What about study areas? Given that the kitchen table may be the most appealing and a computer desk in the family room may be the safest solution for Internet searches, formal study areas in kids' rooms may not be used all the time. But for children who are easily distracted (and that's everyone when the TV is on in the same room), a quiet spot to study is a must. Good lighting that falls over the student's shoulder without a glare, a comfortable place to sit, and a work surface at the right height for writing or laptop use are just the basics. Try to indulge your child's personal preferences, however. For example, if he or she finds background music helpful, give it a try. Whatever you can do to build good study habits now will benefit your child for a lifetime.
If your home includes a bathroom to be used by children, safety will matter most. Antiscald devices on sink and tub faucets, rounded countertop corners, rugs with slip-proof backs (or no rugs if your floors are heated), a rubber-footed stool for the littlest ones, and grab bars as towel bars are sensible options. (Grab bars need to be reinforced with wood blocks anchored to wall studs, so if you're rehabbing the bathroom or building a new one, plan grab bars in from the start.) Beyond that, indulge in whatever decorative flights of fancy your child enjoys. If the bathroom is part of a bedroom suite, you may want to continue the bedroom's color scheme or reverse it: For example, a mostly blue bedroom with some yellow accents and a predominantly yellow bath with blue accents.
A lot is demanded of your child's room -- and of any room in which children will spend much time. It has been many years since children were seen and not heard or were judged as small adults with big shortcomings, but a kid-friendly home doesn't have to mean wall-to-wall crayons and chaos. Children from cradle to college need structure, consistency, and routines as much as adults do, and a well-planned room can help. Creating a home environment that welcomes and accepts children without sacrificing the needs of adults can be a challenge. But what family project is more rewarding, year after year?
ABOUT THE AUTHORS:
Mary Wynn Ryan is the author of numerous interior design books, including The Ultimate Kitchen, The Ultimate Bath, Cottage Style, Fresh Country Style, and Garden Style. She has written about home furnishings and interior design for various magazines and served as Midwest editor of Design Times magazine.
Heidi Tyline King is an accomplished writer and editor. She has written extensively about America's arts, culture, history, nature-based attractions, and decorating projects, including All About Paint and Wallpaper, Beautiful Wedding Crafts, Pelican Guide to the Florida Panhandle, The Unofficial Guide to the Southeast with Kids, and others.