The waning summer vacation can not only be used for family fun but for projects that help kids look forward to success in school in the fall, as well. As a designer for over four decades, I have often seen the positive results of creating a home environment that promotes good habits and focus. When I create kids’ rooms, for example, I always include them. I want them to feel a part of the selection process as well as to take ownership of their space. After all, their room is their home within your home. It should fulfill their needs and make them happy and comfortable in their own space helping them to learn, think and create. That’s why I often encourage families that are moving to a new home to “do” kids’ rooms first to help them transition well.
I am often called in to design for young people with kids who have just bought a new home. They're usually taxed, both financially and emotionally, and now have big decisions to make, sometimes with little or no remaining budget. Prioritizing expenditures is hard when there is not enough money to do everything you'd like, but I always advise focusing on kids' rooms first.
Moving to a new environment, changing schools and leaving friends and familiar places, can often be traumatic to children. Even a new larger, lovely space can be a hard adjustment for a youngster that is not good with change. Since your child didn't get to choose to move, try to create a sense of pride and ownership of his or her new personal space by involving them in the process of creating it. This can be done with kids as young as three by simply asking what colors they like and letting them help select their own bedding or room theme.
As always, start with a plan and then make a plan – the floor plan or furniture arrangement. The first can be accomplished by having a family pow-wow with the child and perhaps other siblings, as well. Talk about their space and list the items needed such as furniture, flooring, wall and window treatments, bedding, closet organizers, accessories, etc. Then actually measure the room with your child and put it on graph paper. Decide where to best place everything on the "needs" list. There might also be a "wish" list if there is room and money left over. Remember the space plan doesn't change whether the budget is large or small.
Next, establish budget parameters. The good news is if grandma or grandpa respond true to form, you may be looking at some sweet subsidies. So, start with the basics – crib that might become a bed, changing table that transforms to a dresser, rocker, bookcase and lots of room for toys, games and stuffed animals. If the child is older and has advanced past "conversion" furniture, think about purchases that can carry on into adulthood. If the room is large enough, regular size bedroom furniture, including a queen size bed may be in order. Kids grow up faster than you imagine and their childhood room can become their guest room years later. By painting and changing carpet and bedding, you can utilize your well purchased furniture through many stages of family life.
When shopping for furniture, make sure you take your floor plan along as well as photos of the room. This will give a visual to the professionals who will be helping you. Check all measurements for the things you will be selecting, keeping in mind soffits, low windows, baseboard heat, door swings and location of light switches on walls.
A while back, I wrote a children's book about decorating and its effect on children entitled "Katrina's New Room". My beautiful granddaughter Katrina is now 18 and ready to go off to college. This past week, she autographed some of the books that bear her name and her story with some young St. Jamesers at our last St. James Summer Night (that was a trip for yours truly).
With the start of a new school year not far away, a well-planned and organized room helps keep kids focused and better able to concentrate. Clutter and disarray breed very early in life if parents allow it. This does not mean you are the maid! Remember the story of the fisherman? Teach your child to "fish" and it will be a wonderful and helpful trait all their lives. But if the rest of your house doesn't' follow the same rules of organization, cleanliness and parting with unnecessary stuff, take your own advice first and set the example. You'll both feel better about your home and your parenting.
P.S. – Visit Uniquely Natalie to purchase a copy of Katrina's New Room.
176 Second Street, St. James, NY 11780, 631-686-5644
You can do it!
CREATE A PLAN
BEFORE YOU BEGIN
LETTING GO OF EXCUSES
SORTING THROUGH THE CLUTTER
ONGOING CLUTTER MANAGEMENT
By Natalie Weinstein, Allied ASID, IDS