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Designing a kids’ room is no simple task. It’s easy to veer into clichés and difficult to pinpoint a look that will withstand the test of time—especially given the fast pace at which the space’s inhabitant grows. Designer Ashley Clark seems to have figured out a winning formula. While designing a family home in Newport Beach, she made the perfect bedroom for the couple’s 8-year-old boy. It’s colorful, playful, features a genius DIY (more on that later), and doesn’t scream kiddie.

“We wanted the room to be a mix of campy and fun—colorful, but still a little bit sophisticated,” explains Clark. Those whimsical touches (think “s’mores and tents” camp, not “Met Gala theme” camp) shine through, in the red and green lanterns, adjustable sconces, and Pendleton blanket-wrapped headboard. 

Her tiny client had a few design requests of his own. “Number one was a big bed; he was currently sharing a room with his brother, so any size bed bigger than a twin was considered ‘big,’” says his mother, homeowner Lacey Miller. “Second, he wanted to have a place to play with his legos and somewhere to display them.” A sprawling wood ledge under the window was the answer, providing ample space for house/animal/vehicle construction. 

The little boy’s reaction? “‘This is so cool!’—and then he ran and jumped on his bed,” recalls Miller. With that glowing review, we had to chat with Clark to get her tips for designing the ultimate kids’ space.

Anything can be art

“The homeowners had collected a few vintage skateboards, and we wanted to use them,” says Clark. After tracking down a few more, she created a fun installation above the dresser. It’s a laid-back, kid-approved take on a classic photo wall—and a great way to incorporate some personal mementos into the space.

If you can’t buy it, DIY it

In this project, that was the headboard. “We just could not find one we loved—and we knew we wanted to use a Pendleton blanket in the room somehow, so we decided to use it for the headboard,” says Clark. 

Here’s how the designer did it: She measured the width of the bed, marked it out on the blanket in a way that maximized the number of colorful stripes that would be shown, cut the blanket, and wrapped it around a piece of wood. Since they mounted it directly onto the wall, she added a hanging cleat on the back to make it lay flat securely. “We felt that doing something different was the way to go,” she continues. “Boom! Perfect headboard.”

“We wanted the room to be a mix of campy and fun—colorful, but still a little bit sophisticated.”

Think long-term

“I love that it’s timeless,” says Miller of the finished space. “It’s perfect for a kid, but I can also see a teenager living in it and loving it.” This comes down to the neutral backdrops Clark created in both the bedroom and the adjoining bathroom: A matte black accent wall and emerald green shower, respectively. Plus, all the furniture boasts sleek silhouettes and simple colorways. Going classic on the investment items will save you money (and time!) in the long run. 

See more kids’ rooms we love: When Justina Blakeney Is Your Friend, You Get the Coolest Nursery A Rainbow Nursery That Pinterest Dreams Are Made Of This Bright and Beautiful Kids’ Room Steers Clear of Cliches