With the main bedroom behind us, it’s time for us to look at how you can create the perfect space for your children. Let’s start with how you can use colors to influence your children and bring out the best in them.
The Use of Color in Your Children’s Room
If you think that color selection isn’t a science, you’re mistaken. Just ask any of the marketing executives who have spent considerable sums of money trying to understand the effects colors can have on our psychology, and you’ll come to the realization that the décor at your gym, the wall at your day spa, and your favorite restaurant aren’t colored haphazardly; each color used is meant to evoke certain emotions. In the same manner, you can use the colors in your children’s bedroom to influence their mood and behavior.
Broadly speaking, warm colors create feelings of elatedness and relaxation. They can also foster a sense of intimacy by adding a touch of coziness to wide, open spaces. Furthermore, using striking hues of red, orange, and yellow can infuse your children with energy and get them engaging with the environment around them. Regardless, the drawback here is that too much stimulation can cause your kids to be hyperactive, especially when it’s time for them to go to sleep. Hence, the trick here lies in moderation. To achieve that, there are a couple of things you can do: you can paint an accent wall with a bright red or yellow color and complement it with accessories that match, rather than have the whole room painted in the striking warm color. Alternatively, you can try coupling the warm colors with cooler hues, hence balancing the room out and cancelling out any deleterious effects.
At the other end of the spectrum, you have your cool colors, which are known to have a soothing effect while giving off the impression that the room is larger than it really is. Unfortunately, dark cool colors, when used excessively, can create a sensation of despair, as if some catastrophe were about to take place. As a result, the rule here is moderation also. Moreover, even though cool colors can create a relaxed, chill ambience, they can cause people to feel alienated and distant. The best way to counter this effect is to combine the cool colors with creamy neutrals as well as adorn the room with gentle materials and plush furniture.
Having seen the broad strokes of color usage, let’s go one level deeper and investigate the various effects each color can have on us.
- Red - Electrifying and passionate, the color red can up your heart rate, blood pressure, and respiration, making it perfect for little athletes in the making. Unfortunately, one of the cons here is that red can also increase aggression, reduce concentration, cause headaches, and may even harm academic performance. As a result, it is recommended to use red to accent wall but not to paint an entire room, which goes especially for hyperactive children.
- Pink - Pink has the power to bring out the empathetic, feminine side of us while soothing us at the same time. Nevertheless, it can also get boring pretty quick, causing the people surrounded by it day in and day out to get distressed. Because of this, you should be aware that although your daughter might seem in love with her pink room now, she is probably going to grow out of it, sooner rather than later.
- Yellow - This is definitely an uplifting color, and it has the power to bring joy to people. Over and above, subdued yellows make it easier to focus, whereas more striking yellows can help jog your memory and better your metabolism. Like every other color, there is a flipside here, which is that an over-abundance of yellow can cause irritability and agitation.
- Orange - If one word could describe the color orange, it would be social. It motivates communication and helps people relax. Similar to the color yellow, a lot of orange can cause people to get aggravated.
- Blue - This color helps create a tranquil environment. Its effects are pretty much the opposite of those of the color red, in the sense that blue decreases the blood pressure, heart rate, respiration, and general sentiments of aggression. Blue can produce a cool and refreshing environment as well, and that can come in handy in particularly hot places.
- Purple - The color of both wisdom and royalty, purple combines the best of both worlds: the tranquility of blue and the effusiveness of red. It can also lean towards the properties of blue or red, depending on its shade.
- Green - Standing in for nature, green is a very peaceful and serene color. The fact that it is linked to health and physical rejuvenation only helps to accentuate its calming effects. In addition, green can increase focus and the ability to read.
Decorating for Every Age
Now that we’ve seen how color can affect us, let’s investigate how you can decorate your child’s room in a way that’s commensurate with their age.
Given that, at this stage in their lives, there is no direct way for your child to communicate their preferences to you, and neither is there a way to know what kind of person your child will grow up to be, you will have to be the one who decides which colors ought to adorn the baby’s walls. Despite the fact that science is very useful when it comes to abstractions, things tend to be a little bit more nuanced in practical life. After all, your child may have varying reactions to different colors, depending on his character and sensitivity. What’s more, as your child grows older, culture will play a big role in defining how he reacts to particular stimuli. Therefore, you should always bear in mind the effects colors have in psychology while painting the room, yet you should also take both the positives and negatives with a tiny pinch of salt and let your intuition do its thing. At the end of the day, should your child enjoy yellow, don’t fret over the negatives too much.
Once you settle on a color for the room, you now have to decide on how many shades of said color you are going to use. A good rule of thumb is to utilize a minimum of three hues of the same color so as to produce a feeling of continuity and fluidity. Additionally, you shouldn’t shy away from using white space because it can add a dash of bold to your overall design.
Another rule of thumb is to pick the furniture and materials before a single brush stroke hits the wall. The reason for this is that it is considerably easier to find paint that matches the furniture rather than find furniture that matches the paint. This makes sense considering the enormous number of paint colors available commercially in contrast to the limited number of colors that a given set of furniture pieces come in.
Perhaps you are more leaning towards using striking patterns to complement bright colors, in which case, as long as you avoid overdoing it, the final look should be great. Go with large-scale patterns that contain a lot of neutral space. Aside from being judicious on when you can use the pattern, it would be a good idea to set a solid slab of color adjacent to the pattern in order to ground it, hence demarcating where a pattern begins and where it ends and making it stand out.
Now that you’ve set your mind on the basics, you’re ready to go out and buy all the necessities. You should start with buying the big bulky items first, such as the crib, changing tables, and rocker. This will aid you in seeing the finished room before you cross the finish line, and the instant all the big furniture is installed, you’ll be able to judge the amount of space you have left and what can be done with it. Plus, putting all the big furniture in the room will help you define the focal point along with making other decorating decisions.
Speaking of decorations, you shouldn’t try to flood the room with different ornaments. Instead, you should aim at focusing on a few instrumental areas. You see, when plenty of accessories are bunched together, they catch the eye of anyone using the space. Taking this into account, you can begin by adorning your focal point with a few accessories, followed by settling on multiple other minor focal points throughout the space.
A recurring theme throughout this guide is how storage space is a rare commodity and that you should create some whenever you can. Toys, blankets, and bibs are all things you need to figure out where to put at the end of the day. So, without further ado, let’s see how you can create some extra storage space using creative ideas for when your child is a baby as well as when they get older.
- In the event that your child enjoys playing with plenty of toy cars, then you’re probably no stranger to the feeling of stepping on these toy cars all the time. However, using a magnetic knife rack, you can store all of the toy cars in a very simple way that is accessible to your child.
- If you have any old suitcases lying around the house, rather than throw them away, why not repurpose them and use them as under bed storage baskets? All it takes is a coat of paint and a cheap set of wheels.
- Remember those old wagons kids used to drag around all day? You could use them as a moving book cart, particularly if your kid is the kind of person to spend hours getting lost with Dr. Seuss, Roald Dahl, and C.S. Lewis.
At this stage in their lives, children begin to make friendships, making the room layout one of the most important factors to look out for. For example, designing a tight confined space may push kids to cooperate, yet it can also cause aggression and agitation. Thankfully, minimizing the amount of clutter and using malleable furnishings can alleviate that a bit and allow for more usage of each space.
Conversely, a surplus of space can lead to uneasy children who have difficulty concentrating and avoid their peers. The best remedy for spaces that are too wide is to use dividers and break up the space into different zones, each dedicated for a specific activity. This solution can increase the kids’ focus and encourage interaction once again.
By that age, they have a clear idea regarding what they do and don’t like. Consequently, you should let them take the reins on this one but under your watchful eye and guidance. For instance, if your child wants to paint their entire room black, maybe you should try to talk them out of it.
Dividing the Room into Activity Zones
Ideally, a child’s bedroom should supply them with the required space for any activity they could possibly want to perform. With that said, there are four main activities that must be accommodated by the room: sleeping, dressing, playing, and studying. Let’s take a look at each one of them.
- Sleeping - The first thing we all, adults and children alike, associate with our beds is a feeling of safety and coziness. Consequently, you want to maximize this feeling for your child and a headboard can help you achieve that. Moreover, beds that are nestled against a wall can afford to have a headboard that runs by one of its sides. This is perfect for children who want to stay up at night reading a bit before sleeping or for children who tend to have plenty of play dates and use the bed as a sofa.
- Dressing - To provide a space for your kid to change clothes comfortably, a room has to have a few things. Naturally, a closet or wardrobe is at the top of that list. Also, you want to make sure that your kid has privacy in their room, which could be accomplished by using a translucent window instead of having to close the curtains every time they want to get dressed.
- Playing - As your children grow older, the way they play changes. Therefore, you should aim for a room that can handle their ever changing demands, starting by offering them space and plenty of storage. To start with, try to put a lot of seating space in their room, giving them the opportunity to socialize with others. This can be accomplished with the help of a sofa bed and bean bags. Another way to create more space, especially in shared rooms, is through the use of bunk beds. Furthermore, you can install a few strong hooks into the wall or ceiling and use them to fashion a makeshift hammock, den, shelf, or even a swing. As for the storage, make sure that it is the proper height for your children and is accessible to them.
- Studying - The best study areas are the ones that help your child focus and isolate him from any distractions. Try to put the desk up against a wall or room divider so as to give your child room for shelves. Along with the desk, you’ll have to get your child a chair. Make sure that there is room for the chair and that it isn’t going to become an obstruction for a swinging door.
Occasionally, some families will find themselves in the position where they have more children than there are rooms in the house, in which case some of the children will have to share a room. Nevertheless, sharing can be a fun experience if correctly planned for.
The first thing to do is to get both children who’ll be using the room involved in on the process, assuming that they are at an age where they are capable of voicing their own opinion. More importantly, you should bear in mind that you don’t have to find a compromise between what they both want, which might end up pleasing neither. Instead, you can easily decorate each child’s half of the room exactly the way they want. What matters here is equity; each child should feel that they are getting the same exact deal as their sibling.
As we mentioned earlier, an excellent way to save space in shared rooms is through the use of bunk beds. This becomes even more pertinent in small rooms. Despite what you might think, using bunk beds doesn’t mean that you have to sacrifice each child’s privacy completely; you can still make each bed a haven for the child using it, where they can read and relax. To accomplish this, you can install lights, shelves and drapes on both levels of the bed.
Another clever way to conserve space is to situate a bedside table in a corner, and have both beds facing this bedside table from either side. The end result should be two beds lying perpendicularly to one another with a small table sitting at both their heads. The only possible drawback from this arrangement is that it entices your children to indulge in late night conversations.
“But wait”, I hear you say, “what if I have a boy and a girl?” To which the reply is that it is still easy to have them share a room as long as they are still children and not teenagers. Just be sure to emphasize each child’s right to privacy, either through the use of curtains or makeshift walls, such as room dividers and bookshelves. However, when they do enter their teen years, you’ll probably have to provide each with their own personal space away from the other.
A point discussed earlier was the importance of providing your children with space to study. When sharing a room, this is no less important. You can make this happen by giving your children a wide desk or floating shelf that is spacious enough to accommodate two people working with their laptops. Extra storage space can be acquired through the use of floating shelves.
Unusual Decorating Ideas
If you really want to turn your kid’s room into a special space that expresses their personality, then you can try to do a theme based room. This has the potential of being a fun project that will bring you closer to your child, though it may be a bit costly. But, you can still a few simple things with your kid of the DIY variety that won’t break your bank.
What matters here is to get the kid involved as much as possible; after all, it’s their room, and they should feel proud of it. Another mistake you might want to avoid is to go overboard and end up with a room that lacks cohesion or any aesthetic sensibility; try to find something that strikes the perfect balance between what your kid wants and what constitutes good design. And, whatever you do, make sure to have loads of fun with your kid.
Having said all that, let’s take a look at a couple of ideas out there.
- Should your child be a little architect in the making (or maybe they just like Legos), you can give the room with a Lego theme. For instance, you can cover an entire wall with Lego boards. Even the pillows can have small cube shapes, emulating Lego blocks. In this room, the environment is ever changing, with the primary architect of this change being your child themselves.
- If your child has had the pleasure of reading C.S. Lewis’s “The Chronicles of Narnia”, or at least seen the movie adaptation, then you can provide them with something very similar in their room. For example, you can build them a small play room that is hidden beneath a secret door inside of a closet. The playroom itself can be colored in any way to mimic the mystical land of Narnia.
This chapter was devoted to your children and how you can provide them with the perfect space to grow and develop. The next chapter will look at any spare rooms you might have and all the things you could do with it. Instead of cluttering it, you can turn it into a useful room that you and your family will enjoy.
For a full list of chapters, click here.