This is a guest post by Katie Miller, an interior architect who regularly blogs about home and interior design topics at Roomations.com. Roomations connects you with interior designers online for personalized design recommendations, including personal shopping lists for products at mainstream retailers like Pottery Barn, Land of Nod and IKEA.
Having two or more kids share a room can be difficult, especially if your kids are different ages or genders. As an added frustration, many parents that didn’t plan to have their kids share a room are now finding themselves in a too-small home as a matter of circumstance. Perhaps you were hoping to sell your starter home and move into a bigger place, or maybe you’ve been forced to downsize or even move in with other family members as a result of the current economy. If you’re in any of these situations, stay positive and focused on the benefits of your kids sharing a room. According to parenting expert Lynne Reeves Griffin, RN, Med, “sharing a bedroom encourages them to learn to negotiate a relationship both can be happy with. How to share or decorate the room teaches your children to co-operate towards a common goal.” To help your kids share and cooperate instead of driving each other crazy, follow these five decorating secrets to a successful shared kids room.
1. Resist the Temptation to Decorate with Matching Items
Decorating a room for two kids would be so easy if all you had to do was get two of everything—matching beds, matching comforters, matching bookcases, matching desks—but its not likely to make your kids happy. Although matching items will certainly make for a well-coordinated room, to your kids it overemphasizes the fact that they are stuck together – not just in space and but also in style. Look for ways to unify the room while still allowing your kids to showcase their unique identities. Let you kids choose the styles they like then coordinate materials or colors to make different furniture pieces look like they belong together in the same room. The bed set below from Rooms To Go is an example of a space-saving furniture piece that has a unifying dark wood finish, but totally different types of beds. The full size lower bed may help an older sibling feel like they are being treated more like a “grown up” while the upper loft bed may be the perfect adventure for a younger sibling.
If one kid likes black and the other likes pink, figure out how to create a color composition for the room that incorporates both, but doesn’t necessarily impose one kid’s tastes on the other. Better yet, have your kids decide on two to three colors that they both like, then let them use those colors in different ways for their bedspread and accessories.
Also allow each child to have some sort of unique theme for their portion of the room. For younger children, choosing a different animal theme or sports team for each is one way to accomplish this. For example, these hanging wall organizers from Land of Nod are similar, but if you let each child choose their favorite animal they will feel a sense of ownership and personal connection.
2. Give Each Child Some Space of Their Own
Having ones own bed, desk, dresser, closet, etc. helps a kid feel like they don’t have to share everything, which is important to getting along with their sibling. It can also help them feel like they have a little bit of privacy. Be sure to set ground rules that help your kids respect each other’s privacy.
This bedroom set from Walmart.com has a built in dresser, desk, cabinet and bookshelf and is a space-efficient way of creating a personal space for a child sharing a room with a sibling.
3. Address Common Causes of Conflict like Bedtimes and Cleanliness
There are a number of common causes of conflict for kids sharing a room, so you might as well address them now. If one kid is an obsessive compulsive neat freak and the other is more, uh, “creative” about where they put their clothes and other belongings, then you’re bound to have conflict. Address this common problem by giving each child separate places to store their belongings, such as separate dressers and closets. If you don’t have two closets in the room, a simple solution is to purchase an armoire, such as the one below from Pottery Barn Kids. Then make an extra effort to ensure that both your kids are cleaning up after themselves regularly.
Another common issue is that kids sharing a room may not go to bed at the same time, or one might like to read before they go to bed while the other likes to listen to music. Get at least two task lights, such as the Snoig lamp from IKEA, so that one child can stay up and read or do homework while the other can sleep in darkness. Also make sure your kids have headphones so they can listen to music without disturbing their sibling.
4. Make the Room Feel Larger with Space-Saving Strategies
Part of the frustration of sharing a room is simply the fact that it’s hard to be in tight quarters with another person. Cleanliness and organization conflicts also get exaggerated when a small space makes one toy left out of place feel like a mess. Many of the images included in this post show space saving strategies, such as loft beds, hanging wall organizers and wall-mounted lighting. Basically, any space saving strategy that you can use elsewhere in the house applies when kids are sharing a room. And because kids often like creative configurations of furniture and accessories, you have even more opportunity to make the room feel larger.
In addition getting things of the floor with loft or bunk beds and wall-mounted lamps or organizers, consider using closet organizers and under-bed storage to get the most of the space you have. If you don’t like loft or bunk beds, consider using a trundle bed drawer as a place for storage. Land of Nod sells organizers designed to fit any of their trundle beds.
5. Have Another Place in Your Home For Your Kids
Lastly, be sure to create other spaces in your home where you kids can spend time either together or separately. Just because your kids sleep in the same room doesn’t mean they need to spend all their time there. Sometimes your kids need to be in separate rooms, if just for a few hours to do homework or spend time with a friend. If you have the space, you might have a room in your house that’s a dedicated playroom. If not, make sure your family room, kitchen table, or computer room is a welcoming place for your kids when they need a spot to hangout with others or just be by themselves.