Making a kid's room into a fantasy ark


January 16, 1994|By Rita St. Clair | Rita St. Clair,Contributing Writer Los Angeles Times Syndicate

Q: I liked some of the ideas for "theming" a room that you presented in a recent column. I wonder -- can you help me with a practical situation? My preschool son loves stuffed animals, so much so that I'm having trouble keeping them in something resembling an orderly collection. Is there some way I can integrate the animals into a themed design for his room?

A: Stuffed animals are the perfect raw material for creating a themed room for a young child. What could possibly be more natural for your son and for you, the designer?

Decorating with toys or stuffed animals does present a problem, however. Kids are always wanting to play with them -- and there goes your themed design.

You might arrange the animals on a high shelf running all around the room. That will make a great three-dimensional decorative border along the walls. But imagine your son's frustration at seeing his much-loved animals displayed beyond his reach. You could, of course, come and fetch one of them whenever he asks, and then return it to its assigned place on the shelf when he's done playing. But how long do you think that routine would last?

Luckily for you, the same theme can be established in a much less problematic fashion. Why not start with wallpaper that features animal images? It involves none of the hassles I've just described, and it could inspire you to find similarly simple ways of expanding the theme.

The room in the photo was done with coordinated elements from Laura Ashley's "Noah's Ark" collection. The camels, elephants and other animals are featured on the fabrics and bed linens and on the wall-covering.

The focal point here is the boat-shaped, multifunctional bed unit that includes roomy pull-out drawers and a canopy-type roof. Note that at least a few stuffed animals are observing the scene from atop the canopy. Two of each species is not a requirement for this particular "Noah's Ark," but wouldn't it be clever -- child permitting -- to pair up the stuffed animals on the canopy and elsewhere in the room?

Curtains and skirting in complementary designs will add still more interest and coziness to such a setting. But don't expect the theme to remain entirely intact. The photo gives only the slightest hint of what the space will look like once a real-live kid gets going in it.

The point, however, is not to devise a child-proof design, but to cater to the little one's fantasies.

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