Best kids' spaces grow with them, foster learning, play

May 4, 2011 

Keeping up with our children's growing stages is a challenge, to be sure. As they move into the years of school and music lessons, sports practices and socializing, the bedroom and playroom will require a few adjustments to manage the work and play flow. The years between toys and teens are packed with so much learning on so many levels that it's worthwhile to take advantage of any space you have in your home to foster this growth.

I have designed dozens of kids’ rooms and always ask for their input before I begin. This is where the fun begins, as color choices are always powerful and (almost) always do not match their parents’ taste.

Not a problem, I reassure the parents; it’s only paint, and a compromise is easily reached.

I like stripes for kids’ rooms. They are the most versatile pattern, and can be any size and color contrast. In the room shown here, the stripes are horizontal. As your eye moves along the stripes, it opens up the space, and carries you from one focal area to the next.

This visual flow charges the space with energy and youthful spirit. Blue and white is a favorite traditional combination; citrus green and pink stripes are happy and optimistic, very playful; turquoise with a black stripe is modern and edgy, a powerful duo.

When painting horizontal stripes, start with the lighter color as the base coat.

Once the base coat is dry, measure the wall from the top to the bottom. Use a chalk line to mark off the stripes – this is easily done with two people – and check with a level to ensure your lines are straight.

Tape off the color bands with low-tack painter’s tape, pressing firmly along the edges of the tape. Apply thin coats building up the dark color to avoid leakage.

Remove tape carefully, pulling toward the color just painted.

Flooring options have grown to an exciting extent through the past few years. The invention of floating or click-together floors has done away with the need for nails and glue – the slats or tiles simply click into place.

Choosing a floor can be daunting; I always advise that you talk to your flooring professional or go online and do your homework. The quality and thickness of the laminates and solid woods is directly related to the durability of the product, so consider the traffic flow where you are installing the new floor.

I have found a very helpful website that covers all my flooring needs, www.builddirect.com. They will send you free samples of the floors you are interested in so that you can check it out in your own home.

I chose their Jasper Glueless Click Hickory Engineered Floor for this room. It’s designed for residential use; the color and detailing of the floor make it warm and inviting to walk and sit on; and it’s easy to clean. The slightly larger 43/4-inch width of the planks offers a more casual appearance too.

Storage solutions come in all shapes and sizes, but sometimes it’s fun to revert to the tried-and-true metal filing cabinet. Perfect for organizing homework assignments and notes, as well as artwork and music books, these cabinets can be freshened up with metal paint or wallpaper.

A large chalk board is another throwback that still has its uses as an erasable writing space for quizzes and notes.

Most important is a long table or counter for working. In a family with two or more children, this space can be shared.

The ability to spread out notes, art supplies, school projects and a computer will pay big dividends.

Debbie Travis’ House to Home column is produced by Debbie Travis and Barbara Dingle. Follow Debbie on Twitter at www.twitter.com/Debbie_Travis. Email your questions to house2home@debbietravis.com.

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