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March 30, 2020 – Published in Design & Decor Spring 2015 issue
It’s a kid’s world
Words Kristine Bonnici – Interior designer
What did your room mean to you as a child? What are your earliest memories of it? Do you remember what it looked like, the pattern on the wallpaper, or the way you could see a shelf of your favourite toys when you lay in bed?
A child’s space will affect his or her personality and development. It is important for a child’s sense of well-being and confidence that some care and attention is paid to their bedroom. If a space has been specially designed for the child to sleep, play and work in, then they will do all these things more satisfactorily. There will be far less friction in the house if everybody has some space of their own. If your child has a particular interest, they will be able to develop it in their room, secure in the knowledge that their precious painting or construction kit won’t be damaged because you have to clear up the kitchen table for supper.
One of the most essential functions of a child’s room is to be a refuge and there are many ways in which you can make your child’s room really special besides decorating and furnishing it with their tastes in mind. Spending time with your child reading a bedtime story or simply chatting together in the bedroom will emphasise the child’s feeling of security and will contribute to creating a special place where they will feel safe and loved.
As children grow, their needs change and it is important that a child’s room is versatile. Think about the basics before embarking on the decorating. A baby will need nothing more than a place to sleep, but a young teenager will need space for homework and relaxation.
Half the skill of room planning for children is anticipating the future: the other half is knowing what is available in terms of furnishings and equipment. You will need to think about colour schemes, how to integrate the flooring with the curtains, how to optimise storage space and how to create an interior that will stimulate and delight your child.
With a little thought and planning, you can create a happy room for your baby that will remain appealing into the elementary school years.
Although it might be tempting to choose pastel bunnies frolicking on the curtains or on the wallpaper, choose fabric that will take your child through the first five years. Polka dots, stripes and bold plain coloured fabric can be made up into beautiful curtains for a child’s room. Mix and match colours and bring the scheme together with co-ordinating bed linen, beanbags and cushions. Use colourful wallpaper or paint to create a design scheme that will appeal to a small child.
Don’t underestimate the amount of storage space required. Toys, books and games can take up a lot of space. Choose open pigeon holes for easy access and also to display some of the toys. If space is at a premium, opt for beds with underlying storage.
Toddlers wobble, stagger, charge and dash about. They are interested in exploring anything new and safety is an important consideration when decorating a child’s room. Avoid glass shelves, sharp corners and awkward handles. Leave the area beneath the window free from any piece of furniture that might be used as a climbing frame. Install child resistant catches on the windows and external doors. Insert socket guards to prevent toys being “plugged” into the power outlets.
Devoted parents are often tempted to indulge their children with decorative “themes” – whether it’s the latest cartoon character wallpaper or converting the entire room into a Texan style ranch. This should be resisted: the wallpaper will inevitably be uncool next year and specific themes limit creative imaginative play.
As children grow, their requirements change. A ten-year-old child will have far more sophisticated tastes than a six or seven year old and it is important that their room reflects their personality. At this age, a computer will happily co-exist with the teddy bears and open shelves allow children to display their favourite toys. Letting children have their say in the room’s decoration is an excellent way of building up their self confidence and will go a long way to making them feel that their room really is their own space. Think about practical ideas such as an extra bed for sleepovers, storage space for schoolbooks and additional wardrobe space.
Storage requirements will change as the child gets older and more space for books, clothes and make up will become necessary. An older child is likely to have quite a bit of homework and a computer desk and office chair is a useful addition to a teenager’s room.
When decorating a room for a child, remember that it is A ROOM FOR A CHILD. Although the general decorating scheme should form an integral part of the design concept for the rest of the house, make exceptions and work around the concept to create a space where your child can happily spend time sleeping, working and playing.
The best thing you can provide in a child’s bedroom is potential for development and space for the imagination to run riot.
Decorating teen bedrooms provides teenagers with a great opportunity to gain valuable room decorating and budgeting skills while creating a more grown-up space for them to express themselves. Typical teenagers tend to want more of everything - more storage space, more studying space and more relaxation space. With a little creativity, “more” can be achieved.
The first step should be to sit down with your teenager and list the ideas that you both have for the bedroom. Listen to your child’s ideas with an open mind and try to come up with a theme that both of you can live with.
Find out what activity areas your teen would like to incorporate into the room. Would she like a dressing table area for putting on make-up or a comfortable area to play computer games or to read? Aim to create a cosy, multi-functional room that matches their interests and activities. Break the room into activity zones so everything can be stored exactly where she needs it.
Get your teenager to participate in choosing new furniture or redecorating existing pieces. Furniture can be updated with a coat of paint. Mismatched pieces of furniture can also be painted to match. Changing details such as drawer or door handles or furniture legs can go a long way in creating a set of furniture out of odd pieces. Bed headboards can be changed and adapted to fit the colour scheme or theme of the room. Remember, rearranging furniture can give a room a dramatic new look. Many successful teen room makeovers are quickly and easily accomplished using only a new coat of paint and by rearranging or introducing new accessories and lighting.
In this boys’ bedroom, the existing pine furniture was updated and the furniture layout rearranged to create three distinct areas - the sleeping zone, the studying zone and the relaxation zone.
The old chest of drawers in the centre of the large wardrobe was removed and the number of wardrobe doors reduced from eight to six. The furniture was then sprayed white and the handles replaced with simple steel bars. Additional furniture in high gloss white was ordered for the television/playstation area and for the desk. Red, white and blue pigeonholes above the desk add interest to the space and echo the new colour scheme. Deep cupboards were added around the desk and in the television area to provide ample storage space for books.
A deep-buttoned upholstered headboard was custom made to replace the old pine headboard. This heavily textured oatmeal linen creates a warm contrast against the indigo wallpaper.
Special attention was paid to the lighting in the room. A new anglepoise desk lamp with a red flex provides task lighting, two heavily textured bedside table lamps provide reading light, while the large pendant in the centre of the room provides diffused ambient light.
Soft furnishings play a huge role in creating a warm, comfortable environment. Here, plain white sheers are embellished with striped stars, while heavier curtains made out of the same nautical themed fabrics hang on a steel pole. The bed is piled with cushions and dressed in the same nautical colours. A navy striped carpet brings the colour scheme together.
A few well-chosen accessories are dotted around the room; wooden sailing boats, black and white photographs and vintage nautical flags add interest, while large metal initials add a personalised touch.
Make teen room organisation and storage a priority. Include ample storage items such as shelves, furniture that doubles as storage, boxes on wheels that slide underneath the bed and ample wardrobe space. A large ottoman upholstered in thick stripes of red, white and blue provides storage in this room and doubles up as a seat for playing games or watching tv.
Most teenagers love to personalise their room with posters of their favourite bands. Agree on a policy regarding sticking posters to freshly painted walls. A corkboard or a stainless steel panel might be a good alternative that still allows your teenager to personalise their room.
Your child is on the brink of maturity and it is important to allow them a private space that they can adapt to their own individual needs and wants.
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