“Smart” Design

Decorating a child’s room is getting easier and becoming more fun thanks to so many innovative products and an abundance of decorating websites for inspiration. One area that has really grown is the world of decals making it easier to make a significant impact in your child’s room for relatively low cost. There are decals for everything – even furniture or light fixtures that give the illusion of upscale design without spending the big bucks.

New to the decal world is a product I have recently come to love because it not only looks great, but actually helps your child learn at the same time!! Pretty genius right? Teachstix are wall decals of sight words necessary in learning to read. Click on the picture to get a better look:


Sight words are frequently recurring words in text that children learn to identify by sight rather than by decoding them. Most of them cannot be phonetically sounded out and do not come with a visual cue (how can you illustrate, “what”?);  therefore, children must learn them through memorization. Even children who have mastered the skill of sounding out can have trouble reading if they have not learned the sight words.

Full disclosure: one of the women who created this product is a mom friend who, like myself, has two smart and curious boys who love to learn. She came up with the idea for the product when one of her boys was having trouble learning to read. Read her story here:


As an early childhood educator, this product is a dream! I know first hand the importance of sight words, but I also know how tedious and uninspiring flashcards can be. Here, your children can be immersed in a print-rich environment and be learning automatically instead of through a painstaking process. And as a designer, I love how modern and cool they look!

For more information please visit,


10 ideas for turning your baby’s name into sentimental nursery wall art

Here are some cute ideas for how to display your baby/child’s name in their room and in doing so create a work of art. Courtesy of Houzz. (Some of the pictures get cut off so you are better off clicking on the green title below to view the pictures in their entirety and be able to read the article.) Enjoy!

Before and After: Under the stairs little girl secret hide away

The following is a tiny space I made over on a tight budget. I took a little girls secret play space that was drab and not particularly imaginative and made it magical and special. If you live in an old house that has a similar under the stairs nook but aren’t sure quite what to do with it, consider something like this!


While it may be tricky to tell in these pictures the space first goes down stairs and the wraps around to form a u shape creating 3 tiny spaces.


(Important to note that these pics were not done by my professional photographer and the color is all off. The green is a soft cucumber and not  florescent as it appears!)

(The first part of the U)


The second part of the U:

The last part of the u:

In this space the window treatment, reading nook curtain and pillows were custom made.

Budget: $400

Source Guide:

Carpeting: Flor carpet squares, reverb, magenta

Curtain and large pillow: Owl print bedding sheet, Target

Flower light: Smila blooma, Ikea

Bird wall decals: Target

Name/butterfly decal: rosenberryrooms.com

Cherry blossom tree decal: rossenberryrooms.com

Handmade fabric wall flowers: Leilasflowergarden from Etsy

Pink storage bins: Target

Etched butterfly mirror: Ikea

Mirror butterfly hooks: Pottery Barn Kids

Sheer white curtain:Target, hand embellished with hot pink pom pom fringe

Paint: BM cucumber and




The Built-In Bed


Built-Ins have always been a sought-after feature in houses. If done well, they look stylish, save space, and most importantly create much needed storage. Increasingly, people are making built-ins multi-functional. Instead of just shelving or book-casing, they can also be seating and sleeping quarters. High quality built-ins add value to your property as they add a high end feel to an interior. Built-in beds can be a wonderful asset to children’s room but can be impractical if not designed with foresight. Because a built-in will be a permanent feature of a room (and generally an expensive one) the storage aspect should be designed to grow with your child. One must ask oneself what kinds of things will need to be stored in a few years or in many. It is a good idea to design both the bed and storage feature in a way that would be practical not just for your child but other home owners to come. Even if you know you will be staying in a home for a long time, the design should accommodate many scenarios. For example the storage may be used for toys now but text books later.

The best part about having a built-in bed in a child’s room (or any room really) is the cozy, nook-like retreat they create. Here are 2 of my favorite nook style built-ins:


The vintage style one on the left has particularly nice decorative storage features.

The following have nice but limited storage features:


The following have incredible storage features including full closet space.

This last one although not a true built-in but more of a custom bunk bed also had very creative storage features as well as being adorable!

If doing a built-in in your house, its important to have a trusted designer or architect design it rather than your general contractor. Built-in beds can be more complicated than they seem and as they will be a permanent feature, they must be well thought out.


Oh Jenny!

As I have a blog about children’s interiors I suppose it’s kind of imperative I have a post about Jenny. Who, or what, say you? About Jenny Lind. I know you keen observers of style and design have noticed too; Reproductions and modern versions of the vintage furniture are suddenly popping up everywhere! Okay- perhaps if your not always on the look out for trends in children’s furniture and design, it might not have caught your eye yet. But now it will. So let’s start with the what. Jenny Lind furniture is a style from the 1800’s characterized by its spindled wood. Jenny Lind the person was actually a Swedish opera singer of that time who because of being so damn popular had many things named after her, most famously furniture, after it was recorded that she slept in such a bed once. Ah, to be so lucky.

As I am a sucker for vintage pieces especially in children’s spaces of course I have been excited at the trend to bring this furniture back.

If you are lucky enough to find actual antique Jenny Lind furniture (and you can afford it) you wont be disappointed. Mixing it up with some modern pieces and bedding will look great!


But as many of us don’t have the time or money to rummage around antique fairs, luckily many furniture companies have brought them back and they look sweeter than ever.

I have to give props to Land of Nod for not only producing a lovely collection of Jenny Lind furniture but for actually getting more and more in touch with real designers and creating children’s room accessories of either, designer’s work, or that recall vintage designs of the past.

Ahh just a few more images to round it out.

Thanks Jenny!


To theme or not to theme?

Themed rooms for kids are very popular these days. We’ve all seen the outrageous rooms created on TV’s Extreme Make Over Home Edition where because a 4 year old happened to enjoy fishing with his Dad one day, his entire bedroom is made into an underwater aquarium complete with a submarine for a bed with real tropical fish swimming all around. Fishing rods dangerously cascade from the ceiling and a buoy-turned-light-fixture casts shadows on the gigantic fish mural that takes up an entire wall.

Certainly if you search the web for ideas for children’s rooms many themed ideas pop up promising exciting results that will make your child the envy of all his peers.

But those of us who have children – even those of us who have simply been around them – know there is one thing true of almost any child: they are fickle. What is their most prized possession one day might as well be out for the trash the next.

Therefore, themed rooms in my opinion are most often a waste of money.

However, If you find yourself attached to the idea of decorating your child’s room with a theme, here are some rules that I believe can steer you clear of expensive disasters.

1. Avoid using very specific character or cartoon themes.

Decorating with a TV or book character theme might seem fun but undoubtedly your child will grow to despise said character within a matter of weeks. Check out some examples of way too specific theme rooms gone wrong (in my humble opinion).


While the spider man room looks cool (I’ll give it that) poor spider man tends to only be cool to a young boy (or gal) for maybe a year, and then what – that’s an expensive mural, perhaps hand painted- that will have to be torn down. Not to mention, a child’s room should be soothing and unfortunately the idea of super heroes ridding the world of evil, plastered all over my child’s wall does not exactly put me to sleep.

Do I need to say anything about the Sponge Bob room? Aside from being unattractive, once again Sponge Bob (a show I happen to find really annoying) is definitely only in a child’s life for a couple of years. While I am always a fan of redecorating, you don’t want to have to do it every year or two! A child’s room should have some room to grown with them for a while. When designing you should always being thinking ahead.

The Cinderella rooms are over the top, way too sugary sweet and as with the other rooms, have a very short life span.

2. Fun rooms should still be soothing.

Here’s a room to give any child nightmares:

Yes. You can have this soldier and his gun plastered across your child’s wall. Or sculls and crossbones, or life size sharks or how about a decal that transforms your child’s room into jail. I’m not kidding. There is a decal for everything. The problem is, while our children may enjoy playing GI Joe or pirates, or cops and robbers, it doesn’t mean they want to go to sleep thinking and dreaming about those things.

3. The design or decor of a child’s room should be the backdrop for exploration, imagination, and creativity so that children can create their own fantasies, rather than have their play dictated.

So, If you just have to go the theme route (can you tell I am not a fan) keep the idea broad, simple, soothing and even though its a child’s room, keep it tasteful!

Here are a few examples of better themed rooms:



All of these rooms, while not particularly original and a little too conventional for my taste, at least have soothing color palates, subtle themes with room to grow, are aesthetically pleasing, and provide a backdrop for creative play, as opposed to dictating it.

Check out www.rosenberryrooms.com and www.decoratingideakidrooms.com for lots of accessories and bedding to help subtly create a themed room or simply for adding a few special touches.

Of course, as always, Etsy is amazing for finding unique, handmade, one of a kind designs to accessorize your child’s room.

Have fun!


“Grown-up” Nursery

Here’s an example of a nursery that looks great with mostly adult design pieces.

There are many great elements to this nursery. Here, a few simple design elements create an extremely pleasing, fresh environment, enjoyable for baby and parent. The accessories used are design conscious and could be found in any other room of the house and yet they work so well in this nursery too. First, the color palate is soothing with the robin’s egg blue and punches of mustard. Then, the addition of the black and white adds contrast which is known to be stimulating for young babies. Here we can see that a color contrast in and of itself can be the design element (no pictures necessary in the picture frames!) The addition of the zig-zag pattern creates even more interest for the baby in addition to looking chic. The pinwheels add an element of fun without being too sugary. Lastly, adding the flag garland gives the plain white crib a little bit of flare, reminding us that we don’t need to spend a fortune on crib bedding to make a crib look great.

What this nursery illustrates so well is how little one needs to create a great space!

Embroidered folk wardrobe

This is one of my favorite before and afters that I have seen in a long time courtesy of design sponge:



Truly, I love everything about it, especially how this one piece can transform a simple, perhaps mostly white, child’s room with a pop of color. The design has almost a Scandinavian folk art feel to it which is ironic as the wardrobe, pre-makeover is from IKEA!  Melding embroidery with furniture design is so unique and yet is so perfect. I also love that this is a how-to that has a big impact but is relatively easy to do. And of course I LOVE that it is green.

Here’s how courtesy of Diana:

Time: 2 days

Cost: $20

Basics Steps: Growing sick and tired of an old spruce Ikea wardrobe in my daughter’s room but still liking the perfect size and simple form, I bought a big pot of green paint. Of course “just” painting would be a bit too easy 😉 So after some thinking I came up with the idea of perforating the doors with a pattern of small holes, and then adding some extra colour by “embroidering” a pattern onto them. The good thing about this decoration is that we can experiment with new colours and patterns whenever we like, and my seven-year-old can also pick up some thread and embellish her own wardrobe doors, adding old buttons and wooden pearls on the way.

Here’s how I did it: I sanded and primed the wardrobe, then I took out the doors so working on the pattern would be easier. Taking the proportions of the doors into account, I designed a pattern for the holes. I decided to keep it easy and started off with the idea of a circle. I drew the right circle size with a compass on a piece of paper and placed a pattern of points in regular intervals until I was happy with the result (not too many points, but still enough to make the pattern versatile).

I went back to the doors and measured out the centre. I placed the paper with the pattern on the right spot and taped it on the door. Then I took one of those hand drills and made the holes according to the pattern. I started with a small size drill so as not to damage the soft wood, and then took the next size drill to widen the existing hole. After a bit of sanding to smooth out the edges of the holes, I applied two coats of green paint. I mounted the doors again, and then it was time to play with some wool and neon thread I had lying around! — Diana


Sparkling Twins Nursery: Miranda and Lauren’s Starry Safari

Take a look at this fantastic nursery that literally must light up these lucky twins faces.


There are so many features I love about this room but what stands out is the dramatic affect both the lighting and birds create. Here the stunning visuals must undoubtedly ignite Miranda and Lauren’s imagination and literally stimulate brain development in these crucial first few years of their lives! Luckily it is as aesthetically pleasing to grown up eyes too and that is really the key to creating the modern nursery today. Thank goodness we can say bye-bye to cutesie and instead design spaces that are cool and chic and yet still perfect for a baby.

Let’s talk about color for a minute. Those that know me well know that I have an obsession with both green and white as color palates but what I love about this space is that they didn’t play it safe and choose a soft green such as a sage. Contrasted with white, the bolder chartreuse green makes such a statement without being too garish.  Often people feel that soft, pastel, “baby” colors are the only choices for nurseries and these days that couldn’t be more wrong!

So Let’s find out how they created this look from their interview with Apartment Therapy:

So, tell us, how many stars are there in the starry night ceiling? And what are they made of?
The ceiling includes a few hundred twinkling stars via fiber optics, which were installed one-by-one in the crawl space. The stars were painted over to conceal them during the day, but they create quite a dreamy effect at night. The best possible nightlight, in our opinion. The stars do not brighten the room as much as they appear to in the extended exposure photos.

What is your favorite element in the room?
The starlit ceiling.

Before starting, what did you know you wanted to include, for sure?
Definitely the starlit ceiling.


What was your inspiration for the room?
We wanted it to be natural and safari-like, without being too literal or girly, while keeping it with a contemporary feel.

Were there any surprises during the process of designing the room?
There are too many shades of green to choose from. We brought home 12 samples of “green” and painted each as a large swatch on the walls to decide.

What was your biggest indulgence?
The Eames elephant.

Any advice for other people starting this process?
Sourcing and coordinating all of the details will consume you. Start early.

If money was no object, what would your dream source be?
I’d probably hire a team of Disney Imagineers to custom design and build everything.

Source List:
• KLIPPAN Loveseat Sofa: IKEA
• Wall Flowers: CHIASSO
• Animal Prints on Wood: Petit Collage
• Green Eames Elephant: All Modern
• Cribs and Changing Table: Babyletto Modo
• Fiber Optic Starry Ceiling: LED Starfield Ceiling
• Custom Lasercut Baby Names on Bamboo: Ponoko
• Leather Storage Ottoman: Ebay
• EXPEDIT Cube Storage Shelves: IKEA
• Paper Lanterns: Paper Lantern Store

(Images: John Burton Brown & Kristie English)