You’ve child-proofed the kitchen cabinets, installed a swing set in the backyard, and painted a Mickey Mouse mural above your child’s bed. Your home is definitely kid-friendly, but is it also arts-friendly?
Turning sections of your home into creative spaces for your child can help inspire her to be more engaged in the arts. And there’s even a bonus for you: Cleverly-designed spaces where your child can craft and play means less mess throughout the rest of your home. Don’t worry, you don’t need to completely remodel your digs to create creative spaces; these easy “do-it-yourself” tips will give you a head start.
1. Look to your kids for inspiration. Not sure what sort of creative space to design? Tap into your child’s interests, advises Sharon McCormick, an interior designer in Durham, CT. If she’s drawn to the hands-on sand and water tables at the children’s museum, consider setting up a permanent kid-sized table with similar (but less messy!) tactile objects for her to experiment with, like pieces of foam, modeling clay, felts, and sponge paints. Clear containers can keep the area looking organized when it’s not in use, but still make the space inviting for your child. If she’s more likely to be entranced by musical performances, create a cozy nook with a basket filled with pint-sized music makers, such as maracas, drums, bells, and recorders. These creative spaces can take up just a small corner of your home, but having them always available will make your child more inclined to use them.
2. Keep the décor flexible. Your kid’s interests are bound to change from year to year, and even from month to month, so decorate the space in a way that it can grow with your child (that Mickey Mouse mural is a definite no-no!) For example, steer clear of choosing a Dora the Explorer-themed craft area. Instead, design the space around a color scheme or pattern (like dots or stripes) and throw in a Dora crayon case to appeal to her current character of choice.
3. Think small. Kids love nooks, so consider situating your creative space in a tucked-away corner. Areas under the stairs or beneath loft beds are great places to set up a space for your child to get artsy. It will feel like a secret hideout to your child, but you’ll still be able to hear everything that’s going on.
4. But don’t think too small. You want your child to be able to have ample space to get creative, so don’t squeeze him into too tiny of an area. Ideally, the zone will have room for him to leave out projects, such as Lego creations, puzzles, and half-completed works of art, so that he can pick back up where he left off at any time. Make your life easier by stocking the space with storage bins and baskets that don’t have lids. Your child will be much more likely to toss his art supplies back into the container if he doesn’t have to take the top off first.
5. Work with what you have. If your house doesn’t have much extra space to section off for your child, get innovative with your current setup. A sheet hung between a doorway quickly becomes a place to put on puppet shows, while a square of wall painted with chalkboard paint is less intrusive than a large easel. And don’t forget the bathroom. Use bathtub paints on the walls to teach your child his colors while he bathes.
6. Be kid-friendly. When it comes to designing the space, approach the task from your child’s perspective—literally. Crouch down and make sure that materials and toys aren’t out of reach. For example, instead of storing crayons and other craft supplies in a closet, keep them in a low cabinet in the kitchen. This way, she can easily access what she wants when she wants. Materials that can stand up to your child’s wear and tear are a smart choice, too. Flat and eggshell paint finishes aren’t easy to clean, so avoid these. And McCormick swears by carpet tiles such as FLOR. Mix and match the square pieces of carpet for a customized look. If spilled paint causes a serious stain, you can replace that one tile—no damage done!
It doesn’t take a lot of time or money to make your home more arts-friendly. Of course, kids are imaginative enough to turn any area into a creative space, but with some thoughtful design and arrangements, you can spark their creativity even more.