Antique dressers, hand-painted lampshades, and original artwork all seem like precious things you’d want to keep out of the hands of children, but that’s simply not the case for design-minded parents living in the U.K. Emilio Pimentel-Reid’s new book, Bold British Design, created in partnership with photographer Sarah Hogan, is filled with daring and clever decorating ideas for kids. The author’s personal favorite space featured within its pages? A hallway–turned–climbing rock wall. “British designers aren’t afraid of having a bit of fun,” says Pimentel-Reid. “They have a certain eccentricity.” Some, like painter Camilla Perkins, gravitate toward a wild mix of Victorian patterns, while others, such as antiques dealer Guy Tobin, surround little ones with worldly treasures with the hope that they too will one day adopt a curiosity for collecting. The book (out now) is meant to be more of a “why not” guide rather than a how-to. These four ideas from across the pond will have you thinking outside the box.
Put a Sophisticated Spin on Your Menagerie
Tobin has a firm rule when it comes to living with his three young daughters (ages 9, 7, and 2): He started treating them as future adults from day one. Instead of plush teddy bears, you’ll find gutsy animal elements, like a fish painted on the shade of a bedside table lamp and a screen print of a large polar bear hung up on the wall. Delicate florals help soften things up—the duvets are a reedition of a 1930s fabric from Hollyhock Home.
Make Bold Paint Choices
Perkins’s home is filled with color, but the illustrator says she was the most playful while designing her daughter’s room (peep the mint green storage units and bright yellow fireplace). The glass Art Deco pendant lamp, swathed with blue-green and yellow splotches, and the illustration on the closet door tie the bright scheme together.
Let Them Leave Their Mark
When it came to decorating her sons’ shared bedroom, designer Lucy Hammond Giles wanted furniture that was suitable for children—or, in other words, stuff that could easily grow with them. The separated twin beds (formerly a bunk) can one day become daybeds or comfortable sofas. The floral window treatments “go with everything,” she says. The only things in constant rotation are the bulletin boards, now filled to the max with personal artwork.
Pepper in Small Treasures and Heirlooms
Tobin’s toddler basically sleeps in a mini art gallery. The big moth on the wall is by Sarah Graham, a family friend and botanical artist who creates everything on an enormous scale. A mahogany chest of drawers sits below a wall-mounted English Regency cabinet—its original wobbly glass doors still intact. The seasoned collector admits his kids aren’t yet old enough to fully grasp the significance of the pieces, like the two small oxen statues he and his wife bought in Sri Lanka, but what matters is that they’re “surrounded by beautiful objects.”
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