Creating kid-friendly rooms parents can love

Maryalene LaPonsie | Improvement Center Columnist | September 6, 2013

Your daughter might be going through a princess phase, but think twice before painting a fairytale mural on her wall during your next remodel. Kiddie motifs, pint-sized furniture and pretty pastels may be adorable, but they may also be a mistake. At least one design expert advises parents to think long-term when remodeling and designing kid spaces.

"You can make it fun and playful but follow solid design concepts like adequate storage, good quality lighting and functional furniture," says Pamela O'Brien, president and lead design consultant for Pamela Hope Designs.

Creating rooms that will last

Instead of planning rooms to be kid-centric, O'Brien advises parents to consider how the room may be used in the future.

"I'm finding that people want their children's rooms to be fun," says O'Brien. "So we are picking a color that is fun for kids but can be turned into a study too."

Along with nixing baby colors, parents should also think twice about buying smaller furniture. O'Brien notes that while small scale furniture is cute, it is not practical in the long run. In addition, many children lack adequate storage for their items, and larger pieces can give them the space to stash possessions out of sight.

"Most people furnish a child's room with small furniture and lots of little accessories and then complain that they are cluttered," she says.

Likewise, when remodeling bathrooms for children, parents shouldn't necessarily opt for lower sinks and toliets that will be outgrown. A bathroom that is designed specifically for a child can quickly outlast its usefulness and may hurt a home's resale value when it comes time to move.

Accessorize for personality

teen bedroom

Just because the walls aren't cotton candy pink or dinosaur green doesn't mean a room can't be uniquely created for a child. Allowing kids the opportunity to select accessories such as pillows, lamps and rugs can help them transform the space into their own.

"Fun decals or fun art on the walls is an easy, economical, low-impact way to personalize a room," notes O'Brien.

As children age, decals and art can be removed or swapped out for new items that reflect their changing interests.

Rather than invest in pricey kid-focused bed linens, select a more neutral pattern or color. Then, customize the look with pillows and shams adorned with your child's favorite color or cartoon character. Then, when it comes time to use a child's bedroom as a guest room, the Barbie pillows can be whisked away and replaced with something more appropriate for visitors.

Window treatments are another way to personalize a room. While there are a variety of fabrics available, opting for darkening drapes rather than sheers can help make nap time and bedtime run more smoothly. Fortunately, blackout lined treatments come in a variety of styles and colors.

Biggest mistakes parents make

When it comes to remodeling for kids, O'Brien says two of the biggest mistakes parents make are inadequate storage space and lack of lighting.

"Moms get frustrated by the mess, but kids have no place to store their items," says O'Brien. "I love it when a parent invests in a high quality closet."

Other storage options include built-in bookshelves and double-duty furniture pieces, such as a nightstand with drawers. O'Brien suggests parents select two nightstands to balance the room and says parents may want to consider using a chest instead of a nightstand if space allows.

She also says lighting seems to be an afterthought in many kids' rooms. Rather than having one overhead light, parents should consider whether one or two track lighting fixtures along with some spot lighting, such as reading lamps, would serve their children better.

Rooms for entertaining and living

"Children's rooms are expected to play a big role, for not only the child, but for the whole family. Children entertain in their rooms and house family guests," says O'Brien. "In order to get the most out of a child's room, design for the child's future needs and keep in mind that they will probably have friends and family in their rooms much more often than you do in yours."

When it comes to remodeling for kids, there is no reason rooms can't be both fun and functional. If you are planning a major renovation, adding more closet space and rewiring lighting may be appropriate. For smaller redesign projects, look for furniture and colors that can meet the future needs of a growing child. Then, use a few carefully chosen accessories to highlight your child's personality.

About the Author

Maryalene LaPonsie has been writing professionally for more than a decade on topics including education, insurance and personal finance. She holds a Bachelor's Degree in Political Science from Western Michigan University.