Draw on children's perspectives when decorating their bedrooms

Of all the areas within the home that can be set apart for children - infants , youngsters, or teen-agers - the bedroom offers the most opportunities for contributing to their growth and self-expression.

Decorating for children means seeing the room from their perspective and gearing furnishings to their tastes and habits.

Studies at Stanford University's Bing Nursery School clearly show that child-level furnishings put children at ease and create a better place in which to grow and learn.

Tips for the would-be decorator:

* Bedrooms and playrooms can become children's rooms by adding lofts, using scaled-down furniture, replacing the usual tall doors with Dutch-style doors, and decorating with bright colors. Pillows and shelves can be placed at child level as well.

* Ceilings that normally measure eight feet in height can easily be lowered to a more appropriate height for children by attaching parachutes or double sheets around the walls and creating a new soft, lower ceiling.

* A comfortable area furnished with pillows and screened off from the rest of the room can effectively communicate a sense of quiet to children.

* Long rectangular rooms can be made square in appearance through color selection and furniture placement.

Unless you are planning a new home, the location of a child's bedroom has probably already been determined. But if the house is still in the planning stage, follow the advice of experts and keep the bedroom wing separate from the noisier sections containing the kitchen, family room, and living room.

It is also recommended that bedrooms be as convenient as possible to separate or family bathrooms. Many efficient floor plans incorporate a bathroom between two bedrooms, with easy access from both rooms and the hallway.

Depending on the age of the child, the proximity of the child's bedroom to the parent's bedroom varies in importance. Most agree that when children are young it is more important that their bedrooms be near that of their parents. As they become teen-agers, distance between bedrooms helps reduce TV, stereo, and other disturbances.

Most studies related to bedroom planning specify the same basics set forth in the Department of Housing and Urban Development minimum property standards. Requirements for properly designed children's rooms include:

* A minimum wall length of eight feet, with greater length desirable for better furniture placement.

* A minimum 32-inch-wide entry door at standard 80-inch height.

* At least one outside window with sill height no more than 4 feet from the floor, the open area of the window not less than 5 square feet, and no dimension less than 33 inches.

* A minimum 36-inch closet-rod length for a one-person secondary bedroom and 60-inch rod length for a two-person room.

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