14 Clever Ways to Make a Shared Kids Room Work, According to the Parents Who’ve Done It
When I was an editor at a national parenting magazine, my boss never wanted to run any stories about shared kids’ bedrooms because she believed that very few kids shared anymore. Statistically, she was not wrong: American houses keep getting bigger and families keep getting smaller, so it stands to reason that most kids get their own room. However, in my everyday life, I know plenty of families who have kids share bedrooms, especially in cities, where space is at a premium.
Even in homes with more square footage, families will often choose to have kids share a room. My sister and I shared until we hit our tween years — even though the house we grew up in had a whopping five (!) bedrooms. My parents, like many others, hoped sharing a room would help deepen the bond between their kids and also teach us a little bit about problem-solving and compromise. (I like to think their plan worked!)
Designing shared kids rooms can be tricky because every kid, family, and home is different. What works for one family might not work for another — and that’s okay! Cubby set out to find smart and stylish shared rooms that could give you ideas for your kids’ shared space. Here are 14 clever tips from families with kids sharing rooms in spaces ranging from big to small:
1. Give the kids the bigger bedroom.
Or in the case of 600 Square Feet and a Baby’s Alison Mazurek the only bedroom. After her son was born, Alison and her husband decided to sleep on a Murphy bed in the main living space and let their son have the small 8’ x 9’ bedroom sits just off the dining/kitchen area in their Vancouver one bedroom, so they wouldn’t have to be tiptoeing around at night. The family stayed in the apartment for seven and a half years before finally moving on to more space this spring (and the kids will still be sharing the bigger bedroom in their new home).
2. Fold away your bed for playtime!
When her daughter was born, Alison invested in Murphy beds for the kids’ room. The foldaway bunks offered major space savings, but they also appealed to her because they were a lasting and flexible solution. When the family purchased the beds, their son was still only four, so they had him sleep in the lower bunk (his sister was still in a crib) until he was a little older, which precluded the need for a temporary sleeping solution. When the beds are closed they only take up just over a foot of space in the bedroom, allowing for the most space for play. The shelving to the right of the bunks is from IKEA.
3. Store most of the toys in another room.
Amber and Chris Earl, owners of EARL (@earl_home) in Los Angeles, opted to have all three of their kids share a room in their three-bedroom house and use their third bedroom as guest room/playroom. Amber made the smart decision to store the kids’ toys in the playroom. To accommodate all three siblings in one bedroom, Amber devised a semi-homemade bunk setup with a store-bought bed with storage drawers below and a loft bed built by Chris for the top bunk. Dedicating the bedroom to sleeping and getting dressed makes it possible for three to share.
4. Fake a closet with an armoire.
When their third child was born, the family asked for gift cards instead of baby gifts, so they could buy an armoire to house all of the kids’ clothes. Amber says the hyper-organized closet is the key to fitting three kids into one room with no built-in closet.
5. Go custom to make the most of a small space.
As the founder of Maximizing Tiny, a decorating business that focuses on small spaces, Shamika Lynch knows a thing or two about making the most of a tight spot — and her own kids’ bedroom is no exception. The tiny room measures just 7 1/2′ x 11′ but Shamika has managed to fit in sleeping spots for the two boys, who are 3 and 1-1/2. “I wanted the room to be fun and youthful, but also functional,” says Shamika. To maximize the space, she had a friend build a custom, crib-mattress-sized, bed with under-bed storage. She also mounted bookshelves on the wall to make use of the vertical space in this tiny footprint.
6. Don’t skip the fun décor.
A small space didn’t prevent Shamika from giving the kids’ room a theme. Their dad is a major science enthusiast and both boys are named after astrophysicists, so an outer space theme was fitting. Shamika hand-painted the stars on the wall and stamped the moon phases, while a friend painted a fun mural above the crib.
7. Keep things simple for a feeling of calm.
Until a recent move, Anne Eckhart’s family of four shared a 660-square-foot bungalow in Southern California. With only two small bedrooms, their two kids had no choice in whether or not they’d share a room. (The kids got their own rooms in the new house, but Anne says her son still sleeps in his sister’s room every night!) Anne intentionally kept the walls, window treatments, and bedding simple, since it was such a tight space. “I didn’t want to make it too busy,” she says. “I wanted pops of color and the cute toys to really be the focal point.” The family opted for twin beds because the children were still too young for bunks.
8. Display their toys like decor.
Anne used a tall bookcase from Room & Board on the wall opposite the bed to store all the kids’ toys. “It’s been wonderful and so versatile. I love that is very sturdy and it has a lot of space between the shelves for tall things,” she note. The least frequently used toys are on the top shelves and the daily toys are at kid level.
9. Make a mood board!
The kids’ rooms are usually the last to get decorated, but Instagrammer Ann LaCouture, a mom of four, caught the interior design bug from designing her boys’ shared bedroom. Designed as part of the One Room Challenge, it was her first time designing a room from scratch with a plan in mind, and she encourages other parents to try the same, if they want a more designed look for their kids’ space. The room was designed around the amazing 10-piece map mural from worldmapsonline.com.
10. Sneak in storage under beds.
While they live in a multi-bedroom house, Ann wanted her kids to share: her girls also share a room (above). “It’s always been important to me for my kids to share rooms,” says Ann, “I feel like there’s a lot of bonding that goes on at night — not to mention that kids learn how to share, compromise, and accommodate!” The daughters’ beds, which were custom-made by their dad, have storage drawers beneath, precluding the need to additional bureaus, a smart space-saving maneuver. Ann recently painted the ceiling blue and says it changed the whole feeling of the room.
11. Trick out your bunk beds.
12. Weave in vintage finds to add character.
Sometimes parents get so focused on space saving in a shared room that they forget to add the final layer of personality. Chantal also added charm to the room with vintage finds, including an antique stool, a scallop-edge bookcase, and this adorable bed pocket made out of a vintage quilt by Neeneetwigs.
13. Buy grown-up furniture to house your kids’ many toys.
Caroline and Jason Rodrigues, owners of @shopmercimilo, mostly skipped kid furniture in their kids’ room. A mid-century modern storage piece and an adult bookcase from IKEA stand in for the usual kids’ storage. Both are filled with maximalist displays of similar objects group together, pretty much like toys are displayed in the Rodrigues’s toy store. “I like to call it organized chaos,” Caroline laughs.
14. Bunk up if you’re a blended family.
When it came to their daughter Milo’s room they opted for a mix of vintage finds (including a retro wooden kitchen set) and new items with similarly modern lines, like the Oeuf Perch bunk bed (which Milo shares with Caroline’s children, Cailin, 14, and Darren, 16, who live there part of the time) The overall effect is calm, cozy, and collected.
This post was originally published April 28, 2021.
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