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Rooms that grow with the kids

October 20, 2005|Lisa Boone | Times Staff Writer

DECORATING a nursery is often a labor of love, but years later parents fatigued by the pace of family life may feel less compelled to tackle thematic re-dos. How do you ensure a child is not sleeping in Bob the Builder sheets at 16? Start by creating a classic, organized room, says interior designer Ammie Kim of Beverly Hills. Respect kids' opinions, she says, but exercise parental control.

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Setting the tone: "Kids know what they like and what they want to be, and their rooms should reflect that," Kim says. Parents should recognize that the mood of a room can affect kids and have an influence on important things such as homework. The room should "give them dreams," Kim says, by touching on what interests them. Wallpaper borders are an easy way to create such a theme.

Style that endures: Kim likes to create rooms that will last. The girl's room pictured here was crafted for a 10-year-old who dreamed of "being a young lady." Miniature purses and shoes create a sophisticated ambience on floating shelves. A nearby table lamp's stacked ceramic teapots add an "Alice in Wonderland" feel. Simple drapes and an off-white cotton quilt are understated, giving the room a timeless feel. Altering the accessories as children age, the designer says, will allow the room to work through high school.

Space savers: Making room to do homework involves getting organized. "Kids tend to be more academic in a room that is well-organized and not too busy," Kim says. She suggests using the space under the bed for storage. She also likes floor-to-ceiling shelves that save space and allow books to be stacked horizontally. Baskets and corner shelves also look great.

Colors: Gone are the days of pink for girls and blue for boys. Kim chose baby blue for this girl's room. She recommends neutral tones such as olive or taupe for boys and advises against dark or bright colors, which can look dated quickly. What if a child wants bright purple walls? "Control it by saying, 'That's fine, but it's too vibrant. Let's tone it down a bit,' " Kim says.

White out: Kim advises against choosing white for a monochromatic look. "White is not a color," she says. "It's empty. It doesn't set any background at all." Color is what creates a lovely silhouette for furnishings.

Decorating together: A mural is a great way to make a room more whimsical and to give parents and kids an activity to do together. "Every time the child looks at the wall, they will feel confident that they accomplished something," Kim says. Nervous parents can limit the art to one wall and refine it by adding color and definition. With the mural as a focal point, the furniture, drapes and bedding should be neutral. Helpful tip: Coat the finished mural with polyurethane.

Shared rooms: Rooms shared by siblings should not be too thematic because each child may have different interests. Kim suggests neutral tones for the wall and reminds parents that drapes help to set the tone. Forgo lace curtains in favor of simple, roman shades.

Individuality, equality: Beds and bedding can be different for a brother and sister sharing a room. These items work, she says, because the rest of the setting is neutral. Siblings each can have a wall painted the color of their choice. Just make sure the value of the paint is the same. Otherwise, Kim warns, "the balance is broken."

Lisa Boone can be reached at lisa.boone@latimes.com.

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