A Safari-Themed Kid’s Bedroom, Termite Mound Included

Studio SHK responded to a brief for a child's space with something that is, yes, adventurous and playful, but mature in its consideration and execution.

Studio SHK responded to a brief for a child's space with something that is, yes, adventurous and playful, but mature in its consideration and execution.

The List’s Project Spotlight column features unparalleled projects created by our forward-thinking List members. By going straight to the source—and having the designers demystify the methods behind their designs—we hope to enlighten and inspire our creative audience to further push the boundaries of what is possible in the realm of design.

Yes, children’s bedrooms are places for dreaming while both awake and asleep. Bedtime stories and daydream adventures should be welcome there. But that doesn’t mean a design solution reflecting those values should be immature or childish.

Certainly Studio SHK’s cozy, creative, and elegantly executed kid’s bedroom here isn’t some thrown-off work or big-box store vision of what a child would want. While the turnaround on this project was tight, it took thought, it took exploration, it took care. The result—elegant and yet boisterous—is something we wish we had when we were still playing with LEGOs.

Studio SHK founder Sherry Hope-Kennedy takes us through the process and the design below.

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Project Description: We were tasked with creating a playful, yet sophisticated, children’s bedroom, a room that would feel young without feeling too elementary.

Inspiration: The concept of the space was exploration, so I looked to Africa for inspiration. I took cues from the flora and fauna of the African plains which we translated for climbing, hanging, and adventure. Photos of the African sky at dawn, coupled with safari animal and tree motifs, were the foundation of the design concept, paving the way for a room full of safari adventure.

Blueprint: We integrated colorful and textural design elements throughout. The walls, wrapped in pink, coral, and azure ombre wallpaper, are the landscape, depicting the dawn-lit sky. They provide the backdrop for a mural of silhouetted, hand-painted safari animals and a light-projecting elephant mask that casts illuminating patterns. A custom-made circular hide rug, reminiscent of the patterns on a giraffe, roots the room while a tree fort bunkbed creates lofted space—as if you’re in a canopy of trees. We further conveyed the desert theme with a termite mound-inspired play space; a haven for kids to crawl inside. Gym rings, carved from wood, hang from the ceiling, a nod to the flat top trees that dot the desert.

Challenges: We had to work under a tight eight-week deadline. Coordinating the wallpaper hanger, muralist, and installers, while overseeing design and logistics for the custom-made pieces such as the rug and curtains, took a lot of planning and patience. We also had to find the right mix of materials and furnishings to create an alluring, lasting look.

Uniqueness: The termite mound-inspired play structure is very unique. When I was looking at African landscapes I kept seeing the mud structures in the landscape. I knew I wanted to design something other than a typical “teepee” or hut; however, I couldn’t see a mud-inspired structure. I then started studying the inside of the termite mound and was inspired by the intricacy of the layers and the overall architecture.

Impact of Project: You can be creative in all aspects of design. This was my first design of a kid’s room and it was all about executing the concept. Designing for the younger generation doesn’t have to be constructed of “young” elements. Approaching a project with no restrictions allowed my team to create an updated take on a traditional kid’s theme.

Takeaway: Designing a kid’s room doesn’t have to be elementary. Swapping out cartoon-like animal motifs and primary colors (typical in many safari-themed kid’s rooms) for subtle textures and a soothing color palette will help achieve an immersive experience while creating a space that your kids can grow with.

What’s Next: We’re wrapping up a few projects, including a kitchen renovation designed for a multigenerational household, and are in the conceptual stages for a trendy eatery. We try to take on clients interested in creative expression and projects that are site-specific and unique.



(Photos: Courtesy Studio SHK)

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