WORDS Melanie Spencer
Castles, monsters, princesses, magic potions and fairy dust. The imagination of children is constantly evolving and should be nurtured and encouraged. Find out how to capture and boost the amazing minds of little ones within the home without taking over the house
A child’s room
Billy Kavellaris, director of Kavellaris Urban Design (KUD), believes children are individuals and this needs to be carefully considered when designing a home.
“It’s important to recognise that children are their own person and statistically they’re going to be in the family home for longer than previous generations,” he says. He believes that when designing spaces for children it’s important to plan for the future. “The kid’s bedroom eventually becomes a defacto study and sanctuary when they get older. Here, they do so much more than sleep.”
Colour is an integral part of a child’s development and is often the first step in the process of creating an amazing space. Sara Silm and Megan Morton of Home — a design, editorial and styling practice — have launched a paint range, Home Paint, for Bauwerk. “Basically, there are no rules with colour,” says Sara. “High chroma colours such as red and yellow are stimulating and visually demanding. If sleep is the major objective, it’s best to stick with blues, greens and purples. I prefer to use colour in the accessories and decorative elements of a child’s room. Choose a hero piece, such as a fabulous rug or vintage quilt, and let it be the big voice in the room.”
Children sharing a room shouldn’t be a deterrent to using colour, either. Sara says, “If you have a situation where a brother and sister are sharing, keep it simple and stick to a warm white on the walls and put the focus into soft furnishings such as a great upholstered chair or a colourful floor rug. Colour doesn’t always have to be on the wall; the floor is a great canvas. If you have floorboards, don’t overlook their ability to take colour. I’ve had a specialist floor painter paint a rug onto boards for a client — it looked fantastic!”
Sara also suggests that vintage industrial pieces can have great multifunctional potential and she once used an old wooden hose chaff bin for toy storage in a play room. Sara loves to use cow hides in kids’ rooms for texture and a graphic element (black and white always defines a space beautifully). Mobiles, vintage flags, posters and children’s art are all great ways of adding interest and contrast to walls.
Nicky Line, director of bednest.com.au (upholstered bedheads online) says you can never have too much storage in a kid’s space. “When space is an issue and built-in cupboards aren’t an option, try a variety of solutions such as toy bags suspended from hooks on the wall, storage boxes on wheels and open shelving where kids can create their own displays,” she says.
Nicky believes that fabric is a great way to breathe life into a room. She says that stripes, spots and bold geometrics are perfect for both girls and boys. Use them for curtains, cushion covers, bedspreads, laundry bags and oversized floor cushions.
Children need an area for “quiet time” and a place to go to that feels safe, to read, or just to be. Nicky believes that by strategically placing a teepee (great for storage also), floor cushions and beanbags, you will assist your children in creating fabulous ideas for inspiring and imaginative play.
Sleeping children is another priority for any family. Choosing a good-quality bed that can double as storage is a great solution if space is an issue, while an upholstered bedhead is the easiest way to add a pop of colour and to further outline the personality in a child’s space.
Wall-art or wallpaper can be another great way to add character. Sydney-based illustrator Binny Talib has created just that. Binny’s wallpaper adds a touch of whimsy and a feel for the surreal, designed to transport her audience into a magical journey of childhood dreams.
The Binny Wallpaper collection is a culmination of Binny’s own hand-drawn and playful illustrations, which create a beautiful childhood sanctuary. Binny says, “My wish is that they become part of the fabric of a child’s room and home — that what started as my stories will become woven into the story of that individual’s life and create childhood memories that will linger for a lifetime.”
It’s not a new notion that children need outdoor space but with today’s reduced land size, a bit of creativity is required to give them that much-needed feeling of freedom.
Billy Kavellaris, of KUD, explains that our view of space needed for the backyard isn’t what it used to be. The Perforated House designed by KUD has a mural (by artist Emma Burmeister from Monash University) painted on the back wall. He explains that the mural is a parody of the traditional quarter-acre block of old. It gives the kids colour and an interesting outlook for their outdoor play.
In the Butler Home by Andrew Maynard, outdoor space was created on the roof. It was a case of either moving to the suburbs or creating a garden upstairs, which is exactly what they did.
Dragan Majstorovic, of Majstorovic Architecture, suggests lots of sand and adventure things for climbing and hiding for the outdoors. “Most children today live in single-level homes on flat suburban blocks, depriving them of three-dimensional experiences — and it has been shown that 3D skills are related strongly to conceptual thinking for a child’s development.”
Finally, the most important thing to consider is how a children’s space interacts with the rest of the family home. Andrew Maynard says, “The reality is children want to be part of the action.” So to have their own space is important but to feel connected to the hustle and bustle of family life exhilarates and inspires our little people.
Andrew Maynard Architects
Suite 12, 397 Smith Street, Fitzroy Victoria 3065
03 9939 6323
Kavellaris Urban Design
53 Victoria Parade, Collingwood Victoria 3066
03 9417 1116
07 5446 4030