Welcome to Second Nature, a Q+A series with Jute founder, Ali Davin, that explores all things healthy living, with a fond emphasis on that thing she does best—interior design.
From the first time they sleep through the night to the days when you have to drag them out of bed before noon, kids grow up so quickly—and so do their tastes.
A kid’s bedroom is where they sleep, but also where they play, create, and thrive. Here’s how to design a fun yet functional room that will grow with them.
It’s much like how we treat the rest of the house: sustainable, functional, cozy. A kid’s room should be fun but not feel childish. When we do a kid’s room, we don’t use different furniture or fixtures than we normally do; we just accessorize the space in a more whimsical way that can flex as they grow.
Parents tend to ask for things that they think will make life easier but aren’t good for their child’s health. Blackout shades, for example—yes, you want your kid to sleep, but those are made out of PVC, which off-gasses VOC’s. So we steer them toward wood shutters, curtains with a lining, shades with curtains over them, or any combination of multiple shades. There are ways to keep the room dark without affecting the air quality. Stain resistant textiles or rugs is another request. Wool is the gold standard for kid’s rooms- a natural fiber that is inherently stain resistant.
Wall-to-wall carpet. People want something cleanable and cozy, but carpet can be one of the worst offenders in terms of off-gassing, plus kids are on the floor all the time, so they’re even closer to it. And if your kid develops allergies, you’re going to have to rip it out anyway. Just do hardwood floors with a plush wool rug—it’s super-soft, naturally flame retardant, and actually easy to clean. If you’re worried about cost, pick something neutral that you can transition into their big-kid room.
Yes, and thankfully there’s a ton of organic bedding to choose from, which is great. The natural lines have started to make kids’ stuff, and even mass-market retailers do organic bedding now. When we were young, we had novelty bedding, but no one wants that anymore. What’s out there now is colorful and fun without being childish.
That’s another big request, and again we steer people away from it, because of all the chemicals involved in the printing and the glue. If you want do so something fun on the walls, you can hire an artist to do a hand-painted mural, or you can paint stripes using zero-VOC paint. We will do wallpaper sparsely, like in the interior of the closet. A lot of people use closets as a play area, kind of like how we used to make forts with pillows, so we’ll do something extra fun in there.
Kids are all obsessed with cozy things—they are really tactile. We always include some sort of soft blanket on their bed, a sheepskin pillow or chair, or a fluffy poof. You can do a lot of fun stuff with lighting too, like a central ceiling fixture with a pop of color or pendant lights. Rugs are a great way to add color and make the space feel personal. For older kids, we’ve had them design their own rug on a computer program and they love that.
We’ll do built-in shelves with baskets for toys and books, then as they get older, we’ll replace some of the shelves with a writing desk so they have a space to do homework. Some people have a dedicated homework room in their house, but most clients want a smaller bed and a workstation. The bed depends a lot on how you parent. Some people have their kids sleeping in a twin-size bed till they go to college, and others put them in a queen-size bed as soon as they outgrow the crib. My goal is that we design a room that works until the kid is around 12 or 13, which is usually when they want a big-kid room—and they’re calling the shots.
Accessories make kids’ rooms fun—and can easily be changed as they grow.