Janice Simonsen on kid's room design tips and advice | Home Front

Aug 29, 2013

Janice Simonsen is the lead blogger for the Design by Ikea blog. Simonsen began her career as a graphic designer before starting her own interior design business. She has been with Ikea for over ten years.

Every week, Jura Koncius helps you in your quest to achieve domestic bliss. Got a question about decorating? She's happy to whip out her paint chips and suggest the perfect hue, call a retailer to help track down a hard-to-find accent piece or offer some do-it-yourself. Built on years of reporting experience, Home Front is an online conversation about the best way to feather the nest. We invite you to submit questions and share you own great tips, ideas and, yes, the occasional complaint.

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Good morning everyone and welcome to Janice Simonsen, the lead blogger for the Design by Ikea blog. Simonsen is an expert on all things Ikea and she is here today especially to talk about decorating kids rooms and how to make the most of your space. Organizing a lot of stuff is a specialty of Ikea and Janis knows all the best pieces. So let's start chatting. 

Thank you Jura! I am excited to join you today to share design tips and advice, focusing on living with children. IKEA has a lot of knowledge about families and their needs, and we offer many solutions to help make the most of your space so you can focus on spending time together. I look forward to sharing some ideas– and would also encourage everyone to check out our new 2014 IKEA catalog for additional inspiration (www.getmy2014catalog.com). Let’s get started!

Hello my name is sofia , I want to decorate my 5 year old son's room.any ideas and tips for painting and designing??really appreciated!

Hi Sofia! Children grow up so quickly and their rooms need to grow with them. One way to make an easier transition is to keep walls more neutral in color, and add color accents in the way of borders and wall motifs. Textiles are the perfect way to create a room that is perfect for your 5-year-old, but easy to change as he grows. For this age, textiles like the VANDRING SKOGSLIV duvet cover from IKEA can create a fun look.

Don't forget functional storage pieces that can help teach organizational skills from an early age. The TROFAST storage combination is perfect for this, and easily adaptable as needs change.

I'm looking for a warm African sunset orange color for a couple of walls. Do you have any suggestions? I would prefer to stick to Lowes, Home Depot, Sherwin Williams stores. Thanks!

Since Pantone introduced its Tango Tangerine a couple of years ago, it seems that people are more open to using this bright, uplifting shade. I think any of those stores will have some great color options to choose from. But paint color, more than any other aspect of design, depends on existing lighting and other colors within the room. I would purchase small samples of the colors - most of the stores offer these for a small charge - and stay in the range of apricots, peaches and oranges. Try out the different shades on the wall and view at different times of the day to find the perfect color.

I have a chair that needs its seat re-caned, but I don't want to spend more than the chair is worth. Can you recommend some people who do this work? Thank you.

I don't know if you live in the Washington area or not. Try All Done Caning and Upholstery in Kensington. If you all have other caning sources to suggest, please send them in. 

This isn't a question - just chiming in to say that I'm glad the Thursday home chat has resumed after its brief hiatus :).

You made my day. Thanks!

I want to redo my son's bedroom - wall paint and some furniture - but want to steer clear of using any blue. Good, masculine alternative ideas?

Khaki and red is a nice combination. Also olive green or charcoal gray.

With a dog and a 3-year-old running around, I would like to put runners on two sets of stairs in my home. (I hate to cover my lovely wood, but it needs to be done!)I love the look of sisal, but I've heard it can stretch on stairs. Is there another good material that resemebles sisal? Is there a good material that is not slippery for little feet and paws?

I would definitely look for something nylon, as it wears much better than wool on stairs. You can find faux-sisal carpeting that would look great. In my house, I have a black and white tweedy stair carpet in nylon that has worn incredibly for a number of years.


Can you give us some good tips on storing kids toys in their bedrooms? It always looks so messy.

Yes! Start with a flexible storange unit that can easily be reconfigured as your kids and their toys change. For example, a storage system like EXPEDIT is designed to hold baskets or storage bins that are perfect for toys with lots of small pieces. Children need to learn organizational skills at an early age, and being responsible for their own toys is a great place to start.

As a tip for young children who have not yet learned to read, why not tape a photo of the toy to be stored on the outside of the bin? As they get older, the bins can be labeled with the actual toy name.

I want to install picture moulding in my rooms so that I can hang pictures without putting multiple holes in the walls. I tend to redecorate from time to time. At what height should I have the moulding placed?

Most people have a tendency to hang pictures just a bit too high. The best height for pictures is about eye-level, somewhere around 4 1/2 to 5 1/2 feet high for the middle of the picture.

Our book collection was getting out of control so I purchased a book shelf and loaded it with books. It seems that there isn't a standard size for a book and I couldn't seem to find a shelf spacing that worked well. The tallest book was too tall and adjusting the shevles then meant that one was too short. The only solution seemed to be to put the books on their side instead over vertically. But, even with that approach, the shelve wasn't as uniform or good looking as I had hoped. What did I do wrong?

I love the idea of stacking books horizontally! But mix it up with the verticals, depending on the size. To keep it from looking overcrowded, try placing decorative items like vases and picture frames. Look for a good balance of decorative spots and book storage. Pinterest is a great place to check for inspiration!

do you have any decorating suggestions for a girl and boy who share a room ?

Sure! Look for ways to create privacy within the room. A decorative curtain strung on a wire cord like the IKEA DIGNITET wire system can create a privacy screen. Free-standing wall units can also be used to create a division within the room.

Allow each child to allow their personalities and interests to come through in their section of the room. Color can be the unifying element for varying themes.

I'm adopting a little girl(newborn to age 3) from the island of St. Vincent and would like to have a Caribbean theme that is peaceful and soothing for her new home with me in Maryland. Any suggestions? Oh, an I live in an old house with hardly any storage so I need toy storage in the room as well. Thanks!

What a perfect way to make her feel at home! I would use colors more in the cool spectrum of blues and turquoise, with sandy-colored neutrals, to create a peaceful beach-like feeling.

For toy storage, look for adaptable, modular-type storage that doesn't take up a lot of room space, and can change for growing needs.

I received two pieces of old family furniture from my mother in law this weekend. One is a small chest, and the other is sort of an accent table. They're both solid wood with beautiful finishes, but they have those classic old brass pulls, and so look a little old-fashioned next to our other furniture. I don't want to do anything drastic like refinish them, but any ideas on changing the hardware that might make them a little "fresher" looking? Thanks so much!

Often I would suggest painting a wood chest to give a brand-new look, but it sounds like you're really in love with this finish! Changing the hardware is a smart and affordable way to create a new, updated look. Consider using hardware with simple, contemporary lines like the BASTIG series from IKEA. Silver seems to work particularly well to transition a more traditional piece of furniture to a more modern look.

I have a shower lined in natural marble, and seem unable to get any sort of suction cup/hook to stick. I want to be able to hang up a squeegee and a bath puff without drilling holes. Any ideas? Thanks.

Good question! Natural marble is a notoriously slick surface that can present a challenge for suction cups. IKEA has a product called LOSJÖN that has a self-adhesive backing that has been tested to hold more than two pounds that might do the trick. Be sure the surface is perfectly dry and clean before attempting to mount!


Our family of 5 currently resides in a 2 bed, one bath house. We have a 4 year old daughter and two sons, one 14 months old and one to be born in November. The kids have the larger bedroom and all the furniture fits but it feels cramped and mish-mashed together. Any suggestions on how to create individual spaces in such a tight area?

Congratulations on the pending arrival!

I would recommend that you color-code their areas so that the space feels like "theirs."  Within their area, make sure each child has their own designated storage (perhaps under the beds to save floor space) and wall-mounted lighting.

A multi-colored rug that repeats all the colors in the middle of the room is a nice way to pull it all together.

I have a silver butter knife that was in a drawer with a rubber band, which seems to have melted and stuck to the silver (have no idea how this happened). I can't seem to get the stickiness removed from it. Also, I have some lovely silver spreading knives that were wrapped together in masking tape for years (it wasn't me, I swear!) and the tape also left stickiness on them that I can't remove. Can I soak them in something? Any ideas?

I wonder if Goo Gone would work? A friend of mine just used it to remove sticky pine tar from a rental car after hitting  a pine tree!! Anyone else out there have ideas?

do you have a rule of thumb for how often to update childrens rooms as they grow older ?

There are no hard or fast rules, but if it feels like it's time for a change, it probably is! Duvets, rugs and curtains can entirely change the look of the room in an affordable way. I love to use a child's favorite color, and get them involved in the decisions so they feel ownership of their space.

Hi. My husband and I recently redid our front porch and the floor is painted wood. We'd like to bring back our furniture, but are afraid that it'll scratch the floors. What can we do to protect the wood? Thanks!

Have you thought about an indoor/outdoor rug? There are many inexpensive varieties around - it will anchor your furniture on the porch and protect your beautiful new floors!

I always thought you should use the same color scheme throughout your home. However, yesterday I saw a beautiful home that had a completely different color palette in each room. What is your opinion about selecting a color scheme or multiple color schemes within a home?

I would recommend coordinating all colors rather than an entirely different color palette. Paint departments offer the perfect cheat-sheet if you want to vary the colors throughout your house. Their color swatches offer contrasting colors that still coordinate beautifully. Why not use their expertise?

If want to experiment with a more contrasting color on a smaller scale, a powder room is the perfect place to start.

My parents just bought a condo with an attached garage. The issue is that when you enter the house from the attached garage, you "enter" through a second/guest bedroom to get to the rest of house. What would Janice recommend as a solution for room that is essentially a hallway as well as guest bedroom? Thank you!

I would use furnishings that don't scream "bedroom." How about a sofa bed and storage units that hug the walls that won't interrupt the traffic flow.

I live on Oahu and read Jura's column all the time. My BM fan deck is marked with all her picks. I love this column. Is Ikea ever going to come to Hawaii? Will you ever consider shipping there? Your products are perfect for Hawaii and I promise you'll have plenty of business with 4 military bases here too!!!..just think about it.

I'd love another reason to visit Hawaii! We have no current plans, but will pass along your interest and keep everyone updated!

Great chat with lots of wonderful ideas. Janice, thank you for being on the chat with us today. Happy Labor Day weekend to all. I won't be chatting on September 5 but we are back on Thursday, September 12 with HGTV Design Star's Meg Caswell.

It's been so much fun sharing tips with everyone. Hope you found some useful ideas. Happy decorating!

In This Chat
Jura Koncius
Jura Koncius is a Washington Post staff writer who specializes in home and design. Read her daily twitter feed @jurakoncius for the latest in decorating trends, shopping, decluttering, organizing and DC retail.

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Janice Simonsen
Janice Simonsen is the lead blogger for the Design by Ikea blog. Simonsen began her career as a graphic designer before starting her own interior design business. She has been with Ikea for over ten years.
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