Designing for Kids: Little Clients, Big Difference

They hold the strings to our design hearts at every Design For A Difference reveal…

Their jaws drop as they hold their cheeks with disbelief. They smile, they laugh, and they squeal with excitement as they run into the space that has been redesigned just for them. It is more beautiful than they could have ever imagined, and there is no doubt in their mind that it was created specifically for them. Then, overcome with the feeling of being loved, their eyes well with tears. Their precious little souls bounce into emotional equilibrium in this moment, and it’s something they will never forget.

You see, the children walking into our makeovers are the poorest of poor. They are sometimes hungry. They are often times homeless. They are living with bigger problems in life than they deserve, or even understand.

The designers who create these fabulous new spaces reap the greatest reward of our work: They get to experience first-hand how it impacts the children. Read on to see how they design for our little clients to make the biggest difference.


The ABCs of Design

As with any project, an overall layout and plan is step one. Many charities are operating in large open areas and filled with hand-me-down furnishings. Sometimes a multi-purpose room can feel confusing and cluttered, or even stressful to be in.

But no worries! Our design teams are on it and love the challenge of delineating spaces to maximize user experience with a well-thought plan. They take special note of what the kids need and where they should be. They take great pride in their vision, because they believe that kids deserve a place that is made just for them.

From whimsical kites flying in the sky, to exploration under the sea, there is no shortage of creativity and imagination from our teams. Every great design has a general theme that creates a safe place to imagine and dream, learn and grow.

A great example is Design For A Difference Kansas City’s transformation in the lower level of an old department store. What used to just be a large open area of a basement has been transformed into a day at the park. Gloomy days are gone with this design, which includes fresh grassy floorcovering on which to play, a reading corner full of new books and toys, a real park bench, and a giant tree hovering with real branches that were painted in an array of colors overhead.

In Madison, the Design For A Difference team took an empty wall and created a theater, a real puppet stage, and set design enchanting enough to lure even the shyest of personalities to make-believe. There has even been an entire room made into a beautiful shopping boutique, filled will coats, clothes, accessories, and toys…  everything a child would need to turn a difficult day into a real-life dream.


Happy Hues

Our design teams know that kids love color; but they are careful to dial it up or down to stick with the palette of the overall design. If a makeover has a natural and organic feel, you might see more earthy tones, leafy greens, and sky blues at play. If the theme is more whimsical or energetic, the children’s area might include hues from design elements like the playful colors of a wallpaper, the combination of fabrics and finishes, the charity’s logo, or special wall art.


It’s a Small World After All

Little clients mean little everything. Our designers carefully measure to make sure that all furnishings, fixtures, and built-ins are accessible for kids. From tables and chairs, to the height of whatever they need to reach, the goal is to make sure they feel comfortable and confident within their space.


Up Close and Personal

Design For A Difference designers are not just designers; they’re artists. And they pay attention to every detail, which gives every space that extra special touch.

Envision entire rooms covered in marine life murals and life under the sea. A room like this could inspire colorful bedtime stories and deep, calming sleep that is filled with dreams of the deep. Think of hand-painted welcome signs whimsically hanging in the park, or creative interactive works of art.

In Spokane, our Design For A Difference team installed a wall of wooden blocks threaded onto metal rods, like the counting toys you might remember as a child. Our team wrote messages of hope on random sides, so with each turn, the blocks would inspire beautiful truth into someone’s day. What they started a few years ago is now filled with stories and dreams from parents, children, and a community of giving hearts. It’s this personal touch that makes the final response unanimous: Our makeovers bring the “wow” to the welcome with every reveal.

But don’t just take our word for it. If you haven’t had a chance to watch one of our makeover videos, you can witness these precious moments for yourself, as some things can’t always be put into words. And when you do, let’s just say that nothing can prepare you for the reaction of a child who is surprised by hope and love.


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