Kids are tough customers when it comes to designing a room. They want swings, princesses and Bakugan, massive LEGO stations. You get the picture. Parents want organization and a scheme that goes with the rest of the house. The key to navigating this dilemma is a good designer. Jennifer Ward from Minor Details makes it her mission to outfit the modern family with spaces that invite creativity and play and also look darn sharp. In addition to her design work, she pens one of my favorite blogs--minordetails--it is a weatlth of design ideas and inspiration. Here's more about how Jennifer works her magic.
Tell me a little about your family? My family is pretty dynamic. I have a 5 year old daughter named Parker and we live in a single parent household. I remain very close with her father, who lives blocks away. Most days , our home is filled with music and laughter. I feel extremely blessed to have such a vibrant child.
How do you work out juggling mom duty and designer duty? Thats an interesting question as I don't feel like I have an ordinary situation with both work and home. I am a mom and a designer 24 hours a day! My eyes are always on scan mode. I feel like I am constantly observing my daughter and the environments we visit for inspiration. There are two parts to my job - one is sitting in front of a computer and working on sketches and drawings. The other is hanging out with my little clients, brainstorming creative ideas , installing or fabricating pieces, procurements, and finding inspiration. When the work day ends and it's time for the early evening wind down, you can usually find me at the playground with Parker. She is my guinea pig for a lot of my design choices. I ask her her opinion and include her in most of my work. We went to Paris not too long ago and studied the playgrounds all around the city for research. I really try to fuse both work and family together but as I stated in the beginning, it's not your typical situation!
What is the hardest type of room to design? For me, it's a nursery. It's difficult to create a space for someone whom I've never met. You base the space on the parents interest, direction or personality and hope that it suits the child! However, the art of challenge is what fuels my passion. Don't get me wrong, a nursery is super fun to design!
Where do you find inspiration?I find it everywhere. Color is very important with regard to a child's space. It exists everywhere, which makes my eye notice a striking or bold color in the oddest places. It could be a hint of blue on a shoe box or the muted orange of a brick. I truly get inspired just being around children, observing what they like and how they operate. I also started my blog 2 years ago to serve as my visual library of all the things that inspire me in the world of design for children. I certainly like to seek outside of the box for inspiration. I try to work with my clients on this as well. I ask them to start a folder with inspiration in it. It could be filled with 30 tear sheets of different rooms and I would be able to collect direction and inspiration from that as well.
Where is your office?My current office is in my home. I have a studio in Dumbo Brooklyn but decided to work from home for the summer. We just recently moved into a new home so it's easier to settle and transition with my set-up here. I am looking forward to getting back into the studio soon!
How do you involve your little clients? This is, by far, my favorite part of what I do! I like to meet with the child and see how their current space is set-up. I get on their level, play with them and try to ignite their personality. If they are at a speaking level, I will ask them questions about what they like or to show me their favorite book. Ill bring my paint fan deck and see what colors they gravitate towards. When a little client is a bit older, I usually get taken on a tour of all the things they love and really get to see inside their world! WIth regard to furniture, I try to recommend a location where the piece is so the parent can take their child to test it out before procuring it....making sure the size, color, look (and price) appeals to both little and big client!
Any trends in the kiddie design world that drive you batty? Chunky plastic, corporate branding and primary colors!
What items in a room do you think are splurge-worthy? The really depends on the age of the child. If it's a nursery, I would say splurge on a changing table that turns into a dresser down the line. I tend to shy away from super expensive convertible cribs. This is because once your child grows out of that crib, the parents tend to get tired of seeing the piece and either go the route of a toddler bed or straight to a twin. Splurge on a glider, rocker or chair for yourself to sit in the space. It's just as important to consider grown-ups in the room as well! If the space is for a 2 or 3 year old, I'd say splurge on an activity area. Create an area with a table and chair where they can draw, paint, color, create. Splurging on things like rugs, curtains or lighting is not really practical as those are the things that you can switch out to give the space a mini-face lift.
Where can parents cut-corners/save a but when decorating a kid's room?There are a ton of resources for parents to get great looking pieces at reasonable prices. Etsy and Ikea are great for starters. I would also recommend going to sites like Fawn and Forest, Serena and Lily, Land of Nod and signing up for their newsletter so that you can get notified about sales. If they are just seeking creative direction, they can have someone like me come in for a consultation and then apply the look themselves. You don't have to spend a ton of money to make a room look dynamic. Pops of color from a pillow or piece of art work can really carry a room. Parent's should take a look around the house for that old piece of furniture that could work in the kids room. Here is a good way to give that piece a face-lift and new purpose with very minimal cost.
What questions should parents ask before hiring a designer?They should ask to see their portfolio, ask what types of services they provide, how they charge and work with a budget. I think it's important for a client to have a budget and direction in mind before scheduling that initial meeting. If they are interested in a designer, then do bit a research before hand. Check them out on-line for sure!
Minor Details Design LLC
10 Jay Street Studio 612 A
Brooklyn, New York 11201