In response to all who've been asking, via our various forums and websites, for tips and counsel as regards decorating kids room.... here's a C&J epistle which we hope you'll find inspiring. Get to it, biznotches! Let's get ready to renovate!
So you’re decorating — not for you, per se, but for your child — and you’re stressed to the blinkin’ hilt. Oh, for the love of God, chill out; it’s only paint and paper and, if you’re tactics are even remotely careful, there’s no reason to get it wrong. Right?
But your latest project has brought on a case of hives, huh? Your blood pressure is rising. You’re just, well, frenzied. Guess it’s fair to say that, when planning adult decor, you enjoy a fair grasp of what works and what doesn’t, but junior taste is oh so different . . . and it changes on a whim. And therein, dear readers, lies (just part of the) problem.
Child-friendly design, you see, should be tempered not only by what’s cool for kids, but by factors such as safety, growing older and sharing spaces with siblings. But it doesn’t stop there; junior design must also have practicality at its root to cope with the rough and tumble of everyday life. Yup, spills, thrills and childhood ills all need consideration in exacting measure.
WHERE TO START
The secret to success is a washable and comfortable background that can be modified as time and tastes fluctuate. Our watch word, therefore, is flexibility. The last thing you want to deal with is a complete gut down six months after your child’s allegiance springboards from Batman to Superman, or from Barbie to My Little Pony. Or from Rita Ora to Miley Cyrus. S'cuse us; have to say we can't abide Miley. And we can't actually believe we've given her space on the C&J intertubes. Sorry. We, of course, wish her no harm, but take it as gospel; her name shall never be mentioned by us again.
For the most part, adults can assess their own risks. Children, however, particularly young ones, need safety taken care of for them. If, as we cover certain points, it feels like we’re teaching our granny’s to suck eggs, please excuse us. This is important stuff and we want to get it right.
Tiny fingers can be easily hurt in door hinges, so fit plastic safety mechanisms. Check out your big box hardware store for a range of options.
Ensure window cords, blind chains and curtain pulls are safely tucked out of harms way. Each year, sadly, there are accidents and deaths when little souls become trapped in the workings of seemingly innocent window apparatus.
Windows should be fitted with locks that allow for good ventilation yet limited opening without adult supervision.
Avoid trailing electrical cords or flexes and ensure that all plugs are fitted with childproof fronts.
We never install open or gas fires in kids’ rooms. We don’t even need to explain why.
If you have exposed radiators, ensure they’re kept on a separate thermostat so they don’t become too hot. If this isn’t possible, employ a safety screen to protect delicate fingers.
Rugs on hard flooring should be anchored on anti-glide mats to protect against slippage or, were there even such a word, trippage.
Avoid hanging shelves at low level; while this might sound like a practical solution to lower stature, excited play and room perimeter mini-marathons can result in a head-on collision.
For further advice, check out the home safety section at safekidscanada.ca.
Let’s start at the very beginning. Blessed, as we are, with a veritable army of nephews and nieces, and having worked on various shows where kids have been involved, we know they’re more likely to protect space if they’ve been involved in its design from the outset. This in mind, discuss ideas, especially with older kids, and run through colours and room functions before moving forward.
Perhaps it’s best to avoid the pros and cons of gender-specific colour schemes; suffice to say we both grew up in Barbie pink bedrooms and it didn’t do us any harm whatsoever. Ahem, kidding! Seriously, though, it’s up to you and your issue to decide upon shade preference. We reckon our time today is better spent on paint types and varieties.
Ensure that, whichever colour you choose, finish is at least wipeable — or better, washable — so that crayon marks and pen scribbles can be easily removed. Matt latex, for example, is less durable than silk finish so study specs to discover the appropriate product.
Chalkboard paint, while fun, is better applied onto MDF panels or specially designed portable boards (which have dust catching lips at the bottom) rather than directly onto walls due to chalk clouds when erasing. Better still, get your kids into the habit of using a damp cloth to “rub out” and contain dust mountains. Check out benjaminmoore.ca as theirs is the best product on the market.
Striped paint? Sadly this doesn’t come in a can; a little elbow work is required to achieve results like the bedroom featured here, although essentially it wasn’t that difficult. You don’t, after all, need a masters degree in interior design to operate a spirit level, nor do you need a degree to unroll masking tape or brandish a roller. Just remember to allow adequate drying time between coats so paint doesn’t dislodge as you pull the tape away.
Magnetic paint (harmless metal constituents provide grab) is a fun product that allows for fixing and repositioning of fridge magnets, pictures or alphabetic letters as required. Some manufacturers produce pre-selected colours but we find that the magnetic primer from Rust Oleum (which can be used below regular latex) is most convenient. Visit rustoleum.ca for more info.
Fluorescent or glitter paints are great fun although their appeal may diminish as your child’s fascination with stellar configurations is replaced by a fascination with stars of a more earthly nature; how frustrating will it be when all that lovingly applied sun and moon imagery is suddenly usurped by Harry Styles or Taylor Swift? Try rosco.com for a range of glow in the dark shades.
Choose product that’s washable and stain repellent. Even fastidious kids will drop paint pots or food trays. And don’t even think about Little Mermaid or Batman roll stock Berber; it’s safer to choose product where design cues come from colour rather than pattern. This way you can tailor the environment as your child matures. Try Carpet Mill (carpetmill.ca) for a great deal.
A resin-based pliable product like this makes great sense as it deals well with spills or accidents. If you select a wood-effect finish or a plain shade, you can still add vibrancy with washable rugs or mats. Visit amtico.ca for a host of inspiration.
Future proof — good quality boards can be sanded and varnished as tastes evolve. It’s a no-brainer. For competitive pricing visit lumberliquidators.ca.
So that mood may be altered at the flick of a switch (to suit sleep, play or study), install a dimmer switch. And, when choosing bedside lamps (particularly for very young children) select heavy-based models that are less likely to be knocked over.
We steer well clear of sports car or castle shaped beds; it’s better to add personality through paint, linen and ancillary dressing. For maximum future proofing, avoid miniature chairs and tables and opt instead for squashy bean bags or comfy seating cubes that will have worth further down the line. Basket chests and trunks are also smart furniture and the latter can be repainted as years pass.
Working on a stack ’em high principal, these are cool as long as safety is properly considered. If bunks are near ceiling lights, or if children are within reach of cables or flexes, we recommend calling an electrician to move the wiring. The best types of bunks are those which grow with your child. Search for models whose “ground floor” converts into a comfy seating area (when a second bed isn’t required), or whose lower level can be subsequently reconfigured as a study area for junior. Try kidsroomscanada.ca for 98 different styles!
Seek out beds with hidden storage or drawers. Anything on legs will give space to stash linens and toys in trunks or trays. If you have a redundant chest in your basement, remove the drawers and add wheels to the bottom of each. Hey, presto! Inexpensive roll out of sight storage.
Oft maligned, these make perfectly acceptable beds as long as you invest in a quality option with a firm, comfy mattress. Space saving to the max (by day they fold into deep sofas to free up the floor) they’re low slung with a trendy feel that can be incorporated into a host of design looks from brightly coloured Chinese to loft living with a twist. Get ready to slumber at futonshop.ca
Foldable, like futons, these, traditionally, are constructed on a tension sprung base or built from dense foam. If you hope to achieve a look that’s more living room than bedroom, choosing a sofa bed is practical and will allow you to adapt the space further into childhood.
These, while they look for all intents and purposes like standard cribs, transform easily into adult nests by removing the side bars and installing full length struts and a larger mattress. An investment buy, perhaps, but, with a competitive market, prices have lowered. The Stork Craft Tuscany, for example, costs $244 (from walmart.ca) and, with adaptations available to transform it into a full-sized adult bed, it’s the measure of flexibility.
So worry not. De stress. And breathe. Take it from us; if you remember the two most important ingredients of kids’ room design you’ll be just fine. And they are? Love and laughter. Don’t look upon your project as a chore, make it a fun exercise and, as it provides for the smallest in your brood, watch, in awe, as your efforts rejuvenate everyone else in the family. Yup, decor for the young — and the young at heart — really can be the beginning of something wonderful.
There endeth today's sermon. Thank you and good afternoon. Colin and Justin xx