Find out how designer Emily Henderson turned this dated, blank box into a super inspiring shared kids' space for her two littles.

Designer and Target Home Style Expert Emily Henderson always has a few ideas in her design bag of tricks that we haven't seen before. You may remember Emily from her amazing patio makeover featured our July/August issue last year, which was full of creative ways to carve out zones in your yard. Oh, and she wrote the book on decorating for the Fourth of July without going over the top. That's why we were thrilled when she offered us an exclusive look at a makeover project she did for her kids at her house in the mountains. This new adventure-themed bedroom is full of cute, affordable Pillowfort products (the Target exclusive line) and a couple of great DIY ideas you can recreate in your own home the next time you want to redecorate for the kids. And did we mention the whole thing still looks sophisticated? Here's how to create a room both you and your little ones will love for years to come.

Emily Henderson Mountain Pillowfort Kids Room19
Photo by Sara Ligorria-Tramp

Tip #1: Splurge on soft floor coverings. Kids can't get over playing on the floors. So the challenge is finding something that's soft but sturdy and somewhat resistant to stains. And did we mention not dated? Well, guess what? Wall-to-wall carpeting is back and better than before, both in terms of style and performance. "This was my first foray into wall-to-wall carpet, and I couldn't be happier with how it turned out," says Emily. "We chose STARK Carpet for this because the rugs are refined and low pile." Specifically, she found a textural subtle stripe pattern in blue that's happy and fun—but also dark enough to conceal a stain or two. And get a load of this smart hack. "To make the rug feel a bit cozier and give it that 'bouncy' feeling, we used double memory foam padding—perfect for toddler wrestling," says Emily. Brilliant.

Emily Henderson Mountain Pillowfort Kids Room7
Photo by Sara Ligorria-Tramp

Tip #2: Let the kids choose textiles, and you decide on the big pieces. Compromise will help you design a kid space that's going to last longer than your child's obsession with superheroes or LOL Surprise dolls. "For the bedroom, I mixed new age appropriate items like this bunny throw pillow, adventure framed art, and a fun captain pillow and grounded the room with neutral and natural accents," says Emily. "You can take any theme and make it sophisticated and 'quiet' by reducing the colors and mixing in lots of woods and earthy accents." A good rule of thumb: Let your littles choose pillows and art, which can be updated every so often, and you choose furniture that's adult-looking, so it will grow right along with them.

Emily Henderson Mountain Pillowfort Kids Room10
Photo by Sara Ligorria-Tramp

Tip #3: Get your DIY on. Emily and her team came up with several projects to make the room feel special. Instead of going the typical bunk bed route for a shared bedroom, create a canopy over twin beds like Emily did. This not only reinforces the adventure/explorer them, but it's also a more flexible solution should you want to separate your kids into different rooms down the line (without buying all new furniture). "My team DIY'd it, which took some troubleshooting, but we're really happy with the end result," says Emily. Check her blog later this week for instructions. She also DIYed the roman shades in the room. "Although the shades did take time, the materials we used were affordable — just white canvas, some blackout yardage, and strips of leather," says Emily. "My team and I love how the shades echo the pretty wood tones of the tent poles, and the Marvin windows that are new and so beautiful." And yet another DIY is the climbing wall. "The climbing wall is actually a plywood box that my handy team built with screw holes inside! It was a bit tricky because we had to secure the foot and hand holds to a stud. I'll be posting a full tutorial on my blog, so make sure to check that out!"

Emily Henderson Mountain Pillowfort Kids Room25
Photo by Sara Ligorria-Tramp

Tip #4: Steal space where you can for built ins and niches. If construction is an option, make the most of your square footage by building out little nooks. "When I started this project, I noticed a ton of wasted space I knew I could transform into magical areas for my kiddos," says Emily. "I wanted to give them places of their own to 'hide from the bad guy' or come up with a 'secret plan.' I designed a reading nook inside the staircase landing and layered in plenty of cozy pieces, like this faux fur heart pillow and knit throw, and created another nook underneath the stairs, which my kids love to hang out and plan adventures in." If it's not in your budget, bring in fun shelves and stackable bins instead to max out your wall space without overcrowding the layout.

Emily Henderson Mountain Pillowfort Kids Room3
Photo by Sara Ligorria-Tramp

Tip #5: Consistency is key when it comes to color. If you don't want your kid spaces to stick out too much from the rest of your home, then borrow their color schemes from the rest of your adult spaces. You can find cute kid furnishings in all colors these days, not just baby blues and pinks. "We stuck to a color palette of white, blue, and green," says Emily. "This is consistent with what we used throughout the rest of the house and mimics the mountains outside nicely. We also mixed in some Scandinavian elements—such as natural woods, graphic shapes and neutrals— in the shelving and décor." 

Emily Henderson Mountain Pillowfort Kids Room18
Photo by Sara Ligorria-Tramp