Childrens' Spaces that Grow

Maybe it’s my age, but as my design career grew, so did my friends and the size of their families.  One of the most frequently asked questions regardless of location, budget, or gender was and still remains “How can I design a space that children don’t outgrow as quickly as their shoes?”

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Foundations.  It’s the beginning of any successful project.  Selecting pieces that aren’t age specific, to the best we can, is the starting point.  For a nursery, that means a crib, rocker, dresser, and changing space.  For the crib, select a convertible option that transitions from crib, to toddler bed, to full size bed with just a few easy adjustments.   The crib mattress is used until a full size is needed, often times not until the child is 3 or 4 (or 5 in my daughter’s case!).

For a rocking chair, select a neutral, hard working fabric because here, is undoubtedly where late night infant feedings through story time with sippy cups will take place.  As the child grows and the design elements shift, a neutral fabric here will stay fresh and flexible.

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For the dresser and changer, select a double duty piece.  A full size dresser will transition nicely over time, and many are available with a changer top piece for the diaper years.  This also creates more space in the room to be occupied with what will be a guaranteed overflow of toys and other necessities from infant swings and playmats to toddler art tables and teepees.

Now for the design elements.  Paint, textiles and accessories are the easiest and most cost effective design injection into nearly any space.  A soft palette works well for infants (and their sleep deprived parents) while fun, bold, and bright colors are great for the toddler and early learning years.  A calm gray or tan wall can easily be modified and enhanced later with bold stripes, or patterns in accent colors with just a gallon of paint, a roll of masking tape and a free afternoon.  Two of which may be easier to acquire than the other. 

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Windows can take a bit of planning.  Roller shades or blinds for the infant years (toddler years too if you’re lucky) but layered with fabric romans or drapes can add drama, whimsy and fun.  These are also easily changed over time when wished is a style and design overhaul.

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Lastly, accents.  A soft and plush area rug for tummy time, or a fun and bold pattern underfoot for pretend play.   For lighting, an elegant chandelier or a mid century modern mobile adds drama and whimsy.  Throw pillows on the bed and rocker can round out the design finishing a space that looks planned, well executed and perfectly suited to your little one, easily adaptable, regardless of their shoe size.

 Inspriation, Danielle, my very first client, 2007

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