Thursday, February 10, 2011



Design by John & Vivian Bencich of Square Feet Studio
Photo by Jeff Herr Photography

Designing a room for anyone under the age of eighteen is often a difficult task. The current standard seems to be set by television programs like Extreme Makeover where if you haven’t reached the age of consent you’re relegated to sleeping with the Pirates of the Carribean or worse yet…Miley Cirus in her pre-salvia smoking days. Nurseries are a different beast with physical requirements necessary for bringing an infant safely into the world but beyond that I don’t see the need for synthetic sheets and plastic bins with Barbie doll decals plastered from top to bottom. Now don’t get me wrong. Kids are kids. We’ve got a fourteen year-old and the last thing we’d want her to do is to grow up too fast. They do that on their own, but we think good design can coexist with childhood.

A brilliant example of how to balance design with adolescence is this room designed by architects John & Vivian Bencich of Square Feet Studio for their daughter. Here’s a room a young girl can grow in and transition from Justin Bieber to Bono. Here’s how "Our Team Sees It".
As with any hue on the color wheel there are an abundance of shades to pick from or create. To the untrained eye this room is going to get labeled with the undeserved title: pink. Now take a longer look and see the dustiness of the pink in the curtains then smell the fruitiness of the raspberry in the carpet and see how far from Barbie Pink this room has come.
Too Much of Good Thing 
What John and Vivian were able to do here is to show restraint. They picked an excellent balance between their dusty, fruity rose tones and white, an icy clean white that allows the room to breath and not make you feel like you’ve just gulped down a huge spoonful of Pepto-Bismol.
Breaking the Pattern 
Notice the window seat cushion and the bedside lamp. When you’re using such a powerful color scheme you need a visual break. The aqua and gold tones make you appreciate the lushness of the predominate color. Add to that the pattern on the bedskirt, bed pillow and window cushion and your eye gets to dance around the room without getting bored or fatigued.
Softens Like a Fine Wine
The ripples of champagne and framboise fabric soften the window wall where a traditional smaller curtain covering the real window wouldn't have done the trick. It also deadens the sound from ipod impromptu concerts at ten at night. Using grommeted panels on dark wood rods brings a sophistication to the window treatment that will allow the room to age and grow from a teenager's playground to a young woman's boudoir. 
Invisible Storage 
Not only do the curtains soften the room but they have a function as well, they hide storage areas making it easier to do a quick sweep before guests arrive giving the room that sought after clean and uncluttered look. Including drawer storage under the window seat and a bedskirt that brushes the floor line, there's plenty of additional space to hide the thousands of trinkets a girl can’t live without. The exposed bookcases allow for the personality of the child to show through but with so much “behind closed doors” storage available the bookshelves are easily maintained without too much room for conflict between parent and child.
A Sense of Belonging
An antique bed, a crystal chandelier, and a vintage poof give the room a sense of history. These pieces anchor the room. I don’t know if they are family heirlooms or not but in my mind the bed has had several generations of family use. There’s an eclecticism here that takes it away from the seven piece juvenile bedroom set advertised on local TV at Crazy Lenny’s Warehouse of Discount Furniture all for $399.
Final grade: A-, we’re tough

The Node Chair by Steelcase

Available with or without the worksurface the Node chair by Steelcase was originally developed for the classroom. We think the classroom can wheel its way into your child’s bedroom or wherever they plop down their books and plug in their computers. When I was a kid it was the tip-n-rock. Seating for kids has come a long ergonomic way from back then. Priced on the high end the Node is available in 12 seat colors, 3 base options and 5 worksurface colors. It can come with hard casters, soft casters or glides. Mix and match in almost an infinite slate of possibilities and you’ve got a great study station your kid can roll to any quiet corner of the house.

Bu and the Duck
106 Franklin Street (Tribeca)
New York, NY

Opened in 1997 by Susan Lane, this store was just in time for clothing our daughter, Emmy, born July 3, 1996. The European philosophy of buying quality not quantity is evident at Bu and the Duck. Each piece purchased here is worth the cost you need to pay for exceptional quality and unique design. With an aesthetic inspired by the 1930’s every piece of clothing will become an instant family heirloom. As Emmy grew out of each piece of clothing purchased at Bu it would get wrapped in tissue and placed in a cedar lined box waiting to be handed down to a new generation.

Bu and the Duck has unintentionally styled so many of our early family photos. Our hearts now ache but our pocketbooks are thankful their clothing only goes up to size 14 in kids.


Diane Arbus
Boy with Toy Hand Grenade, 1962
Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco

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