Design Matters

The fleeting joy of childhood whimsy

by Val Nehez
Posted 5/25/23

Designing rooms for children always presents a rare opportunity to revisit our younger selves and imaginations.

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Design Matters

The fleeting joy of childhood whimsy


Designing rooms for children – whether it’s for our own or for those of our clients – always presents a rare opportunity to revisit our younger selves and imaginations. It’s also a chance to confront the very nature of childhood – and the fact that it will continually evolve. 

My daughter will be leaving for college in August. It seems like only two weeks ago that I was hanging the felt bunting that I bought in Spain over the perfect fleshy peachy color I had custom-mixed for her room. This was before we found Farrow and Ball’s “Setting Plaster.”

And then, in what felt like just a week later, she was painting over my pink with a warm, deep bluish emerald color. She’d chosen Ben Moore “Everard Blue.” In her room now hangs posters of Mac Miller, Tyler the Creator and art from David Shrigley @shrigshop. 

When it comes to kids' rooms, they’re always going to be an ever-changing artistic happening. 

For the Hawthorne Park project on our website, Ulrike Barankay and Erica Delany created the adorable room pictured here with lighting from Petit Pan. This company sells a stunning array of very special bamboo and rice paper “luminaire.” While these dreamlike pieces are designed for kids, many of their pieces would add joy to any room. They also sell gingham sheets and other linens in bright and happy color combinations. The bunk bed is from Oeuf Be Good, a fantastic resource based in Brooklyn. 

Local resources we love in the pursuit of a child’s whimsy include The Nesting House in Chestnut Hill. This store is a beautiful concept. Its lightly used consignment items are the perfect way to change up kids' rooms and recycle what is no longer cherished in your own home.

If you’re heading downtown, three Queen Village shops are worth a look: Moon + Arrow is a great store with a sweet selection of goods for little people, and Brickbat Books has vintage kids' books that will knock you back hard. This store really is an old-school bookstore at its very best. Walter Pine will be the spot for the perfect plant and macrame hanger, because all rooms need a plant! 

While you're down there, we recommend that you grab lunch at Essene, because the vegetarian Korean buffet is delicious. And you may want to stop in at Bus Stop. which has custom-designed shoes made in Italy, because parents still have to look good.

Ali’s Wagon in Fairmount and Minnow Lane in Fishtown both offer great choices for children. And for stuffed animals so cuddly you will want them for your own room, my personal favorite is pucciManuli in Ardmore. 

But remember this: decorating a room is just part of the ride. Enjoy it. Embrace it and have fun, because it won’t last forever. And whatever you do, don’t let it overwhelm you. 

Because if that’s what’s happening, call an expert for help. I’m sure that, like us, they’d love any reason at all to revisit that childhood road. 

Val Nehez is the owner and principal designer at Studio IQL in East Falls, which you can find at and on Instagram at studio_iql or for smaller projects quickandlovely_design.