Welcome to Why This Works, in which decorator and former shelter-magazine editor Alexa Stevenson looks point-blank at professionally decorated rooms and breaks down the elements that make it work. Have a suggestion for someone whose work should be showcased? Do let us know.
Manhattan decorator Philip Gorrivan once told Curbed that there's "a way to decorate with children in mind, but still not have to have little rubber pads around coffee tables." Such a philosophy carries over to this room in Gorrivan's own Manhattan apartment, which was completed for one of his favorite clients—his 12-year-old daughter, Isabelle—and immortalized in Elle Decor in Dec. 2009. "She had a real hand in the decorating, but I wanted it to be designed in a way that would translate from an eight-year-old to a teenager," says Gorrivan, who founded his eponymous NYC-based firm in 2001 and has since designed a line of fabrics for Highland Court. "I wanted it to feel a little more mature than she was at the time. It’s wasteful when people go crazy designing kids rooms and they look so 'kiddie' and age specific. This room crosses genders and age groups, and I could see this room suitable of someone of any age—perhaps without the twin bed though."
1. Gorrivan didn't go the traditional route when placing artwork in his daughter's room; instead, he used fine art mixed with her own art. "In children’s rooms you shouldn’t hesitate to use nice art. If children are exposed to good things, they’ll learn to appreciate it."
2. A goose-feather lighting fixture adds a sense of humor and whimsy. "It’s important to play with scale in small spaces and, by increasing the scale of something like a light fixture, it adds a much-needed dramatic effect to the space," the designer says. "I love it because it's such a grand scale, but balanced by the super-light material. A heavy chandelier wouldn't work here, but this adds just the right amount of drama."
3. "In every child’s room, if you do a twin, it has to be a trundle bed—don’t’ forget the trundle." Gorrivan dressed up this trundle with graphic pattern and a shot of orange. "Don’t be afraid to add an exclamation color. This room is mostly blues and browns and creams and you have to add an accent color. The orange really finishes off the room—it’s sort of exclamation point."
4. Gorrivan isn't afraid to introduce nice furniture to children at a young age. A midcentury side table and commode tone down the more traditional elements in the room and is, according to Gorrivan, "a nod to youth. The space looks more edited with the addition of those pieces."
5. "For me, every ceiling is fair game for a finish and I love to wallpaper," says Gorrivan. He created the pattern inside the coffers to add dimension and a focal point to the space. "I chose the geometric-pattern bed and I have a foliate pattern on the ceiling because I wanted it to be a garden effect," he explains. "Almost be like a sitting in bed and looking at trees. A well-designed room needs to feel balanced, and mixing those kind of patterns balances this space out."