The decorator's den

Kids rooms

1:33 PM

If you haven’t come across a magazine article, a website or a blog post that shows you a designer children’s room with the quilts matching the curtains, the cute little accents, the coordinated photo frames and picture perfect stuffed animals, please raise your hand. We’ve all seen at least one. Interior decor magazines in India are now doing “Kids” special every now and then and have no shortage of oh so perfect and dainty little children’s room. What they omit to tell you however is that kids are messy…period. And I am sure that on most days your kiddo’s room just look like this:


kids room mess

And I am sure many of you spend a significant amount of time trying to contain the chaos to one room, and try to make their room look tidy enough at least once a week so that instead of what you have in the picture above turns into this:


kids bedroom

And you all know that the tidy look barely last long enough for you to immortalise on camera before it starts reverting to untidy stage. Do I sense some of you nodding in agreement?
Picture perfect kids rooms only look picture perfect when there are no kids involved, forget the coordinated soft furnishing, half of it will be totally destroyed in the first 2-3 years of you child’s life, from vomit projectile to yogurt snacks drops and crayons attacks. Half of your cute colour coordinated storage box covered in plaid fabric will not even last a year of toddlerhood. And you are going to find yourself cursing the dotting relative that thought Legos were a good idea as a birthday gift.
However, that said, there is wisdom in designing the kids space around kids and make the room special for them, not with expensive designer decor, but with a use of the space in mind. A growing child’s need are much different from an adult, for a solid portion of a child’s life play is a crucial element in their development, and many scientific studies found a correlation between playtime and IQ scores, the more play and problem solving a child gets in their early year the smarter they will be. Toddlers like to explore, touch, feel, jump, and interact with their surrounding, so a room or a space in your home that is designed for that purpose is essential. In  grown up room, the bed pretty much takes center stage, in a kid’s room it should not. Children need more carpet area free of clutter to play and learn, so you need to take that into consideration. I have seen a bit too many rooms in India which have a king size bed eating the entire floor surface. And while I can see some of the logic behind that move with many thinking ahead and trying to spend money the right way (beds are costly after all) it is actually wise to think a bit outside the box there.
Bunk beds work very well for a room in which two kids will live, a twin bed with a pull out second mattress will also work well. Beside the king size bed will stop working once your children have reached teenagehood, especially when you are having one of each gender.
As the kids grow, you can still sell the bunk bed and get two twin size beds, or actually plan ahead the right way and work with a carpenter to design you a bunk bed that can be separated into two twin beds later on when kids need less play space and have more grown up needs for their room.
There are several ways to divide a room into two for growing siblings and give each a little privacy (again even more important when you have a brother and a sister sharing the space as teens). You can if the house or apartment is yours invest into a half brick half glass divider to partially cut the space in two, or if you are in a rental property (or do not wish to invest into heavy modifications) install a curtain rod in the middle of the room and use door length curtain panels to divide the area. the curtains can be pulled during the day to allow ventilation and daylight into the whole room, and can be drawn when  need for privacy arise.
Study tables really become useful when the kid starts having some autonomy in their studies, as long as the homeworks require strong parental supervision, you can dispense yourself the need to invest in some, typically kids that are still in need of their parent’s supervision for homeworks are also still in a phase of their life that need more play time and therefore more carpet area to do that kind of activity in their room.

Now for the extras in the decor, keep in mind children change their tastes very fast, they might beg for a Disney princess themed room, only to hate it in a year, so resist the temptation to have the princesses painted all over the walls. Get some princesses accents such as bedding, cushions, toys, and posters instead, they are easier to replace, and they will in all likehood wear out by the time your child changed their mind. If you live in your own flat, you can ask the child which colour they like and paint the walls in that hue, a favourite colour is less likely to be a fad than a cartoon. You can also use wall stickers for temporary decor, they are far cheaper than painting the walls a certain pattern, and once the child outgrow them all you have to do is peel them of gently :


wall stickers

And if you have a crafty bone in your body, do get your kids working on something for their room with you. Ishita and I did that last Summer, making a paper flag bunting for her room, it’s still there, a bit faded but still looking good enough, and b the time the thing will fall apart we can just do another craft project together to change the decor:


kid's decor

When it comes to storage, keep it simple, the good old granny toy chest has a lot of wisdom into it. You are going to the be one cleaning that room for years, so while designer magazines want you to believe little figurines need to be neatly displayed for a room to look good, my advice is to get them into a big plastic box. You can categorize toys to an extent, as in cars in one box, Legos in another, books on a shelf, stuffed toys in a basket, but try not to overdo it, kids will not mind that you put their ABC magnets in the same box as the balls and trinkets. What you need to do for their sake is keep their toys in a place they can reach them easily on their own, to teach them about being independent and spare you the hassle of running across the flat with your hands covered in chapatti dough when you hear your darling scream Maaaaaaaaaaa! Only to find out they want to play with the building blocks you stored in a box 6 feet of the ground and out of their reach. Wall mount shelves or attach them solidly to the wall even if it is a ground shelf, a child doesn't need to be strong or heavy to topple a bookshelf, and it can cause serious injuries if not death, and yes toddlers WILL climb a shelf, so make their own room safe for them to play in.

A play carpet while nice looking is not absolutely necessary, it will make the space more comfy, and cushion some falls, but if you can’t afford one, don’t feel you absolutely have to get one, beside they can be a bit of a pain to keep clean…all carpets that is, the one and only is in our living room and has been through a lot of abuse. Kids will have fun with something as simple as a yoga mat…keep that in mind.

All in all, keep a child’s need in mind when doing their room, and do not even assume for one seconds that you can just treat it as an adult room. Ask them about their taste when they are old enough, and resist the siren of the nursery decor unless you can really truly afford it and don’t mind the cleaning you’ll end up doing all the time to keep it super neat (and trust me as a mom you realise quick enough that energy do come in short supply). Keep the room functional, easy to clean, modular (as in can envolve and grow with your child) and kid proof (safety first at all time). Anything else is as per your child’s taste and according to your budget.

6 comments

  1. apple3:55 PM

    When we are children, there was no concept of a separate room for children. We slept with our parents, our clothes & books jostled for space in their cupboard. We studied in the living room, on the bed, wherever it was possible. Space was difficult to find in India but even with lots of space these things never crossed our mind. I guess this was the story of most of our generation. I guess the thinking was, children being children, do not need much. Today, we have separate room for children, how things have changed.

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  2. I think back in the days it was also much easier for kids to play outdoor too. Now with green space and playgrounds shrinking away in Indian cities, kids need that playtime and space at home.

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  3. Arunesh8:38 AM

    I can strongly relate to this! Growing up in India, I never had a room of my own - I would often sleep in the same room as my parents and studied/played wherever I found the slightest of space!

    Times have definitely changed!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Arunesh11:45 PM

    Cyn, you might want to check your Twitter -- I have a feeling it may have been compromised as I have been receiving repeated spam DMs from your account.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I just checked it now, I could not find what could have happened, but thanks for the warning, I changed my password and revoked the access right of programs I never even remembered granting access to, let me know if it still happens.

    ReplyDelete
  6. sherlyn james12:01 PM

    Looks good..

    ReplyDelete

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