Designing for Kids with DFAD

Kids of DFAD – they hold the strings to our hearts at every Design For A Difference reveal. They often feel excited, overjoyed, and in disbelief that the space has been redesigned just for them. As their jaws drop, they smile, laugh, and squeal with excitement. There’s no doubt that these children are impacted by the sheer beauty of the helping hands of DFAD and the feeling that they are deserving of this new space. 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.

The thing is, children walking into our makeovers are some of the worthiest recipients, and they may not even realize it. Many are dealing with circumstances that are out of their control, and some have yet to understand – that’s why designing a space for these kids in need is so rewarding.

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.

Steps When Designing for Kids

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

Not to worry, though. Our design teams are on it and love the challenge of defining spaces to maximize the overall experience with a plan. To help make better use of the space, our designers take note of what the kids need and where items should be located. They take great pride in creating a functional space using this 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 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.

Colors and Shades for Kids

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 more 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. As seen here, there are butterflies and silhouettes of children running and playing on the wall.

It’s a Small World

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. Don’t worry, we think about the adults in adult-specific spaces, too!

Making it Personal

Design For A Difference designers are not just designers; they’re also artists. 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 and interactive works of art.


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.

Check out a few of our makeovers here.