A child's sanctuary

For exhausted parents with young children, it sounds like the holy grail: a designer who specializes in creating kids' rooms that will help them sleep. That's how a pediatric sleep consultant described Petaluma designer Ginny Hautau. But talking to Hautau reveals that her approach involves much more than getting kids to sleep well.

"Sleep is just a happy benefit of a well-designed space," said Hautau, a former second-grade teacher. The essentials, she says, are making a child's room a unique reflection of who that child is, fostering a sense of independence and allowing room to play and to grow.

"Everything should be personal," she said. A child's room can be a "personal 3-D journal all over the walls."

Hautau suggests incorporating an art wall with mementos from a child's life. "It becomes the story of her existence," she says. And she encourages having a place for collections, like a curio cabinet, for the treasures that young kids find out in the world.

When a room feels uniquely personal, "it's like curling up inside a diary," Hautau says. "You can put a little person in a small room with a night light and heartbeat sound, but the reality is if they just feel very secure and safe, drifting off to sleep feels like the most natural thing to do."

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