2 kids, 1 room: Make the most of it with designs that grow with them

Cheryl Kaufman’s 15-month-old twins, Sydni and Jaedyn, share a bedroom in Cohasset outfitted with simple furniture, bold, geometric shapes, and bright colors. Cheryl Kaufman’s 15-month-old twins, Sydni and Jaedyn, share a bedroom in Cohasset outfitted with simple furniture, bold, geometric shapes, and bright colors. (John Tlumacki/Globe Staff
By Jaci Conry
Globe Correspondent / October 8, 2009

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These days, lots of siblings are sharing a bedroom. It’s happening for various reasons: the increase in the numbers of families having twins, a soft economy that’s made downsizing de rigueur, the incipient trend toward smaller and more eco-friendly living spaces.

Room sharing gives kids a chance to learn about cooperation - and how to be sensitive to someone else’s needs. But it can also lead to turf battles over limited space and a clash of tiny egos.

“You have to keep in mind that two individual personalities will be coexisting, and the room needs to feel special for both of them,’’ says Brielle Majeau, interior designer for Brookline-based Bambini Design.

When Nicole Soderlund was pregnant with her third child, she and her husband collaborated with Majeau to design a room for their daughters, Isabelle, 4, and Sami, 2 1/2. Although the girls’ room in the family’s South End residence is small, it was important to Soderlund that it include ample storage and space to play.

“I wanted the girls to have a place to keep toys so the whole house isn’t taken over, as well as a spot where they can have play dates,’’ says Soderlund.

For the girls’ beds, which are located on opposite sides of the room, Majeau introduced Soderlund to Vibel (, a line of modular furniture. As all of the pieces fit together in one big collection, the furniture is intended to grow with the child.

“Since the girls are at different stages, the furniture is great. Now Sami needs a bed that is low to the floor with a bumper bar. But when she’s bigger, it will be easy to raise the bed,’’ says Majeau.

The beds can also be made into bunk beds or separated if the girls move into different rooms in the future. Under Isabelle’s bed, which is accessed by a little ladder, there are boxes for toys. A built-in window seat with storage below provides a perch for the sisters, and on the sides, each girl has her own set of shelves with a lamp bearing her name on top.

A play table, with a tower that provides a place for art supplies, is stored against a wall. “When friends come over we move the table to the center of the room,’’ says Soderlund. “It’s a great use of space; the table just blends in when it’s not being used.’’

When it came to the pink, red, and mocha color scheme, Soderlund and Majeau took the girls’ individual personalities into consideration. “Isabelle is very girly-girly,’’ says Soderlund, “Sami is a tomboy. Isabelle got her pink without it overtaking the room.’’

Majeau adds: “The colors aren’t tied to a young age group; they could still work when the girls are teenagers. This is important when you consider transitioning, and that they may be sharing the room for many years.’’

While toddlers and particularly older children should have input during the design process, “Designing a room for infants is more about what works for the parents,’’ says Roselle McConnell, owner of Newport, R.I.-based Infant Interiors.

When Cheryl Kaufman of Cohasset dreamed up the bedroom of her 15-month-old twins, Sydni and Jaedyn, “I wanted the room to be unique, to have vibrant colors, energy, and a little edge,’’ she says. “I didn’t want it to have the typical Winnie the Pooh-type stuff.’’

Kaufman worked closely with Majeau to create a room with a whimsical feel. Outfitted with simple furniture, the room features geometric shapes and bright colors. An oversize rocking chair by ducduc ( is upholstered with a bold Marimekko print. The white walls are accented by hot pink club stripes, and yellow and blue Japanese-inspired lanterns are cartoony and bubbly.

Rather than use one large rug, she selected two smaller area rugs featuring round black, white, and gray swirls. “It’s a twins’ room, so we really stress the theme of having two of everything,’’ the designer says.

Just as important, because the room isn’t babyish, it will be easier (and less expensive) to make it work for the kids as they get older. Furniture by ducduc is transitional: a credenza-style dresser has a top that converts to a changing table and the cribs can be turned into toddler beds. Galvanized buckets covered by stripe and zebra decoupage patterns provide storage for small items.

“When the girls get older, I envision them using them as beach pails,’’ says Majeau.

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