The kids’ room inside interior designer Suzanna Santostefano’s home is ready for its close-up.

Interior designer Suzanna Santostefano’s home is a model of crafty flair and functionality, as displayed in her kids’ room.

“I would say there are three layers to the room: the foundation: built-ins; the utilitarian: hooks, benches and storage boxes; and the beautiful: rugs and textiles,” Santostefano says of the space. “We demoed the closet because the closets in older homes don’t offer the functionality of modern storage. So, where the closet was, we built in bunk beds with lots of added storage: a pullout trundle for sleepovers, deep drawers for costumes and shelves for books and collections.”

Santostefano writes on her website,, that her mission with the design of any new room is “to strive to transform living spaces into homes and sanctuaries that inspire warmth and creativity.” To date, her interior transformations have been featured in Design Sponge, Domino and Houzz.

Here, she shares a page from her secrets-of-the-trade pocketbook, laying out the rules she followed when approaching the redesign of her kids’ sleep, study and playtime quarters.

April Cumming

“Our bunk room is shared by our middle and youngest kids. In designing this space, functionality was key. It needed to fit the storage needs of two young kids while not feeling overly cluttered. The key is to break up the space with different elements both old and new. If we used all Ikea components, it would feel like an Ikea showroom. But, by building in the closets and adding vintage pieces, it gives the room its own unique feel.”

Get the Look: 

Don’t be afraid to take out what doesn’t work.

“In this room, the 1950s closet wasn’t functional, so we demoed it and added bunk beds in its place. For closets, we built in Ikea wardrobes—and added a reading nook between—that provide so much more space than the original closet.”

Make your home personal.

“Adding objects that are special to you and that have a story make a house a home. In the kids’ room, their collections are important to them. So, to keep it organized, I started collecting metal workboxes and small drawers for them to store their acorns and rocks in. The boxes became a usable object that added a unique layer to their shelves.”

Pair old with new.

“The functionality of the room is definitely in the built-in wardrobes from Ikea and built-in bunk beds. Adding the vintage kilim rug, salvaged wood shelves and Moroccan pillow is what makes the room feel cozy and look interesting. I love Ikea storage for functionality, but it’s good to break it up with another layer.”

Kids have design aesthetics too.

“I layered the room with textiles that I would use in any other room in the house. I put a small table in the center of the room for them to play games on or build Legos. I love a chalkboard or magnet board for the kids to have a place to hang their pictures and artwork and, in the bunk room, each bed has a chalkboard. We’ve used sheets of corten steel in other spots for magnets. Hooks and a small bench at the entry are great for hanging coats and dropping backpacks.”

Master the art of Craigslist.

“I love Craigslist for that special find. There are a few keywords that I stay on top of: vintage, midcentury, pair, rug. And every now and then, I browse the Materials page.”

Ground the room with a rug.

“Every room in my home is grounded with a rug. It’s what brings the space together. I like vintage rugs for their durability and design. The kilim rug can stand up to the daily use of the kids.”




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