Why not make your little one’s room as goodlooking as it is practical? Choose coordinating colours and attractive textures, with appealing accessories to complete the look.
The priority in any young child’s bedroom is, of course, to ensure it’s a safe, calm and comfortable space in which to sleep and, once they are a little older, a great place to enjoy playing. What are the key ingredients? To start with, a good mattress and a set of well-fitting blackout curtains or blinds will go a long way towards helping them get a full night’s rest. You will also need suitable flooring, excellent storage and flexible lighting. Finally, add interesting furniture and accessories, and brighten up the walls with eye-catching art.
The ideal bedroom floor would be soft and cosy, durable, non-slip and easy to mop. While some man-made carpets claim to be washable, they are still susceptible to spills and accidents, and perhaps a more versatile choice would be wooden or laminate floorboards plus a soft rug (with an anti-slip mat beneath). Alternatives include vinyl, linoleum, cork or rubber and, to add extra play potential, why not add a play rug with a printed design such as hopscotch or a racetrack? If you do opt for carpet, look for a texture or pattern that won’t show the dirt, and ask for a stain-resistant treatment before installation.
To encourage children to put things away after themselves, toy and book storage should be plentiful and easy to access. Try to incorporate it into tucked-away spaces such as the alcoves either side of a chimney or below a window, coordinating built-in storage with the decorative features of your home as a whole. Low shelving, securely fixed to the wall, plus a variety of boxes or baskets, is ideal; you could install a few higher shelves for items that you would prefer only to be used under supervision. Avoid heavy-lidded, traditional toy chests that could trap tiny fingers, and remember the basic rule of storage: suit the size of the container to the size of its contents. Small plastic lidded boxes are perfect for LEGO, Playmobil and so on, while a large basket is great for soft toys. Don’t forget peg rails, hooks and hanging fabric organisers – all of which are useful space savers – but in your storage choices, try to stick to a limited colour palette or a group of similar textures (the natural, neutral look is fashionable and will stand the test of time) so that the room looks thought-through rather than randomly assembled.
Well-designed lighting is essential – bright enough to play by in the dim winter months, with a bedside lamp (and maybe one on a desk, too) and some purely decorative extras, such as strings of fairy lights, colour-changing LEDs or a projector lamp. In general, remember always to use the correct wattage of bulb, and position the fitting so that there are no trailing flexes. Inset ceiling lights and high-up wall lights are better than too many floor or table lamps that could get in the way of games and be knocked over. One option is a wireless lamp that you charge up and can then place wherever it’s needed. Avoid pendant shades that reveal the dazzle of a bulb – though a diffuser will conceal the bulb discreetly. For great adaptability, consider a dimmer switch, which can be retrofitted quite cheaply (though check that your bulb will work with a dimmer, as not all of them are suitable), and smart lights, operated via remote control, an app or even voice commands.
In terms of furniture, it’s best to keep larger, more expensive items relatively neutral, so that they last as long as possible as your child grows up.
However, if you have the budget, then a special bed makes an amazing centrepiece, and there are some wonderful options, from tepee beds to cars, rockets and high sleepers that look like castles or tree houses. Without crowding the room too much, you’ll want to add a chest of drawers and a small wardrobe, and possibly a low table or a small desk for reading, writing and craft activities. These can be smartly coordinating or second-hand, vintage or repurposed – provided there are no sharp bits or splinters, a lick of paint can brighten up an old piece no end, and will add heaps of character. For quiet play and general lounging, floor cushions, low stools and beanbags are probably a better (and less expensive) idea than miniature children’s sofas and chairs, which are quickly outgrown.
When it comes to finishing touches, there are plenty of ways to add pizzazz to plain walls, from decorative stickers to an entire wall of attractive storage.
Oversized images – a mural or an enlarged child’s painting – are full of impact and can set a theme, if you so wish, complementing your furnishings. Add quirky cushions, sweet rugs and interesting lamp shades, and you’ve got an attractive room that’s flexible, functional and – importantly –great fun.
By Katherine Sorrell