April 15, 2011

Decorating Kids Rooms

OMG Children's rooms have evolved so much since I was a kid.
Duh, right?

I love the wall mural in this 1950's bedroom. The Hey Diddle Diddle theme painted in deep Wedgwood blue with gray and white accents would be totally perfect for today's nursery. Did you know that rhyme was written around 1765 as a lesson in astronomy?  Hey diddle diddle, the Cat (Leo - the Lion) and the Fiddle (Lyra - the Lyre), the Cow (Taurus - the Bull) jumped over the Moon (the Moon); the Little Dog (Canis Minor - the Lesser Dog) laughed to see such sport, and the Dish (Crater - a dish shaped constellation) ran after the Spoon (Ursa Major - the Big Dipper).

At seven years old the first telltale signs of my destiny as a designer became very apparent...

In 1967 my parents bought me an entire new "suite" (we say bedroom 'suit' in the south) of butched-up Early American style furniture in maple (girls in those days got white furniture with nasty gold striping which they called "French Provincial." Feh!
Getting to select my own furniture was nice.. but, there was a big meltdown when they wanted to get me the bed, dresser, mirror, desk and only ONE bedside table...NOT TWO !?!?!  I became enfant-terrible...screaming and crying  right in the furniture store as my parents persistently said I only needed one...I couldn't believe it...only one would be horrible, totally off balance, "people would think we were poor!" (I actually said that at 7 y/o!)  So, I didn't get the second one...maybe a subtler approach might have been better, embarrassing my parents in front of the entire store's staff wasn't particularly prudent.

Kids rooms today are techy; some are designed by mummy's fancy NY designer; often everything's done in a 'scheme' with matching EVERYTHING... often displaying little of the child's own personality in the space.
It's no wonder when doing an information intake on a design job the clients will often  say "absolutely no tartan!"  or "no pink!"  ultimately to discern their mothers thought it was the perfect thing for Bitsy or Trey for their entire childhood. 


It's a shame that all the energy taken to decorate the perfect, adorable nursery is redone so soon afterwards. New mothers go to extremes (labor and expense) creating the picture perfect room for their new turd-rolled-in-talcum.
The truth is all those precious nurseries are going to be reworked in about two to three years as toddlers need places to roam and play; the layette goes away, the crib goes away, etc. So all those expensive curtains over a crib and those fancy rockers are tossed out.

  • Do backgrounds which don't scream "baby." 
  • Don't spend oodles on curtains or decorations specifically for the crib.
  • Don't spend big bucks on furniture that you only will need for 18 months.
  • Don't use carpeting that's plushy, it will have Matchbox cars and baby doll shoes lost in it very soon. Use a firm dense carpet.
  • Don't place overhead lights in a child's room that have exposed bulbs.
  • Pregnant? Paint the nursery ASAP as VOCs (< click) are amazingly dangerous, pay attention!
  • A nursery should be cozy, not elaborate, baby doesn't see it...at all.
  • Don't decorate the nursery for others to see; guests should not be in the nursery anyhow, they may have germs or viruses on their hands and touch the crib and other objects. Bring the turd out to them, not them to baby's room.


This room is actually interesting in its subtlety. There's no gender specific decor, the bed is ready when the baby is done with the crib. 
However...I don't think it looks like a kids room...at all. Sisal carpet in a nursery? Not unless baby's gonna wear knee pads.

This surfer dawg is chillaxin' in his bodacious orange crib, waiting on his grindage. 
Earlier he was carving up some hugangus juicy curls with his mega-rippers.

This very simple room is quite chic as its a sophisticated nursery, not a Toys-R-Us looking space at all! Lots of white is always good and easy to morph into something else in 24 months.

This Belgian country style nursery hits all the important points; it's cozy, has soft light, can easily be transformed into a three-year-old's room without major changes and is not sex specific.

Even rich kids gotta have a nursery I guess...
This palatial room with its gilt accents and wall paintings is actually almost successful....
it just needs "stuff" and to be cozied up some!

This sweet "Pottery Barn" style nursery is well done; good colors, children's themed rugs and accents, etc. The wall painting is what makes it special. Notice how they utilized the eaves for storage with built-in dressers and cabinets!

This room above is a wonderful "low-budget" room. All old recycled pieces painted bright colors with a simple white envelope. The old TV armoire from the Family Room is now the baby's storage closet.
Another idea for the old armoire!

This wonderfully decorated nursery in London is the main idea of a transitional room scheme. It has the crib and the wet-nurse bed which baby will move into eventually. This room will serve this child until she's a teenager.  I think the small strong of lights around the bed curtains are adorable (and dimmable by the way!)



This NASCAR theme is fun for all my redneck peeps. Bring lil' Dale Junior up in high North Carolina style! It's indestructible and chances are the kid will like it well into his late 30's when he moves out. The best part is there's not a lot of money spent here just some ol' tars and towin' chains.

Hot Dawg - this bedroom's for the little coon hunter in your family!  I love the use of the wainscoting bookshelf with the wallpaper underneath; the rustic bed made to look like a cot is great; the sleeping bag rolled up is cute, but I don't think you need to have the brown bear humping it 24/7

Love this bunk bed! The board and batten panelling give it a masculine look. Notice the niches built into the headboards for books and objects.

This is my favorite bunk bed of all times (I'm a sailor) and I just think it's so well done. The mahogany mixed with the v-groove panelling is awesome.

Twins? Quadruplets? Lots of cousins?
This works so well in a beach house or weekend place. It's causal, fun and will last forever without looking dated or juvenile.

Batten down the hatches mate's, it's gonna be a wild night aboard this vessel. Captain Bly-baby's cabin has these custom crew bunks for himself, his first mate, a deckhand and scullery maid, plus two stowaways on the trundle beds underneath!



I guess if you want your precious lil' Courtney to grow up to be Courtney Love, then this is for you!!
(LSD not included)

This beautiful girlish bedroom is truly a transitional room. You could move a three year old in here and have it look great for years to come. The old fashioned iron bed with the green and white toile are timeless.

Wouldn't most girls want this room? It's quite lovely using all the pastels and white. Everything goes easily together without looking matchy-poo.
Personally, I don't like beds in front of windows as shown, but the "feeling" is spot on.

Bright pink walls surround this agglomeration of old furniture. The old Victorian headboard painted sweet-pea green along with two 'found' tables each with a different color combination works especially well on a shoestring budget.

This schmancy Christina Crawford bedroom sports a pair of double beds with tufted bedsteads and all the pinky-peach coordinates one room can handle.... It's lovely, but just too adult and too "done" for a four year old.   It's hard to imagine a HelloKitty poster anywhere in this room.

This low-budge bunk bed is fun, colorful and kid friendly. When the girls get tired of it, it can easily be ripped out without feeling bad about the expense.


This wonderful, simple tree and cheeky monkey would be inexpensive to do, it will have more impact than wallpaper, and will also transition into the teen years.

LOVE this jungle mural, it's happy and playful!
I like murals on children's walls to be naive and impressionistic, it makes the room playful.
You can see where this was originally done for the nursery and now it's little Tarzan's "big-boy" room.

These very simple oak branches painted on the walls have an amazing impact on the whole space. It adds whimsy and brightens up the space a lot.
There are companies that make murals and appliques for this type of installation, check these links below:



Kids bathrooms need to be built tough like a school gym, no possibilities for f-ups!

This bathroom from the Kohler showroom demonstrates all the things a child's bathroom could utilize:
  • Grab rails at tub and shower
  • Deep tub for those long bubble baths
  • A colorful wall mural
  • Fun colored tile
  • Niches and shelves for all the toys
  • Easy to reach towels
  • Big mirrors
  • Low, reachable medicine cabinets
  • Great lighting
  • TV
Here's a few practical ideas
  • Accessible towels by the sink
  • Towel hooks instead of bars
  • No shower curtain
  • Ceramic tile floor
  • Open shelving
  • Create a pull-out for the short kids to stand on when at the sink that slides under the sink base cabinet when not in use
  • Babies need a tub for bathing without shower doors so Maria can reach in and scrub yo babies ass. Children don't shower until their 9 or 10.
  • Lights and exhaust fan should be in same switch.
  • Don't have a lock on the bathroom door (either side)
  • Have a tilting mirror which can change as they get taller
  • Put a governor on your shower and tap for slow-flow.
  • If your going to have a lot of babies get a  KOHLER: Child-Sized Toilet
  • Purchase a plastic shoe holder to hang on the shower rod for toy storage. The key to making any space look nice is to contain the clutter.
  • Install grab bars near the tub or toilet to make it easy for kids to get in and out. 
  • Use drain covers to keep kids from reaching in, and to keep the toys out.
  • Install touchless faucets for both preset, safe temperatures and easy-to-reach fixtures.


  1. Venetian Blinds are great and can be made to order in 100's of colors.
  2. Pull-down Roller Shades can be made in your fabric with decorative trim along bottom.
  3. Roman Shades are easy to use, simple and customizable with any textile.
  4. Balloon Shades are more feminine and add softness to a room.
  5. Plantation Shutters are permanent and look great from inside and out.
  6. Clutch Roller Blinds are more contemporary and have wonderful filtering capabilities. Available in numerous transparencies and operate flawlessly.


You can do it, I'm here to help!

P: 202.669.8669

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