There comes a time in every woman’s life when their clutch purse is replaced with a change bag; pillow talk is swapped with baby talk and the once minimalist living room becomes a sea of primary-coloured plastic. But for the mothers who wish to retain some of their former life, Chelsea’s bobo kids are out to ensure your home can be both child friendly and stylish.
Opened in 2008 by friends Julie Hamon and Niloufar Bakhtiar-Clignet, bobo kids was launched after both women struggled to find furniture and homeware for their children’s bedrooms. Five years on, and the pair have just launched bobo kids online. Here co-founder, Niloufar reveals what inspired her career in interiors and gives her tips on designing rooms that will last from toddler to teen.
Niloufar’s interest in interiors is, by her own admission, innate. ‘From a very early age, I was submersed into the architecture and design world and knew this was a sector where I would fulfil my ambitions’ says Niloufar. Starting her career in fabric and furnishing design, Niloufar then decided to go it alone and establish her very own interior design studio, NBB Design.
bobo kids was next and almost a natural progression for the designer – the idea deriving from her own experiences of becoming a mother. ‘I despaired at the lack of stylish, distinctive and contemporary furniture for children. Much of the children’s furniture I found was uninspiring and rather bland; I was looking for a range of homewares and accessories that would help bring an element of fun and youthfulness into my home, but blend in and harmonise with my own interior design.’
Niloufar found she was not alone in her quest to find the perfect child’s bedroom and soon teamed up with close friend, Julie Hamon. ‘[Julie] shared my same vision in helping children create their own unique universe and a world of their own, away from adult life.’
Combining their love of vintage and similar ideas on interior design, bobo kids was born, with the idea of filling the gap in the market that Julie and Niloufar had both experienced first-hand.
One of these gaps was to create interiors that would not only look stylish, but would also inspire children from an early age to take an interest in their own space. ‘We wanted to offer pieces with a touch more style, and by doing so, encourage children to become more interested in contemporary interior design, art and fashion’ says Niloufar. ‘It is designed to cultivate young people’s tastes, offering everything from modern furniture with adult appeal, to more fun options such as decorative stickers and play rugs.’
As well as stocking furniture and homewares, bobo also offers an interior design service. Current projects include a large playroom which will have an in-built dance studio – complete with ballet barre.
Faced with the challenge of designing rooms to last well into a child’s teens, Niloufar suggests first and foremost that the child’s room should be designed around the parent’s style, with items that blend in with the rest of the home. ‘It’s easy to make mistakes, but by selecting stylish, durable and multifunctional furniture that won’t date, parents can be sure that they won’t have to regularly replace furniture as the child grows up.’
‘With any child’s bedroom, choose fabrics and paint in neutral tones that will grow with the child to avoid frequent replacing. Colourful accessories and decorative items like garlands and wall stickers can be easily changed, as can cushions and lampshades, which will evolve with the child as they grow up.’
According to Niloufar, one of the most common mistakes parents make when redesigning a child’s room is forgetting the fact that they’ll be spending almost as much time in the space as the child will. ‘Child-sized furniture is useful, but not always ideal for helping with homework. That’s why we are advise our clients to create a cosy area, where they can settle down with the children to read or chat.’
Vintage is particularly popular right now with west London mums; bobo’s ’50s retro-inspired collection has been a particular hit. ‘Combine with cashmere blankets, soft organic cotton bedding and colourful accessories for a timeless look that will grow with the child’ suggests Niloufar.