Dominique Lyons is an interior designer and founder of Kids Rule Interiors. She focuses on transforming children’s bedrooms and play spaces with her innovative e-consultation service. We caught up with her to find out how we can make our kids’ spaces rule too.
When did you start your company, Kids Rule?
I was a building’s archaeologist and taught children how to dig for artefacts and it was around that time I transitioned to being a nursery practitioner. I realised parents didn’t understand how to put things in their homes in the right place and just be practical. It’s a niche I thought would be great to explore. My son tidies up his room himself because he knows where everything goes and it’s all within reach. It’s that simple. So, in late 2018 I started doing it properly and started Kids Rule.
What services do you offer?
I have an e-design service. My clients fill out a questionnaire and we have a consultation, so I can get an idea of what they want. Then I create a couple of concept designs. If, for example, a child wants a space-themed room I do one concept that’s very child-centric and over-the-top and then I do one that’s more liveable for the parents. They choose the concept they like then I do a full design for them and a clickable shopping list, within their budget, that they can buy from as and when it suits. It can be as lengthy or short of a process as people want it to be. They can be involved as they want.
How much input do the children have?
It’s tricky because for a normal designer, the clients are the bill payers, but not in my case! My work completely depends on the family. For some projects, the children have free reign. I’ve done Lightening McQueen beds with turquoise walls and lightning bolts everywhere (they were removable!) but the parents were happy to just close the door and it’s fine.
What to do you have in mind when you’re creating concepts?
A child’s room should be fun, and it should help them be more confident. My philosophy is all about helping children be more independent and confident within themselves. Having a space where they can be creative, organise themselves, put things away and have space to play and do activities is what you want. It really helps children blossom.
How do you design a functioning space?
I like to know things about the families. For example, how active the family is or how many interests they have. Do they have a playroom, or do they do lots of things in the kitchen? How do they use their space? Then I like to create different zones with storage in the zones. So, books will be near the reading corner, small world toys will be near a nice open floor space so they can be pulled out and played with and put back right next to where they were playing. It just makes everything flow and a lot easier.
What are the most common design problems parents face?
It’s often a storage issue or a dilemma fitting different activities into the one space. People aren’t clear on how to do zoning effectively. For example, if your child is an avid painter, then making a space work in a bedroom for that kind of activity can be tricky but it’s doable. Different height desks and chairs for different activities really helps. For one little girl’s room I created a reading nook with pillows and a canopy, but the room also served as a guest room, so I chose quite grown-up wallpaper that a child would also like.
Have you had a client with multiple children in one room?
I had one family who had to move their teenage son in with his eight-year-old brother! It wasn’t a big room, but I gave him a study area and a black metal bunk bed with a double on the bottom. The younger one loved being on top and the teenager was pleased with the double bed, so they were both happy. One client has a triple-decker bed because their boys want to share. They have a very big house and because they’re all in together they have another room as a playroom. Each family is different, with different routines and priorities.
How do you create a space for expressive play?
One play area is enough because you only have so much space. It can be for Duplo, puzzles or the dolls house, but the key thing is having storage in those zones to put everything away. The storage surrounding the zones should be low level and not too heavy. We’re more aware of the importance of play these days and I think because of lockdowns people saw how children are affected by clutter and mess. It can cause stress for them and doesn’t help them play.
Do you work with second hand items?
Currently it tends to be if people have an heirloom cot, for example, that’s been passed down that they’d like to use. Or furniture that’s already in their home and they want to repurpose, which happens quite often. I ask people if they have things they want to keep, and we work from there. I’d definitely like to do more with second hand items in the future.
Dominique’s top tips for happy spaces
Use multi-purpose furniture.
A chest of drawers for a changing table, for example, is great because you don’t really need
a changing table, you just need a sturdy surface. Then you have a piece that’ll be there until
the child leaves home and even longer. Wardrobes, bookshelves and good storage grow
with a child. You don’t need to buy nursery specific furniture.
Know your child’s habits before buying.
Think about big purchases like a Montessori bed. Will it work for your child? My son stayed
in his cot bed till he was four because was perfectly cosy. It’s tempting to buy ahead of time
but maybe introducing a bed once they know bedtime is bedtime. Around six might be a
good age. Whereas introducing it straight after a cot bed is not always the easiest transition.
Teach tidying up.
Tidying up can be part of play and part of your daily routine, so before dinner you tidy your room and it’s easier that way. They tidy up at nursery, so they can tidy up at home too. Make it a competition! How many blocks can you put away or who can do it the quickest?
Invest in great storage
Ikea Exhibit Cube shelves are ideal. You can get lovely baskets for them, but you can change them very easily to suit the look of the room. Alternate baskets styles that are easy to get out. Take them wherever you want to play and then put them back when you’re done. They last forever and work well for toy display.
Visit kidsruleinteriors.com for inspiring ideas and to book your e-consultation with Dominique.