Decorating Children's Rooms
In recent years, as the economy has boomed, one sector of the interior design industry has enjoyed a remarkable explosion: products for babies and kids to use when decorating children's rooms. We're here to help you figure out how to wade through all that's out there when you're decorating kid's rooms to create a place that's just right for your child or for the child's room of your client.
When we think back we remember libraries as musty, dusty places. They were poorly lit and always had a librarian whispering “hush” at any child bold enough to speak…
But that’s a bit of a stereotype. In the past twenty years, libraries have undergone a tremendous transformation: well-lit, colorful places of wonder. This is thanks to the attention that librarians and designers have paid to the library’s physical space.
And yet, libraries are often hard-hit in a tough economy. And too often good design takes a back seat to basic things such as keeping the books up to date and in readable condition or making sure the technology is current.
A library is not just a building that provides books; it’s also a refuge from the house and a place to commune with others. The library is a democratic meeting space for many people: you can seek shelter from a rainstorm, read a short story, use the internet for research—and it’s all free and available to anyone.
For kids, libraries have been the place to hear stories read and meet other little bookworms. One library that has taken great care in making the space comfortable and appropriate for children is the Thornaby Library in Stockton, England.
Here, the library’s “Junior Area” is appropriate for everyone from toddlers (who will play on the floor with the big foam pieces) to teens (who can be found lounging on the sofas or the sculpted chairs around a table).
And of course, any library needs to have a bank of computers with access to the internet. Here, the computers are well-placed near the teen area.
The entire Thornaby Library is a place where kids would feel comfortable and at ease. It’s bright and open. It’s adorned with colorful furnishings and a stimulating shelving system: books in the round. You can see more of the Thornaby Library in our Room of the Month column.
One library in Scotland, the Meadowbank Library in Polmont, is small is size, serving a population of just 27,000, but its kids’ room design is enormous. The completely new building for the library, completed in 2009 was designed by architect William Marshall, Senior Design Officer, Falkirk Council Development Services.
You can see that the theme is bugs---something that thrills many children, especially when they’re oversized as these are. The giant bugs allow the children’s imaginations to run wild---walking into the room for a child is like entering a chapter of Gulliver’s Travels or Alice in Wonderland, and the cuddly bugs provide a perfect spot for sacking out and settling into a storybook.
One popular spot in the new library is the combination book-rack and reading chair, in which kids can feel they have their own special place to settle in with a good book.
One of the most fanciful children’s library environments we found is that of the public library in White Plains, New York. Called “The Trove,” it is a work/study/reading/play/imagining space for kids up to grade six, and it defies any outdated ideas of what a children’s library is, or can be.
The Trove books, computers, and flat-screens for video—but that’s where the similarities with old-school libraries end. The Trove has a few separate spaces such as the Copper Beech Garden, where a kid can read under a skylight, and the Play Cottage, where children can enjoy a puppet show.
If you’re thinking of designing a children’s library—or even just a children’s room in a home—you may want to do a search for children’s library furniture; there are many designers today creating furnishings that are specific to the activities of kids and books.
One we liked very much is Gressco, Ltd., based in Wisconsin. We thought that one of their new products, that actually looks old-fashioned, was great: these lion heads seem like something out of an old picture book from our own childhood. The lion theme, of course, has a venerable history with libraries, as many kids and adults know about the two stone lions that guard the main branch of the New York Public Library.
And yet, the furnishings from Gresso are completely modern. This two- station computer table would be a great addition not only to a public library, but to a home library or home school as well.
We applaud the libraries of today: they have managed not only to keep books on the shelves and keep current with technological advances—but they do it all as a free service to the public. And now we recognize their investment in heavily updating their designs, making their spaces friendly and happy places for kids and adults alike.
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