Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Beyond the Nursery

This is the last week of our eco-friendly decoration discussions with Claudia Kalur, from A Room for Frances. As always, please feel free to ask questions using the comments field her or our Facebook page. 

Beyond the Nursery - Part VIII
Playrooms, Studies, Closets, Toddler and Teen Rooms and Beyond

So far we have been talking mostly about setting up your baby's first room - but creating a healthy room does not have to end there. In fact, most principles we have talked about apply to the rest of the house.
As we have seen, as you child grows, you can easily make his or her bedroom grow with them by adapting furniture and changing an element here and there. If you have a separate room as the play or study room, there are a few things you may want to do differently than a bedroom and there is other type of furniture that you will need.
In these rooms a must-have piece is a table. Many children furniture retailers have a table that has different sets of legs at different heights so you can change them as you child gets taller and keep on using the same top. This is a great idea - and if you are handy, you can also make your own by buying a table top and legs at Home Depot, Lowe's or any unfinished furniture shop. Alternatively, you can re-use a vintage table top (if made of wood, remember to sand it very well to avoid splinters). For teenager's rooms, any table can be a desk, as long as it is at the correct height.
Shelving is also fundamental in play/studyrooms. My favourite option is to re-use old or vintage bookcases but I also love designing shelving units that fit snug to a space or niche - for this you will need a handy friend or spouse. Remember to buy only FSC certified wood and waterbased paints.
Storage is fundamental in any house - and more true in a child's space. I have resigned to the fact that we have a child and the whole house is as much hers as is ours so we do not limit her toys to any specific area of the house. But we do have areas where the toys go at the end of the day. I prefer baskets but there are cloth cubes, or wire cubes, plastic and wood containers - the choices are endless. For playrooms, it is also fun to re-use cardboard boxes (same or different sizes) that can either stand alone or sit in a shelf. The cardboard can be painted or covered in a pretty wrapping paper, or fabric or wallpaper - and for more fun, make it a crafts project with your child!
To Sum up... Becoming an eco-conscious inhabitant of the planet takes some adjusting to the way we think and live. It is hard because we have been used to living large in a planet that seems so abundant in resources but it is now fundamental that we change the way we have been living because there are so many of us and we are using those resources at lighting speed. And if you stop to think - it is not about the planet, it is all about us, the survival of the human race. Climate change is just that, it has happened before, the planet will survive, as it always has - but all living beings, us, animals, the trees, will NOT. When we talk about being eco-friendly, it is honestly to guarantee the survival of living creatures, it is truly for the sake of future generations' existence.
But if you are reading this, you have taken the first step - you want to make that change. Remember the 3 R's - Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. If you buy good quality items (or re-use something old or vintage or second hand), the longer things will last, the less you will need to use, the less you will need to throw away, which means that we will use fewer natural resources, which in turn will allows us to be here in this planet for longer. 

Click here to access last week's posting from Claudia.

Claudia Kalur is the founder of A Room for Frances, Nursery and Children's Room Design. She lives in rural Connecticut with her husband, Steven (an architect who specializes in green building systems), their 18-month-old daughter, Margot, and their doggy, Bayou.

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