Three pretty and playful spaces in area homes designed for kids

These three spaces created for kids are design-forward, fun and full of tips for smart decorating.
little kid in front of a playhouse
Courtesy of Tumbling Sparrow

A Playhouse of One’s Own
As the saying goes, “If you want something done right, do it yourself.” After scouring the internet for the perfect playhouse, Kortnee and Chris Kasten decided the only way to give their two fun-loving daughters, Graycen, 7, and Maisel, 2, their dream space was to build it themselves. As lovers of DIY projects, inspiration came easy for the Kastens, who blended a modern, edgy style with a traditional feel for the backyard build. “We’ve always loved midcentury modern style [so] the A-frame was very ‘us,’ … but also had its traditional playhouse [look] with the big door,” Kortnee Kasten says.

Whether strung with garlands in the wintertime or abloom with flowers in the spring, the playhouse has become a wooden wonderland that lets the girls’ imaginations run wild and creates new memories with friends. “Our driving motivation was keeping it plain and simple inside and out [and] letting them have the ability to do what they want with the space rather than us deciding for them,” she says.

Kortnee Kasten envisions the playhouse will always be a place for them to explore, grow and create. “[It’s] a lot of pressure for one playhouse, but when you really sit down and think about all the ways that something like this — a design object — can serve you, it really does have unlimited possibilities.”

Sugar, Spice and Anything You’d Like

two twin beds in a bedroom with paris-themed wall paper

Photo by Renee Hedberg

If there’s one thing that’s permanent about children, it’s that they’re always changing. While this presents a challenge when it comes to interior design, it’s one of the most inspiring aspects for Renee Hedberg of The Inviting Home, a boutique design company that has been serving the Madison area since 2009. Guided by the idea of sanctuary, Hedberg says her main goal is to design rooms that embody the feeling of home.

Together with Tonia Crary of Crary Construction, Hedberg designed this bedroom with the vision of a feminine space in mind. “Sometimes in a collaboration, you might start with one piece,” she explains. With a Parisian wallpaper setting the stage, Hedberg and Crary brought together items from different trends, including white macramé throw pillows, frilly floral pillows you might find at Grandma’s house and pink boho-inspired fringe bedspreads. Dismissing the fear of decorative clash, they carefully selected pieces that would create a unique, energizing space. “Precisely because you like it, it makes it right regardless of what a trend is,” Hedberg says.

Fresh doesn’t always mean new, either. One detail that pulled the room together was the inclusion of wicker headboards that Hedberg thrifted from a local secondhand store. “[They] did bring in that element of the old, and it’s still useful. We can breathe new life into old pieces,” she says. And while good things might be built to last, Hedberg encourages her clients to free themselves from the pressure of “forever.” Especially when decorating children’s rooms, it always helps to appeal to who the child is at that moment in time. “There’s freedom, actually, in not paying attention to that so much and just designing how you like today. … If it speaks to your heart then it’s good, it’s you, and it creates the space that you’ll feel ‘home’ in.”

Nature’s Cradle

baby room with natural colors and a white dresser

Courtesy of Balkanina Blog

Nina Caviggiola is known for the raw and unfiltered insights on parenting, marriage and home life that she shares through her blog, Balkanina. After her son’s sleek nursery (featuring white, wood, grey and blue elements) went viral on Pinterest, all eyes were on Balkanina to see how she’d design a room for her second child. Her original plan for her daughter’s nursery was to stick with the same neutral tones that made the first one such a hit. But after careful consideration, she thought, “I’m gonna go completely opposite of what I normally would go for.”

Aiming for a “muted girliness” that draws on earth tones, Caviggiola’s vision began with a mural as a feature wall, which has become a go-to in many of the rooms she designs. “[Feature walls] kind of help pull everything together,” she explains. Challenging her usual design instincts, Caviggiola ultimately chose Canadian luxury wall decor company Anewall’s “Honey Bloom” design, which features a bouquet of blush-pink peonies surrounded by colorful wildflowers.

“I love peonies and I loved how bold it was,” she says.

crib with a wall filled with flowers

Courtesy of Balkanina Blog

From there, splashes of Scandinavian design, boho chic, natural wood and gold accents all created an elegant yet playful atmosphere that the Caviggiolas could welcome their daughter into. Guided by her original mood board — layered with woven statement pieces, modern elements and designer touches — Caviggiola crafted a nursery as beautifully diverse as the flowers featured in the mural.

For new parents who might not know where to begin in the decorating process, Caviggiola’s advice is simple: “The best place to start is to think about longevity,” she says. “Think about what can be timeless. If you’re going to do a feature wall, think about how you can use that wall in years to come.”

Rodlyn-mae Banting is a freelance writer and a graduate student at the University of Wisconsin–Madison.