Candice's Design Tips: Kids' Room Makeovers
Balance Color Choices
Torie has tried to do something very ambitious with this space and on some levels it works, on others it doesn't. The idea of a loft bedroom is every artsy girl's dream — and talk about maximizing the use of this floor space! However, the scale of this bed system is just too big and looming in this small space. The fabric panels/name/light wall is a bit Vegas even for me. I would prefer to see some of this young artist's own work make a statement here or create a large framed area that allows her to have a rotating gallery that shows off her work. I also like the boldness of Torie's color choices, but not every wall has to be a different color, especially in a room where there is already a strong focal point with both the bed and the fabric wall. Torie does balance color well, however, with elements of the same color speaking to each other: red chair to red basket to red pillow, blue wall to blue shelf to blue fabric panel. The unexpected result is that in a room that is a riot of color, there is a calming unifying thread.
Involve in Quality Pieces
Being the mother of a 3 year old I can appreciate how Antonio has managed to get inside this little boy's head and create a room that, prehistorically speaking, really rocks. However, I have never been a fan of overtly thematic design for kids. Good design is an investment — an investment in time, energy and money — and it needs legs and longevity to ensure a return on that investment. Kids' interests seem to change from teddy bears to cars to goth rock in the blink of an eye; truly innovative design allows for those changes to occur easily and inexpensively. My fear with this room is that the child will love it today but outgrow it tomorrow, and that's a waste. Quality core pieces like the dressers are great starting points; they'll last forever and transition easily. I would have liked to see the theme established with more attention to the temporary accessories in this room rather than the more permanent construction elements. Dinosaur-motif bedding, round rock- or bone-shaped pillows or primitive beanbags could have rounded out this design. The window is an important element in this space, essentially acting as the headboard. An inexpensive valance made from a grass skirt or even Milk Bones hung above simple linen drapes embellished with stencilled dino-name typography is just the kind of innovative, cheap and cheerful approach that this rooms needs. Paint and wall graphics are easy and inexpensive ways to establish a theme. However I find the "boys are blue" color scheme and stuck-on vinyl dinosaurs somewhat predictable.
Make an Impact
Rule number one in TV design: Make an impact! Changing this wall color from mauve to pink is not enough of a change to register and I am having difficulty telling the difference between the "before" and "after." On a good note, the girliness of the pink is balanced by the grounding force of the black and the room seems much more open without the canopy bed. However, there are a lot of missed opportunities here. Simple gauzy full-length sheers trimmed in pom-pom fringe would have completed the window; the outlining seems like a desperate attempt at softening the opening. A white upholstered hollow-core door as a headboard and layers of white bedding would have added comfort and a sense of dreamy luxury. Acoustical ceiling tiles wrapped in pink cotton to fill the area above the desk would have been a more striking and practical treatment than ? what are those, placemats?
Finally, the dark area carpet seems gloomy. Replace it with a fluffy white flokati to create the illusion of floating on a cloud.
Use the Neutral Powers of White
This room goes to show you that nobody's perfect — not even Dan.
I find myself liking the before better than the after and that has me worried. On the good side, this room packs in a lot of functional elements: storage, seating, a desk area and that gum ball dispenser light. The spa and apple-green color scheme is bold, fresh and current but it all seems to be overshadowed by that strange pervasive red line. Conceived as a unifying force this continuous band does just the opposite as your eye darts across, up, down and around this room, hypnotized by the red. This room could have been saved by the powers of neutralizing white — starting with the dresser and extending across the bench and desk, ending the line in a crisp white upholstered headboard. The goal: to contrast and play up rather than fight the other colors in the room. A simple white linen Roman blind and white painted iron-work to read as an extension of the headboard would have been additional tempering elements to create the unifying force that Dan was after.
Create a Focal Point
Every room needs a focal point and Lonni definitely understands the power and impact that a graphic wall statement has in making that happen. What I love about this (upside down!) home-base motif is that it stands on its own as a decorative pattern, yet it has real significance for this sports-crazy boy. The best residential design combines beauty and personal meaning and Lonni's wall treatment strikes the perfect balance of both. However, residential design is also first and foremost about function BEFORE form and that is where this room falls short. All the clutter-concealing dressers and cabinets have been replaced with open storage shelves that may look neat and orderly today but after a day in the life of most kids, not so much. Instead of a modern glass desk, a long, solid, L-shaped wooden work surface running along the home-plate wall and extending past the adjacent window wall would be the perfect place for this boy to spread out. Multiple dressers and cabinets underneath as supports could provide much-needed organization. In addition, instead of painted "home bases," turn those motifs into functional wall "pockets" made out of MFD and Lonni would have had a home run.