Maker Monday: Smart Playrooms

Mixing play with practicality, teacher Karri Bowen-Poole launched Smart Playrooms with the goal of bringing a thoughtful approach to children’s play areas in schools and homes, and a year ago, sought out the design talents of designer Denise Davies. Tapped for her residential design skills, Denise’s firm, D2 Interieurs, was a perfect fit for the company’s design component. With a strong sense of color and joy, Davies has led playroom redesign projects that create a fun, engaging environment and get children excited about learning. Using the education philosophies of Maria Montessori and Emilio Reggio, Smart Playrooms is about a lot more than looking cute; it’s about making sure children spend their time in spaces that foster development and drive. Meet Denise in this week’s #MakerMonday, and take a look at some of Smart Playrooms’ results below!

Denise brings funk, form, and function to this blue-hued home playroom.

Andrew Joseph: Vintage or new?
Denise Davies: Vintage! I love to mix textures, and always incorporate vintage pieces and art into every project; this gives a home a lived-in feeling. I am also an avid collector of midcentury modern vintage pieces and go on buying trips to Miami and LA frequently. I have been influenced by growing up in a 1920’s Miami Beach art-deco home with original hand-painted tile floors, wall frescoes, arches, and tons of character. Also living in Italy, in an 18th-century apartment not only taught me an appreciation of vintage but also how to mix the modern and the old world together…

Andrew: What are three things you can’t live without?
Denise: Starbucks coffee, Dark Chocolate, Meditation & Exercise (that’s 4 but who’s counting?)

All gyms considered, this is the coolest gym we’ve ever seen.

Andrew: How would you define your work in three words?
Denise: Timeless, Perfectly Current, Modern

Andrew: What are you most excited about at this time in your life?
Denise: Karri and I started collaborating on Smart Playrooms in the Spring and in that time our business has been booming. It is so exciting. We are really filling a need in the market. Not only are we creating play spaces that are well designed, but they also have an educational component. It’s resonating in the commercial world as well as residential. The possibilities are endless and we are beyond excited about how this is developing and evolving.


About The Maker | “A playroom is for both children and adults to enjoy,” says Denise Davies, CEO and founder of D2 Interieurs. “You don’t have to sacrifice style in order to have a functional play space.” Karri Bowen-Poole, the founder of Smart Playrooms and someone who regularly collaborates with Davies to design both commercial and residential spaces for kids, adds, “A well-designed playroom needs to be able to grow with the kids but also appeal to them in the present. That’s why it’s important to keep the space gender neutral and appealing to kids of all ages.”

Bowen-Poole says you’ll want to make sure there’s “lots of comfortable floor space, ideally cushioned with a soft, flat weave rug or carpet tiles, so your kids have plenty of room to safely roam and play.” Once you’ve padded the playroom floor, you can get creative by layering in colorful (and durable) furnishings, interactive toys, and sensory-rich nooks. “Really think about how your child will use the room and create specific zones throughout the space,” Davies explains. “Have a space for arts and crafts, a zone for building blocks, a physical play area, and one for pretend play.” No matter what design style you choose, remember what this space is meant to do: inspire the imagination of your children, says Davies. “The goal is to use design elements, like colors, shapes, and textures, to create a stimulating space that children will want to keep coming back to,” she adds.

Led by award-winning designers Denise Davies and Karri Bowen-Poole, together they create dynamic, colorful and educational play spaces. Denise and Karri forge a perfect balance between form and function. The goal of every playroom is the belief that good design evokes creative and open-ended play. The resulting environments are colorful, captivation, imaginative and educational. Denise and Karri bring their respective areas of expertise in a wide range or residential and commercial projects. Denise is known for her fresh, modern and perfectly current approach to interior design and creating amazing kids spaces. She has a thoughtful and brilliant approach to color. Karri is known for her extensive background in education and knowing just how kids play. Karri is sought after for creating unique educational learning spaces that inspire creativity and a love of learning for all children.


Andrew Joseph is a regular contributing editor for ASPIRE DESIGN AND HOME magazine. See more of his work here

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