Design: Work, rest and play

From chic storage to foldaway beds, groovy stools to bold benches, children's rooms can be fun as well as practical. By Kate Watson-Smyth
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It's impossible to find the children's socks, they can't reach their clothes, their books are lost somewhere under the bed in a pile of toys and general detritus. That pre-9am panic is bad enough without having to spend an extra 20 minutes trying to get them dressed and find their pencil cases. Perhaps the time has come for a desk in the kids' rooms? A bigger bed? Or have the toys, discarded clothes and mouldering pizzas boxes just taken over the asylum? Luckily, there are plenty of products to help.


Cabrio In

£1,600, plus £290 for the mattress (020-7823 9090;

Children can fill this desk with all manner of clutter when they are working – and then it simply slides up, and out pops the bed, so they can go to sleep without ever having to tidy the desk. It comes as a bed/desk unit, or with a couple of cupboards as well. If you really want to nail the sleeping/storage/working problem, try the Poppi Ponte – a large wall unit that can be folded away behind a door. It's not cheap, but it looks great, and should last until they leave home – at which point you can use it as a study with a spare bed built in.

Silent Night Chill-Out Bed

From £499 (

My First Bed has a panelled headboard with a picture of a rocket, football, heart or toadstool incorporating a pocket to store precious stuff. The divan base conceals a second mattress for sleepovers. For the older ones, try the Chill-Out Bed, a similar two-mattress idea with two clip-on corner cushions you can position opposite each other for chatting.


From £38 (020-7639 7414;

If you despair of bedding's ubiquitous pirates and fairies and long for something a little more sophisticated, have a look at Designers Tania Urban and Claire Pugh offer original textiles with strong graphics and bright colours. Choose from the chocolate-and-white reversible pod/stripe or the lollipop/clove range. A reversible duvet and pillowcase set costs £38.



From £24 (

The easiest way to tackle this is to go for the beanbag option: they're easy to move and don't take up as much space as an armchair.

Book Stool

£39.99 (0844 573 7070;

A gentle reminder that it isn't all about computers, this stool looks like a set of giant leather-bound books. There's something rather Alice in Wonderland about it, but it would just make a useful place to sit – perhaps even, dare we suggest it, at a desk.


£238.57 (0191-406 0265;

The Play+ range of furniture from this Italian company is made from fireproof, wipe-clean, non-PVC material, and while it looks like stuff for kids, it can grow with them into adulthood. Take the Keystone chair (pictured above): simply flip it the other way to make it high enough for an adult to sit on. Keystone also has sofas that slot together like jigsaws and the bendy Bugs bench that you can slot together, sit on and ride.


Pick N Mix Jumbo

£310 (01223 291430;

To have any hope of their tidying their own rooms, the storage has to be practical and simple. This cabinet comes with 12 large storage boxes in either clear or primary-coloured plastic. They can use them as drawers, or take out the whole box and play with its contents. Keep one for general tat and theme the rest – Lego, dolls' clothes, toy cars, books. When they are a little older, they can use the boxes for clothes, makeup and trainers.

Coffee Cup

£69.99 (01252 733 476;

Toy storage with a difference: chuck all the toys into this giant cup and use the saucer as a play mat. It comes in a range of colours and is a bit different from the ubiquitous toy chest, whose lid you never quite trust to stay open.

Hand Stand

£99 (0844 499 1111;

This is a dramatic coatstand that can be put in the corner of the bedroom, for dressing gowns or the next day's clothes. It's made from lacquered MDF and designed to stand either way up.


£30.84 (020-7043 0835;

We all know the sock monster lies in wait by the washing machine to grab single socks from every pair, but even assuming you can find two that match, it's possibly the most boring job in the world having to sort them out. This handy spring means you can just shove them in, whether paired up or not.



Useful for the little ones to draw on and the big ones to make lists of homework, telephone numbers, best bands, etc. Either buy one, or paint a section of the wall and then put a frame around it. If you use magnetic paint as the undercoat, it can double up as a noticeboard as well.

If you don't want to paint the walls, then visit, a French company that sells a range of bold graphic pictures, ranging from a comic-inspired rocket to a bongo-playing sheep. You can also send them your child's drawing (preferably in felt-tip pen) and they will make it into a giant wall sticker.