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Creating gender-neutral rooms for kids

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It is very common these days for parents to want to create a bedroom for their children, which both boys and girls can enjoy. The reason might be that the room is to be shared by brother and sister, or perhaps it is a nursery for a new baby whose gender remains a surprise. Whatever the motivation, discarding preconceived ideas of decorating based on gender is exciting as it opens up a world of possibilities! Gender neutral doesn’t have to mean yellow, or a room devoid of any colour; you can create a room that both boys and girls will adore that is rich in personality and colour. The key is in the balance of elements – colours, styles and patterns – and the following hints will guide you.

COLOUR SCHEMES

There was a time when pink was for girls, blue was for boys and yellow meant unisex. Today the lines are much less defined. Pink is an extremely popular choice for mens’ shirts and ties, while the blue of Tiffany & Co is quintessentially feminine.

mexican cottons

Pink can feature in spaces for a boy’s rooms when balanced by strong, bold colours such as red, blue and black. Rest assured, this is not a new trend – Central American textiles have been mixing these colours for thousands of years in traditional cotton fabrics so you can feel confident if you are drawing upon this age-old style.

While blue is traditionally considered for boys, lighter and more cheerful shades, like a sky blue and turquoise blues, offer a balance masculine and feminine.

If you intend to make a loud statement with colour, it’s important to retain some balance. A strong, bright wall-colour might be best applied as a feature wall only. Otherwise, apply a softer shade of colour on all walls and accent with punches of vivid colour in the soft-furnishings and wall art.

If monochromatic or neutral schemes are more your style, warmth and character can be achieved via your selection of finishes. Glossy mirrored surfaces paired with soft fur and timbers create a soft and inviting story.

Image from Amy Lambert Lee Interior Design

Image from Amy Lambert Lee Interior Design

PATTERNS

Stripes, spots, checks and geometrics are fabulous because they are universal in both gender and age, so you can ensure their relevance for years to come! Play on the scale to really mix it up – wide stripes mixed with thin stripes or tickings, big spots and small spots, ginghams and wide plaids. Chevron (zigzag) is all the rage at the moment and I personally love it as a quirky alternative to stripes.

Image from Carousel Designs

Image from Carousel Designs

If you are looking for fewer abstract designs, the great outdoors provides plenty of inspiration for boys and girls. Animals, birds, clouds, stars, cityscapes or forests are universal themes. Alternatively, classic tales and their characters can be enjoyed by both boys and girls, so why not draw upon your favourite childhood story? Add some vintage decor to the mix to play out the classic charm.

Image from Just Dotty wallpaper

Image from Just Dotty wallpaper

FURNITURE

When selecting furniture, opt for straight lines and simple designs if you are trying to strike a balance between masculine and feminine.

It is not essential to have all of the furniture pieces matching. I recommend ‘cousins, not twins’ when furniture shopping. In other words, opt for pieces that are complementary, not identical. This adds to the individuality and character of the room. If you’ve read this and you are wondering where to get started, I suggest you find a piece that really inspires you and use it as a launchpad for your theme, building the colour palette and patterns around it. Your inspiration can be anything – from an image, to a wallpaper, or a childhood memento that will have an important role in the space.

Whatever you decide, have fun with it. One of things I love most about designing kids rooms is that the rooms provide an opportunity to go a little crazier than you might otherwise plan in the rest of the house.

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