The moment you find out you are having another baby is monumental. The adrenaline, the joy, the fear, and the excitement all take over your whole being instantaneously. Even though you have another child (or multiple others), there are still anxiety-inducing feelings associated with the “unknown” because every child is different, and every time we add another member to our family, the dynamics change.
Then, because many mamas are planners, we jump right into action to prepare for the new arrival. We ponder concrete and creative ways to introduce the latest child(ren) to the family. We may also have concerns about how to prevent any sibling rivalry, which is common and can be stressful for everyone involved. If you’re a worrier like me, these thoughts swirl in your head more than you care to admit. I love to plan as much as possible, but sometimes, I have to learn to let go of control and embrace the unknown.
My favorite part of welcoming a new member of the family is the nesting phase. I live for it! It’s so much fun reconceptualizing your current space when expanding your family. But what if your space is limited and you are struggling with how to incorporate another child into a sibling’s room? It can be especially challenging if you are working with a smaller bedroom where you don’t have endless space to redecorate. Although gender is a social construct and does not necessarily directly influence any decor decisions, you may wonder how to redesign a space that would be used by children of different sexes.
If you are stumped on how to create a shared bedroom for siblings, do not fret. We have enlisted the help of some mega-talented interior designers to answer your burning decor questions: Bria Hammel, Andi Morse, Caron Woolsey, and Maggie Griffin.
These four designers have a keen eye for transforming spaces for their clients in the most unique ways, which effectively blend functionality and beautiful aesthetics. We asked these design experts to share some of their best hacks for combining sibling bedrooms. Read on for their tips for how to maximize a shared space, showcase each child’s individuality, and more!
1. What tips can you share on combining rooms for siblings of the same sex? Different sexes? Or does it even matter?
Caron Woolsey: “Be bold and embrace individuality, regardless of gender. Don’t be afraid of wallpaper and covering the walls on half of the room in one print that reflects the tastes of each child. As long as the colors compliment each other, you can pull the room together with bedding and accessories. Choose prints from the same artist or collection to create a room with prints that work in concert together. Hygge & West is a great site for playful yet stylish prints that have lasting power as your children age. Find small ways to empower children to make their own selections, too: cabinet hardware, wall letters, sheets that aren’t exposed when the bed is made. A little can go a long way to making a child feel that they were involved in the process and that the room was truly designed for them.”
Andi Morse: “When combining a bedroom for siblings who are the same sex, selecting a color that both kids like can make starting the project fun for them. Even if you select different bedding, keeping the same wall color will ensure a cohesive finished product. If you want to distinguish between the two kids, I recommend using a singular wall color but selecting different bedding options specific to each child. That being said, I don’t think gender matters as much as making the space feel like each child’s personality. Just because one child identifies as a girl doesn’t mean their bedroom needs only feminine colors.”
Bria Hammel: ”We start by getting to know the kids’ personalities, interests, and hobbies. This helps us design a space that feels like an extension of them, so it truly is home to them. We always try to get the kids involved when we can—whether it’s helping to pick out fabrics or artwork, it makes the process fun for all involved!”
2. What design hacks do you have to make the combined room feel bigger and spacious?
Andi Morse: “Select a color or color palette that both siblings will be happy with. Use bunk beds to save space or day beds instead of standard twin beds to create more of a lounge feeling in the room. Let the kids pick out their bedding, giving them parameters with color. Add a wallpapered accent wall or wallpaper the whole room and let each sibling have a bulletin board where they can display their own things.”
Maggie Griffin: “A large rug can really open a space, as do full drapery that are mounted high, under the crown molding and stacked off the window a bit on each side. Twin beds will save space as well, leaving room on each side and space for a nightstand in the middle. Lofted, bunk-style beds can also provide valuable play space on the floor.”
Bria Hammel: ”The key to creating a functional and livable shared bedroom space is including plenty of open floor space in our design. This allows the kids to use it for play, homework, and a bedroom. Additionally, we always make sure storage is top of mind to avoid clutter. Consider nightstands, dressers with all of the drawer space, or a bench at the end of the bed to store toys.”
Caron Woolsey: “Organization and tucked-away storage are key! Create the space to look like it’s only holding the base furniture on the floor. Have on-wall bookshelves for books or enclosed dressers, sideboards, and desk arrangements so that clutter is tucked away. Rolling bins under beds are also helpful. Ease of use increases the likelihood that kids will actually attempt to put things away (hopefully).”
3. How can you incorporate the different stages of kids’ development as well as honor their personalities?
Bria Hammel: “Designing a timeless and classic space that can grow with the kids for years to come is key. It also gives you the flexibility to turn the room into a guest bedroom in the future as well since it’s not kid-specific.”
Maggie Griffin: “Using neutral fabrics and patterns can provide a soft backdrop for the space, allowing for punchy art and interesting textiles layered onto each bed that reflects that child’s personality.”
Caron Woolsey: “While the base bedding should match, make each child’s throw pillows match their unique style and personality. Each can pick an art subject that you could incorporate on their side while ensuring that the frame and the coloring of each is the same or at least balances each other out. While one may need a desk and the other not yet, choose pieces that work in unison and try to keep the space symmetrical in the sense that they both have what they need while ensuring both pieces of furniture are about the same dimensions, even if they’re not identical.”
…choose pieces that work in unison and try to keep the space symmetrical in the sense that they both have what they need while ensuring both pieces of furniture are about the same dimensions.
Andi Morse: “Giving each kid their own space in the room is important. If possible, let them each have their own bed, desk, and dresser. I like to create a zone for each child, whether it’s one side of a room or a smaller designated area for each sibling. Every child goes through stages where sharing is difficult, so giving them separate areas or actual furniture pieces that they can call their own helps in letting them feel that the space is ‘mine’ not ‘ours’ all of the time.”
4. What should parents avoid when combining siblings in one room?
Maggie Griffin: “Avoid theme decorating (i.e. cars, animals, sports, etc.), as their tastes change so frequently!”
Andi Morse: “Let each child’s personality be reflected in the room. The room can look cohesive without being totally identical. It’s important that each child feels the room is still their own space. I would avoid sharing furniture if you can. If you have to, they should have designated areas in the closet and dresser, etc. that belong to the specific sibling. They should not have to mix their clothes or personal belongings with each other—this rule also applies to the areas of the room. It might even mean that each child gets a designated window of time every day to have the room to themselves.”
Bria Hammel: “When designing a shared bedroom space, we always like to make sure each sibling has a separate space in the room to call their own. For example, incorporate bookshelves or desks in the room to showcase their own collectibles and favorite things.”
When designing a shared bedroom space, we always like to make sure each sibling has a separate space in the room to call their own.
Caron Woolsey: “Resist the impulse to match. As long as the palettes and the lines of the design complement each other, embrace playful and inventive design that reflects your children’s personalities. If you limit the child’s ability to personalize, they will never love their room or feel as though it’s theirs—and they’ll be begging you to change it sooner rather than later.”
Meet the Designers
Bria Hammel is the creative director and CEO of Bria Hammel Interiors, the CEO of Brooke & Lou, and co-creator of Hammel House & Co. Bria believes, “Every project is about creating a home filled with surprising, thoughtful spaces that lead to unexpected moments.”
Caron Woolsey, founder and principal designer of CW Interiors, masterfully balances “elegance with livability.” She does so through her designs, which “reference the past, plan for the future, and integrate each client’s distinctive attributes to make each result truly one-of-a-kind.”
Maggie Griffin, founder and lead designer of Maggie Griffin Design, designs “for modern Southern living [blending] playful patterns, colorful fabrics, [and] comfortable upholstery” to create spaces that are both classic and stylish.