How to design a shared bedroom

Late night chats, early morning games and the occasional midnight feast – a shared bedroom can be a great source of comfort and fun for your children. But decorating one can be a challenge, particularly if the room is small or if your kids have wildly different tastes. We show you how, with a little planning and diplomacy, you can create a scheme that works for everyone.

Plan the bedroom layout

First tackle the layout. Ask yourself what the bedroom will be used for: a nursery-cum-toddler’s room or a shared bedroom for two older children? Will it double as a playroom? Will the children need desks or toy storage?
Draw the room to scale, and move furniture cut outs around to see what works best. Or plan the layout online using our baby room decorator tool

Aim to keep the floor as free as possible – it gives the kids space to play and will make the room feel larger.

Colour scheme

The most successful shared bedrooms have a cohesive overall scheme, and individual areas where the children can express their own style. Consider a neutral backdrop for the walls and floors, identical furniture, and then inject individuality through the bedlinen, art and display. A pair of upholstered bedheads in different patterns or two strips of accent wall colour will make individual statements, just make sure the shades work tonally with the rest of the decor.

Choosing a colour scheme for children of the same sex is fairly straightforward, but boy-girl colour combinations will work so long as the shades harmonise, such as bright pink and khaki, or red and navy.

If you’re looking for ideas, check out our Room Designs Gallery of gorgeous baby and toddler rooms.

Bedroom theme

When it comes to decorating ideas, look to your children’s interests for inspiration. Dinosaurs, fairies and sport are all popular themes that can be incorporated into each child’s area with funky duvets, wall prints or stickers (try For a gender neutral theme, consider that all-time favourite Winnie The Pooh (you’ll find decorating tips here).

If your kids can’t agree on a theme, one solution is to go for a striking mural across one wall, such as a forest or underwater scene.

Separate zones

Older children crave their own space, so it’s a good idea to create separate areas within a shared bedroom to avoid squabbles over territory. There are a number of ways to carve up a shared space – consider a sliding plywood panel, a fabric-covered screen or a shelving unit-cum-room divider. Or, hang a curtain around each child’s bed so they can tuck themselves away.

For something less dramatic, paint footprints or dotted lines on the floor, or spell out each child’s name above their beds.
Give older siblings a special spot where they can hang out with their friends – a low level divan bed that doubles as a daytime sofa or a couple of beanbags won’t take up much space.

Bed options

Bunk beds are the obvious first choice for shared bedrooms as they free up floor space and give each child their own private nook, but bear in mind that bunks require a decent ceiling height and aren’t suitable for very young children.

For younger siblings the best option is a pair of twin beds, which can be positioned side by side, either side of a bedside table or at right angles.

A platform bed is another space-savvy option, allowing you to fit a bed, storage drawers and sometimes even a desk in one.


Double the number of children means double the amount of stuff, so storage in a shared bedroom needs careful attention.

If a single wardrobe is to be shared between the children, consider boosting its storage potential with extra hanging rails, shelves and shoe racks (try Howards Storage World). A good-sized chest of drawers elsewhere in the room will give you extra space for folded clothes, and a spot for tabletop display.

If the bedroom doubles as a playroom, try to keep the active play areas separate from the sleeping ones, and create dedicated toy storage with open shelving, underbed drawers, storage bins or a toybox.


In a shared bedroom it’s important that each child has an area where they can showcase their special collectibles. It doesn’t have to be huge – think a floating shelf or the top of a chest of drawers – but it should be recognised as a “no go” zone for other siblings.

A corkboard or ribbon threaded pinboard will allow the children to display party invitations, special notes and the like. Or unleash their creativity by painting one or two walls with brightly coloured chalkboard paint (try Resene).

Lighting scheme

If your children are different ages, they’ll have different bed times and lighting needs. Create a flexible scheme that works for everyone, with a ceiling light on a dimmer so you can easily alter the lighting levels, a reading light for the older child, and a nightlight for younger ones.

Safety tips

  • Bunk beds are recommended for children aged nine and over, and must be away from windows, ceiling fans and curtain cords.
  • Bunk beds should conform to Australian & NZ safety stands, and have suitable safety rails.
  • Any tall or heavy furniture should be firmly bracketed to the wall or floor.

By Georgia Madden