All too often I see people creating a nursery or child’s bedroom based on the ‘cuteness factor’ and the child’s current age, rather than thinking about creating a space that with only a few minor changes will still be relevant when they are teenagers. We’ve all seen the crib that converts to a bed, but there is so much more to consider so you don’t have to re-purchase everything over and over.

Even though this photo shows a rather decadent, highly-custom bedroom I designed for an 8 year old with a penchant for “Princess-y Shabby Chic” (or was it her mother’s penchant…?), every furniture piece and built-in in the room will take her into her teenage years with just some fabric and paint changes. Let’s break it down:

The bed is more than it appears.  Knowing the client wanted space for sleepovers and floor space for play, instead of doing two beds, we did one queen size bed (the scale of which was perfect for the room and will be comfortable for the child as she grows).  Underneath the bed is a trundle for sleepover guests, plus the bed is big enough for another guest as well.  As you can see, the trundle isn’t hidden by a typical bedskirt.  This one I custom designed out of tulle with “diamonds” on it to look like a fanciful tutu!  And, because the bed is queen size and the trundle is twin size, there is still plenty of storage space beneath the bed.

The armoire is where I chose to hide the rather large TV her father wanted her to have. Instead of a big, black square sitting on the wall in such a delicate space, it is hidden.  The armoire also has ample storage and a desk area for homework.

In the foreground is a vanity with a removable mirror, so that as she grows she will have the choice to continue using it as such, or as an alternate desk for herself or a friend.

A lot of thought was put into the design and scale of the Bergère chair and ottoman. I needed a chair the child could use and be comfortable in now, but that would also be suitable for her parents now and for her later, so I didn’t want to use a “child size” chair. With that in mind, I found an antique chair in an adult size, but with more petite dimensions.  From there, we refinished the chair in a glazed pearlescent white and upholstered the chair in a very soft, velvety outdoor fabric.  I chose outdoor fabric because it’s fairly indestructible.  Even though the colors in the room may change, this chair will take her through her teenage years and beyond.

The nook at the back of the room was designed as a space to curl up with a book, or sit and talk with mom or a friend. The playful curtains will also give her a private place for her to hide from her little brother!  The nook also has ample storage beneath, and bookshelves recessed into the side walls.

As you can see, I’ve designed this room to have a lot of storage, with even the bedside tables having drawers. What you can’t see in the photo is a beautiful bookshelf and storage unit at left.  Pretty and pink as this room currently is, with just a few paint and fabric changes, it could turn into almost anything her future teenage heart desires, because the functionality is well-designed.

Other design tips in this room:

When designing any room, there is always a list of needs and wants from the homeowner. In addition to the very specific style and colors they wanted, they also wanted space for friends to play and stay, a couple of cozy areas to read a book, a spot for a rather large TV, and lots of storage.  The entire home was new-construction, so I had a very blank canvas.

I started with a basic Space Plan to determine the bed and furniture placement so I could then determine exactly where we needed electrical outlets and lighting. We then added all of the intricate crown and panel molding, plus the striped wallpaper.  We then matched the paint color on the wall exactly to the pink wallpaper stripe and glazed the crown moldings.  A very durable, textural cream carpet was installed as per the homeowner’s request

I then selected over a dozen coordinating fabrics in different weights and textures and quickly determined which ones would be features in the room and which would be pillows, ruffles and trims. I then custom-designed all of the bedding, pillows and everything-else-fabric.  When making fabric selections, I try to stay away from the coordinating fabrics pre-selected by the manufacturers, and instead mix up patterns, colors and textures from all different sources….this makes the overall impact so much more custom and interesting, at no additional cost.

To be successful mixing patterns, I pay attention to the scale of the prints and include some repetition of colors, tones and themes. In this case with the shabby chic theme, I used quilted fabrics, velvets, antique and polished cottons, sheer voiles, and many specialty fabrics (some with ribbon rosettes, and pearls) to add interest, depth and playfulness.

One very important thing people often overlook is lighting. In this case, we added several layers and types of lighting to give as much flexibility, function and interest as possible.  For overall function we installed recessed ceiling lights.  For task lighting there are bedside lamps, a floor lamp beside the chair, a vanity lamp, and a recessed light inside the reading nook.  And just for fun, we installed the crystal chandelier.  Additionally, we added tiny LED lights to the ceiling to replicate a starry sky at night (seriously!), so that when the lights are turned off in the room at night, this lucky little girl has a starry sky to lull her to sleep.

The true beauty of this room isn’t just its visual appeal and that it made the clients so happy they did a little dance, it is also that it is a very functional space which will be relevant in years to come. What little girl wouldn’t love this room?