Glamorous spaces with more than a touch of moody luxe are what Nicole Hollis is best known for. The San Francisco–based interior designer has worked on everything from sleek Pacific Heights residences to Wine Country tasting rooms outfitted with Philippe Starck. (See her recent work on Seattle’s Palladian hotel here.) But when a professional couple in Atherton, California, contacted her firm to create imagination-filled bedrooms for their three young daughters, Hollis and her director of residential design, Adele Dalby, were ready to have a little fun.
“They have great taste and wanted to go for it,” says Hollis of her clients, who had previously lived in London and New York. The directive was “brighter, brighter, brighter! They really wanted strong color.” But rather than conjuring up trendy, overly themed spaces with a limited shelf life, Hollis and Dalby astutely balanced classicism with whimsy, solid structural pieces with fantastical elements that expressed each girl’s individual tastes. “My philosophy is that kids' rooms should be as well considered as every other room in the house. Children love design too,” says Hollis. Here’s how she pulled it off—in a mere five months from initial meeting to installation.
THE OMBRE ROOM
A custom hand-painted wall finish by a local artisan is the standout feature in the space belonging to the 10-year-old daughter. “Since she is a little more reserved and sophisticated, we felt this elegant wall treatment complemented her personality,” explains Hollis. The bed, a custom design upholstered in Manuel Canovas hot-pink linen, and an ebullient area rug by Anthropologie are tempered by a built-in desk and dresser accented with agate drawer pulls. “Although brilliant color is a constant throughout the design, so is white,” says Hollis. “That creates a appropriate canvas for any future subtle changes in the girls’ tastes.”
Storage solutions are key in any kid-focused space. For this room, Blu Dot’s Shilf Shelving and fuchsia Pandan Bins from Serena & Lily serve to display books and corral toys. Ikat throw pillows in China Seas fabric and a hanging chair from Nautica Home bring a bit of boho into the mix.
THE GIRAFFE ROOM
“The youngest is a preschooler—recently potty trained and ready for a ‘big girl’ bed,” says Hollis of this room’s resident. She and Dalby chose Room & Board’s four-poster Architecture Bed as the defining element. “Scale is extremely important, even in a more intimate, personal space like a bedroom,” she explains. Pattern also comes into play in a major way, as evidenced by Timorous Beasties’ Fresco wallpaper—a wonderfully unexpected choice for a three-year-old’s lair—and custom Roman shades in Rose Cumming’s Antibes Blue. A kid-size seating area is created by a pair of Panton Junior chairs around a vintage-inspired spool-shaped table by RH Baby & Child.
The BUTTERFLY ROOM
“Creative, outgoing, marches to her own beat,” is how Hollis describes the six-year-old daughter, who loves bright colors and butterflies—hence the choice of Timorous Beasties’ Butterflies wallpaper. Because this room is also the smallest of the three, making the space functional was key. A custom built-in daybed in white lacquer doubles as lounging spot and also conceals plenty of storage. Hits of yellow (Stark’s Sunshine Lacquer Wallcovering for the bookcase, Lulu DK fabric in Butter Yellow for the Roman shades) and a generous array of throw pillows in Madeline Weinrib’s hand-painted silk ikat provide plenty of pop. Eero Aarnio’s Bubble Chair, softened by an ivory sheepskin, is both whimsical and timeless.
The clients came back after a monthlong summer trip to the big reveal. “We had sourced the accessories down to the most minor details such as pencil holders,” says Hollis. “The parents had approved the design, of course, but it was the first time the mother and father were seeing it installed as well. So it was tremendous fun for the whole family.”