September 29, 2013

Take long view for a modern kid's room

Designers recommend leaving room for growth and change while featuring a child's current interests.

By KIM COOK The Associated Press

Like a lot of modern decor, children's rooms are enjoying a rethinking.

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A giant map on the wall and papier mache animal wall art introduce elements of nature and the big wide world in a child’s bedroom.

The Associated Press

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A girl’s room, as seen in Country Living magazine, features bright colors and headboards upholstered in a sophisticated ikat print.

The Associated Press

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No longer restrained by old-school ideals for juvenile decor, these spaces now feature elements that transcend genres and traditional gender themes. Decorators and retailers offer options that fling the design doors wide open -- and how much fun is that for a child?

So let's check out what's cool, cozy and clever for kids' rooms.

New York designer Amanda Nisbet uses elements like pop art, '70s modern furniture and crisp, energetic hues like bright yellow, soda orange and magenta to make bedrooms lively, friendly and fun. (

Nancy Twomey of Alexandria, Va., blends neutral hues with dashes of gentle color -- soft coral, sea blue, fresh pea green -- and adds whimsical notes such as mirrored rabbit decals, papier mache safari animal wall art and ceramic tree stump tables to create charming, sophisticated rooms that children could enjoy from crib to college. (

In modern families, some kids divide their sleeping time between a couple of households, often in rooms that serve another function when the child isn't there. Providing such spaces requires a little extra thought and ingenuity, says Ikea North America's U.S. design leader, Josee Berlin. The aim is to help children feel at ease in their sleeping area.

"A child's own space can be as simple as a soft, comfortable, cozy bed. Smart options like the old-fashioned, tried and true bunk bed can really transform a space for many children," Berlin says.

Ikea's Kritter, Gulliver and Hemnes models would serve well as daybeds. (

A curtained rod can divide rooms like offices or large bedrooms into smaller spaces for youngsters. Get something comfy underfoot -- a fluffy, fun shag or a warm, flat-weave rug. If carpeting isn't an option, heat the bedroom floors from below.

It's best not to make the theme of a child's room too narrow, says Jami Supsic, an editor at Country Living magazine.

"A stumbling block for many when they design their child's rooms is that they make it all about the time period the child's in at that moment. This leaves no room for growth or change," she says. "Use accessories and toys to identify the age of your child, but leave walls, window treatments and furnishings mature."

If your daughter loves princesses, don't buy everything from bedding to wallpaper in that theme -- go with an overall look that suggests it. Supsic says ruffles, damask and crystals do the job.

French chateau-inspired furnishings -- chandeliers, mirrors, rugs and furniture -- set the stage. You can add tiara-emblazoned pillows, regal doll houses and other toys and accessories. Editing over time will honor an early obsession, yet reflect her developing maturity. (;

Kids who love magical-themed stories might like animal- or star-shaped table lamps, moody hues like deep violet or charcoal gray, and inventive furniture that suggests a place of enchantment.

Imagine Living has a bear-shaped side table, and another that looks like a mushroom. One can imagine being down Alice's rabbit hole, or on the road to Hogwarts. (

For boys who love dinosaurs or ships, consider framing the bedroom in colors that evoke that interest -- a palette of greens and grays, perhaps, or oceanic blues and whites. Layer in creative elements that spark imagination. Reptile fans might love some of the photographic nature posters at

Cool dino heads, wall-mounted sculptural art for any age, are at

Graphic imagery and patterns with a modern vibe can be found in nautical elements like wall-mounted anchors and sail flags, as well as shell shadow boxes and seashore-inspired decals. (;

"An upholstered headboard in a boy's room can be masculine and tailored, yet soft and comforting," says Supsic.

Check out Land of Nod for eye-catching collections that reference themes kids relate to: Woodland Fairytale, Vintage Explorer and Black & White tap into storybook, adventure and artistic imagery. (

Inspire an interest in the big wide world with tribal-patterned bedding, pieces of African or Asian art, and accessories that open children's minds to the globe. A collection of elephants on a bookcase; a recycled toy basket made halfway across the world; an origami mobile.

Exposing children to other cultures just may be the most modern design move we can make.


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Additional Photos

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Grown-up light fixtures, a colorful window panel and empty frames for pin-ups all make this children’s bedroom featured in Country Living feel sophisticated.

The Associated Press


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