DEAR GAIL: I have a 1-year-old boy and a 4-year-old girl who are sharing rooms for the first time and I can’t decide on how to coordinate their room. Either I find stuff for a girl or a boy, but then nothing matches if you put the two in the same room. I like the idea of doing green and yellow with a patchwork quilt for her but can’t find anything for him to match. Should I just change the whole plan? Any suggestions? — Jillian D.
DEAR JILLIAN: Boys and girls sharing rooms can present a decorating challenge. Typical colors for boys are darker blue, red, orange, black and gray with girls liking pastel pink, green, lavender, yellow and peach. Since your children are younger you can stretch your color scheme, especially since your son is younger than your daughter and he really won’t notice the colors you use or have a particular like or dislike for a couple more years.
A couple of themes that you could consider that are good for boys and girls are: barnyard, big top circus, toys, dogs and cats, horses, underwater fish, beach party, Noah’s ark, bears, animal parades, playground fun or balloons. I would first look at wallpaper and borders to determine what theme you like, and see what color schemes are shown in them. Instead of trying to use themed bedding, work with solids, checks, plaids and stripes. Bring the theme out with your artwork, wallpaper and borders.
Lean toward clearer brighter colors or ones that are more neutral or midtoned, instead of pastels. Although yellow and green are considered safe colors when doing a nursery, you will find them more in girl-themed rooms and bedding.
One time I did a very cute beach party theme in red, blue, white and yellow. I had a red and white stripe cabana canopy window treatment with solid and stripe bedding. I had murals painted for their headboards with surfboards for the boy and umbrellas for the girl. Then around the room we painted beach balls and colorful flags. It was very bright, cheery and colorful.
You could use a blue comforter for your son and a yellow for your daughter and have a red and white striped fabric on both beds for the duster to pull the two beds together. Then use each of the colors on pillows for both beds.
Another boy/girl room that I’ve done had a sand castle beach theme. I used two twin beds with white and pine furniture. The color scheme was sand, ocean blue and seagrass green. I used sand-colored comforters on both beds with a blue duster for the boy and green for the girl. Then I mixed and matched the colors and fabrics on the two beds. I used checks, stripes and a star pattern fabric. For the artwork I had a mural of a boy building a sand castle on one wall, with a girl playing in the sand with a pail and shovel on the other. Then, around the room we painted sand pipers running along the sand. This was a lighter more pastel color scheme that looked wonderful.
Animal themes are also great for both boys and girls. You could do a dog and cat room where you theme your son’s bedding in dogs and your daughter’s in cats. Over your son’s bed paint a dog with its dog house and for your daughter, a cat tree with cats playing. Then add dog and cat paws around the room. Again, use solid colored bedding to keep it easy and make the duster and pillows out of themed fabric.
You can find a lot of great themed fabrics at your local fabric store. This also would be a good place to get your inspiration if you’re not going to be using a wallpaper or border.
Have fun and don’t be afraid to theme the room, figuring you’ll probably change it in a couple of years when they each have their own.
Gail Mayhugh, owner of GMJ Interiors, is a professional interior designer and author of a book on the subject. Questions may be sent by e-mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org. Or, mail to: 7380 S. Eastern Ave., No. 124-272, Las Vegas, NV 89123. Her Web address is: www.GMJinteriors.com.