DESIGNING FOR KIDS
- Kitchen appliances shouldn’t be ignored when children are involved
- The fabric on your furniture is important in terms of safety and durability
- Consider the dressers that can be secured to the wall to prevent tipping
- Use wallpaper where your little artist can’t doodle on it – like the ceiling
Over the years, I have picked up on a few things that you may want to consider when designing a home with children. The kitchen, obviously, can potentially be the most dangerous room for a little one. Look for appliances that have button locks. These will disable buttons from functioning in case they are operated by a child. Or, look for a range with controls on the top, not the front. Nearly all appliances with doors (that may be pulled open from the front) have some sort of locking device. Some appliances will not allow the user to open them until it is at a safe temperature. Many manufacturers have incorporated double-glazed windowpanes on ovens, so kids won’t burn their little hands.
If you do wood flooring throughout, do a light–colored wood. Darker woods will show more dirt and dust. If you do wall to wall carpeting, choose something with a low pile, especially on stairs. This will help prevent tripping. You may want to do a sofa and lounge chairs as opposed to a sectional. If you spill something on a sectional and it stains, you will have to get the WHOLE thing recovered. There are designers who say to just cover everything in performance fabrics and vinyl so you can just wipe everything off. We know those materials are not the healthiest. Maybe just cover one piece in that kind of fabric. Another idea is to use upholstered benches as coffee tables – the less sharp corners the better. Finally, when it comes to fireplace design, forgo the raised hearth – it’s just another thing for kids to trip on. Plus, you can hang your tv at a lower height.
Bathtubs with built-in seats on one side are great for toddlers, who can sit there and be sponged off. A hand-held showerhead is wonderful for washing off little ones. If you do a freestanding tub, make sure you apply tile to AT LEAST the lower half of the walls. We know little ones love to splash in the tub! Porcelain or ceramic tile flooring is great for little boys learning to properly use the toilet. The urine won’t damage the condition of the floor (yes, you should think about this kind of stuff). Be sure to do a TILE BASE as well.
In terms of dressers and bookcases, make sure they are bolted to the walls to avoid tipping. My toddler LOVES climbing, and I have found her many times, standing in a dresser drawer, trying to climb her way up to the top.
I LOVE wallpaper. There is probably nothing I love more than beautiful wallpaper. But just wait until you kid is at least 5. My daughter draws on everything. If you absolutely must have wallpaper now, do the ceiling. Don’t forget about ceilings! It’s a beautiful place to hang wallpaper and can make a huge difference in a room.