Kids’ rooms fit for a star
- Credit: Archant
Gwyneth Paltrow’s daughter sleeps in a four-poster bed with monogrammed pillows. Beyonce’s has a crystal-studded rocking chair and widescreen TV and Ashlee Simpson hired a Disney designer to create a Winnie the Pooh den for her baby’s nursery.
No more than you’d expect, in other words.
I often imagine some naughty A-list kid being sent to their room in disgrace, slumping off down a corridor of platinum discs, before pumping the air, firing up the popcorn machine and kicking back in the leather recliner to watch Star Wars in 4-D.
This, of course, from a student who once thought teenage interiors didn’t come any better than a signed Gordon Banks poster and a portable turntable.
But for most, the reality lies somewhere between the two.
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And it’s a challenge interiors experts tend to relish; partly because, unlike the rest of the house, a child’s room comes with the expectation of being just a bit more creative. And where subtlety may otherwise be a defining option, it’s a chance to go big and be bold. That is, within reason.
Also, for anyone going it alone and taking the DIY option, some stand by the rule that, if you aren’t taking professional advice, it’s probably worth getting just a bit of input from the kids themselves. Not as the last word, of course, but approval is important. It’s probably not worth the risk of leaving to the moment when you say “you can open them now” to know if it’s a success or disaster.
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Tastes aside, there are some ground rules well worth following. And they too can vary according to a child’s temperament
Architect and feng shui expert Anjie Cho talks for example of putting the bed in what she terms the commanding position, one which gives the child a full view of the door and gives a feeling of being in control of the room.
She has reservations about bunk beds and the effect sleeping so close to the ceiling can have in terms of compressing their energy. Others agree and the general view seems to be that they are fine as long as the child is a good sleeper and accepts it for the fun space it is.
If they have little to say about anything else, they may at least have a view on what to put on the walls. Another feng shui tip: having a framed photo of the family in their room is said to provide a reassuring and calming energy.
Pictures need to be calming too, ideally. This is a place of sleep remember. Pop stars and sporting idols are fine but images that are static and smiling serenely should trump the star-jumps and leaps into the air. Just as well no one told my mum. I loved the Banks poster. Finger-tip save. Stayed awake for hours re-living it.
And if they want a mirror, do make sure it hangs at eye level so they don’t have to stretch to be seen. It can be the difference between knocking and boosting confidence.
That said, a deep-sea predator bearing its teeth may not appear calming but, oddly, a glow light called Shark Encounter appears just that, especially as it’s accompanied by bubbling underwater sounds. You don’t have to check in later either. It shuts off after 20 minutes (glow.co.uk; £27.95).
They can create their own scenes too with decals such as the construction range from Becky & Lolo whose dump trucks and bulldozer stickers come in sets of 37 and apply easily to all but newly decorated walls. (beckyandlolo.co.uk; £13.99).
Small, easily-changeable items can add excitement too. The Drifting Bear Company produce some nice cinema-style lightboxes, complete with 69 letters, for you to make your own messages. They run on AA batteries, sit on the sideboard and can be used for anything from reminders to simple message like happy birthday (thedriftingbear.com; £36).
It’s a good idea to build in a decent amount of storage too. While a bomb-site of a mess is to be expected during the day, it’s not conducive to a decent night’s sleep.
And the more orderly the better. If everything has its place, it’ll make sense when the time comes to tidy.
It may sound obvious but most experts agree, adult furniture doesn’t work, even when scaled down. Little hands can’t manage dresser drawers that stick, Folding wardrobe doors can pinch fingers and can slip off their rails when pushed from the bottom.
As for keeping the room tidy, there are no shortage of suggestions if you have the time and patience to look hard enough.
A straw poll of local mums put toy rotation high on the list. Working on the assumption that they go in and out of style, the idea is to take a few plastic bins, fill them with groups of toys, keep two out and out one out of sight, adding and removing one every few weeks to reduce the clutter in the first place and delight by continually bringing out toys afresh.
Mia Deal’s Danish design company, Sebra, have produced an interesting range of cube-style storage units that either stack on the floor or can be hung as an alternative to shelves, probably more conducive to being used, when nothing ever gets put back on to the normal ones. They’re available from the kids’ boutique company, Nubie (nubie.co.uk; £165.00).
When it comes to fabrics, some, like the London Dutch-born designer, Ursula Wesselingh, warns that fabrics aimed those at children, such as animals and boats, may not stand the test of time, and suggests sticking with plain fabrics or generic themes such as dots, stars, stripes and checks for longevity.
Others, such as Emily Campbell of Blue Butterfly Flooring tend to focus on creating rugs of the most intricate complexity that will “inspire their imaginations which will then allow them to play for hours”.
Unlike carpets, which are expensive to replace, her children’s rugs are made from industrial grade velour, have rubber backings to stop them slipping and come in a range of high detailed designs that include fantasy landscapes of “mini beasts” for them to discover and scenes of flora and fauna (bluebutterflyflooring.com; small rugs from £49).
But, given that a child’s room can be anything from a nursery to a place for teens to hang out with their friends, does the key to this lie in its longevity?
“Absolutely. You want to have fun but don’t want something that will date in five minutes,” says Beverley Barnett, whose design company in Radlett has advised film stars, politicians and some of sport’s biggest names.
“Ideally, you’d create something that would carry them forward for the next 10 years, especially when it comes to the most expensive things to replace like wardrobes and flooring.
“That would apply to the wall covering as well but, if you’re only talking about a few rolls of paper it doesn’t matter that much. But as a general rule, the more neutral, the better. For example, I tend to avoid papers with nursery animals that they will grow out of quickly.
“Cushions and lights can easily change over time but, for the rest, it’s best to have something that will last.
“It does also depend on the type of room, of course. A wow! Paper may be okay for a playroom, for example - but not for the bedroom.”
She probably wouldn’t have liked my giant Golden Gordon poster then. But at least it was changeable - I ditched it for one of Peter Shilton when Leicester sold him to Stoke!