Kids enjoy style too. And just like the rest of us, they want their private spaces to express their personalities and to accommodate their possessions and needs.
So, before you rush out to furnish your child's room or play area, be sure to ask what sort of design he or she might prefer. And don't take initial lack of interest as an invitation to do your own thing. A child's rooms is not the place for adults to concoct their own version of what kids really want.
Some children like lots of high-tech gimmicks and extra-planetary decorations. Others feel most comfortable in a room that's filled with frills and pretty pictures. You may not agree with your child's conception of how the room should look. But I think it's just as big a mistake to ignore kids' suggestions as not to have sought them in the first place. They'll certainly let you know, in the end, whether the room pleases them or not.
What's the best way of getting the necessary information? It's really no different from asking anyone else how they envision a given space.
Inquire about the room's functions first. Find out what needs to be included in order for it to handle the various activities that your child will be engaged in.
Then you can discuss the actual appearance. I've found that it's relatively easy to ascertain the functions but harder to discover the type of look that a child considers most appealing.
Starting backward may be the most sensible direction to take. Pick up a bunch of home furnishing magazines that contain illustrations of children's rooms. Page through them with your child and take note of her or his reactions to particular colors and general styles. You'll probably be amazed by some of the comments, which you will, of course, have to interpret in order to suit your child's needs as well as your own budget. Remember, you're conducting research, not searching for a model to copy exactly.
Sometimes the messiest kids are the ones who choose the most pristine look. In those situations, it's up to Mom or Dad to ask what's to become of all the toys, games, collections and posters. Usually, the tune will then quickly change, and you'll get a surer sense of possibilities. By the same token, your child will begin to understand that some dreams aren't meant to come true.
When you ask about the color scheme, chances are you'll get a very simple answer, generally something like "green" or "yellow." Dig a little deeper, though, and you may find that the actual preference is for aqua or peach.
The photo shows what can happen in a corner of a child's room that needed some space for playing and where the standard white walls and study desk were not requested. The lively design seen here features a confettilike wallpaper and multicolored stripe border from the James Seeman "For Kids" collection. Note that the border was applied on only one wall and that it's placed slightly below a child's eye level. This arrangement produces a greater decorative impact.
A plastic laminate top on a metal base forms a sturdy activity table. The money saved by acquiring this piece from an outlet was invested in high-gloss white paint, which has been used to cover the battleship gray metal folding chairs. Besides being cost-efficient, this corner is now quite colorful and a cinch to maintain.
What's often true of all manner of interior designs is especially so for rooms occupied by the young -- simple solutions are the best solutions.