Meems Monday Interview with Interior Designer, Mom of 3, and Expat, Kaho from @chuzailiving
Creating a welcoming living space for children, even in temporary homes, can hold significant importance for parents. Though those accommodations may be short-term, investing efforts into interior design can have a profound impact on a child’s well-being and provide a sense of belonging. By curating a nurturing environment, parents can provide their children with a comforting space that helps with stability and security in times of transition. Displaying your child’s favorite toys, books, and decorations allows them to have their individuality and establish a sense of ownership over their space and supports growth, creativity, and overall development.
We are pleased to introduce Kaho, an interior designer, mother, and expat, who aims to inspire people to create living spaces that best support their family. Recognizing the challenges of living and traveling abroad, she turned to social media to showcase the fun, hidden gems found in each new city. Her goal is to shed light on the positive aspects of being an expat and spotlight each special place she’s lived. However, Kaho acknowledges the difficulties that come with not having a permanent living space, leading her to appreciate the importance of transforming a house into a home every time she moved with her family. Kaho has become adept at creating a cozy living environment in rental houses without making any permanent changes. An added challenge she has faced is living in pre-furnished accommodations, which ultimately enhanced her resourcefulness. Thanks to her artistic eye, interior design experience, and Japanese heritage of attention to interior spaces, she effortlessly converts blank spaces into beautiful homes for her husband and children. On social media, Kaho generously shares her design tips, aiming to inspire other families to infuse more personality into their temporary residences. Her objective is to empower parents to bring a sense of comfort and belonging to spaces they may not own.
Kaho talks about her father’s love of interior design, while her mother practiced minimalism. Her parents influenced the way she thinks of a home. Growing up in Tokyo, where living space is limited, living a minimalist lifestyle has always been around her. Kaho was born and raised in Tokyo and spent time in her youth in LA and Singapore. She would study the Sunday newspaper advertisements for apartments and look over layouts and designs. After marrying her Texan husband and embarking on a life abroad, she came across a magazine article of an American military spouse and how she transformed her living space every time she moved, down to even reupholstering the provided furniture.
Somewhere along her 11 moves, living in 8 different cities with 3 children in tow, Kaho realized she wanted more for her own career and began sharing her expertise with other spouses online. As a stay-at-home mom it was her outlet to share the changes and improvements she was able to make for her family homes. While living in Okinawa she first discovered blogging and photography and began her own site that offered journaling her home makeovers, digging deeper into designing temporary spaces.
Kaho, who put together and designed 11 different temporary homes, shares her expertise in transforming places into personalized sanctuaries! In this Q&A, she offers insights on creating special bedrooms, maximizing small spaces with kids, decluttering, and adding personal style without permanent changes.
1.What are three ways parents can make a child’s bedroom special in a rental house or apartment?
Bedding, baskets, and bookcases are three important items. Books and toys can be decorative , so use them to make the room feel more familiar. Baskets provide you with a nice place to neatly put toys away and children can clean up easily on their own. Make investments in nice bedding; the bed is the largest part of the room and comes into your sight first, so having nice bedding can immediately elevate a room. If you have a box spring and metal frame, make sure to get a bed skirt to hide the bed feet.
2. What advice would you have on decorating for small spaces with children?
Use small spaces efficiently. We have had three children living in a tiny apartment with only one walk-in closet for them. We did not keep clutter and only had what we really needed. A positive aspect to relocating is being able to downsize and eliminate any waste. We also make sure various areas of our house are multi-functional, like storage under your bed with bins. Trunks are a really nice statement piece but also serve as a storage space for children’s toys. Having items with dual purposes will make a space stay tidy and seem much larger. Keeping to a color tone in smaller spaces can also help generate simplicity and consistency, giving the illusion of more space. I have a blog post you can read here for more tips!
This method is also effective in the kitchen. Buying appliances in one color, like white, elevates your kitchen aesthetic and allows you to really use a big part of what is in that space also as décor.
3.You talked about decluttering spaces; do you have advice on how to declutter kids’ rooms/spaces?
Depending on your child’s age, start with the closets. Remove anything they don’t wear anymore and sort the pieces that are out of season. Clothes are the easiest to sort and often take up alot of space. Next, work on the toys. I have a rule, until they are a certain age (for me, it was 9 years old with my youngest), I decide what to keep and discard for my children. There can be a lot of emotional connection to an item, though parents realize it is no longer serving the child. If my child hasn’t played with a toy for a while, I will quietly get rid of it. We declutter every two years because it is a way to help train children to get better about only keeping things that matter. The space where your children spend time can impact them, but even more so with my older children. How they keep their room is a reflection on how they are feeling inside. If they are struggling with something, they cannot think about tidying up. Keeping your room clean is associated with doing well emotionally. As a parent, being able to see how they are treating their room can also be an indication of how they are doing emotionally.
4. How can renters bring their own style into a space without making any permanent changes to the apartment?
Accent furniture. With three kids, I have an entertainment center with a swing chair, peacock chair, and a lot of rattan furniture I purchased abroad. Though these items were purchased in different places, they all have the same light-colored material that work well together. Keeping items unique but consistent in material is an easy way to improve a living space. I love making sure chairs are versatile too, you can use them as a nightstand but they come in handy if you actually need more seating for guests! Art is also a nice way to compliment a space and make it personal and beautiful. It can also take up large space to create a certain feeling that can be easily removed.
Christine Russell Janis writes about life as a mom of four children, living abroad, and travel on her life & style website ashadeofrose.com. You can also follow on social media @a.shade.of.rose.in.paris.