5 Secrets to a Successful Shared Kids Room

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.

Loft Bunk Beds

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.

Land of Nod Animal Organizers

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.

Walmart Bed and Desk Set

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.

Storage Armoire from Pottery Barn Kids

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.

Individual Lamps from IKEA

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.

Under-Bed Storage from The Land of Nod

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.

How to Paint a Room the Right Way

Paint ChipsPainting has been a big part of my life lately; as my kids are growing up, they are more motivated to have a nice-looking room than they are to draw on their walls. Yay! So I’ve been painting…and it’s not always easy. Here are some great tips to make sure you get a great paint job on your walls.

1. Gather your Paint Supplies

Get all of your supplies together before you start. You will likely need:

  • paint
  • a roller and pan
  • paint can opener
  • drop cloths
  • masking tape
  • a screwdriver
  • rags or paper towels

Depending on the condition of your walls, you may also require:

  • primer
  • spackle
  • sand paper
  • spray-on texture

Make sure you have everything available before you start.

2. Clear the Room

To avoid a costly mess, remove as much from the room as possible. Strip the bed of all linens, and take as much furniture as you can out of the room. For things that are too hard or inconvenient to remove, at least move them to the center of the room, away from the walls, so they will be less likely to have paint splattered on them. Cover all remaining items with drop-clothes for protection. No matter how careful you are, small drops of paint will land on places where you don’t want them…so cover them up!

3. Prep the Walls

Paint Brushes

Remove all curtain rods, hanging pictures or posters, and mounted shelving from the walls. Also remove all switch plates (you’ll have gaps if you try to paint around them). Spackle any holes if they will show after you put the room back together, and when it dries, sand it so the surface is flush with the wall. If your walls are heavily textured, you may also need to spray on a texture so that the finish matches.

Next, use masking tape (preferably the low-adhesive painters’ tape; it’s often blue) along the edges of the ceiling, around door and window moldings. and along the baseboards. Use long pieces of tape to cover the ceiling or molding, and be careful to put the edges right next to the wall you’ll be painting – but don’t overlap it onto the wall itself. The straighter your tape is, the better your final result!

If there are marks on the wall, or if you are painting over a dark color or paint in a pattern, you will probably need to prime the walls before you paint. You may even have to prime the walls multiple times. If, like me, you’re lucky enough to have a budding artist with a talent for finding missing Sharpies – you’ll need to cover the drawings with several coats of primer – so do those spots first. (Suprisingly – in my experience, it’s much harder to cover permanent marker than it is to cover up lipstick or nail polish!)

4. Paint the Edges of the Walls

The hardest parts to get right, when painting a room, are the edges of the walls where they meet the ceiling, window, or trim. You can’t use a roller in this area because it’s not small enough. I like to start this process with a paint edger. It’s a pad that works like a roller, except you slide it along the wall. I still use masking tape to make the edge even and not wobbly. The edger works great along most edges, but in the corners where two walls meet the ceiling, and in other small or hard-to-reach areas, you’ll want to use a brush.

I like to use a 3-inch angled paintbrush, which lets me work into the area precisely. Don’t use too much paint at one time, on either the brush or the edger – it will “glop up” and seep under the edges of the painters’ tape. Remember that you can always add more paint, but it’s much harder to take it away.

If you are changing the color of the wall drastically, you may want to do two coats. You can either do the second one as soon as the first dries, or you can wait until you’re done with the walls – in case you didn’t come far enough away from the edges.

5. Paint the Main Part of the Walls

The majority of the wall is away from edges and can be easily and quickly painted with a roller. Put a small amount of paint in the pan, and roll the roller pad through it to pick up the paint. As with edging – start out with a small amount of paint; you can always add more. Apply the paint to the walls in a “W” shape, not up and down. Also, don’t apply too much pressure with the roller, or the pad may start to disintegrate and leave fibers or fuzz in your paint. Be careful as you get close to the ceiling or floor, making sure you don’t touch either. If you can’t get all the way to the edging paint you did earlier, you can go back later with a brush or edger to fill in the gaps.

If you need to apply a second coat, let the first one dry completely – overnight if possible – before applying the second coat.

You Can Do It!

Painting a room takes practice, time, and care to get right – but it’s something almost anyone can do. Painting rooms yourself can save a good bit of money over hiring a professional painter. And it’s the cheapest way to freshen or update a room!