“Every kid needs a fort,” says interior designer Kristen Forgione. Early in the design process, she could see that her client, the mother of two little boys, was drawn to woodland cave inspirations that infused a modern sensibility with bohemian spirit. “We took that opportunity to create a color palette different than so many ‘boy rooms’ with blue as a staple. We really wanted a modern feel but with a green highlight,” she says. The result is a playtime-ready room that they have dubbed the Modern Little Man Cave.
Photos by Natalie Ryan Photography and Events.
One of the most important things on her clients’ wish list for their new home was a playroom for their boys. “One of the main reasons for their move was to give Mason and Brody their own space to play, create, learn, get rowdy and be boys,” Forgione says. “We wanted an area where the whole family could cuddle up with a book, where the boys could build Legos or blocks, climb and jam.
While there is room for lots of activities, the fort is the star of the space. “Every kid needs a fort, but forts can be ugly, and while that’s endearing, we wanted them to have a spot everyone could get into easily,” the designer says. The fort has a twin mattress in it so that it can be used for sleepovers when the boys are older. When that day comes, they plan on adding a trundle underneath.
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She also had the back wall painted in chalkboard paint. They can reach out from their snug fort to draw on it. “Chalkboard paint is made really well these days and pretty much works everywhere,” Forgione says. “It’s best on a smooth wall, but it can work on texture too. It just eats up the chalk a little faster when writing over texture.”
There’s enough room for a parent to cuddle up with both kids for story time in the fort.
A striped area rug in the center of the room anchors the space. “A cost-effective rug is a great way to bring a print into a space that needs to be kid-friendly,” Forgione says. The rug protects the new wall-to-wall carpet from dirt and felt-tip pens. This one was inexpensive and can be replaced when it gets worn out.
She also added a children’s table and chairs to the room for playing with blocks and Legos, drawing, and games. When setting up the room, she considered how the room would grow up with the kids. “When the boys are older, we can swap this out with a more grown-up homework station,” she says.
For more playroom adventures, she installed a climbing wall. “We placed the climbing wall in the corner of the space so it could be anchored into both the ceiling joists and the floorboards,” she says. They positioned it away from the banister, seen in the next photo to prevent any chance of jumping over it.
On the other side of the window is a children’s library and the music area. Ledges from IKEA keep books handy and allow their colorful covers to become part of the decor.
Across the room from the window was a giant wall in need of serious design help. “We had one of our favorite local artisans, The Silhouette Suite, create custom silhouettes from Mom’s Instagram photos. Those pieces are front and center in the gallery wall,” Forgione says. “I’m quite sure those silhouettes will stay with the family forever, and the thought of that makes our job so worth it.”
The designer went for an eclectic and playful arrangement when composing the gallery wall. Her advice for putting together a wall that mixes photography and kitschy pieces like signs is to begin with the pieces that mean the most to you. “It may make the most sense to start with the pieces that are largest and build around them, but I always want pieces that mean the most to be front and center, no matter the size,” she says.
Finishing off the gallery are triangular wall decals. “Our design assistant Kim Worswick had this brilliant idea during the install to create a floating band with them,” she says. “We took painters tape and leveled two vertical lines running from the ceiling down to the baseboard. Then we randomly placed them within the tape and trimmed triangles that lay over the tape so they looked perfectly imperfect.”
Now the playroom is ready for action, and will grow and evolve with the two boys.