Tips on Decorating Children`s Rooms — Larisa Belenitsky on Room Design for Kids

By Sarah Van Arsdale on January 4th, 2010

In recent years, as the economy has boomed, one sector of the interior design industry has enjoyed a remarkable explosion: products for babies and kids to use when decorating children's rooms. We at NYIAD are here to help you figure out how to wade through all that's out there when you're decorating kid's rooms to create a place that's just right for your child or for the child's room of your client.

Larisa Belenitsky on Room Design for Kids

The following is an interview with Larisa Belenitsky founder of the workspace Solomonic Couture in NYC.

How would you describe your philosophy of your design work, both in terms of general design and specifically in designing for kids?

I have always had a passion for design and creation and I was always good in making things with my hands like ceramics, decorative trees from Norwegian moss, draperies, pillows, bedding, soft toys for babies and kids and even hand-knit clothes.

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I opened my designer's workroom right after 9/11 focusing on making couture for the home: drapes, shades and pillows. Later I hired a few great people to help me and extend services by making cushions, upholstery, slipcovers, tablecloth, etc. My clients are mostly boutique stores and interior designers.

Recently I have designed several spaces myself, first for my friends, than for friends of my friends, and recently for several clients. My philosophy is not to impose my point of view on the clients, but to encourage and help them realize and express their unique individual preferences and opinions. I take the clients' vision, taste and style to create a well balanced space; working as a lens, as interpreter for my client lifestyle preferences. Did you have that strange feeling being in a beautifully designed room and wanting just to go home to your comfort zone? This is what I am trying to avoid. I enjoy the process of helping people to find their artistic style and make their spaces unique and real, to help them relax, feel safe and comfortable and enjoy surroundings.

Room design for children is even more challenging, since the child's room should have components of the living room, bedroom, TV room, guest room, play room, and office, all at the same time. Also, the room have to be color perfect for particular boy or girl. Usually, when I interview parents I ask the child to draw me a picture and I watch how the child plays, where he stays and how he or she uses the space. This gives me some understanding about colors and some of the child's preferences, which I have to incorporate with parent's style and taste. It makes the job more difficult but very interesting and challenging.

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What trends are you seeing for the coming year in decorating for kids,and in decorating nurseries?

All nurseries are being built around the crib. The crib has to be easy for breathing and absolutely safe. The room itself doesn't have to be big, but warm and comfortable for the parents and the baby. The room doesn't need any extra furniture, additional to crib only changing table, arm chair for the parent and maybe ottoman, few pictures, a rug, and an assortment of toy pillows with maybe animals and letters. The windows need blackout drapes or shades for better and easier light control.

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For older children, it is a different story. The room has to express their attitude and personality. The room has to be comfortable, educational and safe. Sometimes when I visit design show houses with stylish children rooms with steps and a lot of antique items that the child will never play with and never use, I think that parents would never leave a real child there. So, I am seeing that both kids' rooms and nurseries designs will focus more on safety and education.

Are particular colors coming in vogue in kids' design?

Right now, I have a project for a nursery and I am going to use aqua, off white, lilac and pale lime colors. We will also be making several animal pillows in purple and hot pink. In another project for a five-year-old boy, I am planning to use silver with some gray-blues and accents in chocolate and camel colors. Since the boy is fascinated with mirrors and birds, we are going to add some pictures and pillows with bright birds that will bring accent colors to the room.

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What drew you to the NYIAD Course?

As I mentioned, I have a designers' workroom in Chelsea, New York. We make everything you can imagine from fabric. Majority of my clients are designers and I want to understand them and their jobs better and I want to help them more. Also, I love to design myself, especially rooms for babies and children. I am trying to expand my knowledge, understanding, and expertise in the design as much as I can. Since I have full time responsibilities, I searched for a reputable school where I can study at time that won't interfere with my business. NYIAD school is exactly what I was looking for. I started recently, but I already can use the things I learned from the very first unit. The business course is very helpful the practice with drawing the design space is great. Also, I find the questionnaires to be very useful, and I really like the website. You can learn a lot by communicating with students and studying cases.

What's the story behind "Platinum Baby"? How did you manage to get your work on the show?

Actually, I started working with that client by making drapes for her living room and master bedroom. Then my client came to me when she was pregnant and said that she wanted to design the baby room around the animal shaped rug in hot pink and chocolate. In my studio, I have an oval baby crib I use to test all crib sets on; she liked it and bought the same one, along with a changing table. We decided to go with off white walls, hot pink bumper, light pink and white bedding, a chocolate crib skirt with pink banding and hot pink blackout drapes with chocolate banding. I also made all kinds of pillows with 3D animal designs and hanging toys in matching colors. We even made the baby's first album using the same fabrics. The scones with base shaped as giraffe were chosen, some soft toys were made - and the room was ready for the baby. My client wanted to showcase our work as well as to tell the story of her pregnancy, sharing all the information from health classes she took. Her story was chosen to be on the show "Platinum Baby" on December 4th, 2009.

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Currently, I am working on a very big renovation project for charitable, community-owned, nonprofit living and health facility for children with special needs. This place is recognized as one of the top centers of Preventive Psychiatry and Family Services in the United States. This project is absolutely different from anything I have done before. Initially, I wanted to design each room in a different theme, such as a safari room, travel room or a room based on a theme from children's books.. However I was advised differently by psychiatrists of that facility. The installation is planned for the end of January; I'll be happy to share final pictures with you.