Designing a ‘child friendly’ home
Over the years we’ve had many clients here at dion seminara architecture who suddenly had to come to the realization that the ‘pitter patter’ of little feet necessitates a completely new way of looking at home design. This realization is based on a simple but profound fact, to truly welcome a child into your life you will also need to create a welcoming environment for him/her. Doing this means more than simply including a dedicated ‘play space’ in your design (although doing so certainly wouldn’t hurt), it means that all design decisions will have to be made with the best interests of the children in mind (while not forgetting that adults will also occupy the same space!).
Here are something we have learned about child-friendly home design.
Making sure that your home can grow with your family
One of the most obvious truths of parenthood is that your little darlings will not remain all that little for long. This is why you need a professional architect on your team! An architect can design a home that will fit the needs of young children perfectly and then help you to turn that same home into a haven for preteens and eventually teens. The fact that an architect will keep the needs of a growing family in mind during every step of the design process means that you will end up with a home that will be a family home in every sense of the word. This includes the sense that your adaptable home will be able to grow and change with you through the seasons of life. This is obviously something that can save a lot of money and even heartache since having an architect able to take the ‘long view’ involved with the design of your home means that it will be much less likely that you will have to move from a house that your family have ‘outgrown’ for whatever reason.
How to design a child-friendly home:
An astounding number of Australian children are hurt in accidents at home every year. While you will never be able to completely eliminate risk from your home you can ensure that the design is as safe as possible. Some safety considerations will already be covered by existing legislation (e.g. electrical wiring standards and the limiting of access to your pool) but you can certainly go beyond that. We will help you to go through design proposals with a fine-toothed comb to ascertain whether there are possible hazards that might be avoided (e.g. sharp edges, fixtures and fittings in eminently ‘reachable’ places etc.)
Provide space for growth and exploration
Your home should not only be a safe place. It should also be a place where your children can grow and explore to their heart’s content. When they are smaller the focus of this will probably be a well-appointed ‘rumpus room’. Safe access to enclosed back areas will also be much appreciated. Later on ‘exploration’ may come to mean different things. Space to play music, practising hobbies and entertain friends will gradually become much more important. I always recommend that parents talk with other parents who have older kids to ask a simple question ‘What would you have appreciated in your home when your kids were younger?’ Learning from the experience of others in this way will certainly benefit your kids, so make sure that you pass what you learn on to others.
Make use of durable materials
Small kids can be very hard on your home. Things get chewed, scratched and worse. Make sure, therefore, that you include materials that can withstand the onslaught and can be easily cleaned in your design.
Include plenty of storage space
Kids come with lots of stuff and it is astounding how quickly their paraphernalia and toys can fill up the storage space in the average home. Make sure, therefore, that the storage capacity of your new home is not average. Work with your designer to find creative ways in which the ‘stuff of childhood’ can be kept within easy reach without cluttering up your home.
Ensure that your home design will promote family togetherness
It is possible for homes to be very ‘family unfriendly’ and vice versa. The placement of rooms, hallways, living rooms and the general ambience can serve to facilitate contact and interaction between family members or hinder it. I know your teenagers may dispute this statement but the members of happy families enjoy each other’s company. Doing so in welcoming spaces will serve to enhance the quality of your family life and we would be more than happy to help assist you in designing such spaces.
These are just some of the things that you should consider when you attempt to design a child and family friendly home. Here at Brisbane based dion seminara architecture, we are able to bring years of experience to bear on your design. Please do not hesitate to contact us to begin the process of creating a space that your family will be able to call ‘home’ in the best sense of the word.