Creative Kids’ Rooms: An Interview With Karey Mackin

Writer Karey Mackin’s words are magic.  So it’s no surprise that her three daughters’ bedrooms are unique spaces curated with a playful sense of wonder, whimsy, and other-worldliness.  Recently back in the United States after living for years abroad in the Middle East, Karey shares with us her strategy for creative kids’ rooms and infusing personality into her girls’ spaces.   


Photos courtesy of Karey Mackin.  Visit Karey’s blog, Mackin Ink, for her thoughts on love, life, and beautiful things.
Creative Kids' Rooms

What is your decorating philosophy when it comes to your girls’ rooms?


I’m obsessed with art, all things design, and perfected, well-collected spaces. That mania, combined with a dash of control freak, usually results in a once-weekly panic over the state of my girlies’ bedrooms. I fight like mad to swallow all those “No, Grae…you can’t hot-glue silver doilies on your ceiling.” and “Lillie! Stinkbugs sprinkled with glitter is! not! art!” and even “Please stop painting with my Stardust, Esmé!” {Sigh.} She can. It is art. And can someone being me more polish remover, please?


My girlies’ rooms are exactly that: theirs. So my decorating philosophy matters very little, with the exception of one tiny element. I insist on white sheets, white pillows, and white feathery-weight comforters. It’s quite sweet to sleep on a marshmallow fluff, don’t you think?


Creative Kids' Rooms
Creative Kids' Rooms
How much input do they each have?


All of the art in Lillie and Grae’s room is their own. One entire wall is covered with homages to Natasha Wescoat, Mark Rothko, and Marisa Haedike, as well as poster-size photos of themselves, mostly smiling. This is incredibly important to me that they grow up indentifying with artists of all sorts and view themselves as beautiful, happy works of art.


Esmé, it seems, is a pack rat. A collector of all things no one else wants, and lots of it. Her floor-to-ceiling shelves are an explosion of nonsense. I wince every time she adds something to the mix. I really do. My only salvation has been vintage wooden boxes, numbered tin buckets, and an ancient trunk I spray-painted red.
Creative Kids' Rooms
What are the elements that make their spaces so unique? 


My favorite piece in Esmé’s room is a cut book sculpture of Salinger’s Nine Stories, after one of which our littlest girlie three is named. There are also two happy photographs of dahlias – her middle name – by two of my favorite photographers in the world: Traci French and Mary Swenson.


I love Lillie and Grae’s disco ball. It catches the sunlight and spreads its shimmer so cheerily. The ten-year old artist in me can’t stay away from their desk, packed shelf after shelf with glass jars full of treasures and a ton of art supplies. Pure joy, in my opinion, is directly related to the amount of glue, glitter, colored pencils, and paper readily available. I keep a few empty jars for the day’s latest collectible. A few weeks ago, it was four tiny frogs found at the creek. The snapping turtle stayed outside.
Creative Kids' Rooms
You and your family lived in Jordan for three years.  How did living abroad affect how you decorated their rooms? 


I felt a bit more free in terms of wall color while we lived overseas, probably because paint and painters were so cheap. I didn’t worry about nail holes in the concrete construction or glitter and paint spills on the marble floors, which resulted in a chill creative environment. As much as I try to recreate that fly-by-the-seat-of-my-britches nonchalance, I’m always fast-forwarding to a year from now when we’ll probably sell our house. I don’t know our buyers yet, but I bet they’ll notice how the bedroom carpets glimmer from all the sequin spills.

Creative Kids' Rooms

Where are your favorite places to shop for pieces for their rooms?


If there’s no souq to scour for hundred-year old carpets and bedouin-made crafts, you’ll find us in the art supply store. Probably buying more glue.
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