How to Decorate a Shared Girl's and Boy's Bathroom

Even the happiest sibling relationships are tested when a brother and sister share a bathroom. Each child has his or her own ideas about how they want the room to look. If they're very young, they at least know what colors they like -- and don't like. To keep the peace in a shared bathroom, let your son and daughter help you create harmonious decor that's both personal and gender-neutral. Make sure the plan is age appropriate and addresses safety issues.

Neutral Territory
When you decorate a bathroom that's shared by a boy and girl, start on neutral ground. Keep the basic palette simple, using classic white fixtures and white or neutral wall tile. Cover the floors with white tile or easy-care vinyl. If you want to bring some texture and pattern to the floor, use light-colored wood-grain ceramic tile or a mosaic pattern in white and black or gray. Resist the urge to paint the cabinetry a bright color. Your boy's and girl's current favorite colors probably aren't the same, and both kids may quickly tire of a neon orange vanity. Stick with white or neutral wood tones and save the bold colors for the walls and accessories.

Harmonious Color Scheme
Since the shared bathroom is your kids' private space, they deserve to have a say in the decor. Choosing a palette may require some negotiation, however. Luckily, the bathroom's neutral palette goes with any color scheme. Guide your children's color selection to complementary shades, such as blue and orange, yellow and green, or even black and red. Use the chosen palette for wall paint, towels and other bathroom accessories that can easily be changed. To incorporate both colors in the palette, use one shade on the walls, and another for accessories. You can also use patterned wallpaper that features both colors. Forgo cutesy prints and choose a graphic pattern with staying power. Wallpaper is not as easily changed as paint color.

His and Hers
If the shared bathroom has a double vanity, allotting personal space is easy. But even if the bathroom is tiny, you can create his-and-hers storage and grooming spots. On the vanity -- the battleground of many bathroom disputes -- designate a side to each child for toiletries and supplies. The same goes for the vanity drawers. Divvy them up equally and use shared cabinets for storing toilet paper and other common supplies. Use the room's color scheme as a tool for organizing the shared bathroom. To tame clutter, have each child keep his belongings in bins and baskets in the color they picked from their palette. Use the same color-code system for towels and washcloths. If a yellow towel lands on the floor, you'll know who the culprit is.

Room to Grow
If your son and daughter are young, you may be tempted to decorate their shared bathroom with a cute, of-the-moment theme. But that theme probably won't be popular with your kids for long, and you'll find yourself redecorating their bathroom much sooner than you hoped. Choose bathroom decor and furnishings that grow with your child or are easily modified as their needs and tastes change. As kids grow, their collection of grooming supplies also grows. Adjust the shared bathroom's storage plan as necessary to limit turf wars by adding wall cabinets for bulky hair styling devices, for instance. With luck, the color scheme will carry your kids from childhood to their teen years. But when it's time for the pink-and-purple color scheme to go, you can easily change it with a small investment in paint, linens and accessories.


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