I think I may need more kids just to dabble in my other fantasy design styles. I suppose this is why I became a stylist and not a designer and why I loved doing my show so much (13 years ago!!). As a stylist, every day is different, every job requires a different style, it’s so much more about aesthetics than function and it’s just incredibly creatively stimulating. Kids don’t care about storage or practicality so yeah, IT’S SUPER FUN. Not to say that kids can’t be really challenging clients, but like I’ve said before and will til I die – there is a good way to do every style. Name a style and I’ll show you a good version. You just have to get down to the “whys.” Like why are they attracted to whatever weird/tacky garbage thing they saw on Amazon or a TV commercial? Then you gotta be creative and more intentional about how to bring that feeling into the room. My almost 9-year-old wasn’t really interested in even talking about “decorating” until we watched “Get Out Of My Room,” an adorable makeover show where siblings redesign each other’s rooms (with a lot of pro help), perfectly executed. In fact, the production designer commented on a recent post so I checked out her site and it’s seriously INCREDIBLE. Charlie immediately wanted all of the “boy” stuff, even though he didn’t like baseball, doesn’t need a loft bed, and isn’t into Minecraft (because he hasn’t played it yet). I think that show opened his eyes to the fact that decorating isn’t just for “girls” and that you can really do anything. He told me he doesn’t want to “decorate” it, he wants to “make it cool” and since I’m obviously a “cool” mom (as written about last week – my words, not his). We attempted to figure out what his version of “cool” is. So like last week I went back through the EHD portfolio to show him other projects we have done that I thought he’d like and his eyes got bigger and bigger and bigger.
This is 14-year-old Jameson’s room, basically his cousin, who Charlie has looked up to since he was a baby. He loved the smiley face pillow (with a Bluetooth speaking inside), and the wacky lamp. He also loved the art and pennant because they were “cool”.
Of course, he loved the displayed legos and blue safe, and I was happy to remind him that the red hoop chair is actually ours if he wants it (he does). Jay wanted something more comfortable to play guitar on so we swapped this chair out after the shoot. Charlie said the rug was “cool” too.
But then…I remembered the project that Brady and I did with artist Timothy Goodman for that big Frame TV campaign. HE FREAKED OUT.
He mostly loved Timothy’s art, and then the colors, and duh, the air hockey table. But honestly, it was just the playfulness and while he didn’t say this I got a sense that it felt irreverent to him, like design isn’t supposed to look like that? And I remember feeling that way. It’s why I bought and still love my wood hand chair. Especially when you are young, design should make you smile and tickle parts of your brain that a white-on-white room just never can. If you are wondering why people (like me) change and get more neutral and boring as they get older, I’d say that it’s not that we change fundamentally, its just that so many other things stimulate our brains or make us smile that being comfortable and at ease at home sometimes outweighs bringing in rebellious creativity. So I’m very lucky I get to flex this impractical muscle with my kids and do designs that are first and foremost creative.
What We Already Have To Work With…
Ok, this is their old bedroom and he still loves a lot of this. He wants the art, that bookcase, the ship mobile, and the red lamp that he wants to use in his room (I’m pretty sure he doesn’t care about the framed photo of Brian and I from our wedding invitation 15 years ago). I’m calling dibs on the dresser and rug for now. He still likes all the red and blue. That boy likes a lot of bright colors and you know what he doesn’t like? Natural wood blocks:) No kid does. We prop stylists and magazine editors have really peddled them over the years because they are pretty, but Birdie has always been like, “Where is the paint…?”
Beyond that here are two images we found that we both loved. Of course, I’m not sure of how either of these would play out or if they are even possible, but they are cool and it got us excited even if the idea won’t go anywhere.
So after we went through that exercise we went back on Etsy and I plugged in “vintage pop art” and we found so many things he loved. To him, it felt wacky and funky and just irreverent, again like it was breaking the design rules. I started pulling together a board and here’s where we are now:
An awesome vintage plaid headboard with the basketball hoop chair that we both fell in love with. I’ve always secretly wanted the toucan lamp and the oversized lightbulb lamp (both plastic from the 80s but design icons).
It’s just a jumping-off point but I can see where it’s headed and I’m SO excited. It’s going to be full of fun weird stuff, mostly vintage or DIY’d (or what we already have), with a neutral backdrop and a lot of poppy colors. The one thing that he is begging for is a neon light so I want to figure out how to turn one of his drawings into one because that way it’s at least connected to his personality. More to come, but my client and I are very excited. xx
Opening Image Credits: Photo by Genevieve Garruppo | From: An Epic Gallery Wall With ‘The Frame’
Oh, how fun are these projects!
Love it! Can’t wait to see it take shape. Best of luck with your move!!
Also, please do another TV show!!!
“design should make you smile and tickle parts of your brain” Yessss!!!!😃
Emily, I have a feeling that Charlie might just be into the MAMBO designs from an Aussie icon brand!?!
I used one of the designer’s work for some funky posters promoting safety at work to youth several years ago and man! they were such a hit!!! Very irreverent and the animals are a crazy vibe.
Here’s a link:
(I was going to link the shop, but this site gives a better overview.)
I think if I show my kids DJ Tanners bedroom in early Full House that they’d want it.
It’s good for the kids to actually see, and experience, their frumpy old rule-making mom as having multi dimensions, lol
not that you are frumpy or old!!!
HAHAHAHHA. i did not take offense, even though you might be right. i definitely feel VERY FRUMPY these days.
While I don’t have kids, I follow [at] GrohPlayrooms on Instagram because of the joy & fun inspired by these bright, colorful playrooms. Check them out for inspiration! I discovered them through the Instagram feeds of Ingrid Fetell Lee & the Aesthetics of Joy.
oh wow. just followed. incredible!!! thank you for sharing.
I’m loving getting to see you decorate for, with, your kids. After a ‘what specialty rooms would you have in a mansion if we won the lottery’ conversation with my husband several years ago I realized I didn’t have to wait to have vintage toys museum/room and he didn’t have to wait for a Star Wars themed theatre. We’ve been working on pulling in the fun stuff to use as decor ever since. It’s our home and it makes us happy even if it isn’t quite as ‘adult’ as some prefer. 🙂
i love that so much. as you know i have a huge kid inside of me and very much believe in ‘fun’ so doing our kids rooms is really scratching that itch. xx
Oh what fun creating a cool room with Charlie is going to be!!
Emily you are doing such a great job with these projects with your kids, allowing them to express themselves by wisely exposing them to more timeless design that will appeal to them, and crowding out the noisy, cheap, thematic, unthoughtful design generally targeted at kids. 🙂
Thank you for your definition of the difference between stylist and designer, it really made sense. I now see that designer things tend to be more permanent, more considered and longer commitment, and stylist things tend to be more fluid, easily changeable and can be, as you wrote, more playful. BTW, I have always really enjoyed your writing, you have a wonderful, playful, confiding “voice” and often make me smile with some of your phrases like; “design should make you smile and tickle parts of your brain that a white-on-white room just never can.” 🙂
ah, thank you 🙂 I had a stressful day and this comment made me feel so good. thank you 🙂
I just love love love that your kids are getting a voice in their design. I’m so tired of seeing 100% kids neutral rooms or kid’s rooms filled with stuffy (albeit beautiful) antiques and reading the descriptions about how much these grown up spaces reflect the 6 year old who lives there. It’s so fun to see a kids space that actually looks like something a kid would like. Thanks for putting out the message that it’s okay to design around the unicorns and basketball hoops. They aren’t this little for long, we should enjoy it (unicorn rainbow sparkles and all).
I bet you and Charlie could make some really cool graphic black and white art yourself, maybe following a theme of some sort, like favorite places or favorite foods. I’m super excited about the kids’ rooms. They look like they’ll have their personalities embedded in them and be so much fun. I look forward to more progress posts. Good luck with the move-in!
agreed! I’m friends with Timothy Goodman so i’m excited to have his art in there, but yes – I think that will be part of the program. surely there are some basic tutorials out there and some tools that make it easier to execute?
I found this website that has some ideas for projects, but not necessarily a lot of step by steps.
I thought the scribble creature art was pretty cool. They link to this Pinterest page:
and provide these instructions:
Scribble CreatureStart with one continuous scribble on your page, then find faces within your scribbles and draw them in! Do this on your own or with someone else. You can make a scribble, trade it with a partner, and then find the creatures within it. To stretch this activity out, add some color!
But it’s also super great to have art from friends. I have one friend who makes a lot and works in different mediums and I’ve received pieces as gifts and supported her, too (although, she mostly just does it as a hobby).
what happened to the super expensive Zak & Fox fabric over the bed awning from the old house? Did it not make the cut for the new house?
the buyers of our LA house begged me to sell it to them so they could do the same set up for their kids. we loved it but we were unsure where it would go and it always feels weird to hoard something that you don’t know you are going to use, when someone else is begging to use it right now. I hope we don’t regret that 🙂
I have to be honest. Many of the recent posts just have not resonated with me to the point that I often simply delete the emails when they come in. But this one was spot on! I adore layered neutrals with natural elements in any of my “adult” spaces but have a special passion in my heart for youthful designs (for kids as well as adults). There is something so freeing and the ability to push boundaries simply because it’s fun and so satisfying to explore something new, not found in the pages of a book or magazine, is amazing. I love love these inspirations and will have something to explore with my 9 year old who is planning his next room design (10 year birthday present). Thanks for such a lighthearted enjoyable post! Now off to Pinterest…
I love the pop art elements! I recently bought that cat clock with the moving eyes from the MoMA and was super stoked about it until I realized that perhaps it’s too childish to fit into the decor of a 42-year old. On the other hand, I’d love to use it in my 12-year old’s bedroom but he is in a “black only with a gaming desk and chair” fase, which is hideous.
I have a friend who has had that clock in her kitchen for years. I see it as “whimsical,” rather than “childish.” I love a bit of whimsy or quirky in a room. So I say “go for it” Marie!
You had me at the primary colors. But oh my god, the ‘kids room gimmicks’ amirite? A slide from your top bunk, a secret compartment bed, a rope net on your ceiling, a rock climbing wall!! It all started with that darn racing car bed. The list goes on and every kid in the world wants one of these gimmicks in their room so that their room is ‘the coolest.’ Of course, almost immediately after installation it is ignored. (eye roll) I think you are making the right choice with the basketball hoop desk. Seems doable and when it breaks, gets dirty (that seltzer can wasn’t quite empty when you threw it? was it?), or goes unused, you won’t have to repair, replaster, and repaint the ceiling. 😉
Ahh! Now when you find a way of turning kid’s art into a neon sign LET US KNOW IMMEDIATELY! I love the idea of elevating and celebrating what our kids have created in a new way 🙂
It’s great that he’s getting into it!