Creating the best space for your kids and family
An interior designer’s views and suggestions on optimising your living space for the family
Setting up the kids' room
We don't have a separate room for our daughter. Her things are mixed with ours and in our living space. But for many parents, setting up the room is a very big part of starting a family. So I spoke to my friend, Ofri Paz who is an interior designer about how to optimise your living space when you have kids. This is what she says:
As parents, we give a lot of thought to every single aspect of our children’s lives, and our home is no exception. Expecting parents feel the urge to organize the home for the baby, buy the necessary furniture, and prepare as much as they can in advance. It provides a sense of control, as well as a focus inwards, into our personal space and growing family. But what many of us come to realize, is that designing a room is much more than making it look nice or buying that one piece of “perfect” furniture. It is about daily routines and habits, supporting our lifestyle, organizing our environment, and creating just the right atmosphere to fit our family values. If you don’t know where to start, feel overwhelmed with the task, or are not sure how to make your small space work, here are a few thoughts to consider while designing your children’s room and optimizing your home for your growing family.
Most of us rent our spaces and don’t own them, therefore big changes to the layout are not an option. However, there are many ways to “manipulate” a space. We might like to make the room feel larger, and sometimes we are looking to create slightly separate areas in a larger space, for example, if one room is used by two (or more) kids.
Color for example could help create the illusion of a larger space. Light colors are best at reflecting the light, therefore making the room feel more spacious and inviting. However, stronger and darker colors on the far side of the room will give the room depth, especially when contrasted with light natural colors such as white, light grey and soft sand tones.
To divide a larger room into different areas, for sleeping, playing, reading and studying, you can use pieces of furniture, such as bookcases, and place a small rug in each separate area to visually frame it.
Optimize the space – naturally, most of the furniture in the children’s room has to be accessible for the little ones, but there are ways to maximize the height of the space without taking away their feeling of autonomy. Examine the potential of the space from the bottom up and separate it into three layers – the lower areas should provide the kids with a sense of control over what they read, play and wear. Above you can place things that should be handy for you, such as diapers, creams, bed sheets, towels, etc. The third and tallest part can be used to store things that are not used very often. For example, you can store toys in boxes or drawers under the bed, daily care items in a basket placed on a shelf, and the top shelves in the wardrobe could be perfect for off-season clothing.
Photo credit: Alana Range
Plan ahead – the trickiest thing about children’s rooms are the constant changes. Kids grow up, become more independent, a new sibling joins the family, and new interests constantly emerge. Obviously, you can’t fully anticipate what your and your children’s needs will be, but you can take an educated guess and predict which items will stay with you in some shape or form and which will have to make room for new things. That will enable you to make better choices now, that will accommodate both your present and future needs.
Make it your own – on a practical level – every child and family is different, and you should create the spaces that fit your daily routine best. For example, some families use the child’s bedroom as the main play area as well, and therefore it should include a comfy seating area and lots of storage space for toys. In other homes, the kids play in the common areas and the bedroom is used mainly for sleep, so it should be organized in a more minimalistic and calm manner, while the living room should include accessible toy storage for the kids to explore.
On an esthetic level – we would usually prefer to stick to neutral furniture in white and wood tones, that work well in every space and style. To elevate the space and add a personal touch, use color, wallpaper, wall stickers, and textiles such as carpets, throws and drapes. Some of my favorite shops for budget-friendly accessories are Søstrene Grene, Maisons du Monde, HEMA and H&M home. In addition, If your child has a particular interest or hobby, you could take that into account and incorporate it into the design, choose the accessories and wall decor accordingly and use open shelving units to display their collections and/or creations.
Store and display – even in the most minimalistic homes, families and lifestyles, kids require a lot of stuff, like toys, books, clothes and suitable furniture. Smart and efficient storage solutions are crucial to make your lives easier and your home (and mind) organized. My main advice, which is true for every room in the house, is to combine open and closed storage systems. Open shelves are like a breath of fresh air in the room, when there are larger and heavier storage closets, wardrobes and cabinets. They are also easily accessible and could be a platform to display some of your family’s favorite objects. It doesn’t mean that all the toys and books should be always on display. We all know that too many objects at once can get the kids easily distracted. You can change it up every once in a while to better suit your kids’ current interests and keep them curious.
As your child grows up and your family changes, the room will also change. Often times a new bed and wardrobe are required, changing tables are no longer needed, the small craft table needs to make room for a new desk, and storage has to fit the child’s new needs. Because of the frequent changes, I believe we should make environmentally conscious decisions, and sometimes choose sustainable options instead of buying everything brand new. There are many good pieces of furniture for a reasonable price in second-hand shops like Noch-Mall, online platforms like Ebay Kleinanzeigen, and designated Facebook groups like Free Your Kids Stuff Berlin. You can also look around your home and find accessories and furniture that can be repurposed to best suit your current needs, like a living room side table that can be used as a bedside table or a kitchen cart that can become a dynamic toy storage solution.
Our rooms shape us – our physical spaces can support our values and interests and help us form a good routine and healthy habits. If you
have the space, consider dedicating an area in the room to a specific activity. You can create a reading area using shelves and cozy cushions, a craft table with accessible art supplies on the wall or a cart with wheels (Ikea’s RÅSKOG cart is perfect for that), a mini gym with a wobble board and a climbing structure, or whatever suits best to your idea of quality time.
Ofri Paz is an interior designer, design journalist, and content creator. She is a mother of two young kids and one medium-sized dog, and lives with her husband and family in Berlin. Check out more of her interior design work and life in Berlin.
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