5 tips to designing a timeless kids bedroom

It’s vintage inspired. It’s kinda grown up. It makes me want to be a kid again.

I go back and forth between which is better: boys or girls. I mean, girls are pretty awesome on all accounts, but with boys you can do really adorable things to their rooms and they barely look up from their transformers long enough to put up a fight. That goes a long way with a future overbearing (style-wise) parent like myself (KIDDING!!). With Graham’s bedroom below, he just wanted it to have some space/”Star Wars” references in it, and somewhere to put his toys. No problem, Mr. Graham. I got you.

boys bedroom emily henderson The main request from the parents was that it was timeless enough that they didn’t have to redo it in five years — sure, change out the textiles, have fun with the accessories, but the general design and the furniture should remain the same.

So I partnered with Land of Nod to fulfill that space bedroom mission — a room that is “boy” but could possibly morph into “young dude” in a few years. Here are some tips to help you create a room to grow, if you will … and I’ll understand if you don’t because that sounded like a Hallmark channel special on gastric bypass. But you get what I mean.

land of nod boys bedroom

1. Choose a color palette that is kid enough without being too “baby.” This room doesn’t get a ton of light,  (as you can see below) so I chose a medium tone on the walls (Half Moon Crest by Benjamin Moore). It’s something that isn’t too dark and won’t frankly frighten him, but would be darker then just white (because, I’ll say it again: white in a windowless space looks dead). Sure, you can have bright saturated colors in the room, but by keeping the main wall color more sophisticated you avoid having to repaint it in five years. A gray like this feels “boy” without feeling “baby boy.”

yellow and blue boy's bedroom

2. Choose furniture that YOU like, not just furniture that he likes. While he might be dying for a sofa that is in the shape of a Tella-Tubby or Jabba the Hut, he will get over that quickly … and then guess what you are going to have? A sofa in the shape of a Tella Tubby or Jabba the Hut (which I recently learned is not Java the Hut).  So when buying furniture make sure that YOU like it, and that after he gets sick of it or grows all old and goes to college, then you can incorporate the furniture into other areas of the house. Every piece of furniture in this room is cute enough to go in a grown-up room, so therefore it’s more timeless.

boy's bedroom star wars

3. Get cooky with the toys and accessories.  You’ve stayed grown-up with furniture, but he’s FIVE. Yes, trucks and cars can be styled to be objects on a shelf. Do it. The shelf is timeless, the chair is great for all kids spaces, but all the accessories bring in the child’s personality. Show restraint with the furniture, but go nuts with the accessories by styling it all playful.

The lucite box full of vintage toy planes is just that: a lucite box with vintage planes in it. I got them for $40 at an antique store and I wanted to put them under a glass dome — hello, I’m Emily Henderson and I struggle daily with how predictable I can be) — but you can’t put glass domes on shelves in kids rooms. They’ll pull them off the shelf, break the glass into shards of glass, tear open their tiny nimble fingers playing with said glass and then, GASP, get blood all over the textiles as they are feeling their way towards a Band-Aid. I shudder to think of the damage to the fabric.

No glass, so instead I bought this acrylic display box from The Container Store and threw them all in there. I told Graham he could certainly take them out and play with them, but he said, “No, I want them just for design,” and tears or joy, love, and mostly pride came to my eyes.

In case you are worried about that vintage shelf toppling down, we tied it back with earthquake ties, so it’s not going anywhere. I put the items on the bottom that he plays with and the items on top that are “more for design,” as he puts it.

vintage inspired kids bedroom

4. Mix two to three patterns in the room to avoid chaos. As a massive fan of pattern it can be hard for me to say this, but kids are already chaotic (no offense, parents). By mixing a ton of patterns in their rooms, you are adding so much busyness and chaos even before they spread their toys and socks and kid-like mess around. So I would limit the patterns to three in a room. In this case, we have one HUGE scale (the painting, stay tuned next week for the DIY of that!, by Orlando and his cohort, Alexis), one medium pattern (the rug) and one small pattern (the bedding). They all look really good together, totally intentional but not loud.

vintage boys bedroom

5. Add symmetry to help it feel pulled together. Non-symmetrical rooms can be more exciting, indeed, but symmetry is a funny thing — it really calms things down and is VERY easy for your eye to understand. It takes away a lot of distraction and contrast, and therefore is easier to interpret and understand. When your eye understands a space better, it feels calm and quiet. For a kids room, symmetry is more sophisticated but it also gives it a sense that it’s more pulled together, immediately. So even when it’s messy it feels less messy. In this case we used matching nightstands and matching lamps — it’s not always necessary, but it keeps things quieter.

Almost all items in this post are Land of Nod, listed below. Anything else is vintage or antique.

Hanging Around Pendant Lamp, Faculty Mixer Graphic BeddingBlack Isosceles Table LampBoom Box Throw Pillow, Globe nightlight is no longer available, but I love this Elephant Nightlight, Three Cube Storage Bench, Pastel Plaid RugBlake Nightstand.

All incredible photographs are by the even more incredible David Tsay that I somehow convinced to shoot with me again. :) Thanks to Land of Nod for helping me with these lovely kids bedrooms.

vintage boys bedroom

This post was in partnership with Land of Nod, but all designs, thoughts, ideas, words, and general ramblings are my own.

Don’t forget to come back tomorrow for the behind-the-scenes video, and next week for the DIY post of the headboard painting. Meanwhile make sure you’ve seen his sister, Grace’s room that I also designed with Land of Nod.

So what do you all think? Do you approve?

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