Designing a Space For Your Child

The old cliché says “home is where the heart is.” That may be true, especially forDesigning a Space For Your Child children. Our young ones’ hearts are not just at home, but more specifically, children’s hearts and identities are wrapped up in their own particular part of home–their bedrooms.

For infancy and it’s many hours of sleeping, children grow comfortable with “their space.” And where the rest of the house may be decorated with things reflecting Mom and Dad’s personalities and styles, a child’s bedroom usually reflects interests of a child. From mobiles to Winnie-the-Pooh or a Sesame Street theme, the nursery, which later involves into a bedroom, contains all things child-like–little clothes on small hangers, toys, often pint-sized tables and chairs (like the ones from Rubbermaid Specialty Products), picture books, fingerpaintings, etc. Everything to make the room feel like the child’s kingdom.

But with a growing child and his changing interests, how does an economically-minded parent design a room that will last many years, or at least from infancy to adolescence. Interior designers and decorators across the country had written numerous books on the subject. And all of them would be happy to design the room for your child, but if you do not have a mountain of funds or if you are more of a do-it-yourselfer, there are many things you need to consider.

First, decide upon the furniture. When your baby has outgrown the bassinet and frequently escapes from the crib, it is time to purchase a bed. You may want to buy one that matches the dresser already in the room. But if there is no dresser and you are starting from scratch, here are some things to consider:

According to Davenport House, a Florida-based mail order and on-line company, “When buying major furniture pieces, try to choose items that will grow with the child. Paint, wallpaper, comforters and accessories are easier to change.” Opt for something more traditional that you’ll be proud to have in your house. Though Davey may prefer the racecar shaped bed, he will tire of it quickly, and unless you’re willing to trade him beds, you’ll be forced to purchase a new one.

When purchasing a bed for your child, you may want to consider buying bunk or trundle beds. As a child grows, having the space for a friend to sleep over becomes more important. (If this is not an option for you, during a sleepover children can sleep in sleeping bags in a tent–or one made of blankets).

In addition to a bed, your child will need a dresser (or something to hold her clothes and shoes), shelves or tubs for toys and books, and a desk (for play and eventually homework). Choose items that have rounded corners and edges. All of these items are available in wide array of prices from the lower end, stylish and functional IKEA to the moderate priced, space-saving wood designs of This End Up (found in major malls) to classic and higher end Ethan Allen. Consult your Yellow Pages for a complete listing of furniture and home accessory stores.

Always involve your child in each step or process. When your preschooler or toddler gets to pick out posters and the bedspread this involvement further reinforces their sense of ownership of the room. If your child is older than toddler age you may want to have her draw a picture of how she would arrange the furniture in the room. For encouragement, you may need to ask questions, such as “Where will you sleep? Where will Teddy sleep? Where will you keep your Barbie dolls? Where will you draw?” She may draw an arrangement you had not even considered.

If your child is a toddler or preschooler and still prone to occasionally falling out of bed, when determining the arrangement of the room, you should suggest putting the bed against two walls for safety. Also for safety, keep beds and climbable objects (i.e., dressers and bookshelf units) away from windows, and make sure drape or blind cords are short enough that the child will not be able to wrap the thing around his neck.

When choosing a color for the walls, your child should always have a voice. Even if you cannot stand the royal purple she has picked, repainting is one of the easiest and inexpensive decorating changes. Let your child have her fun until she grows out of the color.

Other easy decorating ideas include jumbo stick-ups. These vinyl-like appliques can be reapplied many times and come in an assortment of designs including Disney characters, Berenstain Bears, Batman and the Land Before Time. One brand of kits, Priss Prints, is available at most Sears and J.C. Penney stores.

Another decorating idea for the wall is the height chart. For years children have stood with their backs to wall while some adult drew a line above their heads. If you love the idea, but do not want the pencil marks on your fresh paint job, Priss Prints also offers a mylar strip that measures up to six feet and comes with frames to display photos of the child alongside his measurement.