Design — 02 May 2014
Designing a child’s room to outlast childhood

By Charlyne Varkonyi Schaub

The excitement of having a baby can send your mind spinning with decorating options. Should you go for the cutesy baby theme with painted balloons and rainbows? How about adorable cartoon character bedding with matching wallpaper? Or is the best option a room that grows with your child?

Four designers we interviewed agree on the last option: If you create a quality and sophisticated décor, it can last for years.

Designer: Joseph Fava

Photographer: Kim Sargent

“Clients expecting their first child are more apt to have us design a nursery for the newborn,” Joseph Fava says. “As the number of children progresses, they will ask us to design a room starting out as a nursery that is not too babyish, so it can evolve with the child.”

One of Fava’s best examples is a boy’s room he designed for a couple in Jupiter. The 400-square-foot room features an oceanic mural on four walls painted by Bari Axelband of Jupiter. A custom rug repeats the sea theme. The baby started out in a sleigh-style crib that was replaced with a queen-sized bed. The wall unit includes a desk, plenty of storage and a window seat for the future. Just bedding and accessories need to be updated.

Clients in Sanibel wanted a contemporary child’s room with bold colors and room for sleepovers for their two girls. A built-in wall unit has four beds that can be hidden. The room also includes a king-sized bed. A desk pulls down when two of the beds aren’t in use. Bedding inspired the bright orange, yellow and hot-pink color scheme with a green countertop.

“Definitely you want your design to be current and relevant,” Fava says. “Color is important. Yellow, red and blue are great to stimulate a child at an early age. Think how your concept or theme will evolve. If it is something very specific and very young, you may have a dilemma when the child is older and has an opinion.”

Designer: Kendall Marcelle

Photographer: John Stillman
and Joseph Lapeyra

“We always take the future into consideration,” Kendall Marcelle says. “It can be simply a crib that converts into a youth bed, or we just paint the walls. Start with a great color and keep in mind that it’s only paint.”

Marcelle says she tries to keep the furniture more mature. She does a lot of custom built-ins, such as the room she designed with bunk beds in an Aventura condo when the children were 3 and 5. The bed on the lower left, which is now used for sleepovers, can be removed and replaced with a desk. The circle design on the vinyl floor can be removed and updated as the children age.

The pink bedroom in a Hallandale Beach vacation home can sleep seven, but it was designed for girls who are now 5, 7 and 11. They each have their own dresser. The bedding and art can be changed, and the trundle beds can become storage.

The girls share a playroom with a large sectional sofa that seats seven, a flat-screen TV and a built-in that wraps around the room. The colored glass squares and rectangle inserts can be replaced and updated. The wall decor is a canvas transfer of the girls’ photos reminiscent of Andy Warhol’s pop art.

“We try to get kids involved if they are old enough to have opinions,” Marcelle says. “If the kids are involved it becomes more important to them.”


Designer: Jeff Einhorn

Photographer: Robert Brantley

“I always design a child’s room for the time when they are not a baby anymore,” Jeff Einhorn says. “When they get older they don’t want anything that appears babyish.”

This philosophy is exemplified in a room he did in a Sunny Isles condo for a 3-year-old boy. Einhorn used bold stripes rather than animals or juvenile wall coverings. The wall treatment is easy to duplicate using painters’ tape to create the different colored stripes.

“You can get a custom look on a Home Depot or Lowe’s budget,” he says. “Any family can do the wall with very little money.”

Parents rarely want twin beds except in very small rooms. The new normal is a full- or queen-sized bed like he used in this room. The bench at the foot of the bed was cut down so the small child could easily climb into the bed.

The table and chairs are child-sized but can be replaced as the child grows. Einhorn made sure the closet had drawers and adjustable racks so the child could reach them. He also designed deep drawers, like those for pots in a kitchen, for toy storage.

“The sliding-glass doors have electric shades to provide room darkening,” Einhorn says. “This helps, because children often sleep longer. A second shade provides light filtering mesh during the day.”


Designer: Margaret Kaywell

Photographer: Robert Brantley

Margaret Kaywell always asks how the space is going to be used. Does the child need a desk, or is he or she going to study at the kitchen island? Do they want a trundle bed for sleepovers?

The room she designed for a 4-year-old West Palm Beach girl was pink, the child’s favorite color, but it has an air of sophistication when used in a brighter shade. The fabrics on the full-sized bed are more grown-up – stripes, paisley and polka dots.

“It is not Winnie the Pooh or roses,” Kaywell says. I didn’t want it to look thematic. The room could fit any age. The art is botanical birds. I think kids like to see their name or initials on the wall.”

A large armoire is used for toy storage, and there is a wall of closets.

“The room was meant to change the accessories and keep the room growing with the child,” she says. “If she gets into glam as an older teen, the light can be changed to a crystal chandelier.”



Jeff Einhorn
Offices in New York City and Fort Lauderdale, 917-566-8008,

Joseph Fava
 Fava Design Group, 7636 NE Fourth Court, #103, Miami, 786-536-5380,

Margaret Kaywell
 Kaywell Interiors, P.O. Box 411,
Palm Beach, 561-632-0405,

Kendall Marcelle
Kendall Marcelle Design Associates, 1211 Stirling Road, Suite 110,
Dania Beach, 954-367-6170,


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