Designs Ideas: Kids Room 101

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According to interior designer Natalie Umbert, you can keep your kids’ rooms organized with a few key products and some DIY tricks!

Designer Tip #1 To keep books and toys organized, try the itso functional product line at Target. Itso lets you customize configurations for your exact needs – they are easy to put together, great size to house books, can be open or closed (they offer attachable doors), stationary or with wheels, canvas drawers or cubbies, AND and all of this comes in an array of colors to coordinate with any space.  Best of all, the great price point lets you can keep adding as your needs change!

Designer Tip #2 Become an editor, at home! Edit books periodically – once your child grows out of a book, store it away to make room for new age-appropriate books. This saves tons of space and makes it easier to separate books into subjects: dinosaur, princess, etc. This way, both you and your child can go right to the book that you are looking for.  You can even label the books with subjects if you want for a very organized child’s library.

Designer Tip #3 Choosing a crib that turns into a toddler bed can save you money in the long run and eliminate the need for re-design as your children grow. I love the the Oeuf Classic Crib– it converts super easily to the Toddler Bed with a conversion kit.

Designer Tip #4 Murals are really sweet and can add a lot of personality to a room, but the problem is that you’re then stuck with the same image as a child grows. If you have your hear set on a large piece, commission it on a large canvas instead – it will act as an entire wall piece, but gives you the ability to change the room relatively easily with new art as the child grows.


Designer Tip #5 Keep puzzles stacked neatly with easy storage systems designed specifically for this task. I love the cases by melissa and doug – they are so easy to use. You can choose from wire or wooden racks or even those with a storage pouch with interior sleeves for convenience and travel.

Designer Tip #6 Invest in a large changing table or one with a dual purpose. While small may be less expensive and fit more easily in nurseries of all sizes, a larger table will make your life easier and can actually act as a statement in the piece of room. A changing table that has a full dresser under it is a great option, and there are even certain styles that have a removable table that can be eliminated when you no longer need it. I love the canterbury changing table from nurseryworks.

Designer Tip #7 Treat a kids room as its own entity – it doesn’t need to fit in to the general design scheme in your home if you have one. Let your imagination and your child’s imagination (if they’re old enough to participate) run free – this room should be a wonderland for your child. Feel free to experiment with bright colors in paint, linens, and accessories – you don’t need to play it safe with pastels in a baby’s room and shouldn’t feel limited to using traditional girl-boy colors. Dwell Studio makes incredible pattern bedding that is unisex – I love the owls – which can be re-used for multiple kids regardless if it’s a boy or girl’s room.


Designer Tip # 8 Label, label, label!! Put labels on every cubby, drawer, and plastic container so you and your child know where to find all of those little bits and pieces, even with the same type of toys. For example, I separate and label dolls and accessories (one space for ‘polly pockets, one for Barbie, one for American girl’). This way, nothing gets lost and it’s easier for kids during clean-up. I use the easel and the Mojo Play Table and chairs– you can adjust the table height so it grows with your child!


 Natalie Umbert was born in Peru and moved to the US in 1975. She was raised in South Florida and attended Tufts University in Boston where she earned a BA in English and French Literature. After creative and varied professions in both the music and fashion industries, she was still eager to explore her greatest passion, interior design.

With nothing more than a few sketches and a lot of enthusiasm, Natalie was accepted to the Parsons School of Design in New York. At Parsons, she further developed her design skills and gained vast exposure to the interiors industry. After graduation, Natalie trained at the New York firm of Mariette Himes Gomez, whose work she greatly admired.  There she gained invaluable experience in the field of luxury design. Natalie subsequently worked for firms in Miami and Los Angeles, and opened her own firm, atelier natalie umbert, just after earning an MBA from the Merage School of Business at the University of California, Irvine. 

Natalie’s aesthetic is a contemporary mix of traditional and modern with ethnic, fashion, and pop culture influences. Driven by her varied life, travel, and professional experiences, she is known for her ability to arrive at something unique yet accessible through her thoughtful combination of influences, periods, color and texture.

An active member of ASID, Natalie is currently on the 2010 ASID Community Services Project committee. Her work has been featured in Interior Design online, Riviera, KNBC, and many industry blogs.  She recently appeared as a design expert on KTLA and will be featured in the March 2010 issue of Romantic Homes and the April 2010 issue of Coast.

To read more about Natalie and see her work, visit her website,

Top designer tips for an organized (and pretty!) nursery or kids’ room.

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