Monday, April 30, 2012

REAL kids' rooms

A post in which I share my opinion. (Hopefully, graciously).

You know there's this big trend right now toward sophisticated kids' rooms. Nurseries with chevron and designer prints, little girl rooms with glam mirrors, gilt cribs, etc. It's all in answer to the years of overly themed kiddie rooms. Kids' rooms these days don't have themes, and the overall aesthetic of the rest of the home is flowing over into the kid spaces more and more.

I've spent a decent amount of time looking at kids' rooms over the last year. Room tours on Apartment Therapy. Pins on Pinterest. I've read books. Lots of grown-up nurseries and stylish, "designed" bedrooms for children.

And I've thought about this whole idea of ditching a kiddie look in favor of more stylish spaces for children. Kind of a lot.

I gotta say it.

I'm not a fan.

I understand why someone might choose that direction for their home, though... I do. And, really, many of the kids' rooms out there right now are knock out gorgeous. They're so well done! I see the appeal. But here's the deal. Honestly, the only way I could have an of-the-moment-ultra-designed kids' bedroom like those in my own home, is if I ignored what my kids wanted. Basically demanded it. Disregarded anyone else's preferences. Made it happen... my way. Like perfectly arranged bookshelves that I obsess over on a daily basis. Like a recently vacuumed room I won't let the kids walk on. I know that's not true for everyone. Some children want the glam, grown-up room. I don't want to insinuate that every trendy, chevron-bedecked kid's room has some uptight, type A, overly particular momma behind it. That's not the case. But, it would be true for me, and - because of that - those kinds of rooms give me a negative impression. They feel uptight to me.

When it comes down to it, our choices for our homes are just so personal... what communicates one thing to one person easily communicates something completely different to someone else. A single room can stir up totally different emotional reactions in different people. Like colors. Some look at yellow and think it's happy and cheery, while others look at the same yellow and think it's loud and tacky. When I look at a bedroom... designed for children... I want it to look like it's obviously for children. Not for adults. Regardless of how well it's done, how beautiful it is, if a child's bedroom doesn't have a sense of imagination, of play, of childhood about it... it just doesn't grab me.

I like order. I like symmetry. I like traditional, classic foundations. But, more than I want those things, I want my children to really love their rooms! And to look back on those rooms fondly as an especially sweet part of their childhood. In decorating their rooms, I want to show them that their preferences, their personalities, their individualities matter. That what they think is beautiful has worth.

Now, it's not all pie in the sky. I know that. Reality comes in and I do have to guide them. We have to make choices that will last for a while. At my children's ages, neon orange walls probably do not have staying power. Maybe I help them work the neon in some other way. We need to try to avoid scenarios where someone totally dislikes their choices a year later. And, since all of our children share rooms with one another, I need to mediate between what often prove to be two very different visions for a single bedroom. I also need to be a good steward of our time, money, and other resources while I'm attempting to steward the children's plans and ideas. It has not been easy to try to hit this balance so far. But, I feel like I'm learning so much from the process.

I have a few images I've been referencing. But, "real" kids' rooms are hard to come by on the internets. Everyone stages rooms into oblivion for photos. There have been, happily, some exceptions. I want to share a few that I feel really get to the heart of what I mean. If children didn't have direct say in the look and feel of these rooms, it seems to me that at least the adults making the choices were very sensitive to what would naturally appeal to children.

Cozy. Homey. Childhood.

This summer, I'm really hoping to make great gains in all three of our kid bedrooms. I'm guessing some of my choices would not have made sense to you without this post. Especially given the little sidebar list of things that define our style. I'm not going to lie, my style is sneaking in there. I think it's inevitable that it will. But, my children have different senses of style, and those are - I really hope - going to come through, too. They don't necessarily mesh with the whole sidebar dealy. One thing has already become very apparent... my children don't care much for neutrals :)

Found this last one after I originally posted this. Pinned with the caption "a real room". Made me smile, because it's so true. But, it would make me crazy if that were my child! ha ha. I have to draw the line somewhere! I haven't followed the link, yet. How much would you bet that's in Sweden or Denmark?

Anyway. Do you all have any links to great, "real life" kid's rooms? Not too so-so, now. Not too picture perfect. I would *love* to have some more resources!

And what do you think of the photos in this post? Too wild looking? Too chaotic? Would you let your kids choose Pepto Bismol pink? What are your thoughts on the highly-designed vs. real life kids' rooms?


Melissa said...

I completely agree with you, Jacci. I like all of those rooms (and the last one looks like my kids' rooms immediately after a playdate! totally real!)--in fact, I do like color and it's fun to have a space to play with it a little. Right now my daughter's room is pink (one of the lightest I could find), even though I wanted more of a melon color, and some of the stuff on the walls is NOT where I think it looks best, but she had very firm opinions about what looked good to her. She's moving out of her pink phase, and I'm looking forward to redecorating a little in the next couple years.
My son's room is painted blue and apple green (I used what paint I had on hand, and they're his two favorite colors), and he has a LOT of stuff on the wall (salon style). I'm itching to paint it a more neutral color and declutter, but he's attached to EVERYTHING. Again, maybe in a couple years, when he's 12 or so, he'll be ready for a more grownup room. In the meantime, he shows some ownership and care of his things--he organizes his books very diligently and displays his Legos on a rotating basis. It's good practice, I think.

Deb said...

I so agree. Those 'decorated' rooms are fun to look at but who really lives in them? My kids didn't. I painted their rooms the colour they wanted (with a teensy bit of guidance)and they picked out drapery fabric and bed coverings, etc. It was hard to look at sometimes but believe me they're grown and gone before you know it so what was the big deal anyway? Now I have two extra rooms to play with!

~Jess said...

I love the pictures you posted. While I love the "designer" rooms...I know I don't have the time or money to create or upkeep it.

I wish the books could just be neat on the shelves.

Leah said...

I'll admit that I've been swooning over childrens rooms and nurseries on Pinterest for quite some time now...but always come back to that exact thought, "who actually lives in these rooms?!" And with that, just last week I posted a photo of my boys room on Facebook just to keep it real...their walls are plastered with taped up Lego posters and homemade art. It's way more cluttered than I would ever choose, but it's THEIR room, not mine! I can deal. For now. :)

Kelley said...

I agree. When I was a teenager, I painted my bedroom dark purple! I'm really glad that my Mom let me go for it, even though it didn't really "flow" with the rest of the house. If she had insisted on decorating my room how SHE wanted it to look, it wouldn't have felt so much like my own.

That said, I think it's okay to gently guide children, as Deb commented. My little brother's favorite color was black, and I'm sure that given the option, he would have had black walls, black furniture, and black bedding!