Room to grow

“Children are the flowers of life”

Children change – one moment they are a squidgy gurgling bundle of joy, the next they push the boundaries as they fight to keep up with their friends and want time alone. Children, whatever age, manage to get everywhere, whatever space they find themselves in they conquer. Whether it is the paraphernalia they are born with or the fact that when they find their feet not a square centimetre is left untouched by little fingers, the need for them to have their own space is paramount to their sanity and yours!

Key elements in designing any room – Walls, floors, windows, lighting, furniture and soft furnishings

A baby’s first room requires tranquillity and comfort. Keep the style simple with clear colours and allow your baby to have a view from its cot, trees outside the window or simply a mobile. A comfy armchair for feeding, a nappy changing area that is fuss free, accessible storage, plus a dimmable light make for an environment that will see your little one through its first two years.

When a child turns two and graduates from cot to bed it provides a timely moment for reassessing and making stylish changes to the nursery, making it fit for an ‘all singing, all dancing, into everything’ toddler!

As children’s rooms are often among the smallest in the home, maximising the available space should be the priority. Think of the space three dimensionally and use the height as well as the floor area. High up storage is great for displaying ‘special’ toys, balanced with low storage for everyday toys and books. A peg rail at the child’s level allows bags of Lego to be hung within easy reach and dressing up clothes to be hung as though on display, a patterned rug allows for colour recognition and alphabet and numeric displays help with learning.

The best children’s spaces are colourful and inviting, busy but tidy, lively yet calming. They are achieved only with advanced planning

Above all their environment needs to be comfortable and reassuring to sleep in and exciting to wake up in. Children at this age may seem full of bravado but they are still small and need company and attention to make them feel secure.

See the room from their point of view, walk around it on your knees and see what it looks like and feels like.

Decorating for toddlers should be tremendous fun, it’s a period in their lives when they change each day, learning something new and experimenting with creative ideas. Create for them places where they can laugh.

When your toddler starts full time school the parental influence starts to wane. Your child is open to the combined influence of friends and the media – both of which will seriously affect their attitudes. Independent boys and girls reject their ‘babyish’ rooms and begin to have ideas of their own about colour schemes, tidiness and the display of things that interest them. The challenge now is to educate your children in the art of compromise. A bit of what they want and a bit of what you want, but most of all solutions that fit your budget!

Involve your children in elements of the decision making process. Find out what it is they want, make some selections yourself of paint or wallpaper colours, light shades, cushions, rugs and bed linen. Lay out your choices and help them make the right colour co-ordinated choices. Take them shopping for the bits they have chosen and let them pay for them. Building their confidence and involving them means they will enjoy their room and want to spend time in it and look after it.

To avoid the mess of blue tack or cellotape create an area on the wall for posters etc. Soft board painted or magnetic boards are useful. At this age a mirror is essential, play acting and miming will still be part of their play and practising for X Factor requires a hairbrush and a mirror! This is also a time to think about raising the bed of the floor, thinking always about the vertical space as well as the horizontal space, especially in a small or shared room. Incorporate a desk area and lots of organised storage, and a reading light for their bed time story.

Create rooms for your children that will help them to learn and encourage independence.

Don’t ever forget the child’s senses – what can they see? What can they hear? What can they smell? What can they feel? Whatever the age of your child its sensory development can always be enhanced by attention to the sensory elements of their room during the design process.

“Children laugh on average 300 times or more a day, adults laugh 5 times a day – we have a lot of catching up to do”

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