After months of watching her 10-year-old, Nile, fit schoolwork and home life into her 450-square-foot bedroom, New Jersey–based The Black Home founder Neffi Walker planned the ultimate surprise while her daughter was in California with her dad: a massive room renovation. In just 10 days, the designer and her team leveled her personal office and bumped out Nile’s square footage to 716 to include everything an almost-tween might need (a little more privacy included). 

“The guys I work with on the Black Home are known for their superfast turnarounds,” says Walker. “I knew how difficult it was for Nile to have space during the early phases of the pandemic. Giving up my office and joining it with her room made all the sense in the world and really helped her thrive.” Here’s what Walker pulled off in the transformation.

Get Outdoorsy Inside

“Nile is always outside. She’s the type of child who needs vitamin D,” explains Walker. “It was important to me to bring some of that natural energy into the room. I added a lot of plants.” To further play up the outdoorsy vibe, she installed a large-repeat banana leaf wallpaper she had created for her own collection with illustrator Verna Fogg and hung a statement floral brass chandelier (a street-find score). Next, the walls got a fresh coat of Behr’s Ultra White to bounce the natural light streaming in through the windows, as well as Canyon Dusk, an earthier shade that grounds the room.

Design That’s Meant to Be Shared

The purpose of adding a bunk bed was to create a cozy spot for Nile to get a good night’s sleep, but Walker knew the top bunk would get just as much use. “Nile’s best friend is basically another daughter to me. They’re constantly together. When they were young, they’d snuggle up. It was cute at 3 and 4, but at 9 and 10, they’re getting bigger. I wanted to do something for that.” To account for all the post-COVID nights that will inevitably go from the girls hanging out to Nile asking, “Can she sleep over?,” Walker had a custom design made complete with cutout arches for an airier feel. Now Nile has lounge-y nooks for reading and much-needed solo time. 

Ready for (Zoom) School

Acting as a counterpoint to the rest of the home’s dark palette—which falls in line with Walker’s preference for moodier hues—the bright bedroom creates a space where Nile can really thrive. “We realized her learning process was not good in those sorts of colors,” Walker notes of lightening up her daughter’s surroundings. “She’s Jamaican and Puerto Rican, and (before the pandemic) we visited the Caribbean a lot. Having colors that simulated that place was important for her mood and mindset.” Also key: Adding a proper desk, rolling school-supplies cart, and chalkboard easel to sketch out ideas and pin up inspirations, as well as small touches like the neon yellow acrylic boxes that bring an extra hint of sunshine (and smart storage). Even though Nile is back to IRL learning, the zone provides a dedicated place to focus. And “her coursework is all A’s!” Walker shares. 

But perhaps the best part of all was the 10-year-old’s reaction to first seeing the finished project when she returned home last fall. “Nile thought she was going into my office, where she would go on the computer,” recalls Walker. “She turned the corner, saw the bed, and totally freaked out. She was awestruck.” 

 

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