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Ask Maria: How Much Colour is Too Much for a Kids Room?

By 09/22/2016November 15th, 201628 Comments

Enise emailed me this photo the other day with a great ‘Ask Maria’ question:

”I have a very colourful antique kilim that I would like to use in my daughters bedroom. Since the kilim is so colourful, I am confused on choosing the bedding. I know that I can use some colours from the kilim pattern but those are very vibrant colours so I am afraid the kids may feel too energetic to sleep.

So, how do we do it? Is it a mistake to use a colourful rug in a kid’s bedroom?”
Ask Maria: How Much Colour is Too Much for a Kids Room? | Maria Killam

And the answer is no, it’s not a mistake. You can absolutely use a brightly coloured rug in a kid’s room. Kids love colour and all of their stuff tends to be brightly coloured too, so in general, you’ll want to create a space where strong colours (and personalities) can happily live.

Pulling it off is a question of balance, you want a fun and colourful space without it being oppressive and overstimulating.

First, to address the core of the question, what sort of bedding will coordinate?

When you have a pattern this strong, you need something bold enough to stand up to it, but simple enough not to compete. For example, it would be a mistake to pick up on the diamond shapes in the rug, or to choose something with more than two colours in it because then you would end up with too much going on.

Or maybe not too much but certainly a look that says bohemian.

Ask Maria: How Much Colour is Too Much for a Kids Room? | Maria Killam

Jonathan Adler from Elle Decor

When in doubt, add a paired down pattern like a stripe or dot pattern to coordinate with a more complex pattern.

This strategy works for other intricate patterns such as florals too. You may also need to shift up or down in scale to get it to work.

Otherwise, it can get confusing and irritating to look at. Give your eye a clear difference in a related colour.

The graphic strength of black and white or cream patterns tend to work well with this kind of kilim rug. Then, you can add colour with pillows and throws, repeating colours from the rug.

Ask Maria: How Much Colour is Too Much for a Kids Room? | Maria Killam

  1. Duvet Cover by MyModernAbode Etsy 2. Bolster Pillows 3. Heart Pillow by LushTartProject Etsy 4. Squares Pillow by LushTartProject Etsy 5. Orange Pillow Houzz 6. Beanbag Chair Zipcode Design 7. Blackout Linen Pom Pom Curtains PBteen 8. Double Wall Sconce

Since the room is for a toddler girls room, I used a feminine black and white dot pattern for the first combination. It’s a simple and easy to read pattern with lots of airy white that gives a nod to the black in the rug without looking heavy.

By the way, that is another fool proof strategy when mixing patterns, add more white (or off white, or cream, whichever relates best.)

The really pretty modern bed in natural maple from Kalon Studios is already ordered and on its way.

The pillows pull colours from the rug in smaller proportions to create a related focal point and some interest. The fun orange beanbag chair (because what kid doesn’t love a beanbag chair?) reinforces the orange accent in a bold way.

The wall colour here is a softened version of the greens found in the rug, SW Acanthus, for a soothing effect that happens to look great with orange.

The curtains repeat the white in the duvet with cute little black pompoms for trim.

The sconces are admittedly rich for a kid’s room, but why not have a bit of good lighting and sophistication?

Sconces are great over kid’s beds for some cozy bedtime stories. It gets the lamps off surfaces where they can get in the way.

There is a lot of colour going on here, but the proportions are balanced and the wall colour is soothing, not a circus stripe in orange and green 😉

The next version of the room pares down the colour a bit by keeping the walls a pale neutral greige like SW Incredible White.

The duvet is also a black and white pattern called “angel’s wing” (so cute!), and I’ve added a soft quilted throw to bring in more green because the green and orange are so happy together 🙂

Ask Maria: How Much Colour is Too Much for a Kids Room? | Maria Killam

9. Quilted Throw 10. Orange Polka Dot Pillow by LushTartProject 11. Angel Wing Duvet Cover by LushTartProject

This is a good look for those that don’t want to commit to too much colour or want to be able to change it up easily.

Pinterest is packed with images of kilims in mostly white rooms, because these rugs really can carry nearly an entire room in some cases.

However, they can also support quite a bit of colour in a room.


Ask Maria: How Much Colour is Too Much for a Kids Room? | Maria Killam

12. Orange Duvet Wayfair 13. Purple Velvet Pillows Nora Quinonez Etsy 14. Striped Heart Pillow Nuppi Etsy 15. Green Chairs Wayfair

For this board (above), I pulled the purple from the rug and layered in a strong orange duvet cover with delicate white polka dots.

The wall colour is a soft greyed lavender, SW Sensitive Tint. There is a bold orange border on the white curtains to tie in with the duvet and some purple pillows to work in the wall colour again.

I added the adorable striped heart shaped pillow to add some of that modern black and white graphic punch and repeat the black in the rug. This version of the room has more of a colour blocked feel with the bright green kid’s chairs. It would be a great colour for a dresser too.

Ask Maria: How Much Colour is Too Much for a Kids Room? | Maria Killam

Pottery Barn Duvet & Black and White Throw Pillow

Notice as soon as the duvet gets stronger and more graphic it starts to feel more like a teenagers room instead of a toddlers room.

My favourite is the black and white duvet covers. It’s strong enough to balance with the Kilim rug but not so strong that it gets you in the eyes when you walk in! Remember to use lots of airy whites and a bit of grounding black and play around with the colours in the rug for accents.

I think where you could go furthest astray is if you played it too safe with a bold rug like this and didn’t add anything strong enough to balance it.

So over to you my lovelies? Which one is your favourite?

If you have a question for my Ask Maria column, send it here with a photo (questions without photos will not be considered).

Related posts:

Best Paint Colours for Kids Bedrooms

Best Ideas for Creative Kids Rooms: Before & After

Do You Need an Accent Wall? Take this Test

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  • Lucy HAINES says:

    This is such a timely post. I just started with a young couple who have a little girl age 3 and a boy 7 months. They will put both of them in the same room eventually. I want to make the room not too feminine or too masculine. The room is quite small so we decided on bunk beds with drawer space under the bottom bunk. After looking at this post maybe using color that is not gender related would be best. Hmm you have given me some good ideas!

    I like picture 3 because I like a little stronger color. As always such a good post Maria!

    See you in class!

  • Liz says:

    Oh, thank you. My little one loves pink and I’ve been trying to figure out how to do a pink room (orangey oak trim) without it being too obnoxious!

  • Fabulous advice as always. I like all 3 of the potential combos.

  • AKW says:

    I really like the third option with the orange and white polka dots. I like picking one strong color and a neutral. Polka dots are great for a little girl and can last through the tween years.

  • Julie S says:

    Now I want to get a kilim for my girls’ room!

  • Enise says:

    I loved the second option the most. Thank you for your great post! We will definetly send you new pictures after we decorate the room.

  • Jill says:

    It’s counterintuitive but with light “warm” frequencies (red/amber/orange/yellow) are more natural and healthier at night than blue light, so it would seem to me that perhaps colors of solid objects (wall paint/bedding/flooring/etc) for a bedroom that are warmer might also actually be healthier and more relaxing for a bedroom. In ‘light’ of what I’ve learned about light frequencies and health, I’m wondering if the association b/t cooler colors and tranquility and warmer colors and stimulation might be more cultural than physiological.

  • Ana Maria says:

    I like the last one. I think it could be made more “cute” with some nice wooden toys and stuffed animals (displaying the neutral ones and hiding the others in woven baskets).

  • Brenda says:

    My favorite is number 1. Love it!

  • Michelle says:

    What a fun post! My favorites are 2 and 4. I really like the angel wings and the orange striped bedding.

  • Suzan says:

    “Cold hearted orb that rules the night,
    Removes the colours from our sight,
    Red is gray and yellow white,
    But we decide which is right.
    And which is an illusion.”
    The Moody Blues

    In the dark, colors change dramatically.
    In the daytime, bright colors rock. Children have different colour perception than adults, too, so bright is beautiful. I’d add more color than Maria!

  • Mary-Illinois says:

    Well, this was certainly a fun post! I think a colorful rug in a kids room is always a good idea. It would hide any mess that could happen.
    I liked your first option. But I’ve always loved polka dots. I can’t wait to see what Enise does with her daughter’s room.

  • sandyc says:

    I like your first suggestion with the black and white polka dots for a little one, then moving to the orange and white polka dots as she moves from toddler to young girl and then I love the “cool” and “sophisticated” orange and white stripes for her teenage years. The rug is so great because it offers infinite possibilities anywhere in the home forever. I’m glad Enise has chosen to let her daughter start its history.

  • Ashley says:

    Great input and such a helpful post! The options were so different, but all worked beautifully. Personally, I liked options 1 and 3 the best. I hope we see a follow up showing a completed room!

  • Margaret says:

    I favored number 3, but like all of the options. Wonderful way of describing different choices that would work!

  • Angie says:

    I love #3! It’s probably just my screen but the green in #1 looks off to me. I would love to see it put together in a room though because Maria knows all, and if she says it would work, I believe her! 🙂

  • Rochelle says:

    This is such a cool post! Maria, I don’t know how you pull it all together and show us the whole room. So much fun to read and admire!

  • Mary says:

    I love number 3 the best sans the curtains. I also love number 1 because of the soothing green wall color. I love colors on the wall in bedrooms, so the green and grayish purple wall colors are very pretty.

  • Lisa says:

    I love number 3 and 4 the most be do see that these read a little older. I didn’t notice the post mention the age of the daughter – depending upon that I would pull together a few options and let her choose. I would also be hesitant to use a white bead spread in a child’s room.

  • Kathy says:

    My favorite is #4, with some more whimsical pictures and toys added.

  • Kay says:

    You did a great job with all the options. The last one could change it up when the girl is older without going through major redecorating.

    I just hope this little girl likes orange.

  • I really like the last one, that orange and white bold stripe on the PB duvet looks so good with the rug! You’re right, it totally makes it look like an older kids’ room, but I still love it. 🙂 Fun post! Thanks!

  • Mid America Mom says:

    Like the post. Color is great in kids rooms. Love the orange duvet etc in the second. We let our kids pick their wall colors a few years back and moved from there. Medium orange on one wall ( orange white chevron comforters – pillow), reddish purple on another (and rug). Black curtains ( and pillows). Floor and furniture is wood and a black white zebra chair. Very bold and cute! They wanted color and we are fine painting when a change is needed. Have a great weekend.

  • Carol T says:

    I like that you put the brand names under the pictures so if anyone wants to buy something they know what brand it is!!!

  • mrsben says:

    Love all the elements you chose Maria. That said; my personal preference is #3 however being ‘being a beggar for punishment’ (winks!) it doesn’t surprise me as the banded window coverings might be difficult to find so I would end up either making them myself or customizing a plain set of white ones … ☺.

  • Gilda Stigliano says:

    why would someone use an antique rug in a child’s room? maybe hang it on the wall?!?

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