I'm very excited to have my blog's first "design dilemma" to post about! Hailey recently wrote the following comment:
"I love your blog!! Thanks for all the awesome tips. Please help me. I have three kids (boy 14, girl 7, boy5). The boys are all BOY and my daughter is a little princess. We are trying to decorate a playroom that they can all be happy with. I am going to get a muralist to paint the walls. I don't care for modern design and HATE things that are too cartoonish. Do you have any suggestions? I am at a loss. "
Several factors need to be considered when designing a playspace for any child, (such as storage, storage and more storage)...but when you have boys and girls sharing the same space, as well as significant age gaps between children - well, you do have quite a dilemma!
If at all possible, consider giving your teenager a "cool" space of his own. Whether it be a corner of the larger play room sectioned off, or a seperate room, he will want a place to hang out with his other teen friends without having to trip over half-clothed Barbies! I have a 15 year old son and our "cave" as we fondly refer to it, is set up mainly for him...cool brown leather sofa, aqua walls and a large screen tv, XBox and fooseball table. Teens love to watch movies, sports and play video games together and need a space somewhat removed from the family for those important hanging out sessions.
If you are not able to give him his own room, simply arrange the playroom in such a way in that he has his own area that is sectioned off by the sofa, bookcases or a folding screen. This area can obviously be used by the younger children for movie watching as well, but will be much appreciated as a teen hang out for your older son.
If sectioning of the room is not possible, then it's important to try to create a space that will encourage the imagination of the younger two children, while not being too "babyish" for your older son. In order to do this, and given the fact that your boys are "all boy" and your daughter is a "little princess", the best mural I can propose is a more realistic looking beach scene.
I'm talking closer to a trompe l' oeil look rather than a nursery mural. In this mural, you can cover it all...cool beach for the older son, adventure for the younger son, and with a large sandcastle painted into the scene, your princess should be satisfied! Add a little pink to the sky to bring in some feminine color that won't offend your sons. Paint in a sand pail here and there, star fish and shells scattered on the beach, etc...
Consider mounting a surfboard on the wall or propping one in the corner to keep it "cool" for your 14 year old. With sandy colored carpeting, the sand mural will appear to have continued across your floor. If your ceiling is paintable, continue the pale blue sky onto the ceiling. The trick is to keep this mural as realistic as possible. Shop around for an experienced muralist. This one is worth spending a little extra money on to get it right, as this type of mural can stay throughout the ages. Even after your children are grown, you can make a cool beach side recreation room for adult gatherings. Add a tiki bar and some fake palm trees and your friends will kick off their shoes and hang out for some margaritas!
Another mural option would be to paint a stone wall effect. Have some ivy vines tendriling down the walls to soften them. With stone walls, your younger two will be able to use their imaginations to make this the space of their dreams. Your son will become a brave knight fighting off the dragons and your daughter will be the queen of her castle! This type of mural won't be cartoonish or too babyish that your 14 year old won't enjoy it as well.
In order to keep this from becoming too lengthy, I've only really discussed mural suggestions, but furniture and STORAGE are very important, as well as the accessories that pull it all together. I can't get into too much of these other than to say that I highly recommend a built-in wall unit for housing the TV, game stations, CD's, DVD's and toys. If this is not feasable, merchants such as Pottery Barn Kids have many wall unit options that work very well.
Thanks again for your comment, Hailey! I hope I've been helpful!