Kids Stuff

by Laura Barnett Sawchyn, IIDA TCW

     I don't know about you, but when Lucy Pevensie fell through the back of the wardrobe to find herself in Narnia, I wished I had been there along with her!  I'm sure many children have climbed into armoires hoping for the same thing to happen to them.  Stories of fantasy lands and their inhabitants have always sparked children's imaginations, transporting them to colorful locales all over the world or into another universe. 

So why limit the interplanetary travel to short visits at bedtime?  With a little help from paint, wallpaper, furniture, and other embellishments, whole bedrooms can be designed for children to actually live in other-worldly locations right in their own rooms. Unlike Goldilocks, who only had The Three Bears' furnishings to choose from, you and your little ones have infinite possibilities available to set the stage for their own world.  Doesn't the prospect of taking a nap in Oz or finishing homework at Hogwarts make the tasks much more tantalizing? 

You don't have to sacrifice practicality for playfulness, either.  If you approach the project with longevity in mind, you won't have to throw the baby out with the bath water.  Make selections that, with a few tweaks along the way, will grow along with them.  A change in wall or bed covering can transform kiddy paradise to a pre-teen hangout.  Fabrics and finishes can be kid-proofed to resist spills or extreme wear, so you can relax and let them have fun.   But first, it's time for you to let your imagination run wild and enjoy yourself in the process!

 "Transformers" aren't just robots anymore...

Considering how fast your children grow, it's hard to justify spending a huge amount on furniture that will only be around for a couple years.  The solution is to invest in furniture that will grow along with them.  There's one piece that begins as a bassinet for your newborn and by progressively adding new parts, gets larger and larger until it splits apart and becomes a pair of chairs! 

Position the Madison Convertible Crib (Photo #1) with the higher side up against the wall.  The taller side is stationary, while the lower side raises and lowers as is usual.  When it's time for a big kids' bed, replace the crib sides with standard side rails.  The taller side becomes the headboard and the lower side becomes the footboard.  Pouf! You have a double-bed.  Or add a different set of parts to the crib and create a daybed or loveseat. The Heritage dresser (Photo #2) has classic styling with a modern edge and compliments the clean styling.  Both are available in paint or stain finishes at Beautiful Beginnings.

The Chelsea dresser (Photo #3) is a charming chest of drawers that really does change!  The top has a deep, safe, space for diaper changing.  It completely surrounds the baby to prevent them from rolling off.   Once your child is out of diapers, simply remove the hidden screws and lift off the "well" to reveal a flat, unblemished top.  At Beautiful Beginnings.

Lullaby and good night....

Start the evening with a bedtime story.  The Poet's bookshelf is ideal for children.  The bottom shelf is extra tall with plenty of room for those oversized story books. (#4)

Little Bo Beep might be happy even without her sheep in this Picket Fence twin bed, (#5)  or in this classic four-poster Jane bed with lovely turned finials and scalloped edges.  (#6)

I'm sure The Old Woman in the Shoe would like to have a few of these Panel Bunk Beds for her brood.  The bottom bed is double-sized and the top is a single, allowing for three children in very little space.  Oh, and this one transforms, as well, so you are able to use the beds separately for maximum flexibility. (#7)

All these wooden pieces are available at Beautiful Beginnings and can be ordered in your choice of color.  

Upholstered headboards give you maximum design impact when covered with fabric to match or contrast your child's bedding.  Choose this simple, rounded style or design your own elaborate shape with a contrasting trim.  Custom made with fabrics from Osborne and Little  (#8)

Even The Real Princess would have a good nights' sleep on a mattress from Hastens (#9).  They are handmade in Sweden of natural horsehair or cotton materials that absorbs the child's body heat and moisture and allows natural ventilation.  The horsehair wicks moisture away from babies skin.  Buy one in their signature check sized for a crib, stroller, or standard sized beds and your little princess or prince won't be bothered by that pesky pea!

 "Why don't you come with me, little girl, on a magic carpet ride?" 

Your little girl or boy will be thrilled with a special area rug to conjure up a ride with Aladdin.  Choose one of these with a multi-colored pattern and you will be ecstatic.  Not only can they be custom ordered in a variety of sizes and colors to coordinate with the theme of your room, but spots and stains aren't quite so obvious when there's a variation in color and texture.  Find a huge selection at Lewis Carpets. (#10 & #11)

 Painted decoration...

The tradition of painted furniture began as folk art, often presented as part of a bride's dowry and has long been a favorite for both children and parents alike. Its' whimsical quality brings a smile to your face and added character to your child's bedroom.  Decorative painting works on traditional or contemporary styled furniture, so if you don't want to buy new, you can mix it up and recycle your old furniture or flea market finds.   Match the color and motif from your favorite fabric, wall covering, or nursery rhyme and create a family heirloom, like this charming nightstand (#12).   Your little ones will rock the night away on this festive rocking chair (#13) and sit still for coloring or snacks on this table and chair set (#14).  Try out this hand-painted toy chest and you won't have to encourage your children to put their toys away! (#15)

Commission a special one-of-a-kind piece or choose from the delightful collection from Queen of Hearts.

 Pulling it all together....

Color and pattern combinations can be soft and delicate, or bright and graphic.  There is so much to choose from, that it's hard to decide which direction to go.  When they are babies, it's all up to you, so select design elements to tickle your fancy.  If your child is old enough, let them help choose their bedding and wallpaper.  You can feel confident of their final decision if you present them with three or four options that you would be happy to live with and let them make a choice from those.

These strong graphic prints are perfect for girls of all ages. Hedwig and Elvira at Stark Wallcovering and Fabrics brings us this whimsical choice for your little miss with sophistication worthy of your older daughters.(#16)  Other bold colors are being used in non-traditional color combinations.  Apple green with purple or orange, and lipstick red with turquoise are vibrant recipes ready for your consideration.  However, little girls still dream of pink and white and purple, especially when perched upon these dreamy pillows. (#17) From Stark Wallcovering and Old World Weavers.

A classic pink and white ticking stripe adorns this cozy bedroom.  By hanging a pair of full-length curtains from the ceiling to fall around the corners of the bed, you can create a cozy space that envelops her and makes her feel like she's in a canopy bed.  When she outgrows the concept and the playful cat border, both it and the curtains can be easily removed, making it better suited to a growing girl. (#18) Photo: Laura Barnett Designs.

Once your son graduates from the nursery, powder blue and buttercup are out of the question.  Primary colors used with car, boat, or outer space themes have been winning motifs for decades.  He'll jump for joy with these modern takes on classic designs.  Mix and match the bold patterns and colors to create fresh trends from Stark Wallcovering and Old World Weavers. (#19 & #20)

For your older boys with different toys, consider classic blue chambray sheets combined with denim or bold stripes.  Foster his patriotic pride with red, white, and blue stars and stripes.  Add a red lacquer bed for punch or walnut stain for a classic air.


Where to find it:

Beautiful Beginnings- 1840 N. Clybourn,  Chicago, IL   60614, 312.944-1212                                or their Western Springs location

Hastens Beds Chicago- 430 N. Wells, Chicago, IL  60610  312.527-5337                               Or their Winnetka location

Lewis Floor and Home- 1455 W. Fullerton, Chicago, IL 60614, 773.935-9599                                        Or their Northbrook location

Osborne and Little Fabrics- Through your interior designer at the Merchandise Mart in Chicago, Suite 610

Queen of Hearts Studio- 1066 College Avenue, Wheaton, IL  60187, 630.6812833

Stark Wallcovering and Fabrics- Through your interior designer at the Merchandise Mart in Chicago, Suite 6-102


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