You are planning to redecorate your kids’ spaces this year or building or buying a brand new home? Probably you’ll need to be in the know about what’s hot and what’s not for kids’ décor in 2016. Here are some tips from Triangle home design and construction experts.

Active themes for older kids

Sports themes, a tried and true decorating theme, remain popular for older children’s bedrooms. “Many kids’ rooms are still designed with sports themes or accents such as football, baseball, soccer or basketball for boys,” says Hunt. “Lacrosse is also a big theme now. And for girls, some of the most popular sports themes include cycling, dance and gymnastics.”

These sports themes may show up in patterns and designs in bedding, window treatments, artwork, and accessories such as pillows or lamps, as well as in rugs with a sports-themed design.

Kids' Trend

Photo courtesy of Taylor Morrison

Many homebuyers are opting for neutral walls and basic bedding – in gray, taupe or muted greens or blues – for their older children’s rooms, and then adding pops of color such as a bright red chair or bold geometric patterned curtains in a bright blue and white. This type of décor will easily transition from a children’s space to a guest room once a teen goes off to college.

Multi-functional modules

Kids’ spaces are increasingly multi-functional, as some families opt for smaller homes and want to make the most of every inch of space with smaller square footage. “Children’s rooms are now sometimes serving as bedroom/study/playroom all in one,” Sargent says. “They are multi-purpose spaces for children in many families.”

For families who do desire a separate study/play area for their kids, lofts are a big trend. Lofts that combine study and play areas are often located in the center of the home, where parents can see and hear their children. “They are like mini-family rooms just for the kids,” Sargent says. “Lofts that are furnished with two desks – sometimes built-in – a sofa and a flat screen TV are very popular with today’s young families.”

Kids' Trend

Whether it’s a loft or a separate and self-contained room, many new homes are being built with a room which functions as a retreat for the children. “Older children need a dedicated retreat to study, play with toys, watch movies and have friends over,” says Hobbs of Lennar. “The children’s retreat must be separate from the home’s family room, able to house a multitude of functions from homework to video games and, preferably, have doors to help shut out the play sounds. Décor and furnishings are fun, vibrant and multipurpose. This is not a room for mom and dad. This is a cool space for kids and friends.”

A “must have” for kids’ lofts or study/playrooms is a feature such as a built-in or modular work/homework station that is set up for digital media like iPads and laptops, says Danielle Hunt.

Color trends: Gray is great

The experts say we are trending away from the more traditional pink, blue and other pastel nurseries for babies and young children that were so common in the past. Instead, gender-neutral colors accented with other shades – soft or bright – are becoming much more popular. “Gray is the new beige,” says Lynda Sargent, vice president of sales and marketing for national home builder K. Hovnanian. “Gray is a big color throughout the house and it’s a neutral that goes with everything. It works for girls’ rooms and for boys,” she says, “and it’s a color you don’t outgrow.”

Danielle Hunt of Taylor Morrison concurs. “We are especially seeing interest in the cooler grays, as well as in blue-gray and pale blues,” she says.

Kids' Trend

“Nursery designs are becoming much more sophisticated,” says Cristina Hobbs, Director of Forward Planning at Lennar. “Gone are the days of cutesy baby rooms. Instead, new parents are opting for a more neutral, sophisticated color palette incorporating furnishings and accessories with a modern, high-end feel. We are seeing a lot of gender-neutral colors, bold accent walls and funky wallpaper designs. We did one nursery recently in Austin Creek in Wake Forest that is completely gray and white with strong punches of black.”

Hobbs says the nursery is increasingly a place where “not only mommy and baby but also daddy and baby bond and spend that special time together. The space is therefore reflecting both mommy’s and daddy’s aesthetic.”