“For a poorly child, a bedroom that brightens their mood
can have a real impact on their wellbeing” – Make-A-Wish
When I first started Rooomy, it was clear to me that getting professionals on board was a top priority. Then whilst exploring all things kid’s interiors on Instagram I came across Talya. A beautiful and talented South African who not only designs kid’s rooms but also does makeovers for Make-A-Wish, amazing!
I’ve long believed that kid’s rooms are their sanctuary. A place of safety, security, fun and imagination - through play, sleep, quiet times, loud times and poorly times. Now imagine how important their room would become should the unthinkable happen, that they become terribly unwell. An unbearable thought, but an inescapable reality for many. The impact the Make a Wish Foundation has is invaluable and hearing about the work they do to create incredible spaces for children, I instantly wanted to do anything I could to support this charity.
Without further ado I will formally introduce you to Talya. When in school Talya struggled to choose between a future in medicine and advertising, at the last-minute chose to study brand management and advertising and she’s so glad she did. After working in many advertising agencies from small to big as an art director, it was during her time with one commercial firm that she discovered interior design. It was here that Talya started to move more and more into interiors and eventually headed up the interior design department in South Africa. In 2013 she was bought over to London to head up the design department here in the UK.
R So Talya, why kid’s rooms? Clearly you know and do so much more, why a focus on children specifically?
T I have worked in the commercial interior space for many years, as well as the private sector, but it was always the kid’s spaces that I loved as there is so much scope for creativity and magic. It’s an incredible journey being part of the design for a newborn’s nursery and I do everything to ensure the families feel as engaged as possible to put their stamp on the space.
R Getting straight to it, everyone I talk to stresses over storage in their kid’s room/s. What are your top tips?
1. There are so many beautiful storage items on the market, that I believe storage can be beautiful and practical
2. Make use of under bed storage that can be pulled out
3. Utilise your walls – adding shelves for books and toys frees up floor space
4. I use storage baskets often in my rooms as they can hide a lot
5. The key is to make storage accessible, if its too difficult to get too it won’t be used
6. I also always encourage regular clean outs, try to keep only what’s necessary in the room
The functionality of the room should always lead the design
R When you interview your smallest clients, what are the key questions you ask them?
T The main aim is to understand how they use their room and what their favourite activities are, so this is the focus when chatting to the kids, and then we talk about what they like and dislike. The functionality of the room should always lead the design.
R Who or what are some of your design inspirations when thinking about kid’s rooms?
T I draw a lot of inspiration from designers in Australia, they have a wonderful design aesthetic over there and are really at the forefront of interior design for kid’s rooms. One of my favourites is Little Liberty
R What makes you stand out among other designers?
T My main aim when starting Kinderoo was to make design more affordable and accessible to a wider range of people. Interior design has for too long been associated with large budgets. I find so many of my clients have great ideas, but they just don’t know how to go about bringing it all together, or lack the confidence, so I see each project as a collaboration rather than me telling you what to do. I want the space to contain the personality of the family and give the client the confidence to make additions to the room in the future. So I feel what sets me apart is the injection of the families personality into the room and the integration of the style of the room into the rest of the home.
R What exciting new projects do you have on the horizon?
T There are a couple on the go but probably the most exciting one is that I’m busy designing my own nursery for a new little arrival in December – of course you are, and it is looking wonderful!
R What mistakes are your clients regularly making with their interiors?
T Being scared of colour and prints. I always say to my clients that creating a white neutral room is one of the hardest designs to get right as it can look empty, it results in you needing a lot more accessories to make the room exciting which increases the overall budget. Just by adding a patterned wallpaper or feature wall in a soft pastel colour can really set the stage for the room.
R How do you stay up to date on kid’s trends? Do trends come in to play as much with kid’s as they might with adults and the rest of the house?
1. There are so many trends within kid’s rooms, mainly when it comes to accessorising. The Scandinavian trend has been a hot trend for a while now, when it comes to accessories some of the big favourites are wooden items, tee-pees, micro lights, animal heads in felt.
2. I always say to my clients not focus too much on trends, as they come and go together with your little one’s change in style as they grow, so if you want to incorporate trends, do them in areas that can be adapted or swapped out easily in time.
3. Instagram - some of the best designs I see come from individuals who just have a knack for design (not professional designers). New Zealand and Australia are in my opinion at the forefront of design for kid’s rooms.
R What have been some of your favourite projects?
T The Make A Wish projects have been some of my favourites, especially the very first one that I did for a little boy called Josh.
R Apart form it being your first project, what is that made Josh’s makeover so special?
T Josh was 11 years old and a remarkable young boy who faces so many daily challenges and yet if you met him you wouldn't even know, as he’s just so positive and happy. He blew me away with his incredible compassion and thoughtfulness and appreciated absolutely every little thing we did for him, nothing went unnoticed with him.
R How long have you been designing for Make-A-Wish? How did that all begin?
T Just over a year now, they approached me to do a room for them up in Nottingham and the one room has just led to another and another.
R What are your most memorable moments from your work with them?
T These projects sit close to my heart as there is nothing more wonderful than seeing these kids, who go through so much daily, be so happy when their rooms are revealed. As before, the one that will always stand out to me though is the very first one I did for Josh. With it being my first room I was so nervous as to what he would think, I wanted it to be perfect for him, but he walked in, had a quick look and came straight over to me and just gave me the biggest, longest hug.
R What is the toughest part when working with children and their families from the charity?
T The rooms have to be designed carefully around their needs, often there is a lot of equipment, lifts or a special bed so it’s imperative to ensure the functionality of the room is priority and then figuring how to design the room around these items which can be challenging at times as you don’t have a blank canvas, but the initial challenge makes the end result even more rewarding.
R I imagine it would be very rewarding, as well as very heart-wrenching, how do you help yourself through the rough times?
T It can be very heart-wrenching, but then I just make sure I work harder to ensure I create the best possible room for them. Budgets are tight, so I do a lot of behind the scenes work speaking to retailers and suppliers to try get the best prices, as this then allows me to do more in the room for them. – This sounds incredible and I hope Rooomy can help support what you are doing for children supported by Make-A-Wish.
There will be a feature of a Make-A-Wish room in each issue of the magazine next year, and with the joy of digital mags there will be direct links available for donating. In the meantime, if you would like to donate a little something, even the smallest donations add up, then please click here.
I spoke with Sarah from Make-A-Wish a few weeks ago and she said the following:
“We've got some wonderful stories that I’d love to share with you of inspiring wish children who’ve dreamt up the most incredible bedroom makeovers together with interior design agencies like Kinderoo. For a poorly child, a bedroom that brightens their mood can have a real impact on their wellbeing, so I’m really glad this is something you recognise and want to shine a light on”
Thanks for reading, if you have any questions for Talya please send them over and we will get back to you.
Next week will be all things Christmas Part II, so get the mulled wine on the hob, if you like it, I can't stand the stuff and would opt for a hot toddy ;o)