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June 16, 2011

Design isn't just for adults anymore; the demand for innovative kids' spaces in on the rise. Erica Islas, founder of EMI Interior Design, has been busy creating nursery, kids, and play rooms. We're featuring her Palisades Kids' Room in our upcoming July/August issue and she'll join us at Dwell on Design in Los Angeles on Saturday, June 25 to share her tips for designing for kids and families. Here, she offers a sneak peek.

Designer Erica Islas grabs a book inside the lower space of the Palisades Kids' Room, showing it's big enough for adults as it is for children.
Designer Erica Islas grabs a book inside the lower space of the Palisades Kids' Room, showing it's big enough for adults as it is for children.
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Designer Erica Islas's Palisades Kids' Room features a rock-climbing wall and rope.
Designer Erica Islas's Palisades Kids' Room features a rock-climbing wall and rope.
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Designer Erica Islas grabs a book inside the lower space of the Palisades Kids' Room, showing it's big enough for adults as it is for children.
Designer Erica Islas grabs a book inside the lower space of the Palisades Kids' Room, showing it's big enough for adults as it is for children.

What trends in kids' spaces have you noticed recently?
Right now there are a lot of activity-driven things like rock-climbing walls or swings inside rooms. The thing that's taking over chalkboard walls are wall-to-wall dry-erase walls because they're not as messy. It's almost a new trend that parents are really getting into their kids' spaces and are paying more attention to being involved with their children. Every two or three months I'm doing a nursery or a play room—it's no longer the media room but the play room. It's no longer about watching TV but playing football or playing boardgames. It feels like the 1950s are coming back and families are spending time together again.
What do you need to consider when creating a space for a child?
When designing kids' spaces versus adult spaces, it's important to remember that kids go through phases really quickly so it's important to design a space that can grow with the child. It's also important to consider going green in kids' spaces; it's important to start implementing the importance of sustainability with kids when they're young. There are so many green products that there's no longer a problem of availability and it's a matter of choice.

Designer Erica Islas's Palisades Kids' Room features a rock-climbing wall and rope.
Designer Erica Islas's Palisades Kids' Room features a rock-climbing wall and rope.

How do you design spaces that can transition from kid to teen to adult rooms?
Most importantly, I approach spaces from an architectural perspective. I look at what walls need to be moved, what built-ins need to be made, and so on. We address those first and then have fun with the decorating part. Each space you create you think of how it could be used differently. In the Palisades Kids' Room, you could put a futon bed underneath and curl up and read a book even as you get older because we made it big enough that an adult can crawl in there.
What are you most excited about at Dwell on Design?
The keynote, Bill McDonough of Cradle to Cradle, is going to be great; it'll really set the stage for great panel discussions throughout the weekend. Dwell on Design simply rocks. I love to collaborate with creative people who think outside the box and am excited to be part of it.

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