"Children are the true connoisseurs. What’s precious to them has no price — only value." Bel Kaufman (1911- ), Russian-American professor and author, television interview, 1967
Q: My husband and I are so excited; we have just been granted temporary custody of his two small children: a 3-year old girl and a 4-year old boy. We’re unsure of the final outcome of the permanent arrangements, but the children are arriving in our home in about 30 days. We need to quickly make a space for the children that they can call their own in the hopes that this will ease the transition.
Do you have any tips for making a welcoming space for the children? We have space for each child to have its own room, but under the current circumstances, we are unsure how to proceed at this point.
A: Wow, talk about a lifestyle change. Congratulations to you and best wishes for a very smooth and happy transition.
I’ve often talked about the fact that design and decoration do not rank up there with a lot of issues facing our population today; however, a well-done space, appropriately designed for safety and use, plays a huge role in our personal happiness.
In your particular situation, the space you create for your precious little children will be very important for their adjustment and will, in fact, be a large part of their new world. At their ages, 3 and 4, their world is quite small and their personal space becomes key.
The most important thing you can do it to create spaces that are just for them. Placing children, especially those in your situation, in a guest room or an "adult room" will just make them feel more like visitors and not like the space is their own. Every child, just like most adults, needs to feel that he or she has a special place that is theirs alone. Other than the actual furniture in the space, be sure to have toys, stuffed animals, a special blanket or anything that the child can identify with in the room.
There is a wide range of furnishings available for children. Some lines can change as the child grows. Then, there are those made specifically for little children; when the child outgrows the furniture, it’s time to move to a new stage.
I would normally recommend that parents buy furniture that they can add to and that will stay with children all the way through college. In this case, however, I would go all out and get "little kid" furniture, designed just for them. The theme of the furniture will be one more way to solidify their presence in your home and hopefully help them feel at home.
Most mainstream furniture manufacturers make themed lines for children, as well as standard case goods. Popular themes include princess, Disney, Superman, race car driver, etc. These lines are more about childhood happiness and fun than design.
In addition to a line that will grow with your child, Delta Children’s Products (www.deltachildrens products.com.) has a line of imaginatively designed juvenile, tween and toddler furniture. It is specifically made for children ages 3 and older, and is set low to the floor for easy access. Since your little ones are out of the crib stage, the size and style of these might be just the ticket.
I’m sure you will be successful in your transition by just going with you heart and listening to your children. They will tell you what they need — the perfect furnishings and toys will just be the stage.
Carolyn Muse Grant is the founding president of the Architectural & Decorative Arts Society, as well as an interior design consultant/stylist specializing in home staging. Her Inside Spaces column appears weekly in the Home section of the Review-Journal. Send questions to email@example.com.