Many families have their kids share a bedroom—whether they like it or not. But when it comes to brothers and sisters living in the same space, getting the decor right can be tricky (as is figuring out the privacy issue, a subject we’ll tackle in a separate article). You’ll likely avoid gender-specific colors like pink and baby blue, but that doesn’t mean your only options are white or washed-out yellow. We’ve got six brilliant design hacks that’ll make both your boy and girl feel right at home.
Ponder the paint
Photo by Crisp Architects – Teal comforters and window shades with a slight floral print make this a room any child would love.
Sage green, pale gray, or aqua blue work equally well for both sexes, says Lorena Canals, founder of the eponymous home lifestyle brand in Hastings on Hudson, NY.
A balance of masculine and feminine stripes with floral can also be a great look, notes Anna Shiwlall, a decorator with 27 Diamonds in Orange County, CA. “Start with a neutral color such as gray or beige for the walls and then add in colors and prints from there,” she explains. Shiwlall once designed a playroom in both deep navy with hot pink that wowed her clients.
Carole Marcotte, a designer with Form & Function in Raleigh, NC, likes mixing a chartreuse green with either orange or teal. “Orange and blue are very boy/girl-friendly as are red and navy.”
Ditch the themes
A frilly canopy bed doesn’t really mix with one shaped like a fire engine, so rethink obvious gender-based kid motifs in a room shared by your boy and girl. Decorating in a more classic style—free of age-defining themes—may work better as the kids age into the room, says Canals. “You want a design that will grow with your kids and feel less babyish after a couple of years,” she adds.
Coordinating the room’s design will result in a more polished look, but there’s also nothing wrong with letting each child decorate his or her own side of the bedroom.
“For example, let your kids choose their own removable wall decals—they can select the colors and styles they like,” suggests Canals. Another way to let them infuse their own tastes on their side is with the rugs. The shapes could match but the colors could be their own, she continues.
Choosing the right details can help unify a bedroom for both a boy and a girl. Art accessories are a good place to start, suggests Marcotte. Also consider educational decor, including roll-down maps (like the kind used in schools), ABC blocks, vintage children’s book prints, or other graphic art.
“All of these would be a great bridge between the sexes,” she says. Globes are also a cute accessory to inspire your adventurous young boy and girl.
Add organizational furniture
You’ll need enough storage to keep books, toys, and other kid clutter from taking over the room (remember, two kids can create a ton of stuff!). Think carefully about how to organize the space so it works for both kids. A hinged toy bench or ottoman at the foot of each bed can hold any toys that are personal to each child, says Marcotte.
A space for art like a drawing easel can be centered for both kids to enjoy. “If there’s space, a table to share is also a nice touch,” she adds.
Divide and conquer
At some point the kids are going to fight and complain that they need their own space. To fix this, consider hanging a curtain in the middle of the room to provide some privacy.
“This allows for individual space when they want it—but then, with a swish of the curtain, they can play together very easily,” points out Marcotte. A curtain is also great to have if one child is much older and wants to read late into the night.