Susanna Salk on Decorating for Kids

We recently sat down with acclaimed interior designer and lifestyle expert Susanna Salk to talk to her about her book, Room for Children, and to get her advice about designing inspiring and creative spaces for kids. We are very excited to announce that Susanna will also be giving a talk on "Creative Design for Children" followed by a book signing of Room for Children on Thursday April 19th at 7 pm at the Affordable Art Fair, New York. Stay tuned for more information about this event and your chance to win a copy of Room for Children!! (all images from Room for Children, published by Rizzoli)

LC: When designing spaces for children, what are your guiding principles?

SS: Function and whimsy and most importantly how can this existing idea morph down the line when they become older, so that we don't have to start completely over.

LC: How do you design for creativity? What tools or design concepts do you use to create spaces where kids can feel inspired?

SS: Nothing beats painting a magnetic chart board across the wall and adding in lots of colored chalk and magnets so that it can become an ever-evolving art gallery to hang whatever pictures inspire him, not to mention pictures that they've done themselves.

LC: How do you incorporate art into kids' spaces (both by and for kids) and how do you advise hanging it?  What about the rest of the house? Is there a way to celebrate children's creations beyond the fridge?

SS: Yes. Celebrate what they've done by putting art in simple black wood frames and then hanging a collection along a hallway, on the bathroom walls, in the mud room and especially their own rooms. I definitely like the idea of kids' art in a group so that it feels like a curated collection. Then they're both the artist and the curator!

LC: When working with families, how do you negotiate a parent's more sophisticated taste with their child's dream of a hot pink princess bedroom?  Is there a way a parent reconcile their own vision of a room their child can grow into with their child's desires right now?

SS: When a child is young parents obviously have more creative control but as they get older parents need to make way for children's own style and personality. It's a kind of give-and-take process, but it's also very important that parents let children feel that the room is theirs as much it as it is also part of the house overall. A child's room should never feel like a complete style cut-off from the rest of the house; at the same time it should also reflect a child's personality.

LC: Do you have any tips for parents designing on a budget on how to make a creative, inspiring space for less?

SS: You don't need a lot: a wonderful rug, a simple bed with fun sheets, a nice big wall to hang pictures on and lots of great storage!

LC: If you could hang any piece of art over your mantle, be it a Titian or a Jenny Holzer, what would it be?

SS: Vermeer.

About Susanna Salk:

Susanna Salk grew up in Essex, Massachusetts and got her B.A. in English at Vassar College and then moved to Manhattan where she helped launch Elle Decor as Interior Design Manager. She later became a Contributing Editor. In 2003, she joined House and Garden Magazine, where she was, until its closing, Special Projects Editor. Today, Salk appears regularly on NBC’s “Today Show” to discuss design style for the home. She is also a Contributing Editor to 1stdibs.com, and ivillage.com. Salk is the author of Assouline’s “A Privileged Life, Celebrating WASP Style,” as well as “Weekend Retreats” and the bestselling “Room for Children: Stylish Spaces for Sleep and Play,” (both by Rizzoli.) Her latest book—“Home Sweet Home” (Rizzoli, Fall 2011) celebrates the international interiors shot by renowned photographer Oberto Gili.

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