Designing spaces with kids and mind requires a bit of a balancing act. For one thing, some of the tenets of “timeless design” fly right out the window because you’re designing for a very specific phase in your family’s life. Then, there’s that word – phase – which implies a period of time that will have an end.
So, your kid-friendly bathroom renovation needs to be done in a way that honors the temporary phase of “childhood” but that can be easily dismantled and re-accessorized when your kids have grown out of the kid phase.
Steps to Designing a Kid-Friendly Bathroom
- Safety first. Did you know the bathroom is the most dangerous room in the house? Crazy but believable, what with all those hard surfaces, sharp corners and edges and wet floors. Then there’s the getting in and out of the tub. Therefore, make safety a priority when designing a bathroom for children. Think about slip-free flooring surfaces, rounded corners and edges on countertops and stable stepping stools to allow kids to access sinks. Unless you plan on aging-in-place or having an elderly relative live with you in the future, be careful about adjusting countertop heights as this can affect your home’s appeal if you want to sell it down the road. Also, installing grab bars in the tub isn’t a bad idea. They can be fairly innocuous visually, come in handy and can be appreciated by all – including guests.
- Think about the extras. If you have more than one child, think about the little extras that make a bathroom more functional. Double sinks are popular in master bathrooms because mates often get ready at the same time. The same is true for families with more than one child – spare yourself the arguments and “sink hogging” disputes by using two sinks. Handheld shower sprayers are a must. Not only do they make it easy to bathe little ones, they also make it easier to clean the tub and shower, especially when you’re training kids to do it themselves. Consider where all the bath toys will be stored (a designated chest or a few galvanized buckets with their names on them?).
- Curtain or Door? While a high-end glass shower door might be the more stylish choice, I recommend skipping this option and going the shower curtain route with a nice, heavy, weighted liner. Unless your kids are 10-years or older, glass doors are cumbersome to deal with when helping little kids bathe and it’s virtually impossible to train kids to squeegee the doors until they are well into adolescence (if you’re lucky).
- Use some open shelving or cubbies. Avoid the wear-and-tear on cabinet doors and drawers by creating some open shelving and/or cubby spaces where kids can keep their own bathroom stuff. These storage options make the bathroom more accessible to little people, without always having to climb up on a stool to get to toothbrushes, Band-Aids, lotion, etc.
- Make it colorful…the right way. Nobody appreciates a colorful environment more than kids. My advice, however, is to use a neutral palette for all the permanent features – like floors, tiles and cabinetry. Then, infuse the space with color using the shower curtain, towels, tissue box holder, and some fun art on the walls. That way, when they’re tired of the cartoon sea creature themed décor, you simply swap all those fixtures for more mature décor – and you’re good to go.
- Let them have a say. Finally, if your children are old enough, let them have a say in the theme, colors and/or design options and they’ll be even more proud to help keep their brand new bathroom in tip-top shape. Simplify things (and keep the parents happy) by isolating your top three or five choices and then let them choose the winner.