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A Bedtime Story: Designing the Ideal Room for a Child

When decorating a child’s room, it is important to remember that it is like no other room in your house. Because your child is growing daily, their bedroom should be designed with kids furniture that will adjust and adapt along with each developmental change. A kid’s bedroom should also provide a safe environment to play and explore. Here are some suggestions to help you plan the perfect kids bed that will encourage your child’s growth and imagination.

South Shore Summer Breeze Kids Twin Wood Bookcase Bed 4 Piece Bedroom Set in White Wash Sonax Willow Captain's Storage Bed 2 Piece Bedroom Set in Ravenwood Black South Shore Imagine Kids Wood Loft Bunk Bed in Morgan Cherry Finish
South Shore Summer Breeze Kids Twin Wood Bookcase Bed 4 Piece Bedroom Set in White Wash
Sonax Willow Captain's Storage Bed 2 Piece Bedroom Set in Ravenwood Black
South Shore Imagine Kids Wood Loft Bunk Bed in Morgan Cherry Finish

Before You Begin

  • It goes without saying safety must be the first consideration when selecting a child's bed. Select kids furniture with rounded corners. Including easy-to-open drawers, doors and lids is another good idea.

  • How much do you want to spend? Don’t forget to make a budget. It will keep you on track when you see yet another cute canopy bed or racing car themed bedroom set that would be absolutely perfect for your child’s room.

  • Involve your child in the decision making process. They will be more likely to love a room they helped to decorate.

  • Know the dimensions of the room, so that you can get a better idea of just how much space you will need to plan for.

  • Create a list or make a rough sketch of the bedroom furnishings you want to include. Instead of buying each piece separately, you might want to consider purchasing a bedroom set, which consists of basic groupings like a bed with matching nightstand and armoire. For school-age children, you might want to purchase a kids bedroom set that includes a computer desk with hutch.

  • Since there are so many types and styles to choose from, consider what kind of bed your child will need and like. If you’re decorating the room for two, a bunk bed will maximize the available space. If your child likes to have friends spend the night, a trundle bed would be an ideal solution.

  • The child's age will automatically govern many of the planning choices you will need to make. It's important that the furniture is the correct height for the child’s developmental stage.

  • If you don’t know where to start for decorating ideas, ask your child for help: base the theme or focus of the room on the child’s main interests, such as a favorite animal, activity or topic.

  • There will be toys, building blocks, puzzles and games, not to mention clothes and accessories. Do you want to use baskets, storage cubes or a wardrobe armoire to help contain the clutter? Keep in mind, any materials used in a child’s room should be practical and easy to clean.

  • What Kind of Children's Bed Do I Need?

    The most popular size of bed for a child’s room is the twin or single bed. Twin beds are 39” wide and 75” long. The twin X-long or extra long single bed, is the same width as the twin but is 5” longer, and might be better suited for a teen’s room because of the additional length. If you want to purchase a custom size mattress or bed, take into account that many bedding manufacturers will offer sheets and comforters designed especially for children in twin sizes only.

    captain’s bed is also called a mate’s bed. By placing the mattress on top of a set of drawers or a combination of drawers and cubbyholes, it converts the unused space beneath the bed into a convenient storage area.  To add even more storage, select a captain’s bed with a bookcase headboard. If you are decorating the room for two children, using matching captain’s beds would be an ideal way of defining each child’s individual space. It is also an excellent choice for eliminating one more place monsters can hide.

    trundle bed is essentially two beds in one. The second bed pulls out from underneath the first when needed and can be retracted when not in use. The majority of trundle beds are available in just twin size, which is the main reason this type of bed is popular for a child’s room. Perfect for sleepovers or unexpected guests, a trundle bed is more convenient and manageable than an air mattress. Trundle beds slide in and out on a type of track system, much like a large drawer, that might or might not include casters. When the extra bed is no longer needed, the trundle compartment of some models can be used as a storage area by removing the mattress.

    A common choice when decorating a small or shared bedroom, the bunk bed is basically two beds stacked one on top of the other. Utilizing the space in the room vertically rather than horizontally, this saves the floor space for other interesting things like a chest of drawers, a toy chest or a desk with hutch. Supported by four poles at each corner of the bed, the top bunk is typically accessed by a ladder and is either fully or semi enclosed by railings to prevent the child from falling out of bed. Most styles of bunk beds will break down into two free standing beds: should more space become available or they simply outgrow the bunk bed style, this will give you the option of giving them separate beds without have to purchase new ones.

    A variation on the bunk bed, the loft bed is essentially the top bunk only, providing free space beneath the bed for a study or activity area. Loft beds are available in a variety of configurations and materials, including storage drawers and cubbyholes, built-in or free standing desks or activity tables. Combining the loft bed concept with the bunk bed, another version of the loft bed allows the bottom bunk to be free standing beneath the upper bunk, and might include a desk and optional storage.

    The four poster bed is a timeless choice for a child’s bedroom. Depending on the style of the décor, they can be country charming, dramatically whimsical or comfortably sporty. They are characterized by four posts at each corner that are of equal or varying height. The most popular construction material for four poster beds is wood. Classic in style and elegant in design, a four poster can last through the young adult years, simply by removing and/or replacing the furniture the child’s outgrown and updating the bedding and color scheme.

    Still the number one choice for princess themed rooms, the canopy bed is a four poster bed with a covering. Canopies can be made of a variety of materials, even roped wire detailing. To soften the dramatic appearance of the four poster bed, select a fabric canopy with a border frill or one with draped swatches. A canopy frame can be added to most four poster beds where the posts of the bed are of equal height. When purchasing a canopy bed, confirm if the material is or is not included; some manufacturers will not include the canopy fabric, allowing you the option to match it to your curtains, bedding and/or color scheme. Typically chosen to decorate girls’ room, a canopy bed can be the perfect focal point in a boy’s room, depending on the material and style.

    Sleigh beds are characterized by elegant, curving lines and a distinctive, romantic feel. The height of the headboard determines how eye-catching the bed will be as a focal point in the room; the taller the headboard/footboard, the more it will dominate the room. For decorating a child’s bedroom, if you want the feel of a sleigh bed but would like to minimize its visual impact, select a shorter headboard. Originally a style associated with the Victorian era, sleigh beds for children can possess both period and modern details like bun feet, carved accents, bright colors and the use of contrasting finishes.

    Hillsdale Nantucket Bed in Espresso Finish Walker Edison Twin Over Twin Solid Wood Bunk Bed in Espresso Finish Atlantic Furniture Captain's Bookcase Bed with Underbed 4 Drawer Chest in Natural Maple
    Hillsdale Nantucket Bed in Espresso Finish
    Walker Edison Twin Over Twin Solid Wood Bunk Bed in Espresso Finish
    Atlantic Furniture Captain's Bookcase Bed with Underbed 4 Drawer Chest in Natural Maple

    What Kind of Kids Bed Style Should I Choose?

    The sleigh bed is one of those styles that we immediately associate with traditional because of their silk finishes, graceful curves and flowing lines. Traditional furnishings are inspired by the fashions and customs of the past, ranging from the elaborate fussiness of Victorian times to the rich simplicity of French Country. It is probably for this reason that traditional-style pieces like a dresser or nightstand can make a room feel informal or formal, depending on the time period that has been used as inspiration.

    Contemporary children’s bedroom furniture is known for its simplicity of line, shape and form. A blend of modern and casual, the contemporary style emerged during the second half of the 20th century. By underplaying the ornate lines and rich textures of more traditional furniture, a contemporary bedroom set might mix natural elements with bold color.

    Casual children’s bedroom furnishings are comfortable, warm and inviting. This style is characterized by simple details, textured elements such as lattice work, and horizontal panel insets. Rectangular and softly curved elements contribute to its relaxed feel. Furniture can be oversized or large in scale to emphasize its coziness and functionality. A bunk bed in the casual style is ideal for creating a child’s room that will posses the comfortable look of contemporary and the warm, charming feel of the traditional.

    Simple style is even more pared down and leaner than casual furniture. Characterized by clean, uncomplicated lines, casual furnishings are inviting, warm and comfortable while unpretentious in form. A child’s room, which might include a trundle bed, furnished in simple style may appear more uncluttered because of minimal architectural detail. Finishes are usually lighter than traditional or casual furniture.

    Country kids furniture combines more formal traditional styles with provincial charm, and are known for being comfortable, cozy and welcoming. They contain a distinctive period flavor like Colonial or English Country. Country style furnishings are almost always constructed of wood, ranging from light to medium finishes. Some of the more common types of finishes are grainy, painted or distressed. Country furniture can include whimsical details like hand-painted stenciling, hand-carved insets, shutter style panels and French twist embossing.

    Transitional style children’s bedroom furnishings blend together contemporary and traditional styles. Typically this style merges austere lines with intricate curves and natural wood finishes with lustrous metals. It also utilizes neutral palette finishes like taupe, tan and vanilla. Since it is a mix of other styles, it adapts easily and blends in with a wide range of designs and fashions. The versatility of transitional bedroom furniture, like a four poster bed, makes it a good choice for a child’s room because as the child grows, pieces, not necessarily in the same style, can be added.

    What Kind of Material Should I Choose for My Child's Bed

    Made from recyled materials, engineered woods are processed by using heat and pressure to glue wood fibers together. One type of engineered wood is medium density fiberboard or MDF. MDF is more affordable than solid wood, but just as strong and durable. For bedroom furniture in a child’s room that is easy to care for while having the look and feel of real wood, select a bunk bed or headboard made of MDF and a combination of veneers and/laminates.

    Laminates are produced by pressing layers of plastic, metal or wood together, then sealing them with a thermosetting resin. They are often used as a finish for bedroom furniture because they are durable, easy to care for and economical. Since laminates don’t fade and have no grain, they are easier to match when adding additional pieces to your kids bedroom set.

    Wood veneers are created by a similar process as in the making of laminates. Thin slices of real wood are glued to the piece of furniture using heat and pressure. Since it can be applied to any smooth, flat surface, this is a popular material for bedroom furniture like a sleigh bed. Since it is not as expensive to manufacture, it also gives furniture the texture and appearance of genuine solid woods, while keeping costs down.

    Considered to be the most durable material for kids furniture, real wood furnishings are constructed from wood cut from the trunks of trees like pine, mahogany or oak and are more expensive than engineered wood products. If your budget allows for a four poster made of solid wood, it will be something that you will prize for years to come. Although, do keep in mind, that as a construction material for children’s furniture, it will be the most labor intensive. Because is has a grained surface, it can be scratched easily. If you want to add pieces at some time in the future, it might be more difficult to match with your other furniture, even if produced by the same manufacturer, due to factors like variation in wood density and discrepancies in the thickness of finishes.

    Metals are a popular material for kids beds because they are strong and easy to keep clean. Pure metals are generally too soft, too brittle or chemically reactive. Alloys refer to metals made by combining two or more elements. The purpose of creating an alloy is to make the metal stronger and more stable. Since all metals are subject to the effects of time and oxidization, you want to choose a metal twin bed with a durable finish or one that is made of scaled metal, which means it has been treated to resist corrosion. Frames made from sheet metal are more solid than ones made from tubing, but a bed made from heavy gauge tubing will retain strength and durability, while being lighter and less expensive to ship.

    What Else Should I Keep in Mind When Choosing a Bed for My Child

  • It goes without saying that you want to keep your child as safe and comfortable as possible. By selecting furniture that have rounded corners, is the correct height for the child’s developmental stage, and have easy-to-open drawers, doors and lids, you'll create an environment that is safe and secure.

  • Because ladders and climbing are involved, for safety reasons save bunk beds for children over six years of age.

  • Also as a safety measure for children under six, choose a bed with a solid headboard as opposed to a slatted one; avoid other design styles that include open spaces, such as metal bars or lattice work.
  • When choosing a bed for a child making the transition from a crib to a regular bed, select a style that is close to the ground and has safety rails.

  • If you’ve decided on buying a bunk bed, make sure there is a minimum of two feet of space between the bunk and the ceiling.

  • For new bunk bed users, consider including a night light in the room to make middle-of-the-night trips to the bathroom safer.

  • Select paints and finishes for walls and furniture that are lead-free and non-toxic.

  • It might seem like a battle you will never win, but when planning a child’s room don’t forget to include an easy-to-use storage system. It might encourage them to develop the habit of keeping things in their place. Whatever system you decide upon—storage cubes, plastic bins, baskets or dressers—use labels to help them remember where everything goes. For pre-schoolers, use pictures.

  • Proper lighting is especially important in a child’s bedroom. When deciding on the placement of their furniture, take full advantage of natural light, and ensure that there will be enough overhead and task lighting for homework, etc.

  • If limited space is an issue, either due to room size or the room is being shared by two, consider purchasing furniture that incorporates extra storage like a captain’s bed or a bookcase headboard.

  • If you are purchasing a trundle bed, check manufacturers’ descriptions for weight specifications, especially if you are buying the bed for older children and their guests.

  • Secure to the wall any piece of kids furniture that might be considered "too tall" such as a bookcase or armoire. Many manufacturers will include anti-tip kits so that you can safely secure the piece of furniture while reducing the risk of accident.