As a designer, it’s really important that I find the space I live in to be beautiful. This used to be a straightforward thing, whereby I’d design and plan a space, source lovely things to sit within the original concept and add more lovely things over time, watching it build layers of interest and character.
Then we had a child…
Then we had another one.
Ralph and Rex are great kids, but my wife insisted that they live in the house. This meant I had to start to think about how children fitted into my desire to have a beautiful space.
Actually, I needed to think about how my desire to live in a beautiful space fitted around them.
The words “playroom” or “child friendly space” used to conjure up images of a place where style went to die. That needn’t be the case, however. Here are a few tips to help making having children around more bearable…
Just because you have children around doesn’t mean you should spend less on furniture. In fact, spending a little bit extra on a well-made sofa with a good quality fabric is really sensible. It’ll take any amount of jumping on and a good quality fabric will clean up nicely over and over again. If you can choose a fabric with a fleck running through it, even better – it’ll hide a multitude of sins!
Ottomans with storage are a good idea, as they provide seating AND somewhere to hide the duplo.
Beanbags are a fantastic child-friendly option. Easy to move about, comfy and the covers can be removed and washed easily too.
Don’t over furnish. Kids need space to run around, have tantrums and get all of their things out at the same time, so make sure there’s not too much there. A good, thick rug is also great for them to play on if you’ve got anything other than carpet on the floor. Just make sure you give it a good shake out every so often to free the Cheerios hiding therein…
Whether natural or artificial, make sure there’s plenty of light. And make sure its the right height for the kids. Get down to their level to work out what needs lighting and how.
If it’s a mixed use space, i.e. your living/family room, you aren’t going to want it to feel like “Justin’s House”. Bright colours are great for a playroom, but in a multi-use area, think about adding interest with texture rather than colour. It will still be interesting, just less “in your face”.
If you are lucky enough to have an entire room dedicated to the kids, you can do some amazing things with wall-coverings. Wallpaper, friezes and coloured chalkboard or magnetic paints can all make the room an inspiring creative space.
Think about zoning too – areas for reading, creating, and relaxing as well as open spaces for general play.
The most important element of all. How to hide all their stuff away?
You can buy some great modular systems at every price-point, but I always think going bespoke is best. It allows you to use the space most effectively and store things properly. A good designer or carpenter will work with you to create something which really works for everyone. The key is to think about which things you want to store, hide or display.
Toys can actually look pretty amazing if you think about displaying them rather than just cramming them onto shelves and into drawers.
Books too can make for a lovely display, and the kids can choose the book they want more easily face on.
You can get excellent specific storage too. For example, I was getting so fed up with tripping over Ralph’s scooter in the hallway/kitchen/livingroom/bathroom but keeping it in the garage was a pain too, so when I found out about Scooterpegs, I was over the moon. The scooters hang off the floor on a peg, freeing up much-needed floor space. Check them out here: www.scooterpeg.co.uk/
So…get creative, think outside the box and don’t be afraid to get the kids involved. After all, it’s their space too!