i admit it. Theme rooms aren’t my favorite. Whether for adults, teens or children, I typically cringe when I witness the perpetual homage to chickens in the kitchen or a fairy princess wonderland in a little girl’s room.
It’s one thing to have a few themed elements to tie a room together, but when a room turns into a “pink nightmare” (to steal a phrase from an old movie favorite of mine), I pretty much back out quickly.
So, here’s the thing. I was asked to review a book on theme rooms for kids. Maybe I wasn’t the best choice for this particular assignment, but I am also one for making lemons out of lemonade. So, let’s take a look at the book, Kid’s Décor: Interior Inspirations, Infants through Teens by Tina Skinner, and then let’s also look at some real-life triumphs.
The biggest problem with Skinner’s book is that the photography just isn’t that great. Plus, the book’s design does not set the images off properly. You will frequently find an image tucked into the gutter of the book, while a large gap of white space on the same page is filled with a cheap kiddie icon to remind us all that we are looking at kid stuff. Plus, some of the images have people in them—a real no-no. When clients look at images for ideas, they need to be able to project themselves into that room. If there’s a guy with a cheesy mustache reading a comic book to “his kid,” the point isn’t going to get across half as well.
Anyway, toward the beginning of the book there are three room plans with full construction details on how to build Princess, Jungle and Formula One rooms. These are very involved and detailed plans—certainly not for the faint at heart. Otherwise, chapters are set up for girls and boys, for playrooms and for child guests. I think it would have been helpful to have a section on how to make choices that will grow with a child; and it would have helped address the teen crowd, which the title alludes to but really doesn’t support. So, I give this book thumbs down.
One more thing: The book copy claims that it contains over 200 inspiring designer rooms, but in looking at the photo suppliers and credits, most appear to be canned room sets, supplied by manufacturing companies. I don’t find many of the rooms interesting or inspiring; mostly garish and overcrowded.
The best theme rooms don’t overdo the concept, but place beloved items in strategic areas to convey the feeling. Remember, too, that while your child may love pirates or baseball or fairies, limiting their interests is also . . . well, not in their best interest. As soccer supercedes baseball or a favorite vacation memento becomes as important as a Cabbage Patch Kids doll collection, be sure to leave room for growth. By filling rooms with a single theme, you leave no room for anything else.
Let’s look at a few images from designers from Interiors By Decorating Den. The child-friendly details selected convey a concept, but leave room for new interests, as well as foster the inevitable march from childhood to preteen to teen.
Kathleen Stoehr is president of Chemistry Creative, based in Minneapolis, MN. She is a former editor-in-chief of Window Fashions magazine and is the author Dream Floors, Hundreds of Ideas for Every Type of Floor, and Dream Windows: Historical Perspectives, Classic Designs, Contemporary Creations. Stoehr can be contacted for comments, queries and trend information at email@example.com