How to Design Children's Rooms

Changing Attics and Basements into Children's Rooms

While you'll want a conventional room for a young child's sleeping room, you can get more creative when it comes to carving out a play space. A basement, an attic, or even a spacious stair landing (with appropriate gates in front of the stairs) can yield space for a kid-friendly playroom. Teens looking for a private space away from younger siblings may want to claim a part of the basement or the attic as their bedroom, and as long as they can get out quickly in an emergency, this solution can ease a space crunch.

In general, attics tend to be the hottest parts of the house, so you may want to paint walls in cool, pale blues and greens. If the room has awkward alcoves and low walls in some areas, you can employ a designer's trick and camouflage them with a small all-over print wallcovering. Coordinating bookcases in several sizes can give an integrated look to storage on walls of different heights. To keep bookcases from visually overwhelming the space, consider painting them a pale tint to match the walls. The attic is a perfect place for small-scale furniture, from bona fide children's tables and chairs to easygoing beanbag seating. If your kids are younger, gate the stairwell, and whatever their ages, make sure you have plenty of strategically placed light fixtures, especially near the stairs.

Unless they have a walkout feature like a sliding glass door, basements tend to be dark and gloomy. To lighten them up, consider painting basement walls a light, warm color like creamy white, soft yellow, or peach. If your basement has old wood paneling from the rec room era, you can paint it if it's real wood. For a visually light effect that retains the interesting wood grain, consider pickling or whitewashing the wood. If your basement walls are plastic faux wood, it will be hard to paint them successfully, so you'll be better off taking down the paneling and painting the walls. (If the walls underneath the panels are in poor shape, fix any major problems and camouflage the minor ones with stylish stucco-type textured paint.) If you've got even one unflawed, smooth wall, consider painting it with special blackboard paint, and buy a box of colored chalk. Even big kids will enjoy it!

Basements and attics are great for messy, noisy hobbies you don't want to have take over the family room or other parts of your domain. Laminate surfaces and vinyl tile floors make paint-and-glue projects easy to clean up, and sound-insulating ceiling panels keep your garage band indoors and your neighborly relations intact. Kids can camp out, playact, and generally be kids!

Learn about choosing the right furniture pieces for children's rooms in the next section.

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