It’s true, kids say the darndest things. And when it comes to revamping their spaces, any parent who has attempted to let their child take the reins will tell you that they have the darndest requests, too. Think: a life-size Tyrannosaurus rex bed, a maze of secret passageways throughout the house, and an in-room freezer full of ice cream—to name a few from team Domino’s early days. Clearly, compromise is essential if your goal is both a kid- and adult-friendly retreat (read: not one always covered in neon glitter).
It can be hard, though, to walk the line between giving your little one a voice and engaging in imagination wrangling. We turned to a few design-savvy moms for advice on how to successfully negotiate when it comes to decorating—a bedroom, a play area, or even the entire house. Below are their tips for how to create spaces that everyone can enjoy (with or without the ice cream freezer).
Follow Their Passions
Domino’s very own executive creative director, Kate Berry, sees her daughter’s room as a place to let loose. With everything from a “parent-approved graffiti zone” to a dress-up station, 6-year-old Quinn’s bedroom is truly a creative haven. “I think it’s important to identify your child’s interests and passions and work them into the design. Passion first, design second,” says Berry. Quinn loves to draw, so her mom made sure she could cultivate her artistic interests. With this encouragement to create and play, kids’ bedrooms become a place not just to rest but to express themselves—and, hopefully, contain their hand-painted “murals” to their own four walls.
Find a Middle Ground
Designer Chiara de Rege’s 6-year-old daughter, Phoenix, requested rainbows, bunk beds, and all-pink everything in her bedroom. De Rege was adamant that the space be a reflection of Phoenix’s taste, not just her own design-whiz aesthetic. “I wanted her to feel heard,” she says. But kids’ ideas are not always doable (or practical). Toning it down a bit honors the creativity of their vision, empowering them, without sacrificing your sanity. De Rege’s compromise? “Instead of the bunk bed, she got a hot pink canopy, and instead of rainbows, we put gold metallic stars on the wallpaper.” The result is a chic yet whimsical space that Phoenix can grow into while still dreaming big.
Get in on the Fun
Genie Lockwood, the Nashville-based owner of design-savvy children’s shop Arcade and mom to 7-year-old Roman and 5-year-old Oscar, takes a different approach to organizing her kids’ toys rather than using the usual ho-hum storage bins. She swears by incorporating playthings into her general decor, like the dinosaur figurines she keeps as a wacky centerpiece on the dining room table. “The entire house has accents of the boys’ art or their little findings and collections scattered throughout. Our home is absolutely an expression of all of us as a family,” she explains. Doing so reminds the children that this is everyone’s house and, as Lockwood notes, the unexpected details end up being the most beloved by family and friends.
Work With What You Have
Just because your kid can’t talk yet doesn’t mean there won’t be trade-offs. Gillian Schwartz, a mastermind brand director with a client list full of big-time favorites, knows a thing or two about that. Before she had children, her Brooklyn loft was a light, airy space for a young creative couple to call home. Once Guy (now 4 years old) was born, rethinking the open floor plan became a necessity. When you don’t have the square footage (or in this case, separate rooms!) to designate specific play areas for your kids, make the space you do have work for you. “One trick a friend suggested was to remove the coffee table from the middle of the living room so that you can keep an eye on your toddler as he plays, while still sitting comfortably in your favorite spot,” notes Schwartz. A win-win for everyone (except for that coffee table).