From nurseries to “big girl” rooms, from play palaces to homework havens, these Kansas City families indulge creativity.
Jessie and Alex Blazer share their Brookside home with toddler daughters, ages two and three. Working with a similar color palette in pinks, grays and blue greens, the rooms have a “grow ahead” flexibility — they’re designed for the girls’ future stages.
The “big girl” room is bold and contemporary. “I love the combination of raspberry and turquoise,” says Jessie, “but I couldn’t find anything from Pottery Barn until I saw the teen catalog, and there it was.” The raspberry swivel chair was a custom piece the couple found in New York City; the pink shag rug is from Home Goods.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The Kansas City Star
Likewise, the soft and soothing nursery also has a quick-change mode. The woodland wallpaper is actually a peel-and-stick decal that Jessie found on Etsy. The dreamy white draperies with blackout lining from Pottery Barn Baby assure a good night’s sleep. The cut pile rug is from Alex’s mother. The West Elm ottoman was repurposed from the living room.
“I decorate like I dress myself,” says Blazer. “If you have one nice thing—a handbag or a necklace, for instance—it makes everything else you wear look more expensive and yet your outfit is affordable.”
“Kids’ rooms should evolve,” says Anne Riker Powell, who lives with husband David and their two children—a daughter aged 3 and a son aged 1—in Mission Hills. As their daughter outgrew her blue and coral nursery, they carried the coral through to her new room and kept the blue for her baby brother. The “swans-a-swimming” fabric on the custom shades, suggested by designer and former coworker Natalie O’Shaughnessy, established the color palette.
Anne says she went for “practical playfulness” in both rooms: She saved design splurges for non-contact areas and went inexpensive for rugs (Pottery Barn), the swivel chair (Ballard), sofa (estate sale) and bed linens (Target). Furniture and accessories can be moved from room to room.
A crawl space was converted into a pint-sized playroom for their daughter. “It was so funny to see a grown up man (their carpenter, Pete Collins) working in such a little space, but this little room makes me happy,” Anne says. She also likes the Jack and Jill bath, kept just as the previous owners designed it. “They had a boy and a girl and so do we; it’s like another generation of happy family.”
“I don’t believe in themes like Batman or Cinderella for kids’ rooms,” says Libby Sullivan, who lives with husband Brady and their four sons—ages 4, 6, 7, and 9—in Old Leawood. “I believe in color as a theme because kids outgrow cartoons and Disney really fast. With color as a theme, you can move things around as kids get older.“ The main floor of the Sullivans home is a sea of greens, so it made sense to carry the scheme into the kids’ rooms, tempered with blue, orange, and yellow.
In the basement playroom, fun meets function. Three banks of Costco cubbies hold all the little figures boys collect, from dinosaurs to Paw Patrol. The boys’ art hangs from wire clothesline-style IKEA curtain rods. The flooring is sensible yet good-looking indoor/outdoor sisal that can be cleaned easily. Custom white cabinetry holds games and toys.
At the top of the stairs, a landing area doubles as a homework and reading space. Libby found the industrial letters at a garage sale. Custom cubbies in the mudroom hold backpacks, athletic gear, shoes and boots so mornings go smoother.
“I love fabric,” Libby says, especially from design houses like Cowtan & Tout, Lulu DK, and Scalamandre. “The more textures, the more fun. But I use designer fabric wisely on throw pillows and basket covers that don’t get hard use. I go for inexpensive bedding. I learned the hard way after my son got Silly Putty all over his custom duvet cover.”
Mixing in family pieces, from Libby’s childhood iron bed to the toile pillows from her parents, highlights the joy of a new generation. A big wall map on the staircase has stars marking all the places “where we have family,” Libby says.
With three children — a 5-year-old daughter, and two sons aged 3 years and 3 months — Katie and Jay Longhauser designed a house that works with them. The ground floor of their Overland Park home features shades of gray, so they designed the children’s rooms to blend, making it easier to move furniture and décor around.
For their daughter’s room, a muted lavender on the walls plays well with peach, yellow, and turquoise in the custom floral print bedspread and reading nook cushions. “When I went to Australia, we got the map so our daughter could see where mommy was,” Katie says. The name letters are from Anthropologie.
A blue chevron rug from West Elm and a colorful ottoman from Etsy set the tone in the nursery, while playful animal heads also from Etsy add a touch of whimsy. In the playroom, Katie and Jay used magnetized chalkboard paint for a DIY project on one wall. “I think you can have functional and pretty in kids’ rooms and not break the bank,” says Katie.