In the unprecedented time of Covid-19, children and teens have had to adapt to a difficult and dramatic new reality: A world without socializing or playdates, of schooling through a screen, and of sheltering-in-place. To help fend off the monotony, families are seeking help from designers to enliven and rethink kids’ spaces. Eva Bradley and Alicia Cheung Lichtenstein, co-founders of San Francisco interior design firm studioHEIMAT, are finding upgrades to children’s rooms at the top of clients’ lists. Known for vibrant, modern residential, commercial, and hospitality spaces, Lichtenstein and Bradley—who both previously worked with tastemaker Ken Fulk—are channeling their charismatic style into creative spaces for kids. Here, they share their insights on easing life for the littles.
studioHEIMAT’s design for a Palo Alto teen’s bedroom incorporates zones for sleeping, lounging, reading, and creative work. Photos by John Merkl.
Would you share your approach to creating more than one experience or “reality” in a child’s room to help combat feelings of sameness?
EVA: Loft concepts are one way to make different zones. We’re currently devising a custom bunk-bed-like piece to go in a client’s playroom. The bottom level functions as a gaming lounge, and the top is for Legos, so each kid can claim a space.
ALICIA: Rethinking furniture selections is also helpful. A recent teenage client desperately wanted a vanity in her room, but she also needed a desk. We compromised by adding a bistro-height table that’s appropriate for study but is still loungy and cool.
How do you accommodate multiple children, or kids and adults, who are trying to work in one room?
ALICIA: Outsize, extra-long work surfaces that allow for co-desking are big now. They’re good for little children who need help with their Zoom lessons or an older child’s occasional tutoring session.
EVA: Modular screens or curtains can help define turf and harness focus, and fabric absorbs sound and won’t block light.
Modularity also seems to rule the day. Would you agree?
EVA: Yes, we’ve designed several kids’ rooms where key furnishings are on casters, so the space can be easily reconfigured for exercising, hobbies, or hanging out.
ALICIA: Modular storage that’s easy to handle and clearly labeled allows younger kids to move through activities one at a time, with less supervision. They can be their own bosses.
What quick, high impact changes can be made to kids’ rooms?
ALICIA: I believe kids should be able to make changes to their environments themselves. Cork panels, pegboard, and fabric-covered pinboards are easy ways to maintain changing displays of objects, drawings, and pictures of friends.
Is it more challenging to work with teens? They can be tough critics.
ALICIA: No! We loved creating a French-inspired bedroom for a 15-year-old in Palo Alto. She knew exactly what she wanted; we answered with lots of gold detail, blush-colored velvet, and sophisticated furniture.
EVA: We also enlisted a local artisan to customize a duvet with hand-painted shapes that appealed to her. It’s fun to get kids of any age involved in the design process.