Feature article

Top design trends in childrens’ bedrooms

From a toddler to pre-teen, we've got the latest trends for you to consider.

According to Massey University sociologist, Professor Paul Spoonley, 2021 saw a boost of 1000 births to the usual number in Aotearoa thanks to Covid lockdowns. So a good amount of New Zealand homes will have been expanding and stretching to accommodate the arrival of a little one to join the family.

And no matter how old your children are, you (and hopefully they) will give a lot of thought over how to decorate their rooms over the years. They may have the room from when they’re tiny to when they’re teens and will change the decor over the years. And when the time comes to sell, it’s a good idea to see if your childrens’ bedrooms are “on-trend.”

For the first years of your child’s life, the interiors choices are probably all yours, but just wait until they’re approaching tweenhood, they may have some strong opinions you’ll have to work with.

Interior designer, Celene Busher-Nepia, and mother of three, says even when the children are young she’ll have them involved in design choices in their bedroom. “I’ll go to the parents first but I’ll give them multiple options of wallpaper and prints for the walls to take to the children,” she says.

She likes wallpaper specialist, These Walls, for those who want to follow the current trend of softer colours but with some personality, like for instance a wall of palm trees and monkeys.

Nelson-based wallpaper specialist, Rebekah Malthus, from online wallpaper company, The Inside.co.nz, has noticed people are choosing bedroom interiors that grow with their kids rather than the more babyish wallpapers which can date. She points to a beautiful vintage wallpaper that can be printed at different scales at The Inside.

Vintage rose wallpaper from The Inside

Popular colour palettes

Resene’s colour consultant, Amy Watkins says parents are letting their kids immerse themselves in colour more as is happening throughout the house. People are putting greens, pinks and robin egg blues into their kids’ bedrooms. Woodland themes are popular, she says. Resene’s Secrets green grey paint is a popular choice, for fresh, clean clarity. The main colour of the room might be a soft pastel shade and then there might be a big wall of vibrant colour through a mural, which will provide a contrast, she says.

Interior designer Stacey Gillies from Stacey Gillies Interiors, meanwhile, says in her projects, baby’s rooms are often painted in olive green or earthy tones, or deep blue at the moment.

When it comes to the colour palette in childrens’ bedrooms, Christchurch-based interior designer Olivia Skene says she’s seeing a lot of “dirty pinks”, quite a lot of peach, and pale green, all these colours are restful to the eye, she adds.

Make sure that the shades you pick (especially if resale is in the near future) go with the rest of the house, advises Olivia. If you live in a mid century home, have some mid century furniture in the bedrooms, she suggests. “My daughter is 18 months old and we’ve got a wicker basket which was my 50 year old sister’s."

Look at childrens’ book covers for inspiration

Try taking your design cues from your childrens’ favourite book covers, suggests Stacey, who’s a fan of wallpapering the ceiling in bedrooms. A beautiful art print can make a room, adds the interior designer, a fan of Society6 for their well priced art prints.

Of course, as your child grows, they’ll make their own art and they love it when they see their work framed. Stacey is also a fan of plants and greenery in childrens’ bedrooms, obviously keeping them high up while the child is small. Draping plants are great for purifying the air and can help create a jungle theme, notes the Auckland designer.

Celene Busher-Nepia says her nine-year-old son has chosen his own plants for his room, selecting a cactus and some succulent plants so far. “He’s definitely keen on some greenery,” she says. It’s a good opportunity for him to learn about responsibility, she laughs.

Foxtrot Home bedding - soft pink and stripes

Celene says linen is a big trend in bedding, linens in soft cinnamons, pinks and greys can be found in places like Foxtrot Home and Adairs has a good range with a bit of fun and personality to them.

It’s all about expressing your individuality in childrens’ bedrooms

How can a child’s bedroom have really unique touches? Although built-in wardrobes are popular, a nice antique wardrobe can add real character to a room, says Stacey, who likes to mix up modern and old furnishings.

The mother of two has introduced things from her childhood to her son and daughters’ bedroom, a room they share – she put some dolls of hers in there, for instance. She’s also a fan of having collections on display of a current passion, ukuleles perhaps, or toy diggers.

Interior designer, Olivia Skene agrees childrens’ bedrooms are becoming a lot more individual. “They used to be cookie cutter and similar, but what you see is people are thinking outside the square, there’s a lot more thought about the individual child’s style,” says the Christchurch interior designer.

Olivia worked with a 12 year-old boy in Whangārei who requested an interior designer to help do over his room for his birthday. “He had some very specific things he liked,” she says.

Roger's Room Design

They put in quirky decorations like artificial ivy and fairy lights.The boy, who had lived in America, liked the idea of stars on the ceiling and suggested a ceiling covered in lights but this was expensive so instead Olivia found a light in the texture of the moon which just hovers above a stand. He also liked animals, but because it was more of a grown-up room, Olivia brought in a graphic tiger cushion and kept the big print on the wall, a black and white deer picture.

“The result has been that he really feels like it’s his space,” says the interior designer.

A floating shelf where kids can put their latest projects is a nice touch in any child’s room, adds Olivia, “Most kids when out of toddlerhood have a real sense of pride when they build something,” says the designer.

Trends in infants’ rooms

Rooms for babies are more transitional now, explains the Christchurch-based interior designer. The room might be used as a study in future years.

These bedrooms may have feature walls with painted hills or wallpaper mural wallpapers with clouds, hills, trees and flowers but these are multi-functional spaces now, especially if they’re smaller rooms.

A comfortable armchair in a baby's room is essential for feeding and settling, and let’s face it, having a quick snooze. Make sure it’s on scale with the room, says Olivia.

And when it comes to carpet or a rug, it can be a good idea to have a rug made by just putting a border around a piece of carpet. A longer pile rug can work, you want something easy to clean, she says.

Celene Busher-Nepia, likes to see a decent amount of floor space in a children’s bedroom where possible, where children can do their playing. She’ll select furniture and storage with that in mind. She recommends storage cubbies with wicker baskets inside. Floating shelves with baskets for crafts hanging off them are another idea to keep the floor space free.

“Then children can go into rooms and play and have a space to retreat to,” explains the interior designer.

Trends in beds in childrens’ bedrooms

Beds are bigger from an earlier age, says Celene, as people are loath to keep replacing them as their children grow. She bought vintage beds for her girls on Trade Me, one of them she painted a soft pink.

Bedrooms should have multi-functional furniture, advises Olivia. She recommends a trundle bed stored beneath the main bed but which can pop up to the same size for sleepovers, and the two combined will turn into a king size bed.

Urban Kids bed designer, Umur Yazici, who’s been making beds from his Devonport base for the past 15 years, says he started out wanting to take his customers from cot to bed without having to change units. “My idea was to design something that children can get into at the age of one but as they get older they can move the bed to the next height,” he explains. As the bed gets higher and kids accumulate more stuff, there’s room under the bed for storage.

Materials for children's beds have changed in recent years. Umur used to paint MDF, now he uses birch plywood. “I love birch plywood, it’s very strong and easy to clean and it doesn’t really age,” he says.

A lot of consumers in New Zealand are becoming greener, they understand if they buy at low cost from a retailer that one kid will use it and then it’ll become landfill, he says. “They’re a bit more aware that if they spend a bit more and buy something nice, it will last.”

For teen bedrooms Umur is doing a lot of loft beds and his bunks beds are big enough for adults, he says

Lighting is key in childrens’ bedrooms

When starting a children’s bedroom project, lighting should be high on the list. Olivia likes beautiful lamps to make soft night lights. Mitre 10 do a good affordable range, and then NOOZi do fancy little wooden lamps of boys or girls.

“You definitely want a dimmer switch,” she adds.