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SPECIAL FEATURE

5 easy breezy steps to decorating a kids' room

Nurseries for children are a relatively new concept in Bangladesh. While previously we preferred to have children sleep with their parents, now we have somewhat embraced the idea of 'letting go' of children at an early age, even if it is in the form of spending time in their room all by themselves.

We have not moved out of traditional thinking while decorating the nursery, although we do say that thinking out of the bracket is encouraged.

A nursery for children gives them a taste of privacy and independence, which many claim, helps in the long run. So if you have a room to spare, or even just a small space, turn it into a wonderful space for children. And let Star Lifestyle show you how.

"I want a princess bedroom” that was the sweet plea of our seven year old daughter who was finally getting a room of her own. Our three and a half year old son on the other hand, was not too bothered but did drop enough hints for cars and Spiderman as part of “his” own room. The tricky part to all this was that they will share the room! Our apartment had two additional bedrooms, out of which only one bedroom was next to the master bedroom. With two small children, we were not ready to ship either of them to the other part of the apartment. My husband and I were adamant that they stay in the room next to ours and ensured that it had a connecting door. Therefore, for our own convenience, we have put them in one shared bedroom. This interim and inevitable choice is at least for the next few years until they grow up and have their own individual tastes and needs.

As we ventured into decorating a “fun” bedroom for our princess and our 'lil dude', we soon realised the interesting intricacies of the task we had in hand. Shared bedrooms are definitely not an easy space to decorate especially if it is being shared by two opposing genders. To start the process, my husband and I went through a ton of catalogues and browsed the internet for design ideas. Ultimately, we created our own gameplan and designed the room using the following steps:

Step 1: The basics
This step largely included the furniture. We inherited a lot of furniture from our parents and grandparents. This helped us in terms of saving the up-front cost of purchasing them. We changed the upholstery and varnished the wood to give it a “new and fresh” look. For the time being, as the children were young and scared to actually sleep on their own, we decided to go for a queen-size bed instead of two twins. In this way, there is always more space for the parents to have “snuggle time” with the kids.

Step 2: Colour Drama
Children love to have bright, bold and uniquely coloured rooms. It reflects the liveliness of their nature. The key to a perfect colour for the wall is to match with the kids' personalities. In our society, colours play a huge role as each tone has a socially-constructed meaning and it also dictates the gender of the room. In our case, we realised that the main theme of the room has to be neutral to relate to both the genders. We tried and tested a few gender-neutral shades and then settled for a pale lime green that was soothingly calm. As much as cartoon characters and animations are tempting, we opted for a clean look using lively colours in stripes and solids for the curtains and bed linen. Of course the kids' toys and dolls (Barbie, Spiderman, Barney, Mickey Mouse) more than added the animated touch to the room.

Step 3: Getting funky with accessories
With the walls repainted and curtains and linen set, we picked a few decorative items from Dhaka and abroad to add some personality and make it cosy. These included small carpets, a play tent, utility storage boxes and others. Not surprisingly, our seven year old drama queen always wanted a “princess” canopy for her bed. This was indeed convenient for us. We used the canopy as a mosquito net at night and during the day time it just looked pretty. For our car fanatic son, a parking zone for the numerous toy cars was kept in the corner. The bathroom door was also utilised as an additional space to stick their weekly drawings and arts/crafts (whatever that can be pinned or taped).

Step 4: The tree of life
Even with the lime green hue on the walls -- it was still bare. As parents, we want our children to be conscious about their environment and Mother Nature. Keeping this in mind, we decided to give a dab of outdoor elements to their room and went for a mural of a tree on two of the empty walls. We found this brilliant young artistic duo (Milon and Hasan), who listened to our ideas and re-created the walls with a beautiful tree. Flowers, birds, butterflies and fireflies were transformed onto the walls depicting a playful look with a tinge of our cultural roots. The icing on the cake was to have the sun (representing our “lil dude”) with the birds on one side of the wall and the moon (representing our “lil princess” wearing a “noth”) with the stars and night owls on the other side.

Step 5: The final touches
The final touches are endless and ongoing -- with some picture frames on the walls, some multi-coloured lights on the curtain trims, beaded wind chimes and small planters for the tiny balcony -- the list goes on. More than anything the kids love their room and at the end of a day it is their cocoon where our “lil dude” and “princess” get to be in their own world of animations, colours and imaginations…a world where their dreams come alive!

By Farheen Khurrum
Photo: Sazzad Ibne Sayed
Special thanks to Farheen for allowing us to do the photoshoot.


SPECIAL FEATURE

Making room for the new one

By Maheen Khan

It has been a couple of weeks since every morning started with you rushing towards the washroom to be sick and you still were not sure whether it was a bug or whether some good news awaited you as the tests had not returned from the doctor's yet. Finally the test results arrive and with them come flurries of felicitations, blessings, hugs and kisses. Congratulations, you are pregnant!

Now that the initial excitement brought by the good news is toning down it is time to make preparations for the baby's arrival starting from buying stuff for the baby to preparing the nursery. The next 9 months will pass faster than you can imagine and putting these off for the later part of the pregnancy will be very tiring and will certainly add to the pressure of moving around with a big belly.

For to-be-parents who plan on having a spare room that they want to use as a nursery, starting early gives you a head start because, deciding on themes, designing or choosing furniture, curtains, etc. will be time consuming.

First and foremost, decide on the floor plan for the room. Decide on what furniture you want and make a rough sketch of where you plan to place these. Consider safety and comfort issues, such as where heat or air conditioning enters the room, and how the sun travels through the space and make sure the crib is not positioned directly across. Try not to position the crib next to the window and try to place the crib away from any table or wardrobe because once the baby is a little older it will learn to stand up and reach for anything around it.

Walls and theme
Once that is done decide on what colour you want to paint the room. If you want the walls to be plain then you can choose from a range of colours depending on whether you are having a boy or a girl or whether you want to keep it neutral. As wallpaper is not available in our country this poses some restraints in terms of decorating the walls easily. Any decoration that you want to do on the wall has to be painted unless you get wallpaper from abroad.

On the bright side there are services provided by companies like Berger where you can get them to paint the walls in certain decorative themes. You may also paint the walls horizontally in two colours with a wooden frame going through the middle. If you know someone who is good at drawing and painting or if your painter can draw, you can get them to draw murals or motifs or pictures of cartoon characters etc according to the theme of the wall.

If you are one of those couples who leave the baby's gender to be a surprise then a neutral colour and theme is what you can choose to stick to. Neutral colours include yellow, light green, light orange, red, brown, etc. Some neutral themes include circus theme, zoo theme, animal theme, jungle theme, alphabet theme, Pooh Bear theme, dolphin theme, stork theme, outer space theme, etc. Other than these you can opt for something as simple and easy as painting a sun and tree. For mothers who are expecting baby girls, cotton candy pink walls are an all time favourite while baby blue is the favourite for boys. Some themes for girls include fairies, unicorns, castles, clouds and rainbows while those for boys include superheroes, cars and trucks, male cartoon characters such as Mickey and Donald, etc. Ultimately it comes down to the extent to which you want to push your creativity.

There is not much that can be done on the ceiling but you may have it painted or buy glow-in-the-dark stars that are available in the market and attach them there; these look very nice at night when the lights are turned off.

Furniture
Three pieces of furniture are of utmost importance: crib, chest of drawers/wardrobe, a comfortable chair. Choose crib designs from catalogues if you do not plan on buying ready-made ones. Opt for those that have wheels so that you can move the crib easily to your room if necessary. There should be no more than 3 inches between bars, no gap between the mattress and side bars, no decorative cutouts that your baby could get caught on or in and obviously no sharp parts sticking out. Go for a cot that has a drop side as this will make it much easier to lay the baby down to sleep.

A sofa always helps if you do not wish to put a bed in the room, otherwise you will not a have a place to sit and it will also come in handy for nursing the baby or putting it to sleep.

You may choose a chest of drawers styled from wood and this may well be one of those pieces of furniture that may be used well beyond the younger years.

Instead of painting pictures on the wall you could have pictures painted on the crib and the other pieces of furniture if you choose not to use these later on.

It is best not to install hanging shelves on the wall even if they are properly installed because it is always best to be cautious.

Draping, linen and flooring
The theme of the room and your colour scheme dictates whether you want plain curtains, patterned ones or ones with prints on it. Fabrics with various cartoons printed are widely available in the market nowadays. One thing that can be done for girls' nurseries is to tie the curtains with contrasting colours.

You may choose to buy matching linens for the crib and the sofa cushion as well.

In case of the floor it is better not to carpet the entire room and instead have a small rug. Once the baby is older and able to crawl it will inevitably put stuff into its mouth that have come into contact with the floor and since it is more difficult to clean carpets, it is better to leave the floor bare. If you are in the mood to make a huge revamp you can opt for wood flooring since it gives a tasteful touch and goes with almost any theme.

The furniture in the room should be sturdy and functional and there should be a large amount of storage area in the room for toys and diaper changing table.

Planning for a baby's arrival is as exciting as the arrival itself. Since, you will not have much time on your hands after the baby is here it is better get past the planning and decorating stages as soon as possible. This will give you ample time to rest and bring your baby home to a wonderful environment right from the beginning.

By Karishma Ameen


   
 

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