When designing for keiki, make the process easy by keeping the area age-appropriate and true to their personalities

My favorite rooms to decorate are powder rooms and kids’ rooms, because you can let your imagination go wild — and trust me, my imagination loves that! Currently I’m designing rooms for six kids from 6 to 14 years old. Oh! I almost forgot a seventh: my daughter, Nicki, since we’re moving, and believe me, she’s the most demanding client of all!

To give you some ideas on how to design a room your own kids will love to play and grow up in, I’m going to talk about the bedroom I designed for Nicki a few years ago. But first, some general tips.

Tip 1. Consider the child’s age


Obviously, the look and feel of a 6-year-old’s room will be very different from a 14-year-old’s. Except for nurseries, try not to design a space that’s too young. They’ll quickly grow tired of fairy tales and dinosaurs. But the principles for all kids’ rooms are the same — functionality, storage, color scheme and whether the child will be mostly sleeping and playing there or whether he or she will need a desk and bookshelves for study as well.

Tip 2. Your child’s personality is key

What’s going to make them a happy camper who will love the space and feel secure, happy and motivated in it? What features will make this truly their sanctuary?

Tip 3. Decide on a focal point

Is it the furniture or something on the walls? If it’s a mural or amazing wallpaper or wall applications, keep your furniture a bit more simple. And obviously, the opposite applies.

Tip 4. Plan it together

Children ages 5 and older should have some input in the design of their room. It’s a great bonding experience. Need some great places to find inspiration? If they’re old enough, have them Google “great kids rooms” or “teenage rooms” and look at them together.


In Nicki’s case, her bedroom was more of a hangout and sleeping space; homework was done elsewhere. Her favorite color at the time was pink. The theme we were going for was rock ‘n roll princess. I wanted the wallpaper to be the focal point, and I knew this was a room she could grow up in and that would be easy to update by replacing the bunk bed with a more grown-up bed.

You can easily duplicate this look with pink paint and bedding that has a zebra pattern. A great affordable option to add texture to the walls is wall clings, which are removable wall applications that can be found online.

Another great option for walls is Fathead.com, where you can take pictures of your child and have them blown up into custom vinyl murals. Houzz.com also has lots of great ideas for kids’ rooms.

Kids love looking at themselves, so create your own art by taking pictures of them and turning them into life-size works of art. There are even apps that let you turn their faces into caricatures or what looks like crayon art. Kids also love to see their names displayed. Stencil their names on the wall or embroider their names on pillows. Personalize the space so they relate to it as their haven.


There are so many fun, creative options out there. You’d be amazed at how many ideas your child has and how much they want to be a part of this process.

Cathy Lee is president and designer of Cathy Lee Style and Cathy’s Marketplace, a furniture and accessories showroom with design services at 1110 University Ave. She recently opened reStyle Hawaii, an affordable, style-conscious consignment warehouse with upholstering and repurposing services at 420 Keawe St. To find out more, go to www.cathyleestyle.com.