Decorating for Your Differently-Abled Child + Giveaway

by Garrett Fleming

Decorating for Your Differently-Abled Child & Giveaway, Design*Sponge

Decorating your child’s room can be a challenge. Kids are messy, they’re tough on furniture and their taste changes with the wind. Not only that, but as a parent you also want them to feel comfortable in their space and to give them a haven in which they can thrive. All in all, there’s a lot to think about when the process kicks off. For some parents, though, a much more profound factor has to be taken into account: their child being differently-abled.

Designing and decorating for kiddos with different abilities (or diffently-abled people of any age, for that matter) is a topic too often overlooked by our community. Today we are setting out to change that. We’ve partnered with advocate and mother of three, Rachel Fox Kipphut, and put together 5 Decorating Tips for Your Differently-Abled Child. Rachel is a wealth of knowledge. Her four-year-old daughter Eva was born with Down Syndrome, which meant her room and play areas needed specific attention when it was time to decorate. Coordinating colors, playing to your child’s strengths and finding ways to empower them are just a few of the tips we can all learn from Rachel and her tot.

Not only is she sharing with us all that she learned from the design process, but Rachel’s also helped us put together a great giveaway. One lucky reader will get a prize package full of goodies that are Eva-approved. Every item is stylish, useful and made by a brand that’s inclusive of those who are differently-abled. Major kudos! Click through for the tips and to enter. Enjoy. —Garrett

Photography by Rachel Fox Kipphut

Color Coordination

“In the past, Eva’s room was filled with all her toys and things she loved. What we found as she grew is that Eva is easily frustrated with too much stimuli and many choices,” Rachel tells us. To combat this, the family has broken Eva’s toys and books up amongst the areas she plays in. Rachel also color coordinated the books and such so Eva doesn’t become too overwhelmed when having to make a choice come play time.

Decorating for Your Differently-Abled Child & Giveaway, Design*Sponge

Decorating for Your Differently-Abled Child & Giveaway, Design*Sponge

Decompression Session

To help make the transition from school – where there’s a lot of visual and auditory stimulation and structure – to home as smooth as possible, Rachel created a quiet room where Eva can decompress. Each day when she gets home, Eva spends an hour doing something she enjoys here. It’s designed to be cozy and relaxing with cool tones throughout and lots of comfy pillows.

Decorating for Your Differently-Abled Child & Giveaway, Design*Sponge

Eye-Level Organization

“Eva enjoys dancing and dressing up these days,” Rachel shares. Putting dress-up clothes, a mirror and toys at eye level has not only empowered Eva to make her own playtime choices, but “when things are neat and easily accessible and away from other distracting things” playtime’s made more pleasant.

Decorating for Your Differently-Abled Child & Giveaway, Design*Sponge


Air purifying plants have been great for Eva and her family. They keep the air clean and have proven to be a great teaching tool for Eva, teaching her how to care for others and how to be responsible.

Decorating for Your Differently-Abled Child & Giveaway, Design*Sponge

Playing To Strengths

Eva loves art, so Rachel has decorated her room and the playroom in all of the fabulous work Eva’s done. She also made sure to provide her with a colorful, designated space to create to her heart’s content.

Decorating for Your Differently-Abled Child & Giveaway, Design*Sponge

Do you have any other tips to share? Let us know by leaving a comment below by midnight Central Time on October 11th and you’ll be entered to win a bundle of great, inclusive goodies. One (1) lucky reader will win a prize package containing a $25.00 shop credit to Chrome Classic Kids, an Increment Studios O-Ring Sensory Toy, a shirt of their choice from Littlest Warrior Apparel, a leather play mat from Gathre and goods from Todd Parr’s North American Bear Co. collection.

Suggested For You


  • My youngest sister is in a wheelchair. It was definitely a design challenge when helping my mum create a beautiful and functional home. She needs a lot of extra space especially in high traffic areas. Instead of placing bookshelves or consoles along walls that would stick out enough to crowd a wheelchair, we used artwork to create interest. Also rugs are an issue. You can’t have a rug with too high or thick of a pile, but you need one heavy enough that it won’t lift up and get caught in the wheels. There is always a solution for every design problem, you just have to play around and get creative!

  • This is such a wonderful post! Thank you for thinking of all us who are on this journey with our precious children.

  • I love the thoughtfulness of all the design ideas. So important to design & organize around the strengths of our little warriors.

  • What a beautiful room for a beautiful little angel! I guess the only suggestion that I would add is to maybe put up a tee pee or little tent/relaxing little nest area to sit maybe listen to soothing music while reading a book. Could add some aromatherapy as well. I really adore the room that you created for your sweet little girl. Thanks so much for the chance to win. Terri of Two Pink Peas

  • I find that alternating artwork and colors has a very calming affect for my daughter. The different looks tend to take her focus into a better direction. Thank you for the wonderful giveaway!
    erinloves2run at gmail dot com

  • What a beautiful room. When my daughter was younger, I put a lot of things high in closets and cabinets and had her toys on a rotating system. Her climbing skills are better than her awareness of danger, so now I keep many of her favorite toys in bins on the ground and under her bed. The closets are now locked to keep her safe.

  • I have a son with a rare genetic condition, and we have lots of medical equipment scattered through our house. Like many others, I want our home to be beautiful, comfortable and cozy, but it’s hard with ugly equipment in every corner. I still try my best, and all those things are sweet reminders of my son. I especially strongly disliked my son’s hospital bed. It was donated to us and it worked fine, but it was just so depressing to look at. It was brown and made of steel and plastic. It just doesn’t look like it belongs in a home. This summer I took my daughter’s loft bed (while she was at camp, she’s still not happy about that), and sawed off the legs at the right height for me and my husband, and gave it to our son. I love how it turned out! So my tip is to look outside of the box, and don’t be afraid to DIY things. It’s usually a lot more affordable and beautiful.
    Thanks for a great post, and I would love to see more posts like this!

  • My children were adopted from foster care Although we have had them from infants, and they are not biological siblings, there is no difference with the love they share with each other nor the love I feel for them. Due to their difficult births, in utero drug exposure, our children have disabilities that may not always be easily visible. As their hyper-active behaviors are beginning to increase with age, calm soft colors, less “busy-ness” helps their room to be a sanctuary.

  • I am always looking for ways to bring beauty in to my home and create a space where my little guy can feel calm and peace. Thank you for providing inspiration!

  • It might help to have a shelving unit with easy pull out baskets to store toys, books, etc. . . The baskets could be different colors.

  • I love this!! Thank you for this article. As a mom to a brand new little girl with Down syndrome, it means the world to me that you would talk about our differently abled babies on your blog. I have been a reader for years and years and years! I don’t have any tips as I am only just beginning on this journey – but my Lily would love those goodies! Thanks for making my day :)

  • We are just beginning to plan a space for Caleb that he will share with his older brother. Unlike Eva, Caleb is the youngest. Loved these ideas! Michaele

  • Love this. I too am a special needs mom and disability advocate. (I even did a similar post a while ago with the Land of Nod. High fives!) For my daughter, we have accessibility issues. She is much shorter in stature, doesn’t walk and has shorter arms…so for us it’s all about not being afraid to use things in a different way. For example she’s 6 and sleeps in a toddler bed. It’s a great height and size for her, even though it might not seem like the obvious solution. We also found a book holder that is low and on the floor and try to keep lots of storage easily accessible for her.

  • My daughter who has T21 just turned two so her room isn’t quite bed-ready, but I’m bookmarking this post for ideas as she gets older! Thank you thank you!

  • That bedroom is adorable! I have two little girls with spastic quad CP and my big bedroom challenge is storing and organizing unsightly medical equipment. My husband built them matching corner beds with drawers underneath. ?? Super awesome use of space.

  • Love all the ideas, super cute. My little is just learning to sit at 2 and we have so much on the floor in his reach right now. The room of artwork is something I’m looking forward to. Always looking for room ideas! For holidays I’m on the lookout for ideas on decorating his IV pole. Thank you for the ideas!

  • I love this post! For some children, a tight space with comfortable bedding that they could ball up in might help with sensory challenges. Thanks for all these great tips!

  • Having 2 children, 1 non-verbal austic(age4) and a 14 month old with down syndrom. It can be hard keeping toys separate, its a challenge sometimes to share toys. My tip, is to use color coordinated bins for keeping things separate.

  • Thank you so much for the inspiring and helpful story and advice. As a new mom and a new family doc, I’m keen to glean as many tips as possible on how to both beautify and better my children’s and patients’ environments. I really have found that having time and space reserved for ‘decompression’ and unscheduled play are so integral. Glad to see this highlighted here and to find so many more fabulous ideas.

  • About half of my family is legally blind. My favorite Aunt, when she was tired after a long day, could only really see the color orange. When I planted flower beds for her I used New Year Roses, which are almost neon. If you have a child with visual issues, zero in on the colors they can see best. Also, vary the textures of things, corduroy, velvet, etc. Different rugs (heavy, immobile rugs) in different places in the room are a great way to make navigating easier.

  • My middle son has SPD and developmental delay. Another great tool we use to ease transition from school to home (and get a good night’s rest!) is a weighted blanket! It has made SUCH a difference! But we agree, keeping the toys separated so that he doesn’t get over stimulated and dump them all out in frustration, has been a great help. It also keeps our house of six at a more manageable state.

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