When JessaKae and Jordan Maddocks decided to turn an over-the-garage area into a kids’ playroom, they turned to designer Aubrey Smith to go all-out as she fashioned the space with color, character and, of course, fun.
When youngsters Gatsby and Jazz Maddocks are sent to their room—or playroom, to be exact—you won’t hear any moaning or groaning. Whoopees are more likely. That’s no surprise, given that the fun-filled space was created by designer Aubrey Smith, who collaborated on the project with mom JessaKae Maddocks, CEO and Creative Director of fashion label JessaKae.
“Colorful and somewhere the imagination can run free,” says JessaKae, explaining what she wanted for the space. The same words could be used to describe the inclusive clothing line she designs. “Her style and aesthetic is fun and youthful, and she loves color and patterns,” says Smith, principal of Aubrey Veva Design. She used her client’s joyful character to inspire her design.
The playroom began as an empty, over-the-garage space with no purpose. But parents JessaKae and Jordan hatched a plan. “We realized that we didn’t have any super fun kids-only spaces,” JessaKae says. So they let their imaginations run free and decided on a playroom with must-have bunk beds, a swing, a fort and slide. “Our kids’ favorite things all in one space,” she explains. To integrate these features and more, Smith functionally divided the space into activity-driven zones.
Smith began with a play area that welcomes visitors into the open, 800-square-foot room. It features a slide, fort-like loft and hidden storage below. A creativity-focused craft area follows, with its hanging chairs and a round work table teamed with small chairs. “It’s a magical area where they can be creative and learn on their own,” the designer says.
Nearby, large window seats serve as light-filled reading nooks. Stylish wardrobes anchor the adjoining storage area and, toward the back of the space, two sets of cleverly designed bunks furnish the sleeping zone. “From the beginning, you have to think of the space as a whole, identify each functional area and then integrate practicality into each of them,” Smith explains. “Yes, beautiful design can include practicality.”
Because the parents wanted a playroom their kids could grow up in, Smith rejected anything overtly juvenile or sweet. The Maddockses also favored a gender-neutral palette with no trace of conventional girly pink or boyish navy. With her client’s love for lively colors in mind, Smith began with primary orange and blue then conjured toned-down shades that are playful but not predictable. Think tangerine and slate blue. “These colors play well together and are unique,” the designer says. So too is her choice of a soft-toned wallpaper that wraps the space in an enchanting jungle scene. It’s pretty, of course, but also pragmatic. “The pattern won’t have to be replaced as the kids grow older,” says Smith, who also chose cushy Berber carpeting, bunk steps (rather than ladders), easy-care performance fabrics and no-fuss finishes for their practicality.
But Smith didn’t allow sensibility to overshadow the room’s fanciful style. Hanging from a sky-blue ceiling, rose-gold disco balls and puffy cloud lights delight the space with their surprising forms. Nearby, vivid velvet curtains drape the cocoon-like bunks in luxury. “The Maddockses like beautiful things, and nothing is too precious for their boys,” says Smith, who also chose high-end fabrics for a mix of custom pillows that animate the décor. The designer customized tall blue cabinets with shapely arched doors and cleverly painted their interiors with, you guessed it, delicious tangerine. Adorning the walls, whimsical stuffed animal heads and framed drawings of the boys also charm the space. “I’m a sucker for a layered look,” Smith says. “More is more.”
JessaKae and Jordan kept the playroom project a secret from their boys until it was complete. When Gatsby and Jazz first saw it, “their eyes lit up,” Mom recalls. “There were a lot of ‘wows ‘and ‘whoas,’” she says. Understandably, the room elicits much the same reaction from nearly everyone who visits its awesome space.