Kids' room design tips for small spaces

Sep 15, 2010 at 2:17 p.m. ET

You can design a dream bedroom for kids in a small space if you know a few tricks. Whether it is an apartment, small loft, or dorm room, you can create the illusion of a larger space through room layout, paint colors, and multitasking furniture with plenty of storage.

Ikea bunk beds

"Make sure that all furniture selected for the space is smaller in scale, according to the square footage of the room. Lower profile, less bulky furniture will increase the perceived visual space making it feel open and airier," says award-winning interiors expert, Elaine Williamson.

Best beds for smaller spaces

If you have two children sharing a room, a bunk bed is your best bet for making use of a small space. Look for bunk beds with additional storage underneath, or shelving for keeping clothes organized and within easy reach. IKEA has a good selection of bunk beds perfect for small rooms.

If you have one child in the room, either a loft bed or a high-rise platform bed make good choices because they give you space underneath for a desk, small sofa, or shelving.

Murphy beds fold into the wall and are another great option for creating more space in a small room, says interior designer Sharon Prassel. Simply push the bed into the wall during the day for instant space.

Creating the illusion of more space

Paint the walls light colors, such as in soft tones of blues and green, to help the room look bigger and brighter. Check out the kids' color line by David Bromstad at Land of Nod. The Mythic Paint is non-toxic and free of VOCs (volatile organic compounds).

As far as accent furniture and décor, Williamson says less is more. "Keep all accent pieces light in feel. When your Wonder hangerside tables are heavy in shape or color, they have a tendency to add visual weight to your room, thereby making it appear even smaller. Keep all pieces light in color...keep the shape rounded and flowing."

She also recommends forgoing hanging light fixtures, especially if your ceilings are low. "Always use can lights when possible or, if you have a more modern style, today's versatile track lighting works great. This keeps the area above your furniture sight-line free and clear of visual interruptions."


Keeping the room free of clutter is a key point in giving the room a more open, larger feel. Make sure all the furniture you buy is functional and has drawers or shelves for storage. Keep clutter contained and organized in baskets. "Open bookcases used for storage tend to add nothing but a cluttered, closed in feeling," says Williamson.

Interactive RugTo make the most of your space in the closet, the Wonder Hanger ($9.99), is a cascading hanger that stacks clothes vertically, making the most of your small space.

Create a 5th wall

One easy way to instantly create space is to create a 5th wall—your floor! "When overall square footage is small, the walls can feel very close together," says Williamson. "Keep the rest of the flooring neutral and focus on a beautiful graphic rug that brings the focus down and around the space." Your kids will love The Interactive Rug from Land of Nod, which features a design that is a race car track.

More design ideas for children's spaces