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Children’s Room Design Tips from Interior Designer Ann Ueno

Today interior designer Ann Ueno is sharing her best tips on designing a nursery or big kid space. She has shared so many special kids rooms in our gallery. Be sure to click on the link beneath each picture below to see more of each space. Thank you, Ann, for sharing with us!

We announced Colortastic Kids Rooms as one of our 2020 Nursery Trends, where we featured your daughter’s colorful rainbow bedroom (we love it!). What’s your advice for creating a room design that uses lots of color without it turning into sensory overload? 
Like most rooms, the design is always about balance. In my daughter’s room, for example, I left the walls white and the carpet is an off-white/light gray. That gave me a bit of a canvas to play with in her bedding, the art on the walls and the styling details. Just like in fashion, too much of anything is not a good thing, right?! I use that philosophy when designing. Choose one, maybe two areas of the room that will be the colorful or bold focus. And then tone down the rest by using neutrals or natural textures and elements.

Modern Boho Rainbow Room

How do you like to begin your children’s room designs? Where do you seek inspiration? 
I always do a thorough interview with my clients (aka the parents!) to really understand the child or children. After all, it is their space! Once I have an understanding of the kiddos as well as the function of the room, I then create the overall vision board. Pinterest is always where I start and then I layer in inspiration from kid décor sources like Project Nursery and Project Junior. There are so many incredible designers and fun spaces out there so that always helps me open my eyes a bit wider and get new ideas from what has already been done. Last, I live in Miami so there typically is a nature and natural element to my vision boards. Be it the sun, the ocean, palm trees or the simplicity of hues that surround me, those elements typically bring the vision together!

Miami Inspired Toddler Room

What is your biggest piece of advice for parents designing a nursery? 
Do it exactly how you want to do it. There are no rules, so if you want black walls for your baby girl, go for it. A nursery is such an intimate space where you spend so much time in the early months once the baby is born so it should speak to you and be comfortable and inspiring for the sweet baby!

Boho Meets Mid-Century Baby Boy

We’ve seen beautiful nurseries and beautiful big kids rooms from you. How do you differentiate your approach when designing these spaces?  
To me, they are completely different spaces that require different approaches. Especially because when moving out of a nursery into a big kid room, the child has likely changed a lot, thus the design should reflect his/her personality. From a design perspective, I review trends, consider the kid’s personality and changing interests, as well as the new functions needed in the space. Those elements will make for a well-rounded, beautiful and practical upgrade from baby to big kid!

Mint + Gray Gender Neutral Nursery

How can you best plan a nursery to transition well into a big kid space? 
I believe in making that space change a big moment for the child. Meaning, they are getting bigger and likely will move from a crib to a bed and that change is a big one for them! Make it special, let the child be involved in the design. Give them some choices—kids love to be a part of the process. I did this with Zoey, and she has said so many times how much she loves her new rainbow room. I believe that’s because she had some skin in the game! Talking about it, creating energy around it and collaborating with the child on this transition will make all the difference.

Boho Chic Kids Playroom

For big kid spaces, how do you suggest including your child’s likes and preferences while still keeping the design elevated? 
It’s equal parts consideration and execution. Gather your child’s preferences and plan out how to execute tastefully and with balance. We recently had a client where the little boy loved Power Rangers. We designed the space with a Power Ranger color palette (but elevated), and the only Power Ranger elements we included were four masks that we hung on the wall. The integrity of the design wasn’t forsaken, but the child’s needs were taken into consideration. This is important to do because we also know a child will change his/her preferences dozens of time. One day she wants princesses, the next she wants Care Bears, and the list goes on. You don’t want to go all in, given how often a child changes their mind. I did this with my daughter’s room as well. She wanted rainbows, unicorns and flowers.  We went with rainbows as I can always add a unicorn art print on the wall and change that very easily in the future. I have floral sheets, and if we ever want to update those, that’s easy and inexpensive. A rainbow is relatively classic so that will be our base for the next couple of years. It’s where practical design meets beauty and function.

Modern Boho Rainbow Room

Photography by Jackie Knabben