Designing Rooms For Kids – An Artist’s Perspective
Like most kids, many hours of my childhood were spent painting, drawing and generally being creative. However, I spent even more hours in “time-out” for destroying floors and furniture and pilfering household supplies needed for my various projects. Imagine how angry my mother was when I used up all of her feminine hygiene products, cotton balls and Q-Tips to make a winter cabin for my Barbies.
As an adult and working artist I realize now how important it is to have the proper tools, art supplies and the space to use them – basically a safe place to make a mess! Art has many therapeutic benefits as well – it can calm kids down, teach them concentration skills and relieve stress. A child’s room should be like an artists studio – an immersive, creative environment where they can get lost in fantasy and role playing for hours – consequence free!
One way to achieve maximum creativity is to make a room multi-functional, with areas set aside for creativity, reading, playing and homework. Start with an art area with storage and supplies just for that purpose. Furniture may include a chalk board, easel, table and chairs with special floor covering to protect from spills. Next, plan a reading area with bookshelves and scaled down soft furniture and lighting to encourage reading. Older kids will need a desk or homework area for their studies. If there is room, a stage area for plays and puppet shows is also a delightful addition. Have plenty of “mobile” toy storage (on wheels) and a clear spot on the floor for playing.
Involve your Child
There are many motifs to choose from when designing a kid’s room, and if your child is old enough – let them help. Ask them what activities they enjoy, their favorite color, book or TV show, etc. Find out what’s unique about their personality and build a theme around it – this will make your child feel comfortable, safe and happy. Allow them (with a little guidance) to choose colors, pick decorative pillows, and decide how they want to display their toys or collectibles.
Choosing a Theme
If you plan on putting more than one child in a room, you may want to guide them towards more non-gender themes such as a jungle, beach or ocean themes. Classic themes for girls include: princess and castle designs, fairies, flowers and gardens. Themes for boys include: cars and racing, sports themes, dinosaurs and cowboy themes to name a few. A fun exercise when trying to come up with something original is to combine 2 themes – like “Kitten + Ballerina”, “Alphabet + Train” or “The Cows of the Round Table.” Rooms can also be based on popular TV and literary characters like Winnie the Pooh, but these types of themes tire as your child moves on to older “cooler” cartoons. In the end, you really can’t go wrong when choosing a theme, your child will be inspired by living in this storybook atmosphere and in a space that is uniquely their own. Click here for more Theme Ideas.
Creating the Theme
Once you have chosen the theme use paint, wallpaper, photo murals or a hand painted mural to create an immersive environment. Original murals can be expensive, so why not have them painted on canvas to be steamed off and saved for future generations. Painted furniture and decorative hardware is a great way to extend a theme: dressers, headboards, toy chests and pint-sized tables and chairs are blank slates for fun and whimsical designs. Consider ceiling murals and decorations for infants. For the walls there are some really cool products on the market now like chalkboard and magnetic paint – making the walls themselves a canvas for your child’s inspiration.
Beware of Trends
There is a new design trend to include outdoor activities in children’s rooms, like swings and climbing walls but these require some supervision. Kids rooms should be safe and hazard free so, unless you live in the city, leave the jungle gym outside. Also, I would caution against anything that takes away from a child’s inner creative life, like television, computers and telephones.
If planned properly, a nursery can be converted into a toddler’s room with minimal fuss and redecoration. For example, an adult sized rocking chair can be replaced by small scale furniture and the crib can be replaced or converted into a bed. If the décor is not too “babyish” to begin with – you won’t have to completely redecorate the room again (other than replacing the comforter and decorative accessories) until your child is approaching the teen years. Look ahead to your child’s future growth and don’t choose the smallest room in the house for your baby. In time, your child should be able to sleep, play, do homework, and entertain friends in his or her room.
Safety is your first consideration. Crib slats should be close together; locks and latches safe and secure from accidental release; edges smooth; mattresses fitted snugly; bumper pads extended around the entire crib and snapped or tied in place. If you’re renovating a room, add extra electrical sockets – a few up high out of a toddlers reach. Reflector spot lamps or wall lamps give a softer glow than one background light; dimmer switches are also useful. Click here for a useful Check List of items & furniture you will need to purchase as your child grows.
Most of all – have fun!
Reprint policy: This article may be freely reproduced in print and online publications provided the following conditions are met:
It must be reproduced in full, with no changes or omissions, including the author information and web site in the last paragraph. Glennis McClellan’s copyright notice must be included. The copyright notice may be at the beginning or the end of the article.
Advance permission is required, and a copy of your publication is appreciated. Please send web links to gm @ bigmural .com.