Determine Your Child's Needs

Before you begin planning your child's room, think about what they will need to sleep, play and grow.

Original_Susie-Fougerousse-Modern-Blue-Nursery_s4x3 Design by Susie Fougerousse

When parents think about designing their baby's or child’s room, many skip straight to style, envisioning bright colors and whimsical themes without stopping first to consider the many roles the room must play. If you’re looking forward to creating the paradise of your little one’s dreams, you’re in luck, but remember these spaces are expected to accommodate so many different functions and users at once.

Unlike most adults’ bedrooms, a child’s room is more than a place to sleep — it's a place to play, work, create and dress. And a nursery must fit not only the needs of its tiny inhabitant, which change quickly, but be a welcoming place for grownups. How to create a fun, functional haven for your child? Begin by asking yourself a few important questions.

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Who will use the space, and how?

"You really need to think about your child's needs and habits and yours, if this is a baby’s room,” says Susanna Salk, designer and author of Room for Children. Then, answer these questions:

  • Is this a room for one child or two or three?
  • Are they twins, or different-aged siblings?
  • Are they girls or boys?
  • How old are the children?
  • What activities will take place in the room?
  • Will adults use the room?
  • Will the adults mainly be in the room to play with or care for the children, or will the space double as a guest room?

The answers to these questions should determine the elements you'll need to include in your plan.

For example, If you’re expecting twins, or if the room will be shared by siblings, you'll need to determine a plan with adequate floor space for two cribs or beds, and figure out how and if you’ll fit double dressers and desks. A room for a baby may need seating for a parent’s nighttime nursing and rocking vigils, while a preschooler’s space is better devoted to an art or building-project table. Including a desk and supply storage in a school-aged child’s room is a wise idea, and if guests will occasionally share the space, you’ll want an adult-sized bed and extra clothing storage.

And what about the future?

News flash: Kids grow up. The 6 lb. infant sleeping peacefully in her bassinette today will be a rough-and-tumble toddler tomorrow and a book-report-writing middle-schooler the day after. So as you create your child's room, look ahead a few years. Imagine, as you plan your nursery, where you'll put a toddler bed once your baby outgrows the crib. Think about where you might fit a desk when it's time.

When it comes to style, choose furnishings that will look as good in a tween’s room as they do in your 5-year-old’s. You can always inject age-appropriate personality with details and accessories. "Other than the crib for a nursery, you're really better off staying away from juvenile furniture lines," says Cortney Novogratz, designer, mother of seven, and co-host with husband Robert of HGTV’s Home by Novogratz. "Some quirky knobs on a regular adult's dresser can make it look really fun and they’re easy to switch out later as your child’s tastes change."

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