Designing for Children

From infancy, children can enjoy a huge range of educational toys.  This means more and more clutter as children grow and toys are saved for the next child.  Montessori education teaches that children as soon as they can walk are able to learn to organize playthings.  If you are lucky enough to have a family room, an architect can design an attractive space with cubby holes for toys so that you're not walking painfully  on Lego and picking up blocks, doll clothes and crayons.  Many parents and children must use the child's bedroom as a play space and also for  clothing and toy storage.  All this can lead to an overwhelming mess.  And young children create chaos easily.

An architect and help you design a space where there is room for everything within reach of the child.  When children know where everything goes, they are able to put it away.  This makes children happier when they can find things.
Children also grow fast, so clothing accumulates, especially if you want to save outgrown clothing for the next child.  For children to learn to put away their clothes, they need easily reached spaces to put them.  In a closet, for example, the hanging rail should be low enough for them to reach.  The remaining space above can be shelving for parents to put outgrown clothes and toys.

Most people think that a child's bedroom needs a chest of drawers, but this is entirely impractical for children.  Opening and closing the drawers is difficult and the child may not even be able to reach the higher drawers.

There are other solutions for childrens' bedrooms   Cubby holes for each type of toy make it easy for children to put toys away.  Beds with built-in drawers underneath are a great clothing solutiion - as long as the drawers are big enough.

When buying a cot for a baby or young child, choose one that transforms into a child-size bed when railings are no longer needed.  For older children, a high loft bed with space beneath for a desk and leisure area can work well, but the child must be old enough to safely use the bed.  Accidents and strangulation with robe belts have happened.

An architect can be invaluable in creating a chaos-free space.  Don't tidy the room before the architect visits, as he or she needs to see the organization problem as it is in real life.

Lego, Thomas the Tank Engine and dolls all need places to live and when these are carefully designed and child-friendly, chaos can be turned into calmness.  The aim should be for children to easily put away their things.  And don't forget a child-size laundry basket for dirty clothes.

If you are fortunate to have an entry hall, use this as the place for sports equipment, lunch boxes, outdoor shoes, school shoes, coats and other items.  A cubby whole or slim closet for each child and parent means that everyone can learn to put these things away as soon as they arrive home, rather than parents having to find important items such as school shoes and uniforms strewn all over the house or apartment.

One parent I know had her architect put the laundry area upstairs so that she could wash, dry and iron clothes without having to run up and down stairs.  Another parent asked her architect to design toy area storage closets along the walls of the family room in attractive dark wood, so that the room could eventually be transformed into a tidy area which would naturally grow into an  attractive teenage and adult area. The lower storage was within reach of young children, while the shelving above held books, children's art projects, adult hobbies and sentimental items.

Designing in advance the needs of growing children and their parents saves time and  money.  Just think of all those plastic boxes storage boxes that never get used, and the closets and drawers children can't reach.  Learning to put things away from a young age with the help of a sympathetic architect will improve your quality of life.

For those in the Metropolitan New York area, check out the Westchester Children's Museum  http://discoverwcm.org/current-exhibits/