Ask Maxwell: Design Trends for Today’s Kids?

published Oct 4, 2021
We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.
Post Image
Credit: Maxwell Ryan
Ursula swinging into action last week installing Elfa shelving in her other closet since her room was exploding with stuff and we really needed to use this closet a lot better!

Are there any design trends you’ve been loving for kids? Our 8-year-old daughter needs a room upgrade. (We’re working with a dated, slightly babyish space, TBH.)


Dear Erica,

I love this question and it gets me right back into my designer headspace, which is fun and creative — but also — very subjective, so let me kick it off for you and then you take if from there with your daughter.

First of all, an 8-year-old is YOUNG, so we want to start with some really simple building blocks that perhaps she can learn from going forward. These are not trends, just a few building blocks.

A really fun part of room design is starting with a mood board. I like to simply use Google image search or Pinterest search and build a board of images that I really love. You can throw a lot into it and then take out ones you like less later. You can move quickly and do it while you and your daughter debate what you like and don’t like. It can be a rumble!

Credit: Maxwell Ryan

For example, above is the board Ursula started with me when she was going into 8th grade and wanted to totally revamp her room. She was very much looking at THINGS that she liked and the walls were never in question — they are white — and we were not considering painting or anything that big.

Whether you paint or put up wallpaper or simply purchase new sheets and pillows, one of the most important decisions you can make — AND one that will help direct you — is that color you love and how you’d like it to inform your room. Choose a color with your daughter that will tell the story of her room!

Credit: Shutterstock

Warm Colors
Warm colors are all those colors that live on the warm side of the color wheel, from yellows to oranges to reds to pinks and off whites. Browns, as well, are mainly warm and even black has a warming effect. Warm colors DO warm a room and they are more stimulating than cool colors, which make them good for social areas and sometimes good to avoid in bedrooms. If you want a calmer, less stimulating bedroom, then you want to move to the cooler side of the spectrum. Love warm colors anyway??? Then look at purples, violets and greens, which live somewhat in the middle. My favorite for a super calming room? I love a soft lilac or lavender. It’s cozy with a bit of warmth, but dark enough for a good long sleep.

Cool Colors
Cool colors are all those left over and they have a very grounding, cooling effect which is nice in private spaces and places where you want to concentrate, rest or think. While not an obvious choice for a bedroom, they can work really well! Additionally, white — technically not a color, but the absence of color — has a cooling effect, which seems somewhat counterintuitive until you remember that wearing white in hot sunny weather is far more comfortable than black, which pulls in the sun and heats you up. While reflects and cools!

As for trends, to nail this question I went straight to my daughter, Ursula, to get her advice. She LOVES to redo her room ALL THE TIME, and is also a big fan of a few interior design YouTubers who I also now follow. It’s a whole new world down there at their age. This is what I learned.

1. She’s 15 as of today and she thinks that she’s too old to be advising an 8-year-old.
2. She says there ARE trends, but she doesn’t know what they are.
3. She then says that she DOES know the trends, but it’s complicated.
3. She says she might help me … later.

Which leads me right back to Alexandra Gater, who is her original fave on YouTube and the one I THINK YOUR DAUGHTER MIGHT REALLY LOVE. So check out this channel. Alexandra is totally charming and has a really nice soft style that I think could really inspire your daughter as she moves up in elementary school. Even more important, she’s all about DIY and empowering you both to experiment and find an organized, comfortable space that you can call your own.

I hope that all helps! Do let me know how it turns out and ENJOY THE PROCESS. Doing this sort of thing with kids never gets old in my book.

Best, M

Top 10 Most Popular Questions & Answers This Week
(I keep changing this each week based on your clicks)

Maxwell Ryan is a father and was an elementary school teacher in NYC before founding Apartment Therapy. He’d love to answer your question: This piece was created for Cubby, our weekly newsletter for families at home. Want more? Sign up here for a weekly splash of fun and good ideas for families with kids.

Cubby. Real solutions for unreal times.

Join us for a weekly dose of fresh, modern ideas for life at home with your kids.