Creative Kids’ Rooms

When it comes to giving children a space to call their own, designers Claire Ratliff and Amanda Darnell create rooms that offer both practicality and high style.

photography - Dustin Peck

Text: Robert C. Martin

If the well-known adage “kids will be kids” is true, why not give them spaces that promote both their interests and active imaginations? “Absolutely!” agrees Texas designer Claire Ratliff. “It’s so important that a child’s bedroom reflects his or her personality; these refuges should not only enhance where they play, do homework, and sleep, but also encourage them to be themselves.”

Design- Claire Ratliff; Photography – Stephen Karlisch

As principal of her newly formed firm, Henry Street Design, Ratliff and co-owner Amanda Darnell welcome the opportunities and challenges of designing with clients’ children in mind. “Every fabric, material selection, and furniture choice are building blocks in the overall scheme of things,” says Ratliff. Careful selection of art and accessories also play an important factor, because they need to remain timely yet can be easily changed out as a child grows. “That being said, you want to steer clear from the whim of the moment, as it will quickly look lose its appeal as well,” she adds.

Design- Claire Ratliff; Photography – Stephen Karlisch

To prevent her clients from facing a design overhaul every couple of years, Ratliff’s approach to establishing the basic elements of a child’s room is classic and simple. “Since no parent wants to worry about redecorating to fit each stage of their kids’ lives, I always endeavor to stay one step ahead,” she says. Keeping things updated that are relatively painless and inexpensive to replace, like bed linens, throw pillows, and rugs, can allow parents to tweak items without starting from scratch. “Creating rooms that youngsters can grow into is the key,” she adds.

photography – Jessica Klewicki Glynn; Design – Christina Murphy

Durability is another factor that’s high on the designer’s list for successfully designing a kid’s room. “Amanda and I frequently use indoor/outdoor fabrics—and even vinyl options—which can be easily cleaned,” she says. Likewise, these designers prefer painting walls with an eggshell finish. “In making this decision ahead of time, parents will discover that scratches and scruffs usually come right off with a Magic Eraser.”

In cases where siblings share a room, designating zones for each child, primarily with furniture placement and color choices, will help establish a sense of independence for them. Another tried-and-true feature—bunk beds—take on a greater role when decorated and painted to suit differing tastes.

photography – Jean Allsopp