This New York City Shared Boys’ Room Is Full of Small-Space Tricks

published Feb 6, 2023
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Boys' bedroom in NYC. Lots of white, white walls, white shelves, white furniture, with pops of color: red bed linens, patterned throw pillows, etc
Credit: Eileen Meny

As a New Yorker, artist Sally King McBride is no stranger to tight spaces. Over the years, she and her family have found creative solutions to stay in the apartment and neighborhood they love. Her sons, Max and Alex’s, bedroom is a great example of how smart design choices can make a small space function better and evolve over time. It’s also a stylish love letter to childhood, thanks to lots of personal touches, including Sally’s own letter artwork, which she sells through her company The Letter Nest. Here’s how Sally made this space work — without making it look workaday.

Credit: Eileen Meny
The boys' bedroom as a nursery.
Credit: Eileen Meny
The boys' bedroom as a big boy room.

It starts with good bones.

Sally did remarkably little to transition the boys’ room from baby nursery to big-boy room, in part because she’d been so strategic with her furniture choices from the get-go. The cribs converted to toddler beds and the “changing table” was just a topper she’d added to chests of drawers she already owned. Likewise, the palette of black, white, and red has grown up with the boys.

Credit: Eileen Meny

Buy time with a toddler bed.

One key furnishing choice was the cribs that converted to toddler beds (by Oeuf), which Sally purchased through Giggle (RIP!). Families often skip directly from a crib to a twin-sized bed, but a toddler bed saves a ton of space in a small room. Sally’s sons are 5 and 6 1/2 and both happily still sleeping in their mini beds while their mom debates the merits of a bunk or trundle bed.

Credit: Eileen Meny

Turn storage into an artful display.

The wall-mounted shelves add a ton of storage to the room, but Sally is mindful not to overload them and keep them tidy. Artwork is mixed in with the books and toys, so that the whole thing reads more as décor than storage.

Credit: Eileen Meny

Wallpaper strategically.

Sally naturally wanted to incorporate wallpaper from her collection with Chasing Paper into her sons’ room, but she needed to do it in a way that would not overwhelm the small space, so she went with just two walls. “When you look into the room, you see the white wall,” she notes. “It’s only when you enter the room and turn back to the beds that you experience the playfulness.” She opted for the paper airplane print because, “It captured my boys’ imagination as something they can now make themselves.” When Sally realized she had a little wallpaper left over, she cut out a few planes and let them fly onto the adjacent wall — a tiny, but super-playful detail.

Credit: Eileen Meny

A hook will always help.

Next to her New York City Alphabet Print, Sally hung a few hooks for bathrobes, towels, and sweatshirts, which she says were “born of necessity” in a New York City apartment. However, it is also a wise choice in any kid’s room because there will inevitably be clothing you want to hang up but not necessarily put back in a drawer or closet (we’re looking at you, worn-for-an-afternoon hoodie). 

Credit: Eileen Meny

Stick to a tight palette.

Sally says she loves to mix and match bedding for the boys’ beds (including sheets and pillows from Pottery Barn Kids, Biscuit Home, and Jonathan Adler), but she only buys things that are red, white, and black — that way everything always matches! 

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