- A guide to a great shared children's room
There can be many reasons for having a shared children’s room in your home. Perhaps you want a room for playtime and another for sleeping in. Maybe a shared room is necessary because you need space. Sometimes the children just don’t want to sleep alone and at other times the shared room is a great way to teach the children some valuable life skills. Having a shared bedroom can be both a challenge and a gift. It can also feel like the most natural thing in the world. Regardless of how your children initially feel about sharing a bedroom, it is important to consider how you make room for both playtime, homework and sleep – as well as room to be alone and together. We have gathered a bunch of considerations that can help you if you are about to put two children in one room or are considering it.
”I like that they’re learning to take responsibility for each other’s and our common things” - Annemette Voss, mother of 3
One times two or two times one?
The first you should consider is who you are furnishing and decorating for. Is it two social dress-up whippersnappers or an introvert tech geek and an outgoing adventurer? The room has to be able to hold two – perhaps different – personalities. You should take a look at your children and what individual and common needs they have and furnish the room with that in mind. The distribution of space doesn’t necessarily have to be equal – though still fair – if for instance one child would rather play in your living room anyway. If one child prefers to spend time reading books or playing with a tablet and the other child loves to spread building blocks on the entire floor, it might be a possibility to share the room 20/80 or 30/70.
If you have two kids who both love to dress up, perhaps a shared wardrobe could be a solution. The combination of having a tech-geek and a bookworm might result in a 50/50 solution with an individual reading spot for both of them. Finally, if you have two social space engineers, perhaps the ideal solution is a shared work space with plenty of room for inventions and exploring the universe. In brief: Look at your children, their individual and shared needs – and decorate the room with that in mind. The room does not have to be divided equally if one of your children never spends any time in the room any way. It is, however, important that the division of the room is fair. A great way to avoid conflict can be to talk to your children about why Sophie might get more space than Claire, provided that your children are old enough to understand.
The space has to fit
Space will always be a subject when two people have to share a room. Children spend much more time in their room than an adult do in any other room of the house. A children’s room has to cover so many different activities, for instance playtime, homework, hanging out, having a karaoke contest or sleeping. And because no child is the same, it is important that a shared bedroom can cover all of these activities – times two. Many experience a good result with creating shared “stations” in the room – for instance a big desk where the children can sit next to each other when drawing or making homework.
Before starting the task of decorating a shared room it is important to plan the process and think outside the box. By creating an overview of the room and which needs it has to cover, you can decide which room is the perfect fit for the shared bedroom, as well as how you should decorate it. A simple way to create more space is by giving the children the largest room in the house. Perhaps this means giving them the master bedroom. This might sound far out, but because grown-ups primarily use the bedroom for sleep – and therefore won’t need as much space as two children and all of their toys.
”Many families who live in a house automatically choose the largest room as master bedroom - especially if it has its own designated bathroom. This is, of course, a great luxury - but imagine if you gave this room for your children to share instead. Perhaps you might even end up with fewer toys in the rest of the house.” - Sine Grenaa – mother of 2.
If space is an issue, it is necessary to furnish efficiently and make use of every bit of space in the room. Efficient furnishing can be using multifunctional pieces of furniture which for instance is a bench with storage in it. It can also be by using foldable furniture or pieces of furniture that can be hid away so you get that valuable floor space for playtime when you need it. The bed is one of the largest items in a room and therefore it takes up most space. To combat this, it is worth considering bed solutions where you are focusing on creating more floor space.
A popular solution is choosing a bed with some added height and floor space underneath for playtime, cave building or a work station. An alternative could be a bunk bed, which will give you two beds for the same floor space as one regular bed. Another trick could be to choose beds that have a smaller mattress size and therefore take up less space on the floor.
Beds in size 70x160 are perfect because they are roomy enough for your child to grow. For an added effect you can combine the smaller mattress bed with a higher bed or a bunk bed. Beds can also be space efficient which is practical when you need two of them. You can do this by choosing halfhigh, high or bunk beds with space beneath the top bunk for either playtime or a sibling. Junior beds are also an option with their slightly smaller measurements being 70x160 cm. They can give you more floor space than a regular sized bed, and can also be found in different taller versions.
Efficient furnishing is also about vertical storage. Shelves, bookcases and room dividers are great at making use of the topmost space for the essential storage of toys or other important items. Alternatively you can look into storing the children’s clothes in another room, for instance the living room or parent bedroom. This will save you valuable space in the children’s room because you no longer need to incorporate space for a wardrobe.
If you are looking for further inspiration on how to utilize every square meter you can read our guide on how to decorate great children’s room in small areas. Click here to see the guide. You can also visit our If you read our article “Good things come in small packages” on page 26 concerning furnishing a small children’s room, you can get great tips on making use of a room’s every centimeter.
What is yours, mine and ours?
In a shared room it is often an advantage to make it clear who owns what. You can quickly experience howls and ‘squalling and bawling’ if both children feel ownership for the same toy. A clear division will improve your children’s ability to share. A great way of doing this is by sorting the toys in colored storage units. Let the children choose their own color so it is easy for them to see who has priority to play with the different toys. This method is useful for both toys and gizmos, but it is also an efficient method when decorating the room itself.
Use different colors on the wall, furniture or accessories to make it clear that this is Emma’s reading spot or William’s building desk. This creates ‘rooms in the room’ and help the children show when they want to play together and when they would rather be left alone.
”You cannot avoid conflicts by decoration alone. Conflicts will happen anyway, for instance when one child has a friend over or if they are unsure about the division of mine and yours. However, if you decorate designated areas for each child I think you will come far in regards to avoiding conflicts”. - Sine Grenaa, mother of 2.
If you have plenty of floor space, but are lacking walls, you can divide the room using a large bookshelf or a wardrobe. This way, you can create the sensation of almost having your own room and it also helps you to keep the children’s personal items separated. We recommend that you create an area with the purpose of being social. This way, the children has a spot where they can invite each other to talk or play together. This can be done by having a shared table in neutral colors or by taking inspiration from an activity your children might share, such as playing with building blocks or playing dress up.
”It contributes to strengthening the bond between siblings, and they become good at sharing their toys and perhaps even better at playing together” - Sine Grenaa, mother of 2
”Go away, Jonas!”
Children can need privacy as much as grownups and ensuring that can be a challenge when decorating a shared bedroom. But fear not – for it is possible! Besides the previously mentioned ’designated areas’, you can also create personal space in the bed or under a high- or half high bed. Use a curtain to create a small room within the room. This is a very evident division and a great way for your children to show when they need a time out from their sibling.
“They have their own canopy over their beds. At night, when they are tired of each other they can use this to create their own little space”
- Annemette Voss, mother of 3
Unfortunately, decoration will not solve all problems and conflicts. Therefore, you might need to separate the children in different rooms. The little brother might need some time playing in the living room while the big sister is reading in the room. Conflicts are, however, a natural and healthy part of being siblings. If your children share a bedroom they have no other option that solving the conflict. This can teach your children how to read other people’s needs and to respect them, their belongings and their privacy.
Many grownups are aware of this, but the need for privacy varies from person to person and the sooner your child learns this, the easier it will be for them to be social with different kinds of children and grownups.
A difference in age – but not in the room
An age difference can sometimes prove to be a challenge, but it does not have to be one. Many believe that there are two primary factors in issues in regards to age difference: How close the children are to being teenagers and how many years apart they are. Smaller children has an easier time sharing a room, because they have not reached the age where they are starting to mature and to have an increased need for individuality and privacy.
The older the children are the more difficult it is to make it work. This also goes for the sex of the children: the older they are the more difficult it is to share a bedroom with siblings of a different sex. The rule of thumb seems to be that children age nine or younger have fewer issues with sharing a room.
“I would say that children can have a great time sharing a bedroom as long as the age gap is smaller than 3-5 years. I would never put a 4-year old in a room with a 10-year old” - Sine Grenaa, mother of 2.
An advantageous room
Having a shared room is not just a long series of challenges and battles. There are a lot of advantages having your brother or sister close at hand. First and foremost, a large room can feel even larger when you yourself are a bit small and especially smaller children can find comfort in having a sibling sleeping in the same room. With a little practice, the children can learn to sleep even though another person is moving around or if there is light in the room. This is very handy later in life. And you almost always have a playmate nearby!
The children will always have a playmate nearby and this will encourage the children to learn how to play together. This is a great advantage for instance on Saturday mornings when mom and dad might want to sleep in a bit. Having a shared room, your children also have a head start in learning to compromise and sharing their stuff. Because when you share a room, you have to be able to share your things and learn that you can’t always get your way. Also, if your children master the art of sharing, they might not need as many toys. The shared room is a great possibility to teach your children social skills and important traits. This is why we recommend at least considering having a shared room, even if space does not dictate the need for one.
”It contributes to strengthening the bond between siblings, and they become good at sharing their toys and perhaps even better at playing together” - Sine Grenaa, mor of 2
Top 5 advice for sharing a children's room
- Consider the children’s personal needs when you furnish. Often, you don’t have room for unnecessary pieces of furniture
- Create spaces in the room where the children can be by themselves but also spaces where they can be social
- A clear division of toys or the room will give you fewer misunderstandings concerning ownership.
- Decide whether the children’s clothes or toys can be stored in another room.
- Try the shared room for a period of time even though you don’t have to. It might be great!