Minneapolis mom shares her clever ideas for kid-friendly decorating

  • Article by: LYNN UNDERWOOD , Star Tribune
  • Updated: May 11, 2014 - 3:20 PM

A Minneapolis mom of three shares her clever ideas for kid-friendly decorating.

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Megan Collins is always thinking of ways to encourage her three daughters’ creativity — even when decorating the interiors of her Minneapolis home.

She masterfully mixes chalkboard-paint closet doors, where her girls are encouraged to express themselves, with a shabby chic romantic mirror in the entryway. Pretty decorative woven baskets store dolls and stuffed animals so they’re easily accessible for imaginative play. The girls’ artwork and paintings by MCAD students cover the walls. A copy of “Peter Pan and Wendy” tops a pile of decorating books. And Collins made sure to buy a durable dining room table because it often doubles as a craft station.

“I like spaces that are beautiful and stylish — but kid elements are also part of the visual experience,” she said. “A stack of children’s books is an accessory as much as a beautiful silver tray. That’s how we live.”

Megan and her husband, Casey, lucked into their charming 1907 farmhouse-style home five years ago, in Linden Hills, which Megan describes as “a Norman Rockwell picturesque little village in the city.”

“When we walked in, it reminded me of the house I grew up in,” said Megan, who hails from St. Paul. Although the antique-filled interiors were far from her style — with dark-stained woodwork, green wallpaper, lace curtains and brass light fixtures — she knew the four-bedroom home had immense potential. “I could visualize light, bright rooms,” she said.

The couple were on a budget and couldn’t undertake a major renovation. But before they moved in, they had workers paint all the woodwork and walls shades of white, and install recessed lights in the ceilings of the living and music rooms.

With a fresh, gallery-white backdrop, Megan gradually layered all the pieces that shape her “vintage modern” style, which has evolved since she had her first home — an apartment in New York City. “I like the two juxtaposed together and how the vintage softens the sharper modern edges,” said Megan, who works as a freelance writer and editor under her maiden name, Megan Kaplan, for Mpls.St.Paul, Real Simple and HGTV magazine, which recently showcased her home.

Casey approves of Megan’s “good mix of fun and color,” he said. “It’s unique and accessible — and not outrageously expensive.” That’s because, while growing up, Megan learned how to be a thrifty shopper from her mother, Mary Kaplan. “I’m a high-low kind of girl,” she said. “I spend money on statement pieces and try to fix and patch in what I don’t like in a cost-effective way.”

Megan feels she has inherited her mother’s design sensibility, including the edict that no room should be off limits to kids. “I learned from her how to create a delightful environment that excites me and my children,” she said. “The interplay of big kids and little kids is what makes design fun.”


designed for living

Here are some of Megan Collins’ design tips and tricks.



• A vibrant palette of corals, blues, greens and oranges is repeated in the white-walled living room and throughout the house.

• Megan worried about buying an ivory leather sofa from Room and Board Outlet — until she discovered that it comes clean with a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser.

• Artwork is displayed at kid height.

• Two wood cubes painted charcoal make a more versatile coffee table. “They can be pushed together for serving drinks and food,” she said.

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  • Megan Collins mingles vintage and modern budget-friendly furnishings that can sustain the wear and tear of three children. She hangs artwork at kid’s-eye level.

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