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Something about a bedroom outfitted with twin beds delights me. Perhaps it's that, as a child, a room with two or more twins spoke to me of sleepovers or vacations at airy seaside cottages or cosy ski chalets. Or it might be the fact that two twin beds at an inn or home we were visiting meant I didn't have to share a bed with my sister — something we were never good at.

Today, my children have chosen to share a bedroom at home — revelling in the camaraderie of it all, at least for now. They share a bunk bed, a piece of furniture that seems to be having a heyday at the moment (or is it just that I mostly live amongst (a) city dwellers and (b) people with children in elementary school). Let's leave bunk beds, and their many manifestations, for another day and delve into how to best use twin beds in shared kids' rooms.

And don't forget to keep in mind that, while aesthetics are important, practically, kids' rooms should incorporate the "big three":

1. A place to sleep

2. Places to store toys and clothes

3. A place to play (unless you have a dedicated playroom close by)

Of all the rooms I've clapped eyes on in my 15-plus years at House & Home, this kids' room in the Cape Breton, N.S., cottage of Alexandra and Eliot Angle, of Alexandra Angle Interior Design, has made one of the strongest impressions. You can practically hear the giggles and whispers that must echo through this dormitory-like space, calling to mind the two straight lines the little girls sleep in in Ludwig Bemelman's Madeline. When you've got the square footage and a handful of kids to house, this is certainly an airy, open alternative to tiers of bunk beds. The price is right, too: these are just inexpensive Ikea beds outfitted with extra-large casters so they can be pushed together or to the edges of the room when needed. Topped with cheery Indian quilts, they're the epitome of summer living.

Here's another dorm-like space, one that feels quite lived-in and loved by its occupants, the four young children of Phil and Philippa Heath. The family furnished the room — located in their 200-year-old stone cottage in Derbyshire, England — quite simply, with white-painted metal-framed beds (they look like the Minnen bed from Ikea), plus, for each child, a trash bin for toys and a chair as a spot to deposit clothes and toys. Grey-striped and solid red bedding keeps the look easy and gender-neutral, but there's also space for artwork, decorative pillows and stuffies, and extras like an electric guitar to accumulate as needed. It's fun and functional.

This crisp, cottagey bedroom feels like a cross between a Wes Anderson movie set and an old Adirondack or Berkshire lodge. Chipped whitewashed spool beds, a white-painted floor and white linens set a breezy tone, while accents and art in fire-engine red and jute brown warm up the space. The look is crisp and clean, but also welcoming enough for kids. (You'll find spool beds/Jenny Lind beds/spindle beds at your local flea market, antique shop or online, or if you can't find a vintage version, check out Land of Nod's remake.)

The Los Angeles bedroom of Will Buckingham (son of Fleetwood Mac rocker Lindsey Buckingham and his interior designer wife Kristen Messner) has a similar vintage look, though the pieces themselves are more traditional and the overall look more formal and layered. The beds are plump and inviting, there's room to play on the rug-covered floor, and there's storage space for toys in the wicker trunks at the foot of the beds — fulfilling the kid's room "big three." Visually, the colours are warm, and the fabrics and artwork (pages from a vintage children's book) hit all the right notes.

Beyond the shape of the vintage Jenny Lind toddler beds being similar in this shared room, the space is about as "unfitted" or mismatched as it can get. (For more on unfitted kids' rooms, check out this blog post.) The bright, cheery space is home to Oh Happy Day blogger Jordan Ferney's two young sons in their small San Francisco house. Mix-and-match yellow bedding (including a polka-dot duvet in a fabric by Heather Ross and a lemon-patterned pillow by Jonathan Adler) boosts the sunny vibe, while a Persian rug is an artsy, grown-up addition — but also one that's hard-wearing and impervious to stains.

The carpet plays a key role in this delightful pink-infused girls' room, too; it's the bold centerpiece of the decor, while the beds, bedding, curtains and wall treatments take a back seat stylistically. I love that a good-sized bookshelf is tucked right between the beds for ease of access at story time.

The Houston, Texas bedroom of designer Ashley Putnam's two young boys is a classic through and through. Pale blue walls are a clean backdrop for blue-striped duvets and red-and-white-striped drapes, while a sisal rug and bamboo blinds and side table inject a softer, more natural note. It's a pitch-perfect "decorated" children's bedroom.

This bedroom by Texas designer Holly Mathis has a similar if slightly less "decorated" look, with monogrammed pillows defining whose bed is whose.

A low ceiling and layers of luxurious but youthful bedding give this attic bedroom at a holiday house in Cantabria, Spain, a cosy, welcoming feeling. Similar to placing a sofa at the foot of a larger bed, stools act as spots for the kids to drop clothes and books or sit to put on their shoes.

At Aerin Lauder's Aspen chalet, the bedroom of her kids, Jack and Will, echoes the rest of the home's sleek, modern architecture. A wall of tawny oak panelling, downy duvets, fur pillows on the beds, and plush carpeting underfoot add cosiness.

Ceiling-hung curtains are a great way to add privacy and ownership in shared rooms — and installing them can be a simple weekend DIY project. In this space by L.A. firm Bestor Architecture, the modern, wood-panelled room gets a hit of vibrant colour from curtains in Marimekko's iconic Unikko floral and colour-blocked bedding. A large flokati rug is a fantastic crash pad.

In large and medium-sized kids rooms, try pushing twin beds against opposite walls. While the look isn't quite as elegant, it does open up the space for play. I love these two enchanting kids' bedrooms in a family home in East Sussex, England; the palettes and accessories are simple but effective for creating a quietly rustic look.

In her daughters Elle and Gwen's wee, sweet bedroom, blogger Amy McGee of McGee Life created a Christmas look for winter, outfitting the beds with Santa-themed bedding and bright red buffalo-check spreads. The effect is warm and graphic.

When a kids' room is long and narrow, tuck beds along one wall head-to-toe to leave the other portion of the room open for play. These antique sleigh beds, in a family apartment in Mantua, Italy couldn't look more charming. And while the bedding is playful and child-like — well suited to the two youngsters who live here — the newspapered wall panels, crystal-drop chandelier and handsomely framed portraits and art photos put an elegant twist on the look.

This room in Swedish stylist Emma Persson Lagerberg's home has a much more modern look. The simple white beds almost feel like a single, built-in unit. With no headboards and footboards, the beds become one long daybed/play space for the little ones. Polka-dot bedding and intriguing posters and art add colour and personality.

The long, skinny dimensions of Ned's bedroom, designed by Melbourne, Australia firm Made by Cohen, demanded running the beds down one side to give him suitable play space down the other. Shelves mounted above the beds and cupboards along the opposite wall keep books, toys and clothes stashed away — a necessity when trying to maintain a sleek, minimalist look like this.

When a room is particularly small, using two toddler beds foot-to-foot, as in this room by Ikea, may make the most sense, at least for the first few years. Here, the sides are defined for these two girls by unique but coloured-coordinated wallpaper — another fun DIY idea for shared rooms.

When a room's shape won't allow you to run the beds head-to-toe along one wall, tucking the beds into a corner may be the most practical solution to provide open floor space. To make the most of it, add a large rug (this one is the graphic black and white Stockholm rug from Ikea) for comfy floor play. In this space, in the home of Finnish blogger Pisarapilvi, a huge armoire helps keep toys and clothes corralled and organized.

While matching beds create a more cohesive look, mismatched beds like these also have huge appeal. Here, a modern grey toddler bed looks right at home with a simple twin tucked into the corner beside it. (Certainly, the room's occupants seem to love the space!) Art and decoration have a similarly devil-may-care attitude: an insect poster and a pretty dress on a hanger are tacked up irreverently alongside framed pieces.

Read more about decorating kids' rooms in my blog.

Photo credits:
1. House & Home June 2009 issue, photography by Janet Kimber
2. Period Living, photography by Brent Darby
3. Better Homes and Gardens
4. Elle Decor, photography by Simon Upton
5. A Cup of Jo blog, photography by Heather Zweig
6. Etsy, photography by Dominique Vorillon
7. Lonny, photography by Patrick Cline
8. Holly Mathis Interiors
9. El Mueble
10. Vogue, photography by François Halard
11. Red Glasses blog, designed by Bestor Architecture, photography by Dominique Vorillon
12. Light Locations
13. McGee Life blog, photography by Amy McGee
14. Milk magazine, photography by Gianni Basso
15. Elle Interiör Sweden, photography by Petra Bindel
16. Emma's Designblogg, designed by Made by Cohen
17. Apartment Therapy
18. Nie Tylko Dzieciaki
19. Elle Mania blog, photography by James Lund

Author: 

Katie Hayden

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