Sharing rooms is an option households should consider.
One child, with one on the way? One of the main reasons people sell up and move is to get more bedrooms for their expanding family. But it's not cheap. According to the Real Estate Institute of Victoria's sales data for the 12 months ending June 2013, choosing a three-bedroom house over a two-bedroom in Melbourne will set you back an average of $72,000 more, depending on the location. Expect to pay an eye-popping extra $159,000 for a third bedroom if the property is in the inner city, and an extra $45,000 in outer suburbs.
The mere expense of the third bedroom is changing how families live, which is something Amber Robinson, managing editor of Essential Baby, has noticed. ''With today's modern high house prices, it's more common for children to share rooms, and it's a throwback to how it used to be. Often our own parents had to share rooms as children, and especially in the inner city, more parents are choosing for their children to do the same.''
When designing the shared room, Ms Robinson suggests checking out the website, kidsafe.com.au. ''Bunks are practical options, but there are safety risks. You want high ceilings and no ceiling fans. Kidsafe doesn't recommend that the child in the top bunk is younger than nine,'' she says. If bunks aren't for you, search out matching beds and cots. Beautifully coloured cots and beds are part of Australian brand Incy Interior's new range. Kristy Withers launched Incy Interiors in 2011, and she has since expanded her range of cots and beds to include change tables, chairs and bookcases. She believes that if you're putting siblings together in a room, storage is key.
''If they're sharing, it probably means you don't have a toy room as well, so you're going to have all the crappy plastic toys in there as well. We have bookcases for books and bigger items, as without a bookcase, they're everywhere,'' she says.
Ms Withers designs storage into places you may not have considered. ''Our change tables have drawers and cupboards under them. Recently, since our five-year-old son is obsessed with Lego, and doesn't want his younger sister to mess it up, I came up with the idea of putting a sheet of MDF in the Elizabeth trundle [under the Incy Interior's Oscar bed]. He keeps all his Lego in there, pulling out the trundle when he wants to play. When his friends stay over we can just bring the mattress in from the garage.''
Signature pieces that last way beyond childhood can work well in the shared room, too. Felicity Joll, creative director of Melbourne design company Yellow Diva, says children love their designs. ''All our furniture has a spirit and character, and children see it instantly. When they come into our shop they squeal and run around and touch everything,'' Ms Joll says. ''Our C & S Series was designed around the human figure so I think it is the sense of human scale and proportion that kids instinctively respond to.'' The C9 is a good feeding chair for those early years, but you won't be popping it on eBay when they're over. ''It's fantastic because it's so supportive for your back. I sat on that chair when my children were babies, and now my daughter's 16 and it's the feature piece in her room,'' says Ms Joll.
Incy Interiors www.incyinteriors.com.au 1300 942 050
Yellow Diva www.yellowdiva.com 9421 8844