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Kid’s stuff

Depending on the activity level of the child, it may be mutually beneficial, for the parent and the child, to afford them lots of room. Even if that is possible, and especially if it is not, designating and organizing spaces for kids is a helpful way for them to work and play comfortably and efficiently. Fortunately, there are ways to create spaces that satisfy your kid's needs while pleasing your own aesthetic and budgetary concerns.

It is never too early, or too late, to consider the best way to organize your home to suit your family's needs. Designing a play/work area requires thinking realistically and practically about a child's present and future requirements, to provide optimal function and to minimize as much redecorating as possible. Depending on whether you are thinking about creating a play/work room or modifying another room in your home to create space for your child, there are a variety of factors to consider.

First, what color or colors will you paint the walls and possibly the shelves and some furniture? Where will you store toys, games, books, software, videos and DVD's, among many other things? Where will your child do homework? Do you want all of your child's activities to be done in one area of your home? Do you need a desk? Will children be engaging in messy arts and crafts projects? If you have more than one child, do you foresee a need for separate areas for each child's items? Is there an area carved out for a computer and all of the necessary accessories and cables?

Most kids love color. If you are considering repainting the area that you have chosen for your kids' space, selecting fun colors is a great option; you can paint the walls and even an old bookcase or desk to enhance the "kid-friendly" feel of a room. If you prefer to use a neutral color for the walls, then perhaps consider bright colors for the moldings or trim. Another option is to have a "juvenile" mural hand-painted on the wall. Carefully choose the image to ensure that your child will not outgrow the design too quickly.

For storage of miscellaneous items such as toys and action figures, crates or bins from any number of stores are useful, especially if there is a place on the outside for labeling (and re-labeling) the contents. As children outgrow the particular toys, different items such as DVDs, baseball cards or coin collections can be stored inside and the crate can be relabeled. A terrific way to organize these crates is to put them on shelves so that they are neatly put away, but easily accessible. Retailers such as IKEA, Target, The Home Depot, Pottery Barn Kids (and Teens), Hold Everything and Bed Bath & Beyond, sell a variety of products for kids' storage at varying prices.

As for homework space, it is best to create a child's work area close to the kitchen or family room ­- wherever a parent or caretaker is most accessible. If you have limited space, an accommodating armoire is a terrific way to store a personal computer and homework items. The doors close to conceal the workstation so that it may be located wherever it is most functional. To encourage reading, it is easy to create a "reading nook" in a quiet part of your home by adding lighting, colorful cozy pillows, and possibly a "throw" blanket.

As for arts and crafts, there should be a single space in the home where the use of paints, markers, crayons and play-dough is permitted. The floor under this area should be free of rugs and carpeting. And ideally, there will be a sink nearby and a roll of paper towels mounted on the wall for quick clean-up.

For more information and helpful suggestions, parents may want to consult "The Kidspace Idea Book," by Wendy A. Jordan. It is available in some libraries, bookstores and via the Internet as well.

Keep in mind that when designing spaces for your kids, the most important space is right next to you.

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