You may remember a few weeks ago when we profiled little Poppy's wonderful red Pop-inspired nursery on the blog.Well, we loved the design so much that we reached out to interior designer Emily Harding to talk to us more about her innovate approach to designing kids' spaces and how design saavy parents can incorporate art into nursery design. To see more from Emily's design firm, check out MacDowell and Harding.

LC: What are the goals you keep in mind when approaching the design for a kid's room?

EH: The one thing I tell people is that sophistication and style don't have to go out the window just because it's a child's room.  So many people fall into the trap of the cookie-cutter pink or blue nurseries when really it's your chance to take risks and be bold! I love experimenting with color and interesting artwork to create a whimsical space just as unique as the child that gets to learn and grow there. And while the space should always be playful and engaging, it needs to be practical as well.  It doesn't matter how beautiful a nursery is if the diapers aren't exactly where they need to be at that oh-so-critical moment!

LC: Poppy's room is so fresh and contemporary with its surprising use of red. What was your inspiration and how can parents to use bold colors like red for kids successfully?

EH: When I found out I was having a girl, I wanted to break out of the traditional nursery themes while also creating a room that would grow with her. I knew that she wouldn't just be an infant in this room, there is a chance she could be three or four in here as well so I wanted to create a space that would still fit her as she matured. I'm a huge fan of red and after finding the print of Warhol's Queen Elizabeth, I used that as my guide.  The key to keep in mind when using a bold color is less is more.  Stick to one strong color in the room and use it sparingly, so when it does appear it really pops.  Finding a piece of artwork that highlights your bold color scheme is one of the easiest (and in my opinion, one of the most fun) ways to introduce great color in any space, especially a nursery.

LC: You work with a lot of art, even in nurseries. What would you advise parents nervous about using art in their kids' rooms?

EH: Don't be! If you find a piece of artwork that really speaks to you, that you're excited to someday discuss with your child, then grab it. That's not only a great way to start the design process, building out the room from one piece of art that you love, but it's also a fantastic way to help instill a love of art in your child. And, just as important: if you love it, you won't get sick of it, even when you're staring it every night at 3am over a wailing infant!  Trust me, I know this from personal experience!

LC: Do you see any upcoming trends for kids design through the fall and winter?

EH: Wallpaper for nurseries and children's rooms is really making a comeback, and I love seeing it coupled with bold artwork.  Sounds scary, I know, but as long as the two compliment each other rather than compete, together they can create a really fun statement in a room.  For anyone wary of making such a big commitment like wallpaper to a room, or even those of us who are renting and can't, there are some fantastic temporary wallpaper lines now available out there, so you can experiment with color and pattern.  And if it's still intimidating, try just wallpapering one wall and hanging a great piece of art on the opposite wall for balance.

LC: A lot of urban nurseries and kids' rooms are small and often shared between siblings. How can parents make the space both comfortable, functional and unique for kids?

EH:  Think vertical. Hanging storage and shelving can be both unique and a lifesaver when trying to make a small space work for your little one, or two!  Try framing the bed or crib with bookshelves to give the illusion of a built-in bed. You can also get creative with hanging baskets for toys or shallow magazine shelves for children's books, which also  lets your child display their favorite reads.  Function doesn't mean compromising style; you just have to get creative!

Back to top