Low-maintenance room for a child

RITA ST.CLAIR

November 25, 1990|By RITA ST.CLAIR

Even though a child's room is fun to furnish, many parents approach the task with a high degree of uncertainty. This is especially true for first-time moms and dads. Because they don't yet know the tricks of designing a space for a child, they're often perplexed at each phase of a son's or daughter's growth -- from infancy through preschool and into the pubescent and teen-age years.

Clients in this situation always ask me the same basic questions. They wonder, first of all, whether light or dark colors are easier to maintain.

There's no standard answer. It all depends on the kind of soiling a room receives. Dust, chalk, glue and many other stains common in a child's room will generally be more visible against a dark background. But more colorful spots like those produced by crayons, lipstick and paint will stand out more clearly on a light carpet.

The wisest choice for the floor surfacing, therefore, is probably a neutral color in a medium tone. That's not very exciting, but from a maintenance standpoint it usually makes the most sense.

Look for pale-colored carpets, like the one shown in the photo, that will satisfy even the most fastidious housekeeper. This "Worryfree" nylon carpet by Galaxy features a stain-resistant fiber that promises easy maintenance for years to come.

Once the floor surface has been selected, there's less need to be concerned about soiling and staining in the rest of the room. Plastic laminate furniture, even when done in white, is a logical and attractive selection. This material is durable enough to withstand plenty of punishment while still retaining its bright and clean appearance.

Designers Allen Scruggs and Douglas Myers took care in this model, meant for an 8-year-old, to include lots of primary colors in the decorative wall covering strip that runs around the room. Younger kids really enjoy vivid combinations like blue and red or purple and yellow. One scheme might involve using blue and yellow as accents for basic white.

Some parents may regard such a color arrangement as a bit too sterile and prim. It's true that the setting shown here is not going to get along well with a sloppy child. This clearly isn't the sort of room that encourages chaos.

Is that bad, though, I wonder?

I'm old-fashioned enough to think that a child's room should -- among other things -- serve as a training ground for the adult of the future. That's why this kind of tidy, pleasant and, indeed, somewhat demanding environment doesn't strike me as inappropriate. I suspect that if a sloppy kid were transported to a room like this, he or she wouldn't remain sloppy for long.

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