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Small wonder

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Small wonder

Photography by Donna Griffith

Like the babies who sleep in them, all nurseries grow up eventually. Tamara Robbins Griffith knew it was time for her daughter, Amelia, 4, to have a big-girl room, but it wasn’t as easy as painting some walls and rearranging the furniture. “It’s the smallest room in our house at just 80 square feet,” says Tamara, home decor expert. “The makeover was like playing Tetris. I had to be thoughtful about how to get the most out of the room.” What topped Tamara and her husband, Edward’s, must-have list for Amelia’s room? A multi-functional space that incorporated storage, looked pretty (but not too precious) and included all the things their daughter loved most.

Figure out function

Tamara’s first move was to commission a ceiling-high closet that included dresser drawers and enough vertical space to hang Amelia’s dresses. With that part of the vision complete, she turned her sights to furniture. It was Edward’s idea to explore a loft bed to maximize the tight square footage. The couple fell hard for this sleek, contemporary version made from FSC-certified wood — but it meant managing their budget accordingly. “We splurged on the bed, but saved on all the decorating accessories so we balanced an investment with great deals,” she says. Selling the nursery suite and putting the proceeds toward the new furniture helped, too. Next, Tamara created a mini-desk using a side table, and sourced some toy-storage solutions. “I love soft baskets and hampers because they’re decorative in their own right, and make clean up so easy. Lucky for me, Amelia’s a good tidy-upper!”

Find a fun motif

As the youngest in the family, Amelia (who has a brother, Noah, 8) already lives with a ton of hand-me-downs, so Tamara decided to let her choose the wallpaper for the room’s feature wall. “I gave her six to pick from,” says Tamara. “Some were bold and some were soft, but she really liked these ikat-style polka dots.” The blush-pink tones served as a sweet backdrop for sunny pops of yellow, accents of red and black and a subtle insect motif — proving that little girls’ rooms don’t always have to be full of sugar and spice. “When we were working on the bedroom, it was the summer of bugs,” says Tamara with a laugh. “Dragonflies, snails, cicadas, ladybugs, you name it. We joke that she’s going to become an entomologist.” A bumblebee pillow, beetle artwork and ode to snails above the desk are a cheeky nod to the theme.

“We injected a bit of black into the room to keep it from feeling too childish”

Sprinkle in some magic

The nook under the loft bed is a natural spot for the family to indulge in one of its favourite pastimes: reading. A bookshelf that matches the bed offers both open and closed storage for books, artwork and collectibles. Layered rugs up the comfort factor: “If you’re hanging out on the floor, as kids do, it’s nice to snuggle up on a sheepskin,” says Tamara. The final touch was the addition of some twinkle lights. Tamara and Edward experimented with Christmas lights before settling on a strand of white dragonflies in keeping with the theme. “We really wanted her room to feel a bit magical,” says Tamara. “Amelia just loves it, and now it’s a cosy spot for all of us to curl up.”

SOURCES

RUG, BEDDING, CUSHIONS, OTTOMAN, KIDS CHAIRS, SIDE TABLE (USED AS DESK), TASK LAMP, BEETLE ARTWORK, MIRRORED WALL SHELF, ACCESSORIES: HomeSense LOFT BED, BOOKSHELF: Oeuf WALLPAPER: Studio Bon Fuzz in Blush, Schumacher

Beth Hitchcock writes a weekly design column for the Globe & Mail and is the former Editor-in-Chief of House & Home magazine. She is developing several book projects, including a series with acclaimed designer and TV personality Sarah Richardson to be published by Simon & Schuster this spring.

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