Re: Common house Kids Rooms
From: Lynn Nadeau (
Date: Mon, 12 Jun 2000 20:25:16 -0600 (MDT)
I've patched this post together from a number of other files, so bear 
with me, and sift through for what might be useful notions. You'll have 
to wait for another subject for one of my better-organized 

At RoseWind, our Kid Room is designed, but the interior finish is not yet 
in, so we don't yet know how these kids will use this room. I do however 
have experience from both parenting and 8 recent years as a preschool 
teacher for ages 3-6, and have designed the room, which is about 15x15, 
with a lot of that experience in mind. 

The main thing I fought for was a sink-- it's really super useful for 
keeping kids and stuff mopped up, washing adult hands, art cleanup, snack 
cleanup, etc. Cleaning out paint pots etc in the bathroom or kitchen 
makes a big mess. 

(We also have a contingent who think we have to make it appeal to our 
couple of teenagers, and so not look too "kid" like. I am of the opinion 
that if the teens want to hang out with each other, they are far more 
likely to gravitate to the rec room with the pingpong table, or the 
lounge with the sofa, or the kitchen, or one of their homes, than the kid 
room, and when they are in the kid room, I don't think we can 
realistically make it a teen clubhouse AND a little kid space. So mostly 
I am still thinking of our 1-7 year olds. and their caregivers/parents.)

The layout of the room is as follows:
One entire wall is storage: a countertop runs the length of the wall and 
about 15" deep. Two shelves below that for kid-access toys, books, etc. 
An interior window above the counter in the center (otherwise we were 
short of light in the room), and bookshelf type shelves as "uppers" on 
either side of the window, for adult and older-kid access items.

Another wall has door to entry hall, near dining room entrance,  a sink, 
with upper and lower cabinets, for things like art supplies, rags, 
dishpans, etc. Space for trash can. Plus room for a small loft in the 
corner, about 4x5 feet, creating an "under" and an "up top" area. 

Wall 3 has a small sofa, and door to hall by bathrooms, near rec room 
Wall 4 has door to outdoors, storage alcove for folded tumbling mats, and 
coat pegs for kid stuff, dressups, lost clothing, etc. 

The programming I used was:
General considerations for youth room:

Adult with baby (place to sit to nurse, hold sleepy, sleeping child; sit 
and talk w adult)
Toddler, typically supervised, but who may get away on their own (safety, 
toys, books)
Preschool-Grade School child: (art supplies, books, toys; furniture, 
hooks, table top, etc where child can reach and use). 
Teens ( if we decide now or later that we want to make it feel like a 
teen place, too)
radio-cassette-CD player of good quality, place for CDs and tapes, 
teen magazines, teen POSTERS or collages etc, place in sink cupboard for 
beverages? Comfy furniture to lounge on or sit on while watching video. 
We could use stools instead of kiddie chairs,if we felt the need to 
downplay the "kiddie" look, and so all ages could use them.
Loft for school kids and teens. 
Adults - to use in "off time" or while hanging with kids, and to clean up 
and supervise. 

(Misc note: I own and am contributing two 5x10 ft professional blue 
tumbling mats, the kind that fold zigzag and are fairly stiff. There is 
an alcove behind the door to store them, folded, and sufficient floor 
space to extend one or both mats (they velcro together to make a 10x10). 
All the years my child was growing up, this was our living room rug and 
was perfect for floor sitting, easy wipe up, romping, etc. The catch is 
that to buy such mats new would cost at least $800....)

=FLEXIBILITY:Use may vary, over time, and  even at a given time, so some 
items  on mobile carts (art supplies, VCR) . Lots of storage allows for 
different materials to be out at different times, for different 
populations or activities. (VCR cart, for space reasons, more likely to 
be stored in rec room, but easy to wheel around to youth room.) Adults 
might use this room for art projects. 

==SAFETY: Limit  youngest children's access to things they could hurt 
themselves with, damage, or make a mess. Higher shelves and cupboards can 
store cleaning supplies, messy art supplies, items with small parts (to 
guard against either dumping or choking),older-kid stuff. Any high 
or climber, should be arranged so that a too-young child cannot reach to 
use it on their own, and can't easily fall off. Window glass to be 
tempered or protected. Awareness of electric cords, outlets, furniture 
corners. Doors have windows in them, so you can see if a kid is in the 
way of the door opening. 

==Maintenance: There will be spills of food and art materials and such. 
Easy cleaning. Something like a sofa can have a slipcover on it, unless 
it is wipeable. Good quality vinyl / naugahyde upholstery is helpful/
Sink to wash out stuff with paint and glue, let things dry.  Set dishes,  
Floor is Marmoleum linoleum for durability and easy cleaning. 

==Clean up-- by both children and adults is facilitated by having obvious 
places that things belong, open-top storage for things like blocks, so 
you can find a piece and just pitch it in where it belongs, hanging pegs, 
 baskets, crates, etc so you can move the container to where the activity 
is. Sink. 

==Display. Space for posters and  artwork, so youth of all ages see it as 
their own. (One could designate Teen area for them to decorate, like over 
sofa.) Cloth-covered fiberboard is practical, and helps acoustics. 

==Variety of activity types: 
Quiet- can be darkened, or low light, napping, story reading. older kid 
lurking, video. Medium- "busy" with art, playdough, Legos, blocks, 
dressups, pretend, music toys, snacks, toy vehicles. 
Active- provision for climbing, hanging, crawling, moderate tumbling. 

==Comfort. Sofa and comfortable chair will attract all ages. Floor mats 
good for young and teens. 

We are about to design the courtyard which is in the corner of our 
L-shaped building. It is south of the dining room, so is a prime hangout 
candidate for adults, but it's also opened onto from the kid room. I'm 
trying to think of things that don't look outright Fisher-Price kid 
style, but which invite kids to safely clamber on, balance on, perch on, 
climb under, etc. Like a row of tree stumps about 6" to 18" high to walk 
and sit on, rather like stair steps. Perhaps a large concrete sculpture 
of an animal one could sit on or against? Sand box is fun, but has to be 
able to be covered, or all the neighborhood cats will think it's for them 

Lynn Nadeau, RoseWind Cohousing, Port Townsend WA
where a spacious custom home is just up for resale, see our website

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