With some smart tweaks, you can create a child-friendly designed home that will help those morning and evening routines go as swimmingly as possible.
Invest a wider bed and blinds
Starting school and going back to school can be a a high anxiety time for some kids. “If buying a bed, consider one that is four-foot wide rather than the standard three-foot bed,” suggests Leigh Tucker, kidswear designer behind the Willow brand at Dunnes Stores. “This allows you to get into bed with them when they need you. This has been a godsend for us.”
Young children also tend to wake up as soon as it’s light, which this week is around 6.30am. If you want to give your little one (and you) more resting time in bed, try window blinds with room darkening fabrics. Luxaflex has some pretty designs for children’s rooms.
Tackle the hallway now
The hallway in any home often becomes a dumping ground for coats, dirty boots and outdoor gear. "This is where more clever storage can make a world of difference," says Sara Thompson of Thompson Clarke Interiors. "Anthropologie and Rockett St George stock lots of cute versions with initials and animal heads. For shoe storage, Ikea has plenty of practical options or look on Etsy for more creative solutions."
Stick up pegs and hooks at reachable heights
Wall-hung storage, not only keeps the floor free, but also keeps daily items at easy reach. Rows of pegs and hooks are endlessly useful for coats, hats, dressing gowns and, of course, all those fancy dress costumes. You can also hang a series of different coloured cotton string bags from the hooks to store various smalls, such as socks, tights, hats or gloves.
Think of the long-run when you're buying furniture
When transitioning a child’s bedroom from baby to toddler to school-goer, think of fluid areas that will adapt to suit their different needs. “Creating longevity in your furniture choices makes best sense,” says Mark Ryan of Babateen. “If you invest in a piece like a cube cot, that transforms from cot to cot-bed to desk, you’re in business.”
Kate O'Dowd's home, photograph by Doreen Kilfeather
Set kids up to display their favourite things
All children love to display things – from their collection of Scout badges to mini Lego figures and dancing medals. There are lots of clever and easy ways of doing this with cork boards, pinboards and magnetic boards. A vintage printer’s tray hung on the wall makes a brilliant piece to display precious things. And anything with a happy school memory or confidence-boosting award or gold star will always be a bonus.
Consider kitchen storage for homework time
When choosing storage, consider the ages of your children and their activities, says Sara Thompson. "Larger storage units for toys, instruments and sports equipment are essential, as these are the things that can really make a space look cluttered. Their own set of drawers in the kitchen can be a great idea for school stationery if homework is done at the kitchen table – save that eternal search for the sharpener."
Make mealtimes more fun with playful plates
Breakfast can be a challenge, but “fun tableware will undoubtedly encourage children to eat,” says Bronwyn Thomson of Mira Mira. “Ceramic is preferable, but not always a wise option for younger kids. I am embracing bamboo for the obvious environmental reason that it is completely compostable and non-toxic."Just make sure the plates are not made of rayon, a highly chemical process that converts bamboo fibres into viscose, and that the bamboo is ethically sourced.
Think beyond the fridge-mounted reward chart
“Kids are visual animals, so try a more physical reward chart,” says stylist Kate O’Dowd of Love & Gatherings. “Instead of the standard sticker-on-paper job, why not take two large jars; one empty, one full of pebbles? Each time they reach a new reward they get to move a pebble and watch the jar fill up in triumph.”
Consider lighting in your morning and evening routines
For Bronwyn Thomson, child-friendly design is all about well-thought-out lighting. “It’s amazing the difference something as small as a new lampshade can make to the mood of a room. You can create an instantly cosy and inviting mood in your child’s room with a series of fun, playful lamps and cute night-lights that'll help them sleep.”
And don't forget the bathroom...
"If you’re redoing a bathroom, think about clever night-lights on the side of the loo," says Sara Thompson. "They switch on with movement sensors which, brilliantly, lead children to the loo in the middle of the night, saving you leaving a light on, and saving them waking up too much."
Featured image: Cuckooland
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