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This 11-Year-Old Is Becoming a Big-Shot Designer

He may be young, but Graham Sachs Gilbert is taking the interiors world by storm. We asked him for tips on designing a room both you and your little ones will love.

graham sitting at table looking at fabric swatches
The designer at work.

Graham Sachs Gilbert is a fan of fabric. “I love looking through samples of textiles and woods because I’m a very tactile person,” he says.

OK, so most kids are, but Graham takes his swatches seriously. The 11-year-old from Florida was discovered by Los Angeles–based interior designer David Phoenix while Graham and his mother, Fran Sachs (the COO of Palm Beach design firm Krista + Home), explored a local show house. Phoenix was impressed by Graham’s observations, so he did a quick video with the kid and posted it to Instagram, and then it went viral.

Less than two years later, the wunderkind has an impressive list of projects under his belt. We snagged a minute of his time to talk about the best ways to design a kid’s room so it can grow right along with the person who lives in it.

Where should parents start when trying to design a kid’s room?

First, talk to them and figure out what they like and don’t like—are there colors or patterns they love? Asking about a favorite book helps, too; it shows what themes they’re into.

What about budget?

Budget is very important for a kid’s room because their tastes may change. You want to be OK replacing their furniture and not spend an arm and a leg on it.

How can this be a collaborative process?

Take your child to a design store and see what they’re drawn toward. Show them paint samples and have them pick their favorite in 30 seconds. Don’t make it feel like work; disguise it as fun.

Drew and Jonathan joined Graham and the Make-A-Wish Foundation on NBC’s Little Big Shots to help one child get his dream playhouse!

Why is a well-designed room important?

I think kids aren’t represented in the design world. Many parents are like, Let’s throw a carpet in there, put a bed down—he’s all good. But kids are like mini adults! If you have a bland, white-walled room, it’s not super inviting. You want a cozy space where you can sit down and read a book.

What should you think about when choosing furniture for a kid’s room?

Check out the furniture in person if you can. A lot of times, there may be a drawer that’s hard to open or a bed that’s too tall. You can’t know that if you’re ordering online.

How would you incorporate pieces that feel specific to a kid’s age/interests that aren’t too costly?

Smaller decor like posters or pillows—things that can be replaced when their interests change. For example: Get your child race-car sheets instead of a race-car bed.

Anything you should avoid doing in a kid’s room if you’re looking for longevity?

Avoid branding of any sort. A lot of times, movies become uncool; as an 11-year-old, I’d be embarrassed if my friends came over and I had Buzz Lightyear wallpaper. And avoid flashy colors; kids need to be able to relax in their space. I don’t think it would be easy to sleep in a bright-pink room.

Good design should make everyone feel at home, and that includes your littles. Involving young ones in our process gives them some ownership, and they can feel proud of what they helped create!


By Caylin Harris | Photo by Francine Sachs

This article originally appeared in the Spring 2020 issue of Reveal, Drew & Jonathan’s lifestyle magazine.

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