How to do up small spaces when living with children

Filed Under: Do it yourself, Redecorating, Remodeling    by: ITC

Walls and ceilings

It is fun to do your own mural and paint a child’s favorite story on the wall. Use a base color for the background and paint the details on top with emulsion and/or gouache, similar to the technique except that the picture takes the place of the wash coat.

An ocean-with-fish theme is easy even for the inexperienced, with the help of illustrations from a book. Children won’t expect you to be Michelangelo and will be delighted whatever the result. You can get a landscape onto one small wall or a whole ocean of sea creatures and all the stars in the firmament on the ceiling, given an extra twinkle by the addition of self-stick glowing stars and moons. Friendly pictures of this kind will help children go to sleep at bedtime and will give them something to look at when they are ill.

A section of wall covered in cork tiles provides an exhibition space in which to pin up children’s own paintings. Cork tiles covering a whole wall will act as insulation in rooms which suffer from condensation, particularly attics or rooms which open onto a central staircase where drafts make them feel chilly.

Another idea is to have one completely white, washable wall on which children are allowed to draw and scribble. When it is full of artwork, you simply paint over it again. Fixing a blackboard to the wall takes up less space than having a free-standing easel and blackboard. Painting and scribbling activities are very absorbing, keeping children occupied for a long time, and they are good for manual, visual and artistic skills so it is worth providing a permanent place for them.

Work and play

There should be plenty of room for books and writing things, as well as a well-lit place to write comfortably. There should also be adequate background lighting in the room, and reading lights by the bed and over the desk area.

If toys are played with in the living room, try, if you can, to put up with them for the whole day and then sort and store them in the evening, otherwise you will be putting things away all day and will be resentful when the children want to turn a new lot out onto the floor.
Crawling babies and toddlers love to get under tables and discover electric sockets. Socket guards are available for when a socket is not in use and it really is sensible to invest in one or two of these cheap and effective safety devices.

Lighting

There are a number of ways to provide gentle lighting. Wax nightlights were the old-fashioned way of giving children assurance, but they didn’t last the whole night through and were superseded by tiny glass lamps in the shape of animals or birds which glowed in the dark. Nowadays there is a whole menagerie of lifelike geese, rabbits, ducks, pigs and sheep to keep a child company at night.

Children really seem to love these lit-up creatures and often make friends of them. Other lamps include ceramic pixie and mouse homes, old women in shoes and suchlike which light up inside, giving a cosy feeling. If you place a nightlight on the floor, be sure you choose a safe model where the bulb socket is inserted in such a way that a child cannot pull it out.

Even the ceiling light can be used as a nightlight if it is on a dimmer switch and can be left as just a faintly luminous glow when the child is asleep.

A shared bedroom

If you have to share a bedroom with your new baby, the most pressing need is to provide a degree of privacy for the parents. Again, planning the space is important. There are advantages to sharing: you know at once if the child is restless at night and can comfort it and get it back to sleep almost before it (or you) has woken up. Nursing mothers may also find sharing the room convenient for night feeds.

A very young baby does not take up much room. A small crib and a storage unit are the only essentials, although a comfortable low chair for feeding is a good idea. A folding screen will help to provide a certain amount of privacy and can be fitted with rails or hooks for hanging tiny clothes, so that it becomes dual-purpose.

Alternatively the cot area can be screened by a row of chests or shelving units, either tall or low which will also act as storage. Nappy-changing can take place on the parental bed, with its essential equipment stored in a bedside table. Play equipment can be stored in the living room if necessary, or spread around there and the bathroom and perhaps the hall.

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