When you have kids, you need to think again about every detail of the way your home is decorated. It’s not just about pleasing them – it’s about keeping them safe and preserving the things you care about. Furniture will need to be secured so that it can’t tip over. Walls will need to be wipe-clean. Floors will need to be washable. Storage will need to be rearranged so that small or fragile items are out of reach of tiny hands. What are the positive design features that you can put in place to make your home a functional but fun place for everyone?
Four fabulous kids’ bedroom ideas
The easiest place to begin is your kids’ bedrooms. This is a place where they’ll want a lot of say, and some of what they suggest may be unrealistic, but with a bit of imagination, you can create spaces that feel magical and make their dreams come true. Every child is different, of course, but these examples are enduring favourites:
• A pirate ship – paint the room blue or give it a blue carpet to suggest the sea. Hang a big Jolly Roger flag on one of the walls. Invest in a boat-shaped bed, or simply give an ordinary bed oars and paint a sail on the wall behind it. A hammock is usually too difficult for a young child to sleep in, but is great for play for the over-fours. Don’t forget to add a plush parrot or monkey for the finishing touch.
• A royal castle – castle-shaped beds that double as play spaces are surprisingly common now and won’t break the bank. Add a rocking horse so that your child can ride there. Paint mountains or an enchanted forest on the walls. Satin or velvet bedcovers will create a real sense of royal luxury, and a chandelier will make your child feel like a prince or princess.
• A space base – paint a wall black or dark blue and cover the whole room in glow-in-the-dark stars and planets for the perfect space backdrop. A grey carpet can be the surface of the moon, and you can get a star or moon light fitting to hang from the ceiling. Use wood or cloth to create a small tunnel jutting out from the door so that there’s an airlock for entry.
• A dragon’s lair – dragons are always exciting, and if you paint a dragon curving round walls of the room, your child can imagine falling asleep in its coils. Large plush dragons also help, of course. A treasure chest, officially for hoarding gold, can provide useful storage, and don’t forget the bookshelf full of favourite fantasy tales.
Flexible living rooms
When it comes to the living room, everybody has to make use of the same space, but that doesn’t mean that everybody has to do it in the same way. Providing bean bags or child-sized seating gives kids much more of a sense that the room is for them, not just for the grown-ups. You can help them take ownership of it by getting them to help with things such as choosing cushion colours or measuring for window shutters. Make it accessible by putting their books on the lowest shelves, and make sure that there’s room for a toybox (larger toys only – they’re easier to tidy and less painful to step on). An ottoman can work well for this and provides extra seating for adults.
Kitchens can be dangerous places for young children, so the very first thing to do is make sure that all sharp or breakable objects are moved high up, locks are put on cupboards containing cleaning products, and flexes are secured to the walls so that they can’t hang down and be pulled. After this, you can work on making the kitchen more fun by adding some bright colours and a sturdy chair that lets your child sit at the table or worktop for those first experiments with baking.
Bathrooms that work for everyone
For small children, the most exciting place to be in the home is in the bath, splashing around. With young children, carpeted bathrooms are out – everything needs to be able to survive a soaking and dry off quickly. Make the bathroom more fun with picture tiles and plastic toys designed to stick to the walls. Add a waterproof music station so that you can play your child’s favourite tunes or stories.
Reinventing your home to fit your growing family can be a lot of fun in itself. Let your children be a part of the process and create a space that really belongs to all of you.
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