How to create a cool, kid-friendly home
BY KARREN JOHNSON
What makes a family’s home feel comfy and cozy, safe and secure, fun and inviting, organized and functional and most important… cool and kid-friendly? As kids grow and needs change, many families may be taking a closer look at the space they live in and asking themselves these very questions. Below are some fun, yet basic, ideas for creating a home environment that everyone will enjoy.
Don’t cry over spilled milk
It’s every parent’s dream: furniture that’s beautiful, super comfortable and stain resistant. Say hello to micro-fiber furniture and good bye to stains. You could drop a slice of pizza on one of these bad boys and it wipes right off. Microfiber furniture comes in sofas, loveseats and chairs, with a huge selection of colors to choose from which can be mixed and matched. Not looking to buy new furniture? You can still survive sticky fingers and spilled milk by covering furniture with a washable slipcover.
Sitting in style
From inflatable furniture that’s comfy to sit on and easy to carry from room to room to the Roles-Royce of video rockers, kids want the latest and greatest, cool and trendy furniture for their rooms. One piece of furniture that stands the test of time is the bean bag chair. Like jeans, it will probably never go out of style. They’re fun, they’re comfortable, and with their affordable price, why stop at buying just one. You can have one for each child.
Chalk it up
How many times have you been down on your hands and knees scrubbing crayon or marker off the walls? Blackboard paint just might be the best invention ever. Pick one or two walls in the house to be the designated “scribble” area and paint it with blackboard paint. It’s available at almost every home improvement center. Supply colored chalk and let your child draw to his heart’s content! No matter their age, kids will love it. They can leave notes, create artistic murals, and more.
While the amount of light it gives off might be questionable, lava lamps are a funky, fun addition to any child’s room or play room—and they do make great night lights. Is your child into glow-in-the dark stuff? Install a few black lights, to create an “outer space” effect. When it comes to picking lighting for their study area, good lighting is very important. A desk lamp with a light pattern that covers a large area is a good investment. Make certain that the shade is at a height that ensures that the glare isn't directly into your child’s eyes.
Create place for your child to display his accomplishments, whether it is artwork or gold-star report cards. We all need a little reminder of what we have done well! It is also a good idea to include a desk or wall calendar that can be used to post test dates and assignments. Kids can assign each subject to a specific color to make scanning projects easier to do.
They’ve become more than an area to just sit and write. Today, desks are equipped to hold computers, books, supplies, and still provide a place to work. Desks create a positive work environment for children because everything they need is right at their fingertips. They are made to be comfortable and useful and come in a range of prices and styles. Some are less expensive, made of pressed wood and require assembly. Others are solid wood, and could fill up a small room. It’s best to take your family along when picking a desk out, to ensure that everyone is happy.
Storage bins are a great way to keep things in their own place, while at the same time maintaining accessibility. Because of their plastic, open appearance and often bright color combinations, storage bins fit best in children’s rooms or play rooms and garages or dens. Because they basically resemble an organized bucket system, they’re great for storing for small toys, Legos, Barbie dolls, tools, etc. Another great idea is to store toys in a large and sturdy lidded box that can double as a seat (with the addition of a pillow) or a drawing surface for budding artists.
As kids grow, keep age-appropriate books and magazines on shelves they can reach in their favorite hangouts around the house. Make these shelves appealing and keep them organized. Place some of the books with the covers facing out so they’re easy to spot. Put a basket full of books and magazines next to their favorite places to sit. Create a cozy reading corner, and encourage kids to use it by setting up “reading corner time” each day.
Kitchens can be a place of special memories for children of any generation. Food and cooking give families a chance to reconnect, so it is especially important that the kitchen be kid-friendly, safe and comfortable.
If possible, have a small table where kids can color or work on projects while you are working in the kitchen.
Include a selection of unbreakable bowls, measuring cups and mixing spoons stored in on a low shelf or in a low cabinet within reach of your child. Let your child know that these are his special cooking tools. Personalize them with colored markers.
Paint a small stool in bright colors to keep where your child can easily grab it to reach the sink or counter tops.
Designate a place where you will keep snacks that your children can eat anytime. Use a special drawer, shelf, basket or box. Keep it stocked with healthy snacks such as raisins, juice packs, granola bars, trail mix or fruit.
Buy a set of alphabet or number magnets or sets of easy work magnets for the refrigerator. Kids can learn to spell, create sentences or do math while helping in the kitchen.
Keep a kitchen fire extinguisher nearby along with emergency numbers for fire departments, poison centers, physicians, hospitals and police.