Many kids’ rooms are small (a reimagined home office or newly flipped closet) and therefore tricky to decorate—requiring plenty of storage for toys, dedicated areas for sleep and play, and now more than ever, a desk. But as one architect figured out decades ago, sometimes the best solutions come in a single package. Roberto Gil has been building kids’ furniture for nearly 30 years. The Argentine architect, who moved to New York City after receiving his master’s degree from Harvard in the late ’80s, quickly pivoted from designing skyscrapers to building children’s dressers and beds after the 1991 recession and hasn’t stopped since.
“I’ve always believed that if you do one thing, and one thing only, you can get close to perfection,” says Gil. And the architect is constantly tweaking his creations: making a screw smaller here, rounding an edge there. His passion project is Casa Kids, a modular collection made for children’s rooms that he dubs “upgraded IKEA,” in that every piece is simple and without frills but durable. The plug-and-play approach allows parents to buy items in stages, change them as their kids grow up, and dismantle them into adult furniture later on. In fact, Gil has had some of his best ideas come directly from New York City families looking for space-saving solutions for their cramped quarters. (His ConnectMe Desk—a workstation that can transition from child- to adult-size—was displayed at the MoMA Design Store.) Here are four of our favorite designs, depending on your need:
If Your Kids Are Sharing a Room Now, But Not Forever
One of Gil’s original models, the Cabin bunk bed, is also one of the most streamlined and compact. “It converts into two twin beds so you can move siblings into separate rooms without having to buy new furniture,” says the architect. For this piece, he designed a floating ladder that latches onto the frame and easily detaches when needed.
If the Room Doesn’t Have a Closet
The stairs with drawers was the answer to an 18-inch gap left between a bunk bed and a client’s wall. “We gained all that storage, got a safer and easier way to access the top bed, and didn’t waste precious real estate,” explains Gil. Other add-ons include under-bed drawers and trundles and clip-on nightstands. But one of the most innovative designs is the Dumbo closet bed, a smart solution for a tiny room with no closet, featuring a customizable interior that can include hanging rods, deep shelves, or a combination of the two.
If You Need to Make Space for a Newborn
Another client request–turned–best-selling product: the loft-and-crib combo. “For some New York City parents, it’s a major space saver,” says Gil. Older siblings can graduate to the top bunk at 6 years old, and the younger ones can grow into a big kid bed below (which, from there, can be swapped out for a dresser, desk, or day bed in the teenage years).
If Your Child Is Distance Learning This Year
No space for a homeschooling station? Gil’s Marino and Dumbo loft beds have customizable built-in desks tucked under the top bunk. They even come complete with optional shelves, cupboards, pencil drawers, and electrical wire-management grommets that keep charging cables out of sight.
If You’re on a Budget
Perhaps the best idea came from a longtime client: photographer Annie Leibovitz. “She called me one day and said, ‘We’re moving; why don’t you try to sell the furniture? It’s so beautiful,’” Gil recalls. Her suggestion launched Casa Kids’s preowned section, where families can sell and buy secondhand pieces at a lower cost (often half the price). “I want several kids to go through my furniture and make it as easy to reuse as possible, so it lasts 30 years or more,” says Gil of the sustainability ethos behind the brand’s timeless designs. So even when the kids’ room goes back to being an office, another family can enjoy a forever stylish bunk bed.
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