If you’ve got young children or are planning a family, building a new home has an added layer of complexity: making it child-friendly. From play spaces to safety, the little people in your new home have some very specific needs. Here, we outline the dos and don’ts of planning and building a truly child-friendly home.
Find a child-friendly location
Having a baby usually means a major lifestyle change, and along with that comes different needs about the location you live in. Suddenly, your local cafe culture and nightlife seem less important, and it’s all about your immediate neighbourhood: easy access to childcare, parks, bike tracks and schools, and whether your neighbours can deliver an instant set of friends. Having great public transport also makes life easier as your children become more independent.
Design a home with kids front and centre
Here are our top tips for every room in the house:
A kid-friendly kitchen
If you have the space and budget, you’ll thank yourself in future years if you include a butler’s pantry or scullery. When your mother-in-law drops in, you’ll have somewhere to instantly hide the mess. Better yet, add a sliding door. Also consider a breakfast bar, which can be a great solution for homework and snack time. Ideally, ensure your floor plan means you can work in the kitchen, and see your kids playing – whether it’s in the lounge room or outside. And finally, incorporate family-sized pull-out bins into your kitchen design that will keep sticky fingers out of the rubbish.
Places for play
Children need space to play, express themselves and experiment. Consider a second living area as a kids’ playroom, and don’t forget to include toy storage in the main living room. Outdoor play is also important, especially whether you can incorporate the big ticket items: pool, trampoline or cubby (or leave room to add them later).
A hardworking family bathroom
This is going to one of the hardest working rooms in your new house! Because kids love to get messy with water, safety is a top priority. Keep edges rounded, particularly metal fixtures like towel rails, and ensure flooring is non-slip. A bath is a must-have, and make sure the tap can swing flush to the wall as this will avoid nasty bumps at bathtime. Floating vanities are great for underneath storage of stools when the kids are little and dual sinks are useful for stopping fights! If you’re in a cooler area, heated towel rails and lights can be lifesavers in winter to stop the after-bath screams and shivers.
Ensuring a good night’s sleep is a top priority for kids’ bedrooms. Try to locate them away from the morning sun and loud noises like traffic and garages. While parents’ retreats can be heavenly, you won’t want to be too far away from kids’ bedrooms while children are very small. Go heavy on the window treatments – any parent will tell you there’s big difference between getting up at 5am vs 6am! If you’re thinking of bunk beds, you might be best to avoid ceiling fans unless the room is very large. Think ahead when it comes to size and storage. Babies don’t need much, but for the school years you’ll be dealing with lots of gear and eventually the need for desk space.
A practical laundry
It’s unfortunate but true: the amount of time you spend in the laundry skyrockets with the pitter-patter of little feet. A few practical considerations will make life easier here: ensure cavities are large enough for a family-sized washing machine and dryer and incorporate a drying rack into the design.
Stacks of storage
Add extra storage to every room in the house, including the kitchen, bathrooms, bedrooms under stairs and wherever it makes sense. School-age kids carry a lot of kit, which is why mudrooms have become all the rage to keep it under control. Alternatives include lockers in the garage or laundry. A broom cupboard is also a handy addition but something that’s easily missed in the design phase.
It goes without saying that your finishes need to be durable and easy to clean, as spills and stains are an unavoidable part of family life. For very small children, tiles can be a little hard to fall on, while timber flooring provides a slightly softer landing.
Would you like to see our family-friendly house designs and talk to your local consultant about how to best accommodate your family?
Get in touch today!