Published on January 11, 2020

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PHOTOGRAPHY BY JESSICA ANTOLA

For tiny beings, kids have a lot of stuff: toys, sports equipment, an ever-growing array of clothes as they get bigger and bigger. You could give up your master bedroom for the often-cramped nursery to make more space—or you could get creative. 

How do you turn the most cramped bedroom in the house into a wonderland filled with punchy wallpaper, books, and plenty of storage? We turned to the chicest parents we know to find out their best small kids’ room ideas. Trompe l’oeil shelving and lofted beds are just the beginning.

Shrink Your Shelves

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PHOTOGRAPHY BY JESSICA ANTOLA

Bookcases are notoriously bulky—unless you do like Chiara de Rege, the designer behind many of The Wing’s locations, who hung near-seamless shelves in her daughter’s room to display her favorite reads. Bonus: The installation doubles as art.

Befriend Modular Storage

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PHOTOGRAPHY BY JESSICA ANTOLA

Christene Barberich was dealing with limited square footage and a sloped ceiling when designing her first child’s nursery. So the Refinery29 cofounder and her husband dreamed up a floating wall unit that could evolve as her daughter grew—and hide everything from clothes to a changing table.

Give Your Room the Double-Decker Treatment

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PHOTOGRAPHY BY FRANCES TULK-HART

Loft beds can work wonders, especially if you have no need for the bottom bunk. Instead, turn the area into a cozy play tent or homework nook as Molly Guy did in her Brooklyn apartment. 

Make Storage (Temporarily) Disappear

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When designer Tali Roth welcomed her youngest son, she only had a small windowless room to work with, but she made the most of it with a hand-painted mural, a bright yellow canopy over the crib, and a recessed bookcase that holds a variety of toys, blankets, and clothes. Her cleverest trick? Installing a rolled-up curtain, which can quickly be pulled down to conceal the mess.

Keep Things Low to the Ground

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PHOTOGRAPHY BY SKYE PARROT

In small quarters, it can feel like the furniture visually takes up the entire space—so why not forgo bed frames altogether? In furniture designer Carly Jo Morgan’s daughter’s room, a low-slung futon mattress surrounded by a plush shag rug cancels out the need for a box spring and makes the ceiling feel higher all at once.

Use the Ceiling to Your Advantage

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PHOTOGRAPHY BY JENNIFER HUGHES

While this Cameron Ruppert–designed room isn’t tiny per se, the principle applies to the smallest attic spaces: A sloped ceiling creates a lot of dead space unless you make the most of it. Building custom beds and bookcases with storage to fit against either wall frees up the middle of the room (where the highest clearance is) for playtime.

Highlight the Best Features

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PHOTOGRAPHY BY JESSICA ANTOLA

No one will notice how compact your kid’s room is if it’s surrounded in bright blue trim that frames an equally French-inspired Brunschwig & Fils wallpaper (the bold red-upholstered bed doesn’t hurt either). Interior designer Starrett Zenko Ringbom kept that in mind when she downsized to a comparatively smaller two-bedroom apartment.

Supersize Your Overhead Lighting

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PHOTOGRAPHY BY AMBER MAY

Here’s an easy rule of thumb when it comes to choosing the size of a pendant lamp: Adding the dimensions of the room in feet together and converting the answer to inches will give you your ideal diameter. But in a cramped area, it pays to throw out the rule book and go as big as you can, as in creative director Alex Eagle’s London nursery. Boom, the space seems twice as big!

Discover more kids’ rooms we love:
8 Kids’ Bedrooms That Bring the Jungle Gym Home
This One Change Will Transform Your Kid’s Room Into a Starry Galaxy
This Little Boy’s Bedroom Casually Has a Two-Story Slide

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