An Old Art School Hack Helped Designer Alice Palmer Customize Her Kids’ Bedroom Wardrobe

Children’s rooms often double as playrooms, offices, or dens. But for the homeware designer Alice Palmer, the space shared by her daughter, Margarita (6), and son, Arnold (4), moonlights as an ad hoc photo studio. When new versions of her signature pleated lampshades and ruffled cushions need to be captured, it’s their room that offers the most distinctive backdrops. “They get so excited when I switch bed skirts and shades,” says the London-based creative. “They really notice every change and love it.”

Before Margarita and Arnold came over, the room was for guests, although it wore the same off-white and plaster-pink paintwork it currently wears. Slowly but surely, Palmer has adapted the space with whimsical kid-approved details, as well as a set of twin beds in place of the original double. Here are a few of the tricks she used to make the transition.

Don’t be afraid to tinker

Boredom can be a motivator: Fed up with the plain walls, Palmer created a bunting template to give the room the look of a tent pavilion, complete with a ray of sunshine in the center of the ceiling where the light hangs. “I did it all by hand and it’s a little shaky,” she admits, “but the star makes it feel so cozy at night.” She also used a hack she remembered from her art school days to age the wicker panels of the wardrobe. “If you buy cane, it’s much lighter, so I rubbed wet tea bags to get the desired effect. I tried coffee first, but it was way too dark,” she says with a laugh.

Vintage Ganesh Toran Door Hanging (similar), Etsy.

Build a bed they’ll be proud to make

Custom headboards echo the artisan feel of the richly embroidered kantha quilts on the beds, offering layers of contrasting patterns that Margarita particularly appreciates. “She loves sweeping up pillows, and she’s just gotten good at tidying up,” Palmer says of her daughter’s style trends. “She’ll line up her teddys.” Striped bed skirts cleverly hide the drawers where toys are stored underneath.

Embrace Heirlooms

Palmer’s home is lovingly stocked with hand-me-downs, including the kid’s area. They inherited not only the chest of drawers Palmer had in her teenage bedroom, but also their great-grandmother’s cherished rug and blue china lamp, topped with one of Palmer’s pleated blinds. The intergenerational twist continues on the walls, where framed pages from a babar book that belonged to Palmer’s mother have been mounted as works of art.

Make a split decision

The blushing balcony doors opposite the entrance are magical in their own right; Palmer split the frames to resemble a stable stile so that the top and bottom parts can be opened separately. This way, cool air flows in at night without her little ones venturing out unattended.

The goods

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