Cosy Kids Bedrooms

Baby

Let me begin with an apology... a little while ago somebody emailed me to ask my thoughts on creating a cosy room for her children, and I thought my thoughts and planned on committing them to paper and then promptly deleted the said email and did the Mommy concerned a rude injustice... and so here in apology, they are...


Because we are prone to the odd estranged spat, my sons Daddy, Mark and I have an ongoing feud about what constitutes a heavenly child's bedroom. I say that in the circumstances the only opinion he is entitled to is the proper way to wring his own neck and he says clearly I am determined to keep my little boy a cissy baby for the rest of his days and why on earth shouldn't  Finn enjoy the nightmare that is the odd stenciled Power Ranger or three instead of floral pillowcases and vintage teddy bears?


(Come bite me Matey because over my dead body will Finley's room be anything other than an extension of the rest of our house, a homely, cosy  place to rest his head at night and a warm, snuggly room layered in his own history...)


Now at the risk of sounding like one mighty stroppy Mama, I think you will probably guess that here's a thing I feel strongly about. When I worked as a decorator I would wander around houses suffused in style then find myself in a room covered in footballs, or Barbie Princess or Star Wars or  Shrek that clearly had nothing to do with the rest of the house. Rooms upon which the door would always be kept firmly shut so the rest of the visiting world wouldn't have their eyes singed by sheer commercial ugliness. I won't have it, I tell you! I won't have it! It's not that I want to stifle  precocious little dreams, but more that as a sensible person I feel the urge to point out that Ben 10 does not a sleepy paradise amake...


And so  I would present the  poor misguided parents with my five point plan for cosy kid's rooms  and avoid the menacing gaze of  five year old monsters  determined to sell their childish little souls for a  luminous dolphin duvet cover...


1. First and foremost remember that all rooms are part of a greater whole and shouldn't give you the aesthetic heebiejeebies when you enter them. Stick with your own decorating rules and refuse to be charmed by a sloppy kiss. No in the world of having a cosy bedroom means No. So stick to your guns and tell whiny teenyboppers they will be free to stick Bratz posters on their walls when they too are mortgaged up to their eyeballs...


2. If a room is going to grow with a child and not require the constant hassle of re-decoration, one must insist upon offering the little munchkins a blank canvas devoid of commercial horror or passing whims. Give in at your peril you crazy Mommy.


3. Treat children with respect and you teach them a valuable lesson. It is tempting to fill kids rooms with childish plastic storage solutions you wouldn't entertain anywhere else in the house. Don't. Avoid Ikea! Seek out cheap but sturdy  vintage furniture,  and teach them to understand that you value their personal space enough to want to give them proper furniture and expect them to treat it with respect.


4. Two things. Offer them something precious. Something they know you value.  Your childhood jewelery box, the chair they like to snuggle up on from  your bedroom, a vintage quilt. Give it to them and offer your trust. Try in this gift to instill in them respect for the history inherent in objects.  Then give them something that respects their privacy: a tin for secrets for little ones, a vintage cupboard with a key for older children, a bolt on the inside of their doors for teenagers. An offer of trust is rarely underestimated by good  kids and we should break it only in cases of moral life or death....


5. Trash. They are kids and whether or not we find it abhorrent, trashy stuff appeals to them. Some of the most charming rooms combine cosy vintage schemes with occasional child instilled flashes of trashy brilliance... Temporary flashes of brilliance that is, not objects of  permanence like wallpaper or car shaped rugs. And not so temporary they leave marks on our walls if you please, so stick a poster to the wall or a sticker to the window on pain of death...


Once the ground rules are in place, we can then begin to create a room that nurtures their little souls. To me the ideal reference point for kids rooms is the old fashioned image of an Edwardian nursery. I only have to think of the nursery Mary Poppins charges were blessed with to smile a happy little decorating Mommy smile...


It's not that I'm asking our children to live in yesteryear. Certainly their collections of Doctor Who Monsters and Polly Pocket nonsense aren't to our eyes, as appealing as Victorian blocks and furry little dogs on wheels we would choose for them but most of us wouldn't deny them their current fads,  we just don't want them to become permanent fixtures  in our homes. We want our children to have rooms that become places of refuge. That aren't re-invented every other year in time with the latest Disney Blockbuster (Ratatouille Rats on your walls kids??) but layer upon the purity of their newborn nurseries all the things they have done, created,  found and been given since  they were in nappies.  Rooms that teach them  to treasure the things that matter to them and eschew all the values of an otherwise throwaway society that tells them objects, furniture, art etc, etc have no real value in a world where the whole lot could probably be replaced for a hundred quid... 


And so in essence what I am trying to say is that in my eyes, decorating and looking after our kids bedrooms offer us an opportunity to teach them all manner of things I haven't got the time to explain here... lessons about respect and personal history,  gratitude,  care and sustainability. We have the opportunity to offer our children our trust, to show them the meaning of ritual and to help them understand, on a very personal level, our obsession with creating homes that nurture family life...


Puttery Treats For Children's Rooms.
Smell is perhaps the most important of of our senses and the soothing scent of  lavender is  probably the best choice for  babba's rooms.  Create  natural surface and carpet cleaners scented with lavender and store them in a closet in their rooms.  Buy  bulb rings (the safest option for kids rooms) and put the lights on half an hour before bedtime to let a gentle fragrance fill the room and soothe them to sleep. 


Warm their beds with a microwaveable wheat based lavender cushion, or a hot water bottled tightly wrapped in one of their old favorite jumpers sprinkled with a tiny bit of lavender oil...


Make their beds as scrumptiously cosy as you can  with good old fashioned sheets and blankets. Seek out vintage English  feather filled eiderdown's on Ebay because they are  often the perfect size for kids beds and offer incomparable warmth.


On cold nights layer the mattress with two or three blankets  and cover them with a flannel sheet for  scrumptiously cosy beddy-byes. Show them where to find extra cosy  crocheted blankets in their own rooms if they need them on cold nights...


Have a fabric covered pin board in their rooms from when they are very tiny and create an ever changing collage of their little lives.


Make their rooms a major part of their bedtime routine.  Bundle towel wrapped babbas into dimly lit bedrooms after bath time and dress them in radiator warm jim jams there.


Keep an ever changing basket of bedtime stories by their bed. Have photographs of far away loved ones on their bedsides to say night night to...


Take them to antique malls occasionally and let them choose something for their rooms.



Have cushions on the floor cos kids like to lounge. Start a demented search for 70's  zoo prints and 50's cowboy and indian scenes...


Give them their own photo albums. Buy something similar on a yearly basis so our kids end up with a shelf full of personal memories.


Seek out elaborate vintage gesso frames and create a gallery of their own art hung with all the consideration usually only offered to Picasso's...


User whicker picnic hampers, vintage suitcases or lloyd loom  laundry baskets to  give ugly Power Rangers a home all of their own...


Don't banish all toys they have grown out of to the attic. Choose one item per year to mark the passage of time and keep it in the bedroom somewhere. Stitch fussy wuzzy too tight jumpers into cushions. Stretch printed t-shirts over canvas and create a wall of art that  brings back  instant memories...
 

Help them create a comfort drawer all of their very own. (But ban anything edible!). Give them memory boxes and a very very special tin for a five year diary with a teeny little key...


Wrap babbas in an oh so special beddy byes blanket while they drink their milk on your knee. Write older children love letters and leave them under their quilts to be found as they turn back their covers...


Throw their windows  open as soon as they get up. And teach kids not to make their beds in the morning but to pull all the covers back from their mattress.  I don't care how it looks, it's healthier...


Seek out vintage children's wallpaper and line  all their drawers with it. Don't forget to sprinkle baby talc underneath...


Use Christmas and birthdays as the opportunity to buy heirloom quality gifts they will come to treasure. Let Santa and his elves provide all the rest of the plastic junk...


Don't rigidly conform to sexual stereotypes in little kids bedrooms. Instead go for over all ambiance. Finley was recently thrilled to find his bed made up with a floral pillowcase usually to be found gracing my bed. (I just thought it looked kinda cool with his rabbit duvet, flannel sheets and  patchwork quilt) He saw it as a gift. A little bit of me...


And once in a while make a big occasion of a candlelit bedtime story, snuggled up to high heaven in these scrumptious little sheets...

On My Wishlist...