5 Tips for Designing the Perfect Kids’ Room, According to Ashley Whittaker

The kids will be more than alright.

September 22, 2021
In her new book The Well-Loved House (Rizzoli), New York designer Ashley Whittaker walks us through her go-to principles when it comes to decorating spaces that hit the perfect balance of lived-in elegance. And where better to showcase that push-and-pull between beauty and functionality than in the charming, sometimes rough-and-tumble world of kids’ bedrooms? From sweet pastels to bright jewel tones, these are a few of our favorite spaces Whittaker designed for her littlest clients.
The Well-Loved House, $50. rizzoliusa.com.

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1. Put a modern twist on tradition

“Brilliant reds, turquoise blues, and yellows offer a fun, different take on the classic boy’s room palette. Crate & Barrel bunk beds are perfect for sleepovers; cutting down standard twin sheets and coverlets makes the tuck-in easier.”

2. Opt for a palette that will age well

“Lavender and blue is such a classic combination. It feels sophisticated for a little girl’s room; it’s a more grown-up take on the typical child-friendly palette. D. Porthault bed linens and simple cotton coverlets feel like a match made in heaven here. The mix of patterns is fun, young, and playful.”

3. Pick one design element as the starring role

“Children’s rooms inevitably need to change as the children grow, so economic practicalities always come into play. I like to pick one element of the room, do it really well, and let it be the star. In the [above girls’] shared bedroom, the Galbraith & Paul Lotus wallpaper serves that purpose.”

“In [this boy’s] bedroom [above], a Calico Corners striped fabric allowed us to make the same design point of letting one element take the lead. The airplane prints play into the same spirit.”

4. Use fun artwork as inspiration

“For the bedroom of this little boy who loves cars, we began with the prints and layered in more fun color with the turquoise and lime-green accents.”

5. Add sophistication through small details

“I am always trying to come up with a fresh palette for boys’ rooms, like this combination of orange and blue. The tape trim and nailheads that outline the room’s molding lend a masculine but youthful touch. The balloon photographs fit the room’s lighthearted spirit.”