ADVICE: Design a room to grow for your kids

By Elizabeth Norton
Posted 8/21/21

As parents, we often hear, “Enjoy it, they grow up so fast.” Ironically, this well-intentioned wisdom is most often shared during a parenting moment that we are not, in fact, enjoying. …

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ADVICE: Design a room to grow for your kids


As parents, we often hear, “Enjoy it, they grow up so fast.” Ironically, this well-intentioned wisdom is most often shared during a parenting moment that we are not, in fact, enjoying. There’s no denying it, however, kids grow up quickly. Yes, days can be long, but every so often there are those moments when you stop and look at your child and wonder how they got so … big?

As our children get older, their interests and likes change dramatically, seemingly overnight.  My nine-year-old daughter was born loving the color purple. Then, when she was five, it was pink. Now it’s blue.

So how can you design a bedroom that your child or teen will love today but also one that they will still like two years from now?

As an interior designer, kids’ spaces can be a challenge for many reasons (like, where do you put all their stuff?) but they are also some of my favorite projects. So let me share a few tips to designing a beautiful and functional bedroom that both you and your child will enjoy for years to come.


My design process always begins with the same first step – getting to know the client. With kids’ rooms, I’m essentially working with two clients, the parent and the child. So it’s important for me to gain a clear understanding of each of their individual visions. I usually begin by asking about color and theme, but the question that often provides me with the most direction is, “How do you want this space to make you feel?” Our homes reflect who we are and who we aspire to be. We fill our personal spaces with things that make us feel happy, inspired and free to be ourselves. Discovering what that means for someone, especially a child, is often my favorite part of the process.


Children’s bedrooms come in all shapes and sizes, but no matter the dimensions, the biggest challenge is always storage. Kids accumulate a lot of stuff that can make their bedroom feel visually overwhelming.  It’s important to utilize creative storage solutions that can keep these items out-of-sight, organized and easily accessible.

Closets and under-bed areas are the most obvious places to start, and making the most of these spaces is key. Closet organizers and wheeled storage containers for under the bed are great options. Built-in shelving and cabinetry can be a beautiful and purposeful addition to a space.

For more modest budgets - bookshelves, baskets (preferably lidded) and storage benches are great for hiding toys, books and other miscellaneous items. Before redesigning a space, I always recommend that you sort through what’s there and pare down as much you can. It can be a really great opportunity to donate books, clothing and toys that are no longer being used.

Another tip for making the most of your child’s space is to use appropriately sized furniture. Look for beds, dressers and nightstands that are well proportioned to the room. If your child’s bedroom is on the smaller side, try to choose petite furniture as opposed to bulky pieces. You may want to consider a loft bed so that you can utilize the space underneath for a desk or cozy lounge area.

Trundle beds are also a great option to accommodate sleepover guests. If your child’s room is on the larger side, define different areas of the room by function (play area, reading nook, study space, etc.).


We can all appreciate some quiet time to ourselves. When designing a child’s bedroom, I always like to incorporate an area in which they can get comfortable and chill out. So whether it’s a reading nook or a cozy corner, providing kids with a place to decompress is really important. 

Creating a cohesive interior design is much like putting together pieces of a jigsaw puzzle. Each piece, whether it’s a rug or a throw pillow, connects to the other pieces through color, pattern, and texture. Feel free to play with different coordinating patterns, mixing two to three patterns at the most. And in order to avoid competition between patterns, make sure that each is a different scale (small, medium, large).

Adding symmetry can help a space to feel visually organized and calm. So even when the room is a complete mess, it feels a little bit less messy. Matching nightstands and lamps are an easy way to achieve symmetry in a bedroom.


Your child has been asking for a new room for quite some time. You agree that perhaps their bedroom needs a refresh (the train wallpaper does seem a bit babyish) but you’re worried about spending money on something they’ll just outgrow in a year. Yes, nothing lasts forever.  Even if you follow my tips, you’ll still have to make some tweaks down the road but they’ll be easy and inexpensive tweaks as opposed to a full redesign.

The first tip is to think timeless and classic, especially when it comes to furniture, and try to choose an aesthetic that blends well with the rest of your home. Choose a neutral paint color for the walls and incorporate your child’s favorite colors and interests with accents (throw blankets, pillows, wall art, etc.). That way, you can simply swap out the accents once your child’s favorites have been retired.

Last tip, wallpaper is very on-trend right now, but it’s also a big commitment. Fortunately, there are a ton of fun peel-and-stick wallpaper options available that are a perfect way to add color and pattern to a kid’s space and can be removed easily.

Elizabeth Norton is the owner of Between Wind & Water. For more design tips and inspiration, visit

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A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.