My daughter really, really, really loves Frozen. Like she is in mad love with it. She loves Elsa. She loves Anna. She especially loves Olaf (although her absolute favorite character is Hans hands-down. Go figure!) She is obsessed with the songs and seems very attentive to fairy tales in general. She loves nature and being outdoors so it was very important to bring aspects of those into the design. She adores The Sound of Music, too, so as I began restructuring her nursery I was trying to find some way to tie in all of the things she loves into one space.
The end result was more maximalist than I had anticipated, which is way outside of my usual wheelhouse as an architectural designer with an eye for minimalism. But over the years I have accepted a certain level of creative mess and I think for kids it is important to stimulate them and give them a space that is not so stoic that it becomes boring and lifeless. We do follow the Montessori method for many things but I guess we've sort of made our own chaotic version of it. Aurelie is incredibly bright and it seems like the more colors and textures that are around her the happier she is so there is quite a bit of emphasis on vibrancy. She was born in the late springtime and tends to gravitate towards a color palette that reflects that so many things in this room feature colors she tends to be drawn to.
When I was younger my mother used to go all out and paint pictures of our favorite characters on the wall. There was something very endearing and special about that and I hope to continue that tradition. I do think decals are fun (and definitely easier to remove if you needed to very quickly,) but it feels so much more personal to take the time and design something for my daughter even if it isn't 100% perfect. Even though she'll probably change her preferences half a dozen times in the near future, seeing the big grin on her face lately when she sees her friends on the wall is well worth the work!
The room was originally built with the first portion of the house sometime around the 1870's. Although it has been updated since, it still retains its high ceilings and lots of light. I wanted to create somewhere where she felt safe and free to let her imagination soar while also paying respect to the architectural details of the room. Although there are many things as a designer I would change, I love seeing her have a space all her own that reflects the unique individual she is and her interests!
If you are currently in the planning process, here are some takeaways from this experience that may be of help to you:
1. Repurpose a Bookshelf
Every time I moved I kept lugging around a massive bookshelf. It was sturdy and it did its job well so it probably moved at least 5 times with me already! But one day I was trying to figure out what to build for Aurelie's books/toys and realized the shelf would be perfect. I made it horizontal and refinished it in an afternoon. I also had wooden dowels installed halfway up on some of the shelves so that she couldn't pull the heavier, higher books out and potentially hurt herself. We removed these recently but they worked perfectly!
2. Brackets Are Your Friend
We used brackets for nearly every shelf and piece of furniture to bolt them into the walls. Not only do they serve their purpose perfectly but they also are great for uneven floors and walls that are not orthogonal in old houses like ours.
3. Murals Are a Pain in the A**
The mountain mural took forever and because of the settling of the walls did not always match up perfectly. The painted ones took a long time as well. Are they totally worth it? YES. Are they awful to work on? YES. Just fair warning that it's more of a project than you'll anticipate initially!
4. Tacky Tile is Okay
I used to absolutely abhor the primary colored foam floor tiles, but in all admission my daughter is thrilled and has a blast with them. They may be tacky as all get-out but kids love them and they are worth the investment even if the style wants to make the inner designer in you cry just a little.
5. Don't Be Afraid to Experiment
Experiment! Her nursery was a lot of trial and error with moving things around. Kids grow so quickly and just because they are into something right now doesn't mean they will be tomorrow. It is good to be safe and try to stay within the bounds of what is realistic and has the longest lifespan in your household-- but don't be afraid to step outside the box and try something completely unorthodox. Some of the best designs are caused by happy accidents.
What about you all? What are some successes/failures you have had when designing spaces?