Tuesday, December 17, 2013


When designing for baby, I think that it is easy to forget that you are DESIGNING FOR A BABY!!  We can get caught up in design and forget the function.  We see something that we love and sometimes that something would really be best for you-and I mean that literally.  What works for an adult won't neccessarily work for a baby or very young child.  As I have said many times before, when I was in school, they hammered the notion of function first.  If a room does not function for a certain purpose then it doesn't matter how pretty it is.  I think this lesson is very applicable to designing for the very young.  Not only do you have to think in terms or how will you function in the room with them, but also cleanability and safety.
What do I mean by cleanability...well....lets face it little ones make loads of messes.  And I am not just talking about the odd toy being strewn about or them dumping a bin of toys out on the floor.
Take the following two nurseries as an example when thinking of safety and ease of cleaning:

First of all I am not ripping apart a design for the sake of it.  I wanted to present a couple of examples of both good and not so good design when thinking of these two issues.
The two rooms above look so amazing from a design point of view.  They look modern and right away they have you.  They are graphic, young and oh so fun. I picked them to compare them with each other in terms of the two issues I wanted to talk about.
In the first one it really catches the eye.  It is so different. So glamourous.  After you get past that you start to see a couple of things...at least I did.  First of all....and I don't know if it has been secured...is the black lamp in the corner.  I don't know if it is just for the picture or if it is actually part of the room.  If it is part of the room I would hope that it is sturdy, can take climbing and is somehow bolted down. Having had 2 young ones myself all I can see is a little one pulling themselves up to try to stand with the help of that lamp.  Would it topple over?  Make sure that any lighting in the room is away from little hands where they cannot reach them.  Same can be said of cords.  Don't get me wrong- I am all for something different but when designing for a child you have to think safety first. In the second pic they have a great pendant light- no little fingers will get at that one!
The second issue I have with the first pic is all the little chatchkee's that are on tables.  After a little one tries to grab them one too many times-they will be gone.  I speak from experience.  And it didn't even happen in their own room.  When my youngest was 18 months he broke a nautilus shell that I had on a sofa table- totally my fault.  It was a magnet for him, he wanted it.  I kept putting it back and telling him NO-well that was all the red flag he needed......one swipe later and I now have a nautilus shell with a chip and a hole in it. Little people are curious and they WILL explore.  Yes they need to be told not too touch-but guess what- THEY ARE LITTLE PEOPLE.  TheY touch, they test and they test!  If it is too precious or too expensive-PUT IT AWAY FOR AWHILE!!  Just some advise from someone who has been there.  As you can see in the 2nd pic there isn't anything too precious laying around for them to get their hands on...smart move!

Some may argue that the crib in the first one may be too much.  First of all I think it looks amazing- Lucite is always a great modern touch.  There is just something about Lucite.  But you have to remember IT WILL SCRATCH!!  Again, they are little.  They will bang stuff on a crib, bang stuff into it and they will bite it!! BITE IT YOU SAY??  Absolutely!!  You talk to any parent who has had a little one and they will tell you how beat up a crib can get.  Especially the top front part.  My little guys loved to rest their teeth there and gnaw. Not  to mention bang a toy or two there.  I am not saying the Lucite crib isn't a good idea-I am just saying that it will take a beating and I hope you are prepared to then look at a $3000.00 dollar crib with scratches and dents on it.  At least you know it was well loved!
As for flooring for a nursery or a kids room....to me the shorter the pile the better- why you ask?  Well when you have a long pile as in the top pic it can be hard to clean....very hard to clean.  I will let you in on a little secret........That rug may get pooped on, urinated on or even vomited on.  Yuck you say!  Am I being too graphic??  NOPE JUST REALITSTIC!!   Any accident can and WILL happen.  Personally I would NEVER put a rug with a very long pile near a nursery or a crib for that very same reason-EVER.  It WILL at some point have to be cleaned-even if those things never happen.  It can be a very costly process- just some food for thought.  If you look at the second example it is such a great example of what you can do in such a room to add colour, texture and design.  Not only is it pretty to look at but it will cost you much less upfront and on the back end.  Carpet tiles are inexpensive, easy to clean and IF  you have to replace one- you can do just that.  They are so easy to replace.  Plus I think you can be so creative with them-just like they have been in the above pic. Also...think of little toys when they get a little older.  All I could think of with that rug is....what a great place for Lego to hide!!  Or if you have a girl...what a great place for Polly Pockets to hide.  Trust me, my feet have endured some lovely Lego attacks!
The same can be said for the Yak Balnket/Throw in terms of cleaning as in the 1st pic.  Anytime you have a Blanket for a baby, how that little blanket will be cleaned should be the first thought that runs through your head.  A baby blanket takes a ton of abuse-make sure it can be easily cleaned!!  And on that same issue-make sure that any fabrics used in a nursery is either washable, can be cleaned easily or isn't too precious....just saying.

So after reading this you may think I am completely ripping the first nursery apart- I am and I am not.  I am not being mean spirited at all....I just want to point out some realities.  Remember who you are desiging for. Really think about the space in terms of the little people.  Yes you will spend an incredible amount of time in their too, however, ultimately that space is for THEM!!  If you want a precious room......build it for yourself not a little one- they are the precious ones, leave the precious stuff for an adult space!!

So there you have it, my humble opinion on desiging spaces for Little Ones.
Have a great day everyone.

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