Room to grow
Designing a child’s room is as challenging as it is fun – you want somewhere they can let their imagination run wild, but will also contain all their belongings and stand the test of time.
There’s a bundle of fun to be had in creating a room for a child, and it’s hard not to get carried away. You’ll be like a kid in a toy shop and so, as with many things in life, it’s often best to keep it simple.
At the end of the day, the main function of your child’s room is for sleep (at least till they’re a teenager when their room doubles up as a den, a study, a youth hostel, a private retreat…), and creating a calm, welcoming, gentle environment will make bedtime easier.
Here are some key points to bear in mind when designing a space for the most important little people in your life.
Back to basics
Let’s start off with the building blocks of any room – walls, floors and lighting.
Gentle wall colours will be more enduring and restful than the antics of an action hero in a super-size mural – though of course there’s still a place for those much-loved cartoon characters. You can keep them in the picture quite literally, with a set of framed supersize prints on one wall, the contents of which can be changed when the CBeebies stars have had their day and Disney takes the top spot.
Flexible lighting options will soothe throughout the night, and blackout curtains will save the day when the clocks change. Meanwhile on the floor, soft carpets are good for little bare feet – and will help you to creep quietly out when those eyes are shut.
Storage is key
Children’s bedrooms are their playrooms too, though in reality their toys and their schoolfriends will migrate downstairs and into your living room (your kitchen, your home office, your garden – you get the idea). Storage that’s child-friendly in their bedroom and grown-up in your living room is a must.
Colourful rope baskets make easy storage and look good in a child’s bedroom, and neutral-coloured ones can be used to store extra toys in your family room. Different sizes increase their flexibility - little things are easier to find in little baskets. They’ll help you teach your children to tidy up without it being a chore when they’re tired, and they’ll help you to contain all the excitement when playtime’s over and it’s time for you to put your feet up.
Working out storage solutions that show off favourite things means that you’ll get away with a background colour that will last, and the room will look cheerful and friendly. A simple block of pigeon-holes becomes a library, a toy store, and a wardrobe all at the same time, and you’ll all be able to find what you want at a glance.
Design tip: A practical row of wooden pegs at child height all along one wall doubles-up for clothes as well as toys, an easy storage trick that doesn’t steal the space.
A space that will grow with them
Themes for children’s bedrooms are on the move as much as they are. One minute it’s nursery rhymes, the next minute it’s Superman, and before you know it, they’re choosing their own posters and accessories and you’re banned! You can call the shots in the early days and then it becomes an exciting and imaginative collaboration as your child develops his or her own favourites.
To make a room stay the course, without an endless cycle of re-decorating, let the toys and games, the bedding and the books, paint the picture for you. A combination of all the contents of a child’s bedroom will provide all the colours under the sun. It’s a good starting point.
It’s a fact of life that you can afford to take your time adding other pieces of furniture to the equation. You’ll start with a cot, a baby-changing station, and a comfy chair for night-time feeds, and you’ll end up with a full-size bed, a desk and chair for homework, somewhere for a TV, and storage for a fashion show’s worth of clothes and shoes.
Somewhere in between the two are your child’s first bed, a little bedside table for an easy touch lamp and a bedtime book. It’s a fabulous journey. You just need to make it as easy and adaptable as possible.
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