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Room for two


Anya Brighouse transforms a large bedroom into a great space for both a girl and boy to live and sleep in. Many families will have the same challenge and we hope that you are inspired by the possibilities, and the clever, modestly priced ideas.

A great space for a girl and boy to share

Felix (4), his older sister Bella (10) .and younger sister Zoe (2) have recently moved with their parents into an old ramshackle villa in inner city Auckland. Brother and sister, Felix and Zoe, have to share a large room together and my challenge was to create a space which catered for each of their personalities and 'stuff'. When designing a room like this for siblings of opposite sexes, it would be easy to default to choosing a very neutral colour palette in order to accommodate both boy and girl and two different personalities.

The room is full of a large collection of toys, a set for each of them plus their shared toys, and a great many books! Both Zoe and Felix have lovely bright personalities so we decided to choose a bright happy colour for the walls. We settled on Resene Rice Cake for the ceiling, trim and doors. There was some water damage to the ceiling so we sealed with a product called Resene Sureseal. Rich Graham and his team from Planet Projects did an amazing job, painting the room for free, for which we are incredibly grateful. The children's beloved granddad purchased the beautiful bedcovers from IKEA in Australia and brought them back for them in his luggage!

Villas can often be dark and so a large light-shade like the one we chose can be perfect. We went to Bunnings for the beautiful big light shade. It is rice paper, and at 750mm is one of the biggest I have seen. It was a definite bargain in my opinion, and the room with its high stud can easily carry it.

The shelf unit was from Bunnings as well, probably designed for storage in the garage, but the galvanized finish and deep shelves make it multi-functional. It won't break the bank! Again, I like to choose fixtures and fittings that can be moved around and you could easily move this into another room and give it a more grown-up look. (I just put one in my husband's home office for all his files.) The galvanized bucket I thought was an economical, easy answer for a ­ rubbish bin, again from Bunnings. We also found the great little orange buckets with wooden handles, which can be carried around the house, at The Warehouse.

I am a strong believer in letting children make their own mark in their rooms - I mean this figuratively, not literally! So we put up coloured string (from Madder and Rouge) and painted pegs (from Spot­ Light.) The two little painter figures came from Madder and Rouge. That way Felix and Zoe can hang their own artwork or a special postcard or photo. Speaking of all things 'special', I arranged three plain boxes on the shelves, one for each child. These are boxes for special 'treasures'. Quite literally, 'treasure box'. Children often bring home little treasures - which to us don't look important, but carry significance for them. My kids bring back feathers and stones from the beach, and my youngest son, Theodore, is going through a phase of bringing home twigs and sticks. The Treasure Box is a safe place to put this stuff - so it doesn't get accidentally thrown out by a tidying mum! My eldest son used to get a small polished stone from the doctor instead of a lolly, and his box was where he kept them. Let the kids decorate these boxes themselves.

The small white canvases we used for the children's art came from Bunnings. Their art is important and so don't forget to frame it occasionally. I have recently seen some lovely stuff art-mounted which is also fairly inexpensive. The Warehouse has a great range of photo frames which could be used for children’s artwork. Since Zoe was so little, we decided to use hand-prints as this was easy for all of them.

The simple wooden chest of drawers was painted by Kate in Resene Balloon. The other colour we used was Resene Red Berry. I have used this before, and to me it is the perfect red, and red is my favourite colour so... I can't help using it! Eventually Felix and Zoe may have a room of their own, so we used colours that looked great together, but could be just as gorgeous when they are separated - the reds and greens for Felix and the oranges and pinks for Zoe. We used Priscilla from Porters for the pink and the bright pink letters of her name were handpainted by her sister Bella. The letters were from Spotlight. Felix's fabulous big letter 'F' we got made by a signwriting company and was the 2nd most expensive thing in the room at $60! But it has such a great effect on the room - it is worth it!

The children's clothes are all in the chests of drawers, with the hanging things on the great coat hooks on the back of the door. The top one is for clothes but the bottom one is for the special bits and pieces two and four-year-olds love - handbags, umbrellas, beads and the occasional soft toy. I think it is great to have these things at children's height - they get to control what goes on them! The hooks came from The Garden Party. We also got the two big red trugs for toys and dress-ups there. The smaller ones are used for storage on the shelves (pink for Zoe and red for Felix) - also from The Garden Party. For extra storage (and lets be honest - there is no such thing as too much storage in a child's room) we put plastic storage boxes under Felix's bed (from the Warehouse) and roller boxes from Target under Zoe's.

We finished the room with a simple blind made from white duck canvas with blackout on the back. This was well made by Curtain Concepts. Thanks for a great, fast job! I wanted to replace the old, floor-length curtains so we could free up the space under the window.

All the fabrics we used came from Spotlight! The polka dots for the pillowcases in red and pink and the cute spots of Zoe's skirt. I wanted the chair in the room so there was somewhere to sit and read, as this is definitely a book­ filled household! Eventually we plan for there to be a big, soft, squashy rug in the room so the kids can lie on the floor and play and read, but that is for another day... Little Felix was feeling very under-the-weather with a chest infection the day we came to photograph the room, so we had to content ourselves with photos of his sister, Zoe.

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