It used to be that parents wanting to amplify the style factor of their children's rooms went straight to IKEA. The family-friendly retailer was a forerunner of the kids' decor trend, but now the Swedish furniture giant is getting a run for its money as an increasing number of retailers enter the growing market of decor for kids.
The newest player in the group is Jump Kids World, a line created by the team behind Joe Fresh that features furniture, accessories and toys for the two-to-eight-year-old set. Colourful and playful but also practical and affordable – think $7 neon-bright stacking crates that double as seating and storage – the line is set to launch this month in select Loblaws banner stores.
It follows Pottery Barn, which, last spring, extended its PBteen line to Canadian customers by launching an international online shipping program.
According to brand spokeswoman Sarah Lynam, Pottery Barn Kids plans to expand its storefront presence into Quebec next year.
And the lifestyle conglomerates aren't alone: A growing number of children's boutiques, like Ottawa's 3 Little Monkeys, and adult-focused design shops, like Toronto's Bookhou, are beefing up their decor offerings for children (and parents) with modern sensibilities.
The incentive for retailers is clear: Home decor for kids represents a year-round market, unlike toys sales, which lag from summer until the Christmas season.
What's more, of all the rooms in a home, a kid's room is the most transitional, changing as a child grows from infancy into the teenage years. From cribs and toddler beds to bunks with homework hubs built into them, children's rooms require regular refeathering.
Nevertheless, well-designed children's rooms are the ones that grow with a child, and demand in the market for "transitional" pieces have prompted manufacturers to create decor items that work throughout the stages of childhood, and then into the rest of the house.
"We are seeing more contemporary twists on kids' furniture – easy-to-fit decor items that can blend with the design aesthetic of the living room or family area," says Rebecca Lander, co-owner of the Canadian online retailer You Name It Baby! "If clean modern lines make up the rest of your home," Lander explains, "you can definitely [find]similar silhouettes for the smaller people in your family. Then add the whimsy in the art and accessories for a fresher approach to kids' decor."
The objective, according to Lisa Canning, a Toronto interior designer who is seeing an increase in demand for professionally styled rooms for youngsters, is to "approach a kid's space in a similar way you would an adult space." That means using as much closed storage as possible to keep clutter under control, letting go of traditional colour schemes for boys and girls, "being experimental with pattern and think[ing]about the relationship of various pieces to each other to achieve unity and harmony."
That said, Lander believes that more and more parents "are giving their kids a greater say in how their spaces are decorated. It empowers kids to make their own decisions, and for a good reason: If kids are allowed to create an environment that they want to spend time in, they are less likely to crowd in on mommy and daddy's room. It's a win-win situation."