Apartment Therapy Complete and Happy Home (2015)
living in your home
Michelle + Dave Kohanzo
CEO, Land of Nod + Banker
daughter, Emily + sons Connor, Henry, Everett
a bedroom built for three
Michelle + Dave Kohanzo
CEO, Land of Nod + Banker
daughter, Emily + sons Connor, Henry, Everett
Epic bed-jumping battles are an everyday occurrence for three growing boys sharing one just-big-enough bedroom. When their family went from three to six in a few short years, these homeowners quickly converted what was once the media room into a camp-themed retreat.
The fun, summer-cabin vibe combines vintage finds with sturdy new pieces in a space that’s made for roughhousing. Old maps from National Geographic magazines were stuck to the wall with wallpaper paste (and feature a few “hand-drawn” street additions). Camp-y checked curtains flank the windows, and quirky wooden fish trophies hang on the walls. A bag of marshmallows (clearly intended for a midnight snack) was even uncovered, stashed behind a row of books on a shelf.
In shared rooms like this, property disputes are the biggest issue, and there’s only one surefire solution: give each kid a space of his own. Three equally sized twin beds line the wall (one vintage bed frame and a set of bunk beds that’s been split in two). Each boy has a personalized pillow and designated drawer space, as well. “Hey, that’s mine,” still gets shouted—but, thankfully, not quite as often.
SPACE SEPARATION. These beds are lined up as close as can be, but smart visual cues—gathered curtains, varied bedding, and stuffed pals—help them appear more distinct.
A DIRECTIONAL PALETTE. Covering a whole room in dozens of maps runs the risk of being busy, so Michelle echoed their soft greens, browns, and blues in the rest of the space.
IN-ROOM ESCAPE HATCH. Sometimes even the most social people need peace and quiet, so tucked behind the half-wall (under the pendant flags) is a tiny reading nook.
the pretty-in-pink bedroom
Mary + Lou Castelli
Mother + Private Equity Manager
daughter, Sienna + sons Colton, Rex, Bo
Some girls just really want some bubble-gum pink in their bedrooms—and this one delivers a whole wall of it. Letting your kids pick the color of their rooms can be a double-edged sword. On the one hand, it gets them involved in and excited about the creative design process; on the other, they could pick chartreuse.
This little girl’s bedroom delivered the bright pink pop she wanted, but it also has a level of restraint and humor. In theory, if you take away all the pink and pattern, this is a very formal space, balanced with an ornate headboard centered between two windows. But once you absorb the single wall of graphic pink scrolling pattern, the whole room takes on a more playful tone. In lieu of artwork, the Roman shades feature cartoonish sketches of European street scenes, which work nicely with the black design in the wallpaper.
You see restraint in the remainder of the room. The rest of the walls are painted a simple, semigloss white; the floor is covered in neutral wall-to-wall carpet; and the bedding, too, is white. This keeps the space from becoming too busy, while an excited little lady gets to decorate her first “big-girl room.”
STRAIGHT FROM THE FUNNY PAGES. The sketches on these amazing, graphic shades are by Saul Steinberg, a famous cartoonist for The New Yorker. The print, called “Views of Paris,” dates back to the 1950s.
A PLACE TO PERCH. Original built-in cabinets, which include a desk and bookshelf, add some much-needed functionality to this minimally furnished room (when they’re not being used as an indoor jungle gym).
the superhero bedroom
Eric Oliver + Thea Goodman
Professor + Author
daughter, Esme + son, Ethan
This boy’s bedroom in Chicago is a collection of all that he holds most dear, including an army of furry little friends and a wall’s worth of superhero decals. But his parents have wisely helped curate everything to feel sweet and boyish—and not overly cluttered.
There’s a fine line between having lots of toys and having an explosion of toys. Staying ahead of the chaos when children are constantly falling in love with a new favorite can prove really hard. A good rule of thumb: stick to a strict number of stuffed animals, books, etc., that they’re allowed to keep. Getting something new means donating something old. It’s a helpful lesson to learn early on.
As a backdrop to all the playtime goodies, the room is painted a soft, light-bouncing blue, which is picked up in the small chairs and cotton rug—pulling everything together a little bit more. And while a dramatic image of Batman rises up over the bed, it is comforting to note that children have many sides, and their rooms show this. They are just as likely to be a superhero in the afternoon as they are to curl up like a baby with a furry yellow duck at bedtime.
GENIUS AT WORK. It’s a fantastic idea to give kids dedicated space to do their version of “work.” As a bonus, this small-scale table and chairs don’t take up too much space.
ROOM TO GROW. This cheerful room belongs to a small child now, but with a few simple style tweaks—updating the airplane bedding, losing the toys—it could just as easily belong to a teenager.
the sophisticated nursery
Jessica + Scott Davis
Designer, Nest Studio + Marketing
son, Bryan + daughter, Lucy
This petite nursery beautifully demonstrates how to successfully pull off a feminine palette and use pink in a way that isn’t overly girly.
The pink in question is more of a muted salmon. Layering in soft gray-green walls and an earthy, rusty brown rug helps take the edge off. Strips of yellow (on the curtains, above the crib, and in the artwork) trim the space, further breaking up the girlish moments. A brighter pink, or a pink-and-white-only palette, would not be quite so refined.
Aside from blocking light and absorbing sound, thickly lined blackout curtains lengthen the walls of this tiny room with their strong, vertical pattern. The Moroccan glass light fixture pops with contrast, another grown-up choice, as is the Eames lounger, looking refreshingly out of place as a nursing chair.
Artwork finishes the space. Like the rest of the decor, the collection is a slightly more polished version of what you’d expect to see in a nursery. It’s important to remember that in the beginning, you’ll be spending just as much time in this room as your little one, so you should pick things you, too, will enjoy looking at.
BABY IKAT. The super-stylish pink pattern on these curtains is an ikat, which comes from the Malaysian word “mengikat” meaning “to tie.” It has the lovely feeling of not being printed but woven from dyed thread.
GROUP SHOW. Gallery walls visually work as one large piece of art but can be tricky to hang (see chapter 9 for advice). Start by arranging each piece on the floor until you’re happy with the overall grouping, then hang it on the wall.
the busy-princess retreat
NEW YORK CITY
Apartment Therapy Founder
Every kid needs a place to sleep and a place to play. But all that action can’t always be confined to one bedroom—especially in tight New York City apartments. This creative “kid zone” is made of two small connecting spaces: one dedicated to play, another to bedtime.
A custom-made bed is the center of attention in the calm, clutter-free part of the actual bedroom. It was designed to fit perfectly into the narrow space (not a precious inch gets wasted), nestling neatly beneath the window ledge with lots of built-in storage underneath. A gauzy canopy highlights the tall ceiling, while the double headboard makes the colorful nook feel grander than it really is.
Just outside the bedroom is an alcove dedicated to nothing but play. Its “work area” has a place for music, a spot for reading, and arts and crafts projects galore. The kid-height desk takes up an entire wall, meaning she can have multiple projects going at once. Above it sits a stunning vintage mirror. An extra-long row of corkboards acts as a gallery wall for showing off finished work, while the three mounted bookshelves above provide ample storage without taking up precious floor space.
STAND-IN NIGHTSTAND. In lieu of a side table, which there wasn’t space for, a nightlight was mounted to the wall and a wide window shelf was used to hold books.
ORANGE SLICE. This desk is actually a solid wood IKEA countertop that’s been cut to size and covered with three coats of Farrow & Ball high-gloss paint.
SECOND LIVES. The beautiful, arched mirror that grounds this craft nook was once a church window. Maxwell found it at one of his favorite vintage stores, Bobo Intriguing Objects in Atlanta.
the tree-house bedroom
EAST HAMPTON, NY
Christiane Lemieux + Joshua Young
Founder, DwellStudio + Real Estate Developer
daughter, Isabelle + son, William
The coziness and creativity of this built-in corner bunk bed is to die for. Designed by the homeowners, it makes great use of a small space, easily expanding from two snoozing residents to four during sleepovers.
Installing a traditional bunk bed here would have wasted a lot of space—and provided plenty of opportunity for books, toys, and clothes to slip down the back of the bed (a.k.a. the land of lost things). This bed is made of common lumber and is attached directly to the wall with built-in safety rails, which double as blanket holders for building epic forts in the bottom bunk.
Lighting is the one major concern with putting a bed this big in a room this small. Bunk beds can overwhelm a space and block light. The many upper windows let in tons of sunlight, while the pastel colors keep things nice and airy. Thanks to all the forest and owl prints, there is a sense of being up in the trees. A sky blue ceiling completes the tree-house theme, and a golden, laser-cut Tord Boontje Tangle Light hangs from the center of the space, providing sparkling “stars” at night.
HAVING A HOOT. The generous, lively pattern on this bedding and matching curtains is from DwellStudio (the owner’s company); the print has been expertly balanced with a double dose of stripes on the sheets and pillowcases.
BOX IT UP. Literally called “Toy Store,” this innovative storage unit from Oeuf tucks neatly in the corner, mimics a store display, and makes pulling out toys (and putting them away) a cinch.
the lego lair
Brenda + David Bergen
Graphic Designer + Digital Media Consultant
This sunny, window-walled bedroom is all play, all the time. Every surface is bursting with treasures: amazing LEGO structures, a cello, lots of books, even a flying pirate ship. To make room for this much fun, the owners slid a loft bed/desk combination neatly into a corner, keeping the floor open for the next traffic jam, dragon battle, or castle construction project.
Any parent will tell you that the key to keeping a room this full of toys from slipping into chaos is storage—and this space is full of good-looking solutions. A set of under-the-desk drawers (one for school and art supplies, another for LEGO pieces) keeps the desk clutter-free. Open shelves along the side of the bed hold books and showcase finished projects, and the window wall is lined with big felt bins and an ultralow bench with lots of cubbies. The genius of these low-sitting catchalls is that toys can be dumped out, played with, and put away without your little one ever having to leave the floor.
Remember, a toy tornado can happen in minutes, but if you make putting things away as easy as pulling them out—the damage can be reversed in the same amount of time.
COLOR BLOCKING. White walls in a kids’ room make sense; their “stuff” is pretty vibrant. But adding some solid swipes of color on top—like these red blinds and purple toy bins—keeps things fun.
CLEARLY ORGANIZED. See-through storage helps to keep toys visible but neatly tucked away—so “inspector mom” isn’t called in every time a favorite plaything goes missing.
DISPLAY DIORAMAS. As any LEGO-lover can tell you, it takes a while to build these super structures, so having somewhere to admire them is a welcome plus.
her highness’s alcove
Ruthie Sommers + Luke McDonough
Interior Designer + CEO, AirMedia
daughters Eloise, Bailey, Posey
It’s hard to believe, but the dreamy princess retreat you see here used to be a boring old laundry room. It was transformed with a custom mattress (shorter than a twin) and an immense canopy that envelops the whole thing.
This is a nice example of working a very large-scale object into a very small-scale room. The effect is wildly luxurious despite the limited space. What you see here is the whole shebang: a bed, a small dresser, and a lamp. There’s no extra square footage hiding off camera. As a result, this one amazing element becomes the big event.
When you dissect it, the canopy is simply thick, upholstered valances attached to the ceiling and heavy curtains that hang to the floor. From the outside, the fabric is solid pink, but inside, layered patterns draw you in, emphasizing the intimacy of the tiny tentlike bed.
While this is a richly done faux four-poster bed in a window, you can create something similar on any budget. The main detail to get right: attach your canopy and curtains to the ceiling (or walls) so that they fill the space and seem like a continuation of the mattress below.
TAKING SHAPE. On top of the expertly layered patterns, there are expertly layered shapes (the scalloped valance, the stacked circle lamp, and the raised-front dresser drawers) that elevate the dimension of the small space even more.
FIVE DEEP. Most designers would recommend sticking with two or three fabrics in a room—this one has five. It works because the simple prints and edited color scheme keep the individual fabrics from competing.