Two Kids’ Room “Essentials” London Designer Beata Heuman Thinks Parents Can Skip
And the easy swaps that keep longevity in mind.
Published Jun 17, 2021 1:00 AM
For Beata Heuman, the most meaningful room in the house is often an afterthought for others. Sure, kitchens are key to renovate for resale value, and the living room is where everyone gathers, but “children’s rooms are ingrained in their memory forever,” says the interior designer. “This is the room that’s going to be the most important in their life.”
When it came to designing a space for her daughters, Gurli and Alma, it’s no surprise that Heuman went so far as to imagine a bespoke mural inspired by Bemelmans Bar in New York, which she had painstakingly hand-painted, a process that took five days. “I love the tension between things that are quite childish combined with things that are not, like the rabbits drinking martinis and smoking cigars,” she explains. The room has become so iconic it even became the cover of her recent book, Every Room Should Sing.
Heuman’s interiors are notoriously playful, but her whimsical side shines even more when decorating for little ones. “I get a bit more excited because I have the freedom to express something that I really enjoy,” she says. Here are her kids’ room must-haves.
Twice As Nice
As far as layouts go, Heuman prefers a set of twin beds for shared rooms. “The shelf life can be quite short-lived for bunk beds,” says the designer, who always keeps longevity in mind. Ladders can be dangerous for toddlers, and the novelty can wear off quickly once kids are older and want a normal bed again. Heuman’s daughters’ beds are outfitted with drawers underneath for extra storage and half-moon cubby poufs at the foot to hold toys and make it easier for the girls to climb into bed.
Nightstands aren’t the furniture of choice for Heuman when designing kids’ rooms. “It’s good for children not to have tables, as they can easily knock things over,” she says. Instead the designer loves wall-hung night-lights and antique chairs—perfect for parents to perch on for bedtime stories. London townhouse bedrooms also commonly contain old chimney breasts, in which Heuman has gotten into the habit of retrofitting dressers. “They look very narrow from the outside but actually have very deep drawers,” she notes.
Wardrobes Within Reach
Storage is Heuman’s number-one priority in children’s rooms, specifically those without large closets. In her daughters’ bedroom, for instance, she had a low wardrobe custom-designed. “I really didn’t want to cover the mural, but it also felt quite heavy to have something tall,” she says. The curved drawers on each end help create the illusion of a slimmer profile as well, so that “when you walk through the door, you don’t see the full depth.” And though it appears high-end, the dresser (which just so happens to be the perfect height for her girls to pull dresses out themselves) was made from inexpensive birch plywood, then stained and finished with aeration holes in the shape of a lion face for a touch of whimsy.
Room to Roam
Floor space is also top of mind for Heuman. “I almost always put beds in corners to allow for as many play areas as possible,” she says. This is another reason why the designer tends to avoid built-in furniture. As kids grow, their needs and tastes evolve, and the room has to adapt: Craft tables make room for higher schoolwork desks, and low toy storage can be swapped for taller bookcases. A large, soft rug in an easily cleanable material is also a must. “Wool is almost self-cleaning in that it’s so easy to get stains out with a bit of water,” she notes.
Heuman’s designs might seem really elevated, but she insists that nothing in a child’s room should be too precious. “I try to work with materials that can be bashed around, so if they get some marks, it’s not the end of the world,” she says. Some of her go-tos include natural fibers like linen and cotton in dark colors; busy prints that hide stains and can be thrown in the wash; and solid woods that age better with time. Layering in a couple of antique pieces, like a $15 vintage chair, also means that everything feels relaxed and carefree—something all kids are very good at being.
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