintage Wood Carousel Horse, Restoration Hardware Baby & Child
3. Mushroom Pouf, Anthropologie
4. Woodland Tumble Round Rug, DwellStudio
5. Clift Oversized Glass Pendant, Pottery Barn
6. Meadow Powder Blue Boudoir Pillow, DwellStudio
7. Bird Felt Mobile, Restoration Hardware Baby & Child
8. Enchanted Forest Mural, Anthropologie
9. For My Darling Vintage Framed Little Art Print, Rosenberry Rooms
Decorations for children's rooms shouldn't be too serious. Unlike us, they're still rapidly going through learning and expanding periods in their lives, and their various new interests are coming fast and furious, so it's difficult to tie them to one style, colour or pastime. Sure, if a child loves purple, try some purple drapes or a purple-striped feature wall. Or if their passion is robots, invest in a framed poster or a new set of bedding to celebrate that, but don't — as my in-laws did — wallpaper his room in racecar-themed paper he'll have to live with until he's 18.
A darling of the crafting world for several years now, washi tape is a simple, cheerful way to do something new in a child's room without investing a lot of time or money. With Spring Break on the horizon, and a few snowy weekends still to come before spring hits — you and your kids probably have spare time on your hands.
Washi tape is available in an unending array of inspiring colours and patterns — at turns, simple, sweet or quirky. “Wa shi” translates simply to “Japanese paper,” and the paper is made into tape with the addition of low-tack adhesive backing. Authentic washi tape is made with the bark from a handful of Japanese trees and is usually more expensive. Varieties made from other papers are readily available these days, usually with a lower price tag. Like masking tape, it can be removed and even reused without wrecking your paint job.
Lay out $20 or $30 at the craft store, and you'll have enough washi tape for several projects — with leftovers for rainy day kids' crafting, DIY birthday cards and more. I bought supplies for my projects at The Paper Place in Toronto, but washi is easy to find these days; try DeSerres, Michaels or Etsy. On top of several rolls of washi tape (including some from Japanese maker mt, the granddaddy of washi tape), I found a Masking Sticker Set by Wrapables, which came with 27 sheets of colourful, easy-to-use paper tape in strips and polka-dots.
My next decision? What to do with the washi. “Hang” an irreverent taped-to-the-wall picture gallery? A few playful neon stripes highlighting the architecture in the girls' rooms? A full-fledged wall mural? The Internet offers an endless supply of inspiration. Here are some of my favourites:
A basic gallery wall is perhaps the easiest starting point. Freeform galleries can be as loose as you want, though I usually like to use the principles H&H suggests for galleries of framed artwork: hang items a consistent distance apart, keep each work in line with at least one other one, and lay out your gallery on the floor and perfect it before mounting it on the wall. A grid of same-sized pics has graphic presence, while another fun take on the gallery involves creating a large “frame” with washi tape, and then mounting snapshots and images inside that, as you would on a bulletin board.
Get your feet wet for more creative applications with a starter project like a simple flower or tree — or a name tag.
Beyond simply decorative, projects like these let busy youngsters interact with the designs you — or they! — create. Bring the sidewalk inside in winter with a washi tape hopscotch game on the playroom or dining room floor. Or lay down a network of roads, and pull out all your Matchbox cars and toy trains for an afternoon of play. Add houses, and shops — and don't forget parking!
Similarly, craftier kids may want to build their own paper-and-tape village. (At age 5, my daughter Tessa happily passed several hours stuck in the car crafting three-dimensional roomscapes and furniture with just tape, coloured paper and scissors.)
Up for more of a challenge? Use washi tape to highlight architecture — or fake it where your room's bones are underwhelming. Use a level (we have a level app on our iPad) to ensure lines are perfectly vertical or horizontal.
Let's call this rainbow-striped wall treatment the Super Bowl of washi installations. The DIY for the bright, cheerful project certainly won't be a piece of cake (have your level on hand for this one!), but the show-stopping results are as bold as the most eye-catching wallpapers.
Feeling less mathematical and more artistic? Express your inner Picasso with a design like this cross-stitch-inspired bird. Plan your pattern on paper before starting work on the wall itself.
In the end, my 7-year-old, Tessa, and I carved out a quiet hour after her little sister went to bed to flex our artistic muscles and test-drive two easy starter projects. She did a bang-up job re-creating one of the ideas above — a bouquet of “door flowers”. I tried my hand at a simple gallery wall over 2-year-old Zoë's bed (she was bunking in Tessa's room), and I must admit that I'm not totally happy with the results. (One good pointer I came away with was to double up the tape strips to make my semitransparent washi tape look bolder.) But therein lies the beauty of washi tape: I can pull it all down and start again next weekend — no harm, no foul!
1. Katie Hayden
2. Heart Handmade UK
3. Jessica Antola
4. Hana & George
5. French By Design
6. by fryd
7. Bonnier Media
9. Donkey Products
11. Spearmint Baby
12. Ann Kelle
14-15. Katie Hayden
I always have a chuckle when I come across pictures of perfectly styled and edited nurseries for newborns. At least in terms of toys, everything is still so ideal, so simple.
In Dylan's California room (featured on Apartment Therapy), for example, his eight toys and 20 books look so lovely and orderly on the wall-mounted shelves.
Even the bigger, full-height shelves in Oliver and Sebastien's room in Scotland wouldn't scratch the surface of the toy-storage needs at my house. We'd fill those in five minutes, and still have five times that much still to store.
My sister and sister-in-law are expecting their first child imminently. When I visited their place last weekend, they had his few books and toys all nicely arranged on a little shelf above his dresser. It was sweet... and naive.
Okay, maybe there's not an avalanche of toys waiting at their doorstep yet.
In the first year of your child's life, you buy or inherit a small library of books and bedtime stories (let's touch on bookshelves — one of my favourite topics — another time), tactile toys, the inevitable stuffed animals, a car or two, an electronic toy (my two-year-old, Zoë, got not one, but two faux smartphones for Christmas this year), a tambourine, maraca or xylophone... Then come the blocks, puzzles, Lego, cars, dollies with their cradles and bedding and clothes and bottles and strollers.
By year three, there are dress-up clothes, the play kitchen and all its pots and pans and plates and so on, action figures, sports equipment and tub toys. All but the most ruthless and minimalist of us are buried in little people paraphernalia.
One route is to make an intensive study of purging and living minimalistically. That's just never going to happen for me — I have too many interests, too much sentimentality and too little time. And I think I've passed those characteristics onto my girls already.
So... where to keep all the stuff?
My best advice is to have an assortment of storage options. There's no one-size-fits-all solution. Different systems will work for different kids and parents, and different storables necessitate different types of storage.
At my house, we have wall units filled with boxes, dedicated drawers in the dining room sideboard, wicker baskets tucked under tables, canvas bins stashed in corners and laundry hampers stuffed with frilly dresses, fairy wings, witches' capes and various flamenco dresses and cheongsams transported from exotic locales by devoted grandparents.
Storage is such a huge challenge it wouldn't do it justice to try to cover it all in one fell swoop. This month, let's consider furniture options, and next time, I'll look into more portable storage ideas, like baskets, bins, boxes, bags, etc.
A giant hutch is a fantastic option, as long as it won't look too monolithic in your child's room. You can stash easy-to-access toys in the lower shelves and hide the things you want to administer yourself up higher — Play-Doh, paints, science kits, bubblegum-making kits (no joke... my seven-year-old, Tessa, her friend Miranda and I made our own chewing gum last weekend — and trust me, you don't want that mess happening just anytime the fancy strikes your child!). A vintage hutch will have innate character, but a new one painted a bold colour can be just as fun.
You can also take advantage of the unreachable surface on top of a higher hutch to display precious or breakable toys and collectibles, like this motley pack of vintage Steiff dogs.
This show-stopping unit makes a serious statement and incorporates loads of storage space — for hanging clothes, as well as toys in the drawers down below and on shelves in the main section. And a mirror is a must for school days — and dress-up parties.
A partially open unit like this one in Thea's room in Dalarna, Sweden (from her mom's blog Strawberries With Milk) offers room for display, plus doors that shut on the mess when needed.
Count me in on this option if I ever have enough space in my home. Talk about storage! Side-by-side dressers dolled up with colourful knobs and frames. I'd set aside three drawers for clothes, another for off-season clothes, and then others for Lego, games and puzzles, art supplies, Barbies, etc. (Do we have too many toys?!)
While it won't hold quite as much, a vintage dresser like this would be great for sorting and organizing a mass of diverse toys into distinct categories.
We've dedicated two drawers — one for each girl — in our dining room sideboard (an Ikea 8-drawer Hemnes dresser) in an effort to keep toys at bay on the main floor.
In a playroom or child's bedroom, something fun like the glossy bright pink Beckett dresser by SPI Baby reads "toy chest" as opposed to "clothes keeper."
Building in a set of drawers gives a playroom a polished, thoroughly considered look, and lets you create a sturdy counter or bench on top. This low unit in the Brooklyn, N.Y., home of landscape designer Miranda Brooks and architect Bastien Halard (featured in Vogue magazine) leaves loads of room up above for displaying artwork by daughters Poppy and Violette Grey. And the punchy yellow top adds an irreverent twist of bright colour.
If you can find old store shelves or display cabinets, grab them! They tend to have unique configurations and sizes you'll be hard-pressed to find in furniture shops. Paint them a bright hue, tuck a couple of bins or baskets into the bottom shelves to hold smaller bits and bobs, and start putting away toys. Dutch textile designer Erika Haberts of Mikodesign turned these shelves into a play kitchen for her daughters Sofia and Mila — but they could just as easily house a wide array of kids' toys and belongings.
Sometimes simple bookshelves — wide or narrow — will do the trick. Fashion designer Ariane Goldman uses both in this play area for her daughter, Charlie Grey, in her East Hampton, N.Y., home (featured in Lonny). Use decorative boxes to corral smaller toys and hide less eye-catching ones, then arrange the more artful playthings like sculpture on the shelves.
This built-in shelving has a similar look, but incorporates a desktop and runs right up to the ceiling. A great idea that takes homework and display into account as kids get older.
Speaking of shelving, I've always found Ikea's Expedit wall units particularly useful and über-afforable, a boon at my house since we've been adding more and more and more storage pieces over the past seven years. They're also great as room dividers or for straight-out book storage.
In Adella and Nolan's California playroom (featured on Apartment Therapy), four Expedit units are stacked together for maximum storage.
Here's a smaller, simpler version in a breezy, all-white child's room in Sweden.
And check out the toy real-estate in this five-by-five-cubby Expedit! Plus, the display is artful — and thoroughly inviting for kids.
It may not be an Expedit unit, but this piece in the playroom of blogger Melissa de la Fuente has the same look and the same hard-working utility.
If I had to do it again, I'd invest in a set of these smart Bulk Bins from Pottery Barn Kids. They're designed to keep toys sorted and organized, and make tidying up as easy as possible for kids. And I do think my kids — whom, I must admit, aren't the tidiest little gals — would use them and use them properly. Plus, the boxes' white-picket-fence aesthetic would bring a palate-cleansing crispness to a busy playroom.
I also love the look of the 9-Bin Industrial Storage Unit from Restoration Hardware's Baby & Child line, which has a similar design but with a great vintage-industrial ruggedness.
And in my mind, repurposed vintage pieces bring some of the most unique character to a room. These stacking metal bins are to die for. As with any vintage metal pieces, just be sure there are no sharp edges or rusty patches. Safety has to be goal number one when it comes kids' rooms.
For more ideas, see our Organizing Kids' Play & Work Spaces photo gallery.
1. Apartment Therapy
2. A Merry Mishap blog
3. Country Living, photography by Steven Randazzo
4. Jikke's blog
5. Jordgubbar Med Mjolk blog
7. Camille Chincholle blog
8. Hemnes 8-drawer dresser, Ikea
9. Beckett Dresser Version II, SPI Baby
10. Vogue, photography by François Halard
11. Bloesem Kids blog
12. Lonny September 2012 issue, photography by Patrick Cline
13. Babble blog, photography by Bonytt.no
14. Apartment Therapy, photography by Alexis A./Adella & Co.
15. Charlotte's Fancy blog
16. Design Mom
17. The O.C.D. Life blog
18. Design Mom
19. Bulk Bins, Pottery Barn Kids
20. Industrial Wire Storage 9-Bin Floor, Restoration Hardware
21. Home Bunch
Kids aren't the only ones who go through awkward stages, their rooms do, too. A nautical scheme that was perfect for a boy at 10 can seem babyish to a teen, and piles of dirty hoodies do not a decor scheme make. These teenage boys' rooms capture a playful use of bold colour and convey evolving personal interests, without being too grown up.
Hits of orange, a dramatic accent wall and barnboard warm up this Ottawa attic bedroom.
Vintage lockers provide indestructible storage for teens, and add a nice patina.
Sculptural wall art makes a big, gutsy statement, and who wouldn't appreciate the subversive humour of the license plate in the shark's jaws?
This Scandinavian boy's room is punched up by an industrial pendant and fierce bedding.
Athletic memorabilia can make a bedroom look like a sports bar, but this graphic ticket-stub wall treatment is a simple way to convey passion for the (obviously memorable) game.
For all the stuff that boys love to just drop on the ground, a multitude of hooks on an easy installation decal encourages neatness, and geographic knowledge of the West Indies.
Read more on Furniture & Accessories For Teens.
Embark on decorating a child's room today, and you'll find there are three main camps most rooms fall into. The first — the "decorated" kids' room — has a polished, even pristine look. Every piece is carefully coordinated, every finish perfectly executed. "Modern" children's rooms, the second style, are most often defined by the sleek lines of their furniture, the sparseness of their decoration, and perhaps a single, contemporary hit of colour that pops in the minimalist environs.
Let's revisit the best decorated and modern children's rooms another day in favour of the third style, the "undecorated" child's room. These little havens have a casual, unfitted aesthetic and an appealing friction that stems from mismatched elements. But don't mistake the devil-may-care attitude they often exude for a lack of attention. The designers and homeowners who put these rooms together often give them as much consideration as Sister Parish gave her überdecorated spaces back in her day. It's all carefully calibrated to look fresh, unique and invitingly haphazard.
In the spirit of full disclosure, I have to admit I'm most partial to the undecorated look for kids' rooms (and for all rooms, for that matter). It could have a bit to do with indecision, but I like to think of it more as a love of too many styles, and pieces, and palettes, and icons and themes.
So what makes an undecorated kid's room really sing?
1. A mix-and-match approach to furnishings that throws together antique, vintage and modern pieces, and juxtaposes the gritty and the refined without batting an eye. It's a little bit secondhand and a little bit make-do — but with an underlying level of flair and fashion-forwardness.
2. A playful use of colour and pattern. Which doesn't necessarily mean including a rainbow of hues, just a reconsideration of what we've always thought of as acceptable palettes for little people. Pattern — be it a bold stripe or a more sedate toile — can add movement and interest, and help define the look you're trying to create.
3. Architectural quirks. Got an unusual sloped ceiling, an off-kilter window, exposed roof beams or an old fireplace mantel? Play them up by working them into the design. When I was a teen, my friend, Tanya Bonus (who's in fact now a Toronto interior designer; you can check out one of her projects on H&H Online TV) ripped out the closet in her small city bedroom and tucked her bed into the closet nook, creating a cosy and coveted hangout. It was a brilliant idea, and one that redefined her otherwise-unassuming space.
Enough of the theory! Let's check out a few undecorated kids' rooms that get the mix right — and have style to spare.
This is one of my all-time favourite kids' rooms. It speaks to me of fun and lightness and sisterly love. The bold, honeycomb-patterned rug delivers a punch of colour that dominates the cheerful design of the room (it reminds me of the intricate, colourful designs of Kaffe Fassett). But it's the pairing of big and small beds, each decorated with stickers (kudos to the parents who let them add their own touch!) and the grab bag of favourite storybook characters and baby clothes arranged on the wall overhead that make it particularly poignant. A motley collection of stuffies and dollies (or "guys," as my two-year-old daughter calls hers) and the sweet rabbit nightlight complete the look. (This owl lamp from Urban Barn has a similar look and glow.)
Throwing a mattress right on the floor — without a frame or even a boxspring — is a sure way to establish an undecorated look, all the better if your floor is bare, extra-wide wood planks. Pair the bed with a string of Christmas lights or a vintage botanical poster tacked to the wall, and you're done!
Embrace architectural elements — like this Copenhagen home's rustic wood beams, slanting ceilings and wide-plank floors — they add one-of-a-kind character like nothing else. A pillowy bed, a hide rug repurposed from the living room, a few pops of bright colour, and the look reads breezy and fun. And adding a simple swing is sure to make older kids swoon!
In this playroom in designer Fawn Galli's own Brooklyn, N.Y., home (featured in the late, great Domino magazine), the designer contrasts a shapely antique marble fireplace with inexpensive Expedit shelving from Ikea, a moulded-plastic table set and sophisticated — but decidedly unmatching — rug and poster. Talk about culture-clashing style!
This child's room in Swedish stylist and blogger Hanna Wessman's Stockholm house pairs a crisp, vintagey bed, a world-map mural and whimsical collectibles with a battered old steamer trunk and cosy Oriental-style rug — all back-dropped by chic dark-wood floors, high ceilings and huge windows. (The Scandinavians really seem to have a lock on the undecorated look. So many of their kids' rooms have style in spades.)
Susanna and Jussi Vento went with a more-the-merrier look in this room in their Helsinki apartment, filling the bed with a menagerie of stuffies, the wall-mounted shelves with a rainbow of toys and books, and the wall space alongside it with an assortment of accessories that includes an iconic Eames Hang-It-All.
Tucking a bed under the eaves or into a gutted closet and washing the space in a striking hue creates an inviting nook for kids and teens alike. Bed linens in a different colour and playful accessories mean the look isn't too matchy. (The little signs here loosely translate to "Eyes Tight" and "Mouths Shut.")
While the term "nursery" may conjure up images of sedate spaces washed in pale blues and pinks, babies' rooms are just as easy to "undecorate" as kids' rooms. The crib in baby Wren's nursery in Cornwall, England, is an eye-popping neon green. All-white decor in an urban baby's room is suitably low-key to let expansive windows and herringbone wood floors take centre stage. And in Egon's Stockholm-area bedroom, a kitchen-cabinet wardrobe and whitewashed floors are punched up with the barcode-striped Andrup rug from Ikea and hand-me-down crib painted canary yellow.
This room by Ikea features new pieces, but it really embodies the undecorated aesthetic with its mix of styles, finishes and colours and its casual execution. I have my eye on the Scandi-style Sundvik toddler bed for my youngest, who's about to move out of her crib.
Wear and tear adds authenticity. I'd love to outfit my girls' rooms in rusty old school lockers like these (as long as they were up-to-date on their tetanus shots!). A simple antique divan contrasts their industrial look, and a bunting, artwork and plush green rug set a lighthearted tone.
For more, see our Trendy Kids' Bedroom Ideas photo gallery.
1. Family Living
2. Divaani blog
3. Jelanié blog, photography by Ester Sorri
4. Nordic Bliss blog
5. Domino via Annette Tatum, photography by Laura Resen
6. Hanna's Room blog
7. Design*Sponge blog
8. Woonideeën October 2012, issue 101
9. Apartment Therapy
11. Ikea's Livet Hemma (Life at Home) website, photography by Patric Johansson
12. Ikea Canada
13. How Sweet To Be A Cloud blog
When our two-year-old son Miles started climbing out of his crib, my husband and I knew it was time to start thinking about creating a room for him. His nursery, a teeny space, roughly 8 feet by 10 feet, didn't offer any room for play, toy storage, and all the other stuff a busy preschooler needs.
The solution was to let Miles take over the little used spare room.
The spare room has a bit more space. It also has a nice south-facing window, and a little space for playing on the floor.
It has a decent closet, but sadly, the majority of it is hidden behind lathe and plaster — not such a great use of space, unless you have a four-foot-long arm! Also, the window is drafty and leaks occasionally (about once a year) when the rain blows a certain direction. Not a great feature either.
But with a small budget and designer Cameron MacNeil, we started operation "big boy room."
1. Replace windows in both rooms. We replaced both windows with affordable vinyl windows from Ply Gem. We selected the Elite Series Ambassador windows. With their triple weather seal and Eco 5 glass, we could bid farewell to leaks and drafty breezes.
2. Invest in creating a real closet in Miles' new room. The plan is to break down the lathe-and-plaster enclosed closet and build in Pax units from Ikea. We love the look of the Pax units with birch interior and white Pax frames. My idea is to prime and paint out Ikea Ballstad flat doors the same colour as the room (Pavilion Gray (242) by Farrow & Ball) for a seamless look that will help make the room seem bigger.
3. Paint the back wall of Miles' new room black. I have a feeling it might make the whole room feel bigger and add loads of impact to the small space.
4. Find a new use for the old nursery. Could a space this tiny make a good TV den?
The end result?
Well, this one is a cliffhanger, folks! Tune into H&H Online TV for the results. And I'll be sure to share all the details in a follow-up blog post soon.
Get Stacey Smithers' holiday decorating tips.
1-5. Stacey Smithers
Oh, to be a kid again! Kids' rooms and nurseries today are home to unique colour schemes beyond the once-typical pastel blues and pinks. This week's Best of the Web roundup features oh-so-cute rooms for little ones:
1. Emma Reddington of The Marion House Book embraces nautical style and deep blues in her son Henry's new room.
2. Apartment Therapy takes us into the eclectic bedroom of two-year-old Jasper in Australia.
3. Katie and her partner Matt, of Katie's Pencil Box, forego wallpaper and paint beautiful peachy peonies in their future daughter's nursery.
5. Alberta designer Alykhan Velji chooses a sophisticated yellow, grey and white palette for a nursery.
For more kids' room ideas, browse our guide.