Boy's bedroom needs to grow up


May 01, 1994|By Rita St. Clair | Rita St. Clair,Los Angeles Times Syndicate

Q: I'm ready to convert the nursery our 4-year-old son has long since outgrown. But I find myself at a loss as to how to proceed.

May I please have some advice on furniture, colors and materials? I'm not getting much inspiration from the usual decorating magazines.

A: Part of the problem may be that you're thinking of terms of decorating rather than designing your boy's bedroom. That may sound like a quibble over semantics or maybe even a strange observation since you, of course, want the room to look pretty and to be a fun place. But I think the distinction is important because it points to priorities such as proper function and easy maintenance.

A well-designed bedroom takes into account the child's preferences. Don't assume that you know everything about providing for his sleeping, storage, play and quiet-time needs. Allow him to offer some suggestions.

A 4-year-old requires plenty of table space for games and other activities. Clothes, toys and books can be stored in closets, drawers, bins or on shelves, but wherever you put all that stuff make sure your son can reach what he wants. That, incidentally, will encourage the habit of putting things back where they belong.

Keep the maintenance factor to the fore as you weigh the choices of materials for walls, floor and other surfaces. I have seen fabulous-looking children's rooms quickly turn into rather seedy settings because they weren't designed with maintenance in mind.

Carpeting, for example, is probably not a smart option. I realize that carpets made of "miracle yarn" can withstand a great deal of abuse, but their colors are usually dreary. And a young child's room should not contain boring colors. My preference tends toward a brightly colored sheet vinyl. This floor covering shown in the photo is "Visions Solarian," made by Armstrong World Industries.

Wall-coverings are seldom maintenance-free, but those with small, colorful but understated patterns can certainly camouflage a multitude of scuffs and stains.

The Parson's-style table in the window alcove is sufficient for most individual activities. But a larger surface with rounded corners and suitable chairs will be more useful when friends come to play. The nearby night table is a simple lacquered plastic cube.

I'm hardly the one to judge whether this setting would meet your son's needs and preferences. But I do hope you won't be put off by the slight disorder seen here. Be assured that the room contains adequate storage compartments that, when fully in use, help ensure that this design is functional as well as decorative.

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