Kids Spaces

Kids Spaces

Tom Callawayby Tom Callaway

SUMMER IS HERE AND FOR KIDS it means school’s out, but for the parents of these kids, it means the house is now under attack from grade school play dates, marauding teens hanging out in the yard, the drive way basketball court, or the kid’s bedrooms and game rooms. I, for one, always loved having the kids around, hearing their energy and voices and laughter drift from their rooms.

Club RoomFrom a design perspective, I find it fun, yet challenging to focus on a kid’s living and playing areas. I’ve designed bedrooms, game rooms, club rooms, arts and crafts rooms, and outdoor playhouses for children, trying to put myself in a kid’s shoes, and thinking about what they would find to be fun, unique, and aesthetically cool, but still harmonious to the home’s environment.

Boys RoomOf course bedrooms are an every day, year round experience, so I try to capture each child’s interests and personality in the colors, wall coverings, bed types, and individual uses to make their rooms as personal, useful, and as comfortable as possible.  Most bedrooms include a desk/work table for homework etc. and some sort of shelving to display all the accumulated memories, gifts, and awards that our kid’s endlessly collect. But that’s just the starting point for most kid’s bedrooms.  The walls themselves can be covered in incredible papers or fabrics, or maps, or posters, from pretty and fanciful, to athletic or punk.  Kid’s rooms have become a spot for a child to declare who they are and what they care about.  It’s the one place where I take a 6 to 10 year old’s opinion on design into serious consideration.

Callaway playhouseOutdoor playhouses seem to have a certain life span, maybe 5 to 10 years at the most.  But while they are used, they bring amazing charm and a lot of fun for young girls to play house in a miniature way. In general, boys prefer a playhouse to be more of a climbing and clubhouse adventure, but like adults, it’s becoming more and more blurred, and less stereotypical, what kids of either sex prefer.  Since it takes up a prominent spot in most yards, I like to design a playhouse to be architecturally harmonious with the main house. I’ve designed little English country cottages, small barn-like structures, and fanciful tree houses that delighted the kids and their parents alike. Sometimes I think the fantasy of a playhouse is more the nostalgic desire of an adult than a deep-seated wish of the child.  But it’s always a happy day, when kids and parents alike, first take in the sight of their completed, fantasy playhouse.

Art RoomArts and crafts rooms are becoming more and more popular, probably replacing the sewing room of yesteryear.  But kids, and adults alike, find a designated room for their creative outbursts a great idea for keeping the mess of creativity under wraps in a controlled spot.  I often line the walls in painted cork to make a pin up gallery of the entire space for their completed masterpieces as they come off the worktable. I also like to specify hardwood floors or tile for these areas for easy clean up of spills and splashes.

As this summer passes, I hope these thoughts and photos spark a kid’s oriented design project in your near future.  Have fun!


Tom Callaway is an interior designer and architect, living in Brentwood.

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