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growing up

From Habitat magazine - issue 16

Heavily themed children’s bedrooms are moving aside for more future-proof looks.

Kids bedroom

Resene Coastal Blue and Resene Canterbury Clay are joined by trims in Resene Norwester and a floor in Resene Wan White. The bed linen is Vintage Retro Sky and Scarlet by Gorgi with a Vintage Inspired Zebra print.

Once upon a time, little girls were indulged with pastel pink fairy or princess rooms. Little boys had blue rooms dressed up with maritime, car or cowboy paraphernalia.

Now few of us have unlimited budgets to splash out on traditional themes that may not be appropriate as children grow. As interior designer and colour consultant Debbie Abercrombie says: “Parents are looking for longevity. Most want the room to last into the teenage years but that can be as simple as a paint colour change.

“Children are a joy to work with. They know what they like and aren’t afraid to pick exactly the colours that and they love. Every child I have worked with has their own ideas and very individual theme.” Girls, however, do tend to pick pretty, soft colours while boys go for stronger, more saturated tones, says Debbie.

“My challenge is to take the colours of choice and incorporate them into a theme that the kids love as well as work with the scale of the room, and mum and dad’s preferences, and what they have chosen for the whole house.”

“We are all attracted to certain colours for physiological and psychological reasons. Children intuitively choose colours that make them feel good.”

Sorbet shades - bedroom
When six-year-old Bridget announced she wanted a rainbow in her room, designer Debbie Abercrombie effected a clever interpretation by painting the various panels of the bungalow bedroom in a range of soft sorbet shades, defined by battens in Resene Milk White. The colours used are Resene Heartbreaker (blue-mauve), Resene Oxygen (ice blue), Resene Soft Apple, Resene Mellow Yellow, Resene Frangipani (pale orange) and Resene Pink Lace.

Says Meg McMillan of linen company Tea Pea: “A child’s bedroom is now treated as a stylish part of the rest of the house, and is therefore much more sophisticated than in years gone by. It’s not childish, but it is playful.”

Strong colour is big in children’s rooms whether it’s on the walls or painted on furniture. Shell Finderup of Room Design has created girls’ rooms featuring raspberry red or tangerine with hot pink. Lisa Rose of Patersonrose says that current colours are fresh and crisp with a lot of aquas and pinks against a white background. Navy and red remain popular for boys, but Meg McMillan says silver, grey and yellow are strong contenders. “Resene has some lovely clear colours,” she says. For babies, Shell says Resene’s Limerick, a lime green, looks beautiful. And she predicts purple is a colour we’ll be seeing a lot more of in the future.

Bedroom bunting
Bedroom tree sketch
Baby Maisie had a very special room to arrive in. Not only did dad Adam build her a bookcase and change table, painted in Resene White but mum Kate painted the tree on to the Resene Mint Julep walls by projecting an outline image onto the wall to sketch. It’s painted in Resene White, with detail in pink Resene Paper Doll testpots. The skirting boards and doors are Resene Quarter Pearl Lusta. Kate recovered the lamp shade and sewed bunting flags with fabric from Spotlight and The cane bassinet is a family heirloom, repainted in Resene White and fitted with muslin drapes by Maisie’s nana.

Kirsten Bailey of Gorgi kids homeware and linen company says that the days of using pastels and safe neutrals are gone, as we now see more stimulating inspirational colours in children’s spaces. Retro colours such as yellows and tangerines create dimension and interest. Nautical colours in varying shades of blue including turquoise, teal, royal blue are great gender-neutral choices combined with yellows and charcoal.

Orange bedroom
A desire for an orange bedroom had eight-year-old Alexander’s mum frowning with concern until designer Debbie Abercrombie suggested a happy compromise by painting 30cm-wide stripes in Resene Meteor, Resene Lemoncello and Resene Milk White.

‘Pink for girls’ is being replaced with plum, violet and lilac, says Kirsten. Romantic themes are still popular for girls with colours such as pink, light blue, lemon and pastels being used in floral patterns, dreamy blossom prints, birds and butterflies.

Colours that symbolise sustainability and nature are becoming more common with lime greens, off-whites and taupes balanced by reclaimed wood, ply and natural finishes.

Jungle bedroom
What kids wouldn’t be thrilled to have a room like this? It’s the work of Mark Balderston of Funky Features (, who specialises in customised rooms whether it’s a castle bed or a jungle scene complete with mural and bamboo thicket. The walls here are Resene Groovy with trims in Resene Half Spanish White and a ceiling in Resene French Pass.

In today’s homes, vintage is a huge trend, which is being carried through into children’s bedrooms. Vintage florals abound in pretty fabrics and beautiful bed-linen along with colours like old rose and faded blue. Strong retro looks for boys include a good selection of cowboy and transport prints in chocolate, yellow and orange. Then there’s the whole techno, text talk theme for teens.

Rather than adhering to themes and buying everything at once, people are taking their time. We’re discovering gorgeous hand-made toys, exquisite locally made furniture and affordable accessories. It’s about adding and layering, mixing and matching to create eclectic looks that are much more interesting than off-the-shelf themes.

Pink bedroom
Blackboard paint bedroom wall
Pink room: Kate Jensen’s room is Resene Pale Rose and Resene Geneva (green). While finding the Emma bedlinen by Patersonrose was relatively easy, it took a while to hunt out the curtains from Room Design. Kate adores her room – “it’s girly, yet functional, sweet but not themed, and it is our favourite room in the house,” says mum Ryl.  Blackboard: This fun room has Resene Magnetic Magic underneath Resene Blackboard Paint, Resene stencils in various Resene colours, and accessories from Patersonrose. The lower wall is Resene Lickety Split, the floor is Resene Smiles and the chair is Resene Dreamer.

Accessorise with...

Control the clutter

Buy a range of timber or rattan cubes for storage and paint individual pieces in alternating colours. They don’t take a lot of floor space and they’re handy for stashing toys or clothes.

Pinboards keep the bedroom tidy and provide a handy place for school notices, party invitations, cards and photos. See how to make one using Resene wallpaper.

For the kids...

Resene has a raft of products designed with kids in mind:

Top tip

When choosing colour, buy your bed-linen first. It’s a lot easier to find a paint colour to match as there are endless choices in the Resene range. Have fun pulling it together, playing with ideas by creating a storyboard with swatches of fabric and matching them with Resene testpots. Choose three colours – a main colour, and two accents.

words: Vicki Holder

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Colours shown on this website are a representation only. Please refer to the actual paint or product sample. Resene colour charts, testpots and samples are available for ordering online.   See measurements/conversions for more details on how electronic colour values are achieved.