Tip #3: Get Tough
Look for finish materials and surfaces that can take the punishment kids dish out. Semi- or high-gloss paint is easier to wipe down than flat paint, for instance. Avoid any wallcovering that isn't vinyl, unless it's commercial-grade. Every kid knows floors aren't just for walking on?think crawling babies, kids at play and sprawled-out teenagers ?so plan accordingly. Durable choices include wood, which can be refinished; laminate, which doesn't stain or scratch as easily; and vinyl, which is inexpensive, easy to clean and can be replaced easily if damaged. Your child's age and interests are the keys to choosing flooring. For example, choose wipe-clean, nonabsorbent vinyl or laminate for a budding artist. And go with sound-absorbing, stain-resistant carpet for young gymnasts or teens who play their music loud. Tip #4: Make Storage Flexible
Choose adjustable storage that can hold finger paints and puzzles today and books and clothes tomorrow. Include open and closed shelves, and locate storage at several heights; low drawers and shelves are convenient when kids are 6 but not when they're 16. Include wire shelving, stackable bins, hanging pocket storage and other closet organizers that hold odds and ends neatly. Stretch storage space with furniture that serves two functions. Trundle beds provide an oversize storage space or, when outfitted with a mattress, an extra bed for sleepovers. Also consider a flip-top toy box that doubles as a window seat. Tip #5: Keep It Safe
Furniture with rounded edges is safest for all kids. Bins and boxes should include hinges that gravity can't shut on small fingers. Also keep toys and games on low shelves so kids don't have to climb to reach them. And bolt tall bookshelves to the wall. Bunk beds are a popular way to save space when two kids share a room. Besides choosing a model that can be separated later, be sure the bed has slats that screw in and a ladder securely attached at a comfortable climbing angle. Check that each child can sit on the bottom bunk without bumping his or her head. Use guard rails on any open side of the upper bunk, and keep it off limits for kids under 6. They might not have the coordination to climb up or the ability to stop themselves from falling out. Safe lighting can prevent accidents. For example, avoid floor lamps, which topple easily, and table lamps for the same reason until kids are older. For ambient lighting, use ceiling-mounted can lights installed on a dimmer; this way, you can turn the lights on partially when checking on the kids at night and not wake them. Movable track lights that slide, swivel and rotate are also ideal because they provide adaptable lighting. Then as children mature, suspend a pendant fixture from the track to create a hanging lamp over a desk or night table. Task lighting, such as a flexible clamp lamp set up next to the bed, desk or recreational area, is another essential as children grow up. To contain the jumble of wires from a computer, TV and sound system, a baseboard wire-management system like the Wiremold Access 5000 raceway ($5 to $8 per linear foot depending on finish) tucks all those wires safely out of the way.
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