All kids need a bit of space at home to call their own. Ciara Elliott asked Irish experts for their tips to optimise a child’s dining and play area…
1 Base camp If every playdate at yours starts with the inevitable battle cry of “let’s build a den!” you’ll know how much kids love to create their own private hideaways. Protect a messy raid on your laundry cupboard and let their imaginary adventures take off in a teepee or indoor tent instead. Teepees double up as a great reading nook too.
2 Future proof “Finding harmony between what your child likes now and what they might like in five years’ time can be challenging. I’d say aim to choose a non-specific theme to decorate their playspace that can be added to as your child’s tastes mature,” suggests Maria Ryan.
3 Everything in its place Toys, books, games, cuddly toys – they all take up a lot of room and, as all parents know, accumulating new stuff can get out of hand very fast. Try and plan in purpose-built, streamlined cupboards, with all their space-saving and clutter-concealing abilities, from the get-go.
Children’s room by Bloomingville, Bambi beechwood chair, penguin chair, both Elements Optimal, Rocky the Lemur, Anne-Claire Petit.
4 Basket Case “I love rattan baskets, which I pick up by the lorry load at places like Ferm Living, Tiger or Ikea,” says Stephanie O’Sullivan. “Not only do they look great, but you can pile them high with teddies or toys and then use them to easily transport things between rooms. They also make brilliant laundry baskets for the same reason. Clever.”
5 DIT – Do It Themselves Hang bookshelves and toy storage containers at a low level, so children can help themselves and, importantly, help tidy things away after, ensuring they understand that each item has a “home” they ought to be returned to. “This encourages them to take more pride in their space,” says Leigh Tucker.
6 Playful plates “Fun tableware will undoubtedly encourage children to eat,” says Bronwyn Thomson. “Ceramic is preferable, but not always a wise option for younger kids. I am embracing bamboo for the obvious environmental reason that it is completely compostable and non-toxic.”
7 Clean living “Kid-friendly kitchens need to be as practical as possible. It’s best to choose wipeable and washable materials as much as possible. Our kitchen table is oak veneer and dark, so even when my three-year-old paints on it, I can sponge it clean. It’s the Fjord from Made.com, and I love it,” says parenting and style blogger Eimear Varian Barry.
Porcelain T-rex egg cups, Natural History Museum Shop, table, plates and beakers, cushions, all from Bloomingville, Stoneware Benjamin plate, Bloomingville.
8 Dinner for two If your little one has a pal over, setting a special place for them to eat, at their own level with pretty plates and soft seating, will help encourage them to take the time to eat properly and enjoy.
9 High hopes “Highchairs have come a long way,” says Mark Ryan of Babateen. “The Ovo chair is very contemporary looking, with an Eames vibe to it. You can change out the colour of the seat, and the legs extend and retract to allow you to seat baby beside you on the sofa or at a high counter. Clever.”
10 Creative reward “Kids are visual animals, so you’ll need to up your game to create an engaging reward chart,” says stylist Kate O’Dowd. “Instead of the standard sticker-on-paper job, why not take two large jars; one empty, one full of pebbles you’ve drawn foods on? Each time they try a new food, they get to move its pebble and watch their food adventures stack up in triumph.”