Remodeling for the Children in the House

Small children are often left out of the design process during a remodeling. But you have a number of opportunities to get your children involved. Not only will they learn an appreciation for the construction process, they will be grateful for being included. (Even if they don’t say so!)

As an added benefit, you may also be able to build in some features that will allow them to learn important skills in taking care of themselves.

For example, if you’re doing a kitchen remodeling, consider designing some storage spaces that are low and easily accessible for your children. Having a designated food storage space that a child can keep his or her own sandwich or snack ingredients in can take some of the pressure off mothers.

You might even want to consider a small, low refrigerator, just for the kids. They can keep their own supply of milk or juice in it and pour their own glasses when they get thirsty. When the kids grow up, you can reuse the refrigerator in a wet bar or family room arrangement.

It’s also helpful to have a pull-out step stool, which can be built into the cabinet toe space, so that children can reach the counter if they’re old enough to be making a sandwich themselves. Or, you can build in a pull-out shelf at child-height that they can use as a table.

“Cubby-hole” type units are great for storing school books. If you have several children, they should each have their own storage area, preferably with their name on it to avoid arguments.

If a child is involved in part of the design, they feel like it’s “theirs” and are more willing to use it and take care of it.

For example, a child is much more likely to use a toy storage cabinet if they feel like they were responsible for the design, even if only choosing the color that it got painted, or picking out the knobs on the cabinet doors.

I’m always surprised when parents don’t provide low closet rods and hooks that their kids can reach, and then grumble about always having to pick up their kids’ clothes.

In a child’s bathroom, mount a towel bar low enough that your child can use it. Faucetry and showerheads are now manufactured in a variety of fanciful designs, incorporating animals and bright colors. You can make brushing teeth or taking a bath fun for your children. If they outgrow the animal theme, the showerhead or faucet is easy to replace.

If you’re designing a child’s bedroom, consider looking for the book, In My Room, by Torrice and Logrippo. Although now out of print, it’s a wonderful introduction to helping children design their own spaces, and the benefits which accrue.

Let your children have some say in the color selection and furniture arrangement of their own rooms. Sure, it can be a little nerve-wracking wondering what your child might choose if given some design latitude with their bedroom paint or wallpaper color. But the delight on your child’s face when they see “the room that they designed” appear is worth living with a red, pink, or bright green wall for a few years. Paint can always be changed later. You can keep the door shut in the meantime.

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