There is nothing that drives me crazier than an overly decorated kid’s space.
Call me contrarian, but it kills me to see how grown-ups impose their ideas of ‘style’. Lazy maybe, but I’m a fan of nurturing creativity. Forget clutter-free – they’re kids after all, filled with imagination and curiosity!
Within reason, why not let the kid’s animals accumulate, plastic toys pile up, and chotcke collections expand? These are the bits and pieces from which identities grow. And relax! With a little guidance and sensitivity, they’ll learn how to purge, and most of crap will eventually go.
How else are kids supposed to figure out what they’re into -or equally important – show you what is super-cool?
Besides, if as a parent, design really is your thing – isn’t it better to engage your offspring? Help them identify what works and what doesn’t, and involve them in the process of creating their own truly personal place.
Why do I feel so strongly? Because this is exactly how my love of design came to be.
Here’s a story.
Way back last fall, the little girlaboutOtown started grumbling about her room. She’d just turned 10, and felt it was time to spruce up her space. Apparently, the fluffy white clouds were a little too juvenile for her emerging sense of pre-teen independence.
I was in denial. Not only was did I resist the idea she was growing up, I wanted nothing to do with decorating her room. Designer maybe, but in no mood to repaint!
Lucky for her, the little girlaboutOtown’s grandparents had their ears to the ground.
For her birthday, Grandma & Grandpa first made a point of providing her an opportunity to choose new bedding. Off they went shopping for a duvet cover and shams she considered cool. The gray geometric print was a definite departure from fresh flowers on baby blue, and stuck out awkwardly in an otherwise ‘pretty’ room. No matter, the girl was happy.
At Christmas, genius struck Grandma & Grandpa again. This time, they gave the girl a matching gray desk lamp with a distinctly modern look, a fresh set of striped towels, and a very generous offer to paint all of her walls. The gift box was filled with colour swatches more-or-less related to the cover she had recently selected for her bed. Clever.
Once the new year appeared, off they all went again, this time with a paint fan in hand to narrow down her options. With just a wee bit of gentle coaching, the girl learned to pick coordinating wall colours from an existing element in the room. Remember that birthday bedding?
In February, and Grandma & Grandpa’s schedule freed up. Out came the paint cans while the girl was at her Dad’s. The furniture was covered, posters removed, and all plastic toys properly contained in preparation for a 48 hour transformation.
With much love, labour continued over the weekend, and there before my eyes, my little girl’s room grew up. It matured over night, and admittedly, I was kind of traumatized. Matchy-matchy maybe, but definitely no place for my baby!
Fast forward to Monday, when the girl finally returned for the big ‘reveal’. Upstairs she hurried to check out the space, and for a moment, it seemed she too barely recognized the place. It was tidy, clean, and almost completely character-free.
“But Mom!” she exclaimed, “It really needs more ME!”
Doo-dads were liberated, posters were pulled from the ‘go pile’, and the furniture was rearranged. In no time, the “after” appeared almost the same as the “before”, minus the fluffy clouds, of course. Then, and only then, did the little girlaboutOtown finally feel like she was home.
So, aside from a few decorating basics, what did we learn from all of this?
First, patience. A truly comfortable space can’t be ‘prescribed’. Instead, it is possible for a great room to be pieced together slowly over time. All it takes is careful thought, observation, and yes – a good measure of patience.
Second, pragmatism. That’s right -even though Grandma & Grandpa generously took the girl shopping, she wasn’t given carte blanche. She had to work within a budget. Don’t we all?
Finally, personality. This part pleases me the most! When confronted with a space that was overly generic, she knew intuitively there was a more authentic way to go. Home really is the best place to let your real self show.
As you can see, my daughter and I have been lucky. Thanks to my parents, we’ve learned good design means making the very best of your reality.