Kids’ spa­ces can be sen­sa­tional places

Winnipeg Free Press - Section G - - HOMES - DEBBIE TRAVIS

HOW im­por­tant are the dec­o­rat­ing choices you make for your chil­dren’s rooms? This is a com­mon ques­tion I am asked, and al­though I am not a child psy­chol­o­gist, my ex­pe­ri­ence has shown me that well-planned kids’ rooms do have a ben­e­fi­cial ef­fect. Con­sider the time your child spends in his or her room. This room is the first learn­ing cen­tre your child will ex­pe­ri­ence.

It’s great fun to dec­o­rate th­ese spa­ces; our mem­o­ries and imagination are given the chance to blos­som as we ex­plore our in­ner child. And as soon as your child is old enough to help with the choices, take ad­van­tage of their un­ham­pered imagination and their per­sonal favourites. I’ve come up with some of my best de­signs sim­ply by lis­ten­ing to what the chil­dren have to say. Fear­less and fan­tas­tic.

Paint is the most eco­nom­i­cal tool for cre­at­ing the per­fect back­ground, whether you’d like a solid colour, or a more ad­ven­tur­ous ef­fect such as a rain­bow wall or a morn­ing sky with fluffy clouds. Walls can be di­vided to give you more op­tions for adding colour and de­sign. A chair rail nailed on about three feet from the floor makes a good di­vid­ing line for small chil­dren. Per­haps they would like to see a play­ful geo­met­ric pat­tern. There are de­cals and wall stick­ers of all kinds of toys and an­i­mals that bring life to the room.

I met Kristy Ilic at a de­sign show re­cently. Kristy has taken her flair for dec­o­rat­ing kids’ rooms to a new level. She started out with wall mu­rals — what she terms flat dec­o­rat­ing — but was looking for more.

“I wanted things to lit­er­ally pop out,” she said, “mak­ing the room a to­tal ad­ven­ture. “ Af­ter much re­search and ex­per­i­men­ta­tion Kristy de­signed a process of mak­ing 3-D art that is light-weight, safe and easy to as­sem­ble, and called the de­signs Beetlings. The Sa­fari and Di­nosaur Col­lec­tions are lov­able and friendly. Chil­dren love an­i­mals, and we teach them at an early age to have em­pa­thy to­ward them through the sto­ries we read, and fam­ily pets.

Kristy was amazed at the feed­back she got from chil­dren. A child will touch and stroke the an­i­mals, ex­plore with their hands, name them and quickly as­sim­i­late the new vis­i­tors into their room.

It be­comes an im­por­tant part of their space. Even young chil­dren rarely re­act roughly or try to de­stroy Beetlings; they ap­pear to have a built in re­spect for the art form. It is real to them.

To­day, chil­dren are more aware of the world around them and above them. The Beetling So­lar Sys­tem has been de­signed fairly true to scale, and par­ents are given a cheat sheet to help them line up the plan­ets in the cor­rect or­der. “The kids will catch you out ev­ery time,” ad­mits Kristy, “and may even ask for some ad­di­tional ter­res­trial ob­jects such as as­ter­oids.”

There is an ed­u­ca­tional and be­havioural com­po­nent. Beetlings are highly suc­cess­ful in med­i­cal wait­ing rooms and day­care cen­tres. They of­fer a friendly, tac­tile ex­pe­ri­ence that is very com­fort­ing. Adults love them too. You are never too old to ex­plore, learn and play.

On a prac­ti­cal note, Beetlings are sim­ply hung in place, and can be eas­ily moved from one room to an­other or packed up if you move house. Check out www.beetling.com for more in­for­ma­tion on this won­der­ful col­lec­tion of de­signs for chil­dren.

3-D wall sculp­tures pro­mote learn­ing and imag­i­na­tive play.

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