x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

How to design a bedroom for kids to share

A few clever tricks can help create separate spaces while still giving the room a uniform feel.

I'm looking for some ideas on how to design a shared bedroom for my two boys. They are eight and five and insist on having their own spaces.

Shared territory is tricky. But most of us have cohabited at some point, whether with a sibling, a college roommate or a spouse. You're just gearing the boys for things to come.

First, divide the room. Naysayers will tell you this makes the room look smaller, but done cleverly, it will give the boys the individuality they crave without sacrificing the look and feel of the room. And when you're little, spaces seem larger, so don't judge size by adult standards.

Start with storage. You'll need space for double the sports kits, school gear, toys and clothes. Use this dilemma to your advantage by building a floor-to-ceiling shelving unit in the middle of the room or suspending an adjustable screen from the ceiling.

The American design firm 3form's Facet space divider is a modular system that would allow the boys to open or close individual panels depending on how much - or how little - privacy they want. And it has just the kind of space-age design that little ones will appreciate (Hunter Douglas Middle East 04 813 1800).

Next, style the room. As any parent knows, putting a Star Wars fan in the same room as a Ben 10 addict can create enormous tension. Dividing the room helps, but a neutral backdrop is essential for bringing together the shared space. Paint the walls a pale grey or a warm white and let the boys decide on bedding, wall stickers and posters for their own zones.

In terms of furniture, identical twin beds can undermine the idea of individuality. Bunk beds come with safety issues and arguments about who gets the top bunk. Instead, a loft bed is great for your older boy, freeing up space below for a workstation or a play area. Pair it with a low bed frame that can double as a sofa for his younger brother. Throw on some large comfy cushions: remember, young boys may act tough but they need to snuggle every now and then.

Finally, install a perforated metal pegboard across the length of a wall. This is a great way to create more storage without taking up too much space. You can hang things off hooks or mount shelves and storage boxes. Yes, the toys and gadgets will be on display rather than tucked away out of sight, but think of this as a feature wall rather than an unsightly mess. Plus you don't have to drill and fill every time you want to move or add a new element.

Pallavi Dean is an award-winning independent design consultant who practises in the UAE. If you have a question for her, email homes@thenational.ae