When you’re planning a nursery the last thing you’re thinking about is them being five years’ old, moving into a big bed and wanting super hero posters pinned up all over the place. As all parents know, time passes in a flash, and we asked Barbara Genda to give us some helpful tips as to what we should be thinking of when we plan that first space.
Colour, storage and room to play are core elements to consider when creating a practical space for babies and children. Planning, decorating and furnishing a child’s bedroom so it can evolve and change as your child grows presents a rather tricky design challenge. The key thing is to ensure that the final space can be styled and adapted according to changing needs without having to undergo major refurbishment when your baby becomes a toddler and teen.
A child’s bedroom is a special place – it’s more than just an area in which to sleep and dream. It’s an area for creativity, escapism, role-play and study. With this in mind, you can inject colour and be inventive with storage space to provide an environment that is both practical and fun.
Whether you have ample room in which to work with or space is awkward, tight and at a premium – consider how best to utilise the area so that clothes, toys, accessories and books are accessible, organised and stored nicely away so a clean and uncluttered look can be achieved.
Bespoke and handcrafted furniture are lifetime investments – fitted specifically to work in a given space. So choose timber in hues that will complement a myriad of looks. White washed oak is currently very popular; it’s great at amplifying light and creating the illusion of space, and of course provides a neutral canvas upon which to embellish the room with accents of colour and character.
DÃ©cor will undoubtedly change as your child grows – delicate baby pastel tones may no longer be appropriate or to the taste of a 5-year-old boy interested in bold, primary colours and themes relating to dinosaurs or space. As a general rule, it’s always good to work with a classic ‘base’ from which you can then update accessories and smaller, non-fixed furnishings. It’s amazing how quickly a room can dramatically transform through simple changes in textiles and wall art.
Remember that a child’s room is designed for intense activity and interaction, so be at peace with the fact that you won’t always be able to maintain a showroom-worthy house. However, you can still keep the clutter of toys and crayons controlled with easy and attractive storage solutions that encourages little people to help out with tidying, and also allows them independent access to their toys.
Jazz up wooden trunks with colourful paint and dÃ©cor stickers and install shelving and bookcases with fabric drawers in which you can easily chuck in toys. The key is to have handy storage that enables you to speedily declutter and tidy up mess. Opt for versatile, wipeable furniture that can withstand sticky hands, felt tip doodles, bumps and inevitable spillages.
Furniture that can evolve and change to suit your child’s growing needs will withstand the years, so think about including beds that can be composed in a variety of ways. A raised bed that includes a storage system or study area below is a great way of saving space; as is a bed that snuggly houses another sleeping system that can be pulled out at the ready for those sleepovers. Bunk beds are fun but the composition can be easily outgrown, so choose a model that allows a level of versatility, such as ones that can be separated into two single beds. Furniture pieces that have duel or multiple uses are also incredibly handy for saving space and maximising storage. For example, consider incorporating a window seat area that includes a drawer system or trunk area beneath. With dedicated nappy changer pieces, ensure that it can be adapted into a tall table, shelving system or chest of drawers when it no longer serves its primary purpose. Cot beds that transform into junior beds will also serve you well for some years until your child requires a larger bed.
When it comes to wardrobe systems, opt for a design that includes lots of concealed pull-out drawers and compartments for organising little socks, pants and accessories to keep everything in its place. Ensure hanging space can be adjusted to fit in everything from rails of little clothes for babies (so that there is no ‘dead’ space in the wardrobe) to bigger clothes as your child grows.
Barbara Genda is founder and principle designer of Barbara Genda Bespoke Furniture.