It’s a classic: Children’s literature inspires Design House bedroom

The children’s bedroom for this year’s Shelter for Help in Emergency’s Design House was created to be “a fun space, where kid’s stamp out their individuality and express their evolving selves,” said designer Sheilah Michaels. Photo: Robert Radifera The children’s bedroom for this year’s Shelter for Help in Emergency’s Design House was created to be “a fun space, where kid’s stamp out their individuality and express their evolving selves,” said designer Sheilah Michaels. Photo: Robert Radifera

When Sheilah Michaels was asked to create a child’s bedroom for last spring’s Shelter for Help in Emergency’s Design House, she turned to the pages of some of her favorite children’s books for inspiration. “I wanted to capture the enchanting images from The Wind in the Willows, Charlotte’s Web, and The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, and express [them] through color, texture, space, and design,” she said.

“Children’s bedrooms today differ greatly from the bedrooms many of us baby boomers had,” Michaels added. A queen size bed is the new norm, and today’s kids come with lots of electronics, so it’s important that their bedrooms have plenty of storage, including a desk with lots of drawer space and an adjustable bookcase or two.

Michaels thinks long-term when designing a room for a young person. “Often parents spend money on inexpensive, gimmicky furniture, lamps, and rugs that have very short-term use due to quality or style,” she said. Michaels’ Design House bedroom included items like an ottoman, which can easily grow with a child and be changed out later, as style choices evolve. “It makes a cozy spot for kids and parents to relax while reading a book,” she said. “And for teens, it’s a great place to congregate in groups.” Plus an ottoman can be slipcovered or reupholstered and used somewhere else in the house. Or it can accompany a young adult to college or her first apartment.

When putting together a youngster’s bedroom, Michaels works with parents and gets input from the child. She advises them to go with a multi-color palette that can be easily edited if color preferences change. “If you choose a wall color that acts as a neutral (greens and grays are considered neutrals), you can change out the bedding or window treatments without having to repaint the room,” Michaels said. “Or do the opposite: Choose a ‘wow’ wall color, but select bedding that is neutral.”

Much of the time, children need to be introduced to new color palettes, she added. “Hot pink, violet, and ocean blue tend to be the big favorites, but that’s mostly because kids have no idea other color palettes exist.” Michaels used a “happy color palette” of marigold, persimmon, subtle fuchsia, robin’s egg blue, and willow in the Design House bedroom. “It was a color scheme that could be used for a girl’s or boy’s bedroom, or even for an adult guest room,” she said.

Like paint, accessories are affordable and can quickly change the style and personality of a child’s bedroom. Michaels picked up the Design House bedroom’s zebra head for $25 and she paid $8 for the giraffe on the bookcase. She also called in a few favors. “I couldn’t have pulled together my Design House space without the many dolls and toys lent to me by friends,” Michaels said. “It’s amazing what I sometimes find in client’s attics. So often we move things from one room to another and find great treasures that were underutilized or ignored.”

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