Interior Designer Courtney Sempliner On Creating Beautiful Spaces For Children

The Tot FIVE x FIVE invites inspiring mamas to answer five questions on motherhood and curate five products they can’t live without. Here we talk to Courtney Sempliner, interior designer and mom of two on how to create beautiful spaces for children, starting her own firm and how she reinvented her style as a mother.

Feat_Five x Five_Courtney Sempliner

Over the last 15 years, Courtney Sempliner has made a name for herself working at international design firms in New York and London, where she helped with the interior design of a private penthouse within the Plaza Hotel in New York City, as well as properties at the renowned One Hyde Park building in London. In 2016, she launched her eponymous design firm, enabling her to work on private family homes from Manhattan to the Hamptons and everywhere in between. Today, the mama of two is here to share her tips for designing spaces for families.



Courtney on motherhood

What inspired you to start your own interior design firm?


After taking some time off for maternity leave with my first son, I returned to work at a large design firm and completely struggled with the work-life balance as a new mom. Working the long hours wasn’t feasible, especially with trying to make it home for dinner and bath time. Becoming pregnant with my second son coincided with my family moving from London to New York, which seemed like the perfect time to make a change and set out on my own. I knew I wanted to find my own balance as a mother and business owner.

What’s your #1 tip for designing a nursery that’s both practical and stylish?


Strike the perfect balance between form and function. Think stylish furniture silhouettes upholstered in kid-friendly fabrics. I like to use decorative elements in nurseries that aren’t overly juvenile, like glam brass or marble accessories (placed on higher shelves, of course!) or more adult-friendly artwork, which can always be used elsewhere in the home later on.

As your kids develop their own personalities, how do you encourage them to create their own spaces?


I ask for their opinions! I usually narrow the choices down to the final three contenders and then let them make the final choice. This way, they feel like they have ownership over their surroundings.  I can’t tell you how many design meetings we’ve had with clients and their toddlers.

How has your personal style has changed since becoming a mother?


My personal style is definitely a pared down, more durable version of my pre-baby style – less dangly earrings, silk blouses and heels, and more stylish sneakers (to chase children in) and machine washable clothes that won’t break my heart when the inevitable stains occur.

Is there anything in your life at the moment that you actively want to challenge and change?


I choose to challenge the labels and limitations placed on women. You can be a mother, a business owner, a wife, a start employee, a sister — there is no limit and no one role needs to define you.


Courtney’s Tot 5 Tot Picks


“I love these coordinating pjs for the whole family!”  

Hart + Land Men's PJ Set in Dinosaur Print on man

Hart + Land Men’s Pima Cotton PJ Set – Dinosaur Friends







“We never have enough totes! These chic basket totes hide toys away in a pinch.”


COLORES Collective Toy Basket


Colores Collective Toy Basket







“These classic wooden blocks offer hours of screen-free entertainment and they are beautifully made and so durable.”


Guidecraft Notch Blocks Storage Cart


Guidecraft Notch Blocks Storage Cart








“My boys could play with these for hours on end! One of my best purchases ever.”


Guidecraft LED Tabletop – Small


Guidecraft Powerclix Solids Natural – 70 Piece







“This has been so helpful for my oldest, who is learning to write.”


Kid O A to Z Lowercase Magnatab


Kid-O A-Z lowercase Magnatab 








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