before & after: kate dixon’s circus room


this might possibly be my favorite before & after bedroom that i’ve ever seen. it’s been on a few blogs already, but i couldn’t resist sharing this because it blows all those extreme home makeover rooms out of the water.


when i was little i always hoped for one of those crazy rooms that had a serious “FUN” theme and would have details like a race car bed or some sort of rope contraption that i could climb up to the ceiling. i ended up with a purple bedroom and grape vine borders on the wall, but a girl can still dream. and now that i’m grown up, i’d still like to live in this fantasy child’s bedroom that designer kate dixon created for the symphony designer showhouse in kansas city. kate created a circus themed room that where whimsical and functional manage to somehow meet. in addition to building a giant spinning ferris wheel toy storage unit (man i would have loved one of those growing up!), kate and her team also made rugs out of duckcloth and stitched them together to create a patchwork effect. the “ringmaster” pictured is kate’s son, who approved of the idea of turning old pallets into fun custom furniture. the look was finished with pillows by SOWN and circus illustrations created by jeff shumway, and the final room is just stunning. i know this was created by a pro- but there are so many ideas in here that you could easily take and do in a real home: stitched rugs, pallet furniture, custom themed portraits, chalkboard walls, etc. if we end up with a little boy down the road i am totally stealing some of these ideas- assuming he’s down with a circus theme. but man, what kid wouldn’t love to escape to this room to play? great work, kate- thanks so much for sharing!

[all photos by chad jackson at jackson visuals]



  1. Cathy says:

    This room is brilliant! I love anything circus anyway, but the ideas you came up with are so cool and unique! Love the ferris wheel!!!

  2. Danielle says:

    as stated in the post, the room was created for a showhouse, which is why the designer was able to take certain liberties. interior design is an art, and there is a phrase, “art for art’s sake,” that i think would apply here. it’s fun! enjoy the art and craftsmanship. it’s meant to be inspirational. there is a link for a past post at the end of the post of a before and after of aidan’s real room that is super fun and practical.

  3. amanda says:

    LUCKY! Those are some super awesome parents and one lucky kid! I hope I can make my child’s room this cool:)

  4. Cate says:

    This room is AMAZING! Totally fun while still maintaining a great design focus! It looks so fun!

  5. kat says:

    STUNNING! that room is so friggin awesome, I would live there now!!!

  6. Extreme home makeover did this same room as a playroom for a special needs baby with the baskets on the ferris wheel used for the therapy supplies.

    I agree with some of these comments though. Those baskets are not likely strong enough to support a childs wieght, but I don’t know any child that would NOT try and sit in them. I think the idea is just silly, even in a play room. A mural would have been great though! Then when they get older they could paint over it.

  7. peggy jones says:

    The room is darling. I saw it at the Designer Showcase in Kansas City on May 9th. The ferris wheel was definitely the show stopper.

  8. bonjourmiette says:

    I disagree that the room is one that couldn’t grow with the kid. At most if they would outgrow the circus motif you could take out the ferris wheel, but leave the base and put some cushions on it and make a couch. That’s the only thing that screams circus. Everything else is fairly neutral or could be changed up with new fabric choices when the kid became a teen and wants something less vintage-cool.

    And if you’re the sort of a kid who wants to do inadvisable stuff and tempt the broken bones gods, well if you don’t have a ferris-wheel toy box you’ll find something else :) I once decided I was going to be an Olympic ski jumper and set about practicing by tying 1x2s waxed up with saddlesoap to my snowboots with string and skiing off my friend’s roof. At least if they’re doing the crazy stuff in their bedroom you have a chance to stop it before it’s ambulance time.

  9. Cool concept, but the before is so much better!

  10. Debra says:

    Wow what a fun place for a kid to hangout in. I could see my three year old grandson “Dorian Chase” in this room.

  11. That is pretty darn cute!

  12. Elle Sees says:

    this room is soo not fair! it’s too awesome!

  13. That is one lucky kid!!

  14. Penny says:

    Anyone have any idea what the green wall color is or how to find it?

  15. susan says:

    designer clearly never had kids!

  16. Pam says:

    Super-super Cool. I love this room!

  17. Shayla says:

    This. Is. Incredible. The End.

  18. jullye says:

    wow, just love it!

  19. Babar says:

    beautiful kids bedroom design…

  20. Very nice bedroom

    that is second in the list.

  21. Cute! amazing bedroom design…

  22. Melissa says:

    Is there any way to get instructions on how to make the ferris wheel? Please!! I am in love.

LEAVE A COMMENT

Design*Sponge reserves the right to restrict comments that do not contribute constructively to the conversation at hand, contain profanity, personal attacks, hate speech or seek to promote a personal or unrelated business. Our goal is to create a safe space where everyone (commenters, subjects of posts and moderators) feels comfortable to speak. Please treat others the way you would like to be treated and be willing to take responsibility for the impact your words may have on others. Disagreement, differences of opinion and heated discussion are welcome, but comments that do not seek to have a mature and constructive dialogue will not be published. We moderate all comments with great care and do not delete any lightly. Please note that our team (writers, moderators and guests) deserve the same right to speak and respond as you do, and your comments may be responded to or disagreed with. These guidelines help us maintain a safe space and work toward our goal of connecting with and learning from each other.