How might I involve a child in the design process of their own room? How would I work with them to help give them a sense of control over their space? What techniques could be used to help them understand what is happening and what role they are to play? As a designer who understands the importance of evidence-based design strategies and the importance of a child's personal space I will have this discussion on a serious note. To narrow the discussion I must first establish an age range as each age group will vary somewhat. Let's choose the five to seven year old group.
As a designer working with a young child between five and seven I would first make sure I understood the mind set and capability of the child. Having worked in the classroom with the learning disabled child and the mainstreamed child I have a leg up on this process. I would arrange to spend time with the child – about 30 to 45 minutes preferably without the parent present.
I would create a list of activities to do with the child that would help me determine interest, ability, and developmental positioning. In reviewing the neurodevelopmental themes for evolving expectations (Mel Levine, 2000) of the five to seven year old I would make note of several themes: attention, temporal-sequential ordering, spatial ordering, memory, language, neuromotor functions, social cognition and higher- order cognition.
With this information (it sounds serious but really is not) I would create a preliminary drawing of the space that would include elements determined by the play time interview. A second meeting with the child and the parent would reveal the concept of the room using the drawing and floor plan illustrating the zones for sleeping , reading, fine motor activity, and imaginative play. Gross motor activities would be better suited for other locations in the home and yard. The color palette would be discussed along with options for encouraging task completion, sequential ordering, musical rhythms, visual discrimination, vocabulary enhancement, and classification skills. This preliminary plan would be presented with questions for the child to answer. A child this age a child is not ready to determine bigger design decisions but is ready for simple multiple choice options. Example: “The reading center will be in this corner. Would you like it to have a green pillow or a blue pillow on the chair?” Of course I would avoid open ended questions such as, “What color pillow do you want on the reading chair?” And of course I would have determined with the parent an acceptable color range in advance and allow the child to make minor decisions creating the impression that these are important decisions. This process is all about empowering the child so that the space becomes his/hers. A child of seven going on eight should be demonstrating emerging brainstorming skills, understands that other peoples’ opinions matter, and is ready for group discussion. A designer therefore should be cautious when working with the five and six year old who is emerging out of the “me” stage.
My design strategy would be to avoid a theme within the bones of the room to encourage creative thought and imagination, and manage gender identity issues. This allows the space to grow with the child. The character of the room would take shape through the child’s play and current interest. And, at the end of the day the room is cleaned up and ready for the next week’s world of imagination.
Here is a plan for a seven-year-old child whose room is being redesigned with the introduction new materials and colors.
This boy’s room provides zones for multiple activities. The elevated full size bed with ship’s ladder allows for a private study space for desk and chair underneath. The game table with four chairs allows for group interaction. The reading chair with ottoman next to a side table and lamp provides a comfortable place for reading alone or with a parent. A built in storage box next to the door can be used for toys and art supplies with a cork board mounted on the wall above to display art and photos. To the left of the window is a framed dry erase marker board so the child can create a picture poster of favorite theme of the week: dinosaur, trains, sports, etc. The window seat provides seating for viewing the outdoors for a restorative experience. The bed wall contains built in storage on both sides of the bed: right side contains double rod for hanging clothes with shoe rack below; left side contains closed storage with shelves and drawers for clothing and an open storage with shelves for displaying favorite artifacts, trophies, photo frames, and books. The top surface of the open display storage next to the bed is the same height as the mattress to allow for a small lamp and clock. Using the built in storage cabinets for clothing allows for the walk-in closet with pocket door to remain empty for imaginative play: hide out, space ship, ocean liner, or castle. If the closet space is needed drapery panels with grommets could be installed on the underside of the bed frame for privacy and imaginative play. The bathroom is shared with adjacent bedroom and provides water access for arts and crafts projects. The color palette is gender neutral: nature’s shades of greens and blues set against the warm wood tones of the floor and cabinetry. There are no patterns other than textural variances on the chair, ottoman, rug, or bedding creating a background for whatever the child creates in his art and chosen artifacts. In this room his concepts, hobbies, and interests are featured not that of prepackaged bedding ensemble with cowboys, star wars, or dinosaurs. This room is neat and tidy avoiding excessive visual disturbance creating a restful environment.
As this seven year old boy matures the room can grow with him. No dinosaur paper to remove from the wall or juvenile bedding to replace (until it wears out of course). The color palette is non-descript in age. The child height game table and chairs can be removed and replaced with oversized bean bags and the walk in closet becomes a closet again.
This room provides an environment that will teach and encourage adult readiness skills: organization, time management, social cognition, language skills, spatial ordering, creativity, academic preparedness, restorative behavior, etc. The time to learn adult skills is as a child and this room offers the opportunity to do just that.
Note: Decision to not include a television or computer was intentional and not an oversight. Young children, all of us for that matter, need a place to get away from the world. Cable TV and internet should be used in the presence of the parents not behind closed doors. Children should learn that there is a proper time and place for certain behaviors.
Mel Levine, M. (2000, January). Neurodevelomental Themes. Cambridge, MA: Educators Publishing Service.
Environmental and color psychology plays an important role in the successful design of all built environments. It is especially significant when designing a service business that offers its clients an opportunity to decompress, relax, and heal bodily aches and pains. The mission was to convert an insurance office into a mid-west massage oasis. The goal was to increase business by creating a unique space for a spa offering unique services. This boutique day spa had to project an energetic calmness not found in its competitors.
Ideas Only: Color & Design began this spa design with the unexpected use of color. Since color is the driving force in creating emotional responses and spas are all about relief from physical and mental stress the color palette needed to be soothing not boring. It needed to be inspired by nature: land, sea, sky. The sapphire blue and apple green walls in the reception area greet the clients with a breath of fresh air. The increased saturation level adds energy while the light reflective value softens the glare. The high gloss black floor grounds the palette and keeps the eye safely up. Soothing waterfall images and green plants give life to the color palette. The sapphire blue continues down the corridor leading clients into to the latte neutralized massage rooms.
Since moving into the new colorful space the massage spa has received rave reviews. Clients sense the color, feel the oasis, and are ready to heal their mind, body & soul. They are transported far away. In this unique boutique spa clients experience an energetic calmness that they crave again and again - repeat business has grown to 50% of the general revenues. All things constant the transformative power of color in design cannot be understated.
Interior design affects the physical and psychological health and well-being of the people who use the space. Ideas Only: Color & Design was given the assignment of transforming a 1960’s structure that boasts strong intersecting lines, into a business office and a gathering space for a group of hard working beer drinkers as well as a dressy evening crowd sipping champagne. The goal was to respect the building’s bones, reinvent its past, while transforming its function and styling for today’s LEED conscious client.
The redesign began with the creation of a circular glass office set inside the soaring exterior glass and limestone walls. The new lobby services the daily business of union members and serves as a pre-reception room for banquet events. The 1980’s refurbished hotel seating rests seamlessly against the glass and limestone walls. Re-purposed mid-century bar tables are placed in the lobby during cocktail gatherings.
A symbiotic relationship between the labor union members and their new home was developed through color and photo art. The color palette is based on the work performed by union members. The custom terrazzo flooring is inspired by the Meramec River pea gravel used in concrete at construction sites. The amber clay wallcovering was pulled from hues of layered earth found when drilling underground shafts and tunnels. The familiar wheat grass green found in the upholstery fabric and walls complement the warm hues and complete the organic retro palette. A local photographer was commissioned to shoot images of work produced by the union members. The photo art and color palette are used as a way finding strategy leading to the banquet halls.
The banquet halls were stripped bare except for the oak paneled walls. The ceiling height was raised to accommodate the return of a full size theatre screen and state-of-the-art projection system. The space was fitted with four types of dimmable LED fixtures that will meet any occupants lighting requirements. The neutral blonde color palette intentionally takes back stage so that the space can be transformed for any style beer or champagne event.
Banquet Hall and Lobby Reception rental information:
Laborers Local 110
4532 South Lindbergh Blvd.
St. Louis, MO 63127
Phone : 314.892.0777
Do you see a difference in these two light bulbs? Do you think a room will look the same regardless of which bulb is used to illuminate a room? Have you met Kelvin? Kelvin tells you if a room will appear warm or cool. Light warm. Light cool. Warm highlights. Cool highlights. Warm shadows. Cool shadows.
Kelvin is used in the measure of the color temperature of light sources. Color temperature is based upon the principle that a black body radiator emits light of which the color depends on the temperature of the radiator. Black bodies with temperatures below about 4000 K appear reddish whereas those above about 7500 K appear bluish. Color temperature is important in the fields of image projection and photography where a color temperature of approximately 5600 K is required to match "daylight" film emulsions.
Yes, that was too much information but you need to know Kelvin is really important in your design plans. You see the difference here and you need to pay attention to the Kelvin ratings on bulb packaging. Decide the type of light you want for the function of the space you are illuminating. Here's a pictorial chart from Energy Star that will help you get to know Kelvin a little better. Note that this color temperature discussion is about the compact fluorescent lamp (CFL) specifically. Incandescent and LED lamps have their own temperature range. Sun/day light range will fall at a different level on a Kelvin chart dependent on the light source.
Final note - to prevent eye agitation, irritability, and headaches: ALL BULBS/LAMPS IN A SINGLE ROOM SHOULD ALL BE THE SAME COLOR TEMPERATURE.
Let's go bold. Or not. Show me the money and I'll show you the color. It is curious that the level of color saturation and chroma one can tolerate in a purchased object is directly proportionate to the amount of money being spent. This group of 8th grade friends, lovingly called The Squad, had no problem spending $40 on these body suits for their Halloween gathering. At this price these brightly colored suits could be disposable.
The color palette will change drastically however if it is the Squads' mothers making a furniture purchase. A quality made sofa typically sells for around two grand. The sofa is not a disposable item and is expected to have a very long life. Are moms going to select the Squads' rainbow colors for their sofa? My Midwest experience? No way. They will buy a Pottery Barn beige sofa with a forty dollar brightly colored pillow. The pillow gets tossed when the season changes.
Exceptions apply of course.
1. Bold personalities will gravitate towards bold colors.
2. Risk takers are willing to choose a big color with a big price.
3. Disposable income can of course be a driving factor in color choice.
4. Those born and raised along the coast, near mountains, and deserts often go bold - there's a connection to clear blue skies.
5. High ticket sports cars often go bold shouting a greater sense of power.
6. Modern designs are simple in form and can tolerate high chromatic hues.
What's the boldest color you spent on a high ticket item?
Really people? Really? You want to sit there and deny your eyes? Admit it. You are afraid of color. You are afraid because you don't think you know how to put color together. Nonsense. You see color every day. Pay attention. Land. Sea. Air. Repeat. Land. Sea. Sky. It's that simple. Interior Design 101 is first about Color 101.
Color is emotion. Color soothes the mind, body, and soul. We all react differently to color. Be conscious of your innate reaction and you will be your own personal color stylist. Trust your own eyes and your reaction - not your friend's. Look to nature for your color palette. We are humans. Humans are nature. Color in nature comforts us. Land, sea, Sky. It's there so lets chat.
I recently spent time at Moonstone Beach near Cambria, California - a seaside village located midway between San Francisco and Los Angeles. The perfect place to explore land, sea, and sky - morning, noon, and night. The boardwalk easily guides you along the coastline over a mile and a half, offering ample opportunity to step down to the shoreline to explore the tidal pools, observe the Pacific sea otters, and search for moonstones - gems that evoke the moon’s delicate, ethereal light. (Cambria's moonstones are chalcedony, a micro-crystalline version of quartz.) With every boardwalk step I was in color heaven. The camera shutter did not stop clicking for days. Color color everywhere. Beautiful natural color combinations. Nature's inspiration.
The first thing the eye perceives is color, second is light/dark contrast, and finally, shape/form. Remember that. What makes an individual color more of less prominent in a space is the light/dark contrast surrounding it. Remember that. Now study the images below. I shot them all while exploring the amazing colors of Moonstone Beach. Simply pay attention.
1. Pay attention to your emotional reaction.
2. Pay attention to the mix of colors - warm to cool, cool to warm.
3. Pay attention to the light & dark areas - light reflective value (LRV) of each hue.
It is so important to have highlights and low lights within the same color family.
4. Pay attention to the neutrals: browns, grays, tans, and blacks.
It's the neutrals that ground the palette and gives the eye a place to rest.
5. Pay attention: a well designed color palette never gets boring.
6. View each image individually - click on image to enlarge.
The Color Marketing Group said it best.
"Mother Nature was the first color stylist, with an endless array of color options and a keen understanding of color's purpose in the world. In nature, color isn't random. It attracts, warns, and informs." Remember that.
Note: texture, pattern, and scale has been reserved for a different design discussion.
Roll cursor over image to see corresponding Sherwin-Williams paint colors.
All images property of Geri Hayes - May 2014
I am rarely asked, "What's the difference between an interior designer and an interior decorator?" Is that because most actually do know the difference? No, they do not. I do hear people however interchange the two terms all too often, all the time. All the time! Ladies and gents would be smarter shoppers and purchasers if they did understand the difference. The best explanation is pulled from the NCIDQ website.
"Many people use the terms "interior design" and "interior decorating" interchangeably, but these professions differ in critical ways.
Interior design is the art and science of understanding people's behavior to create functional spaces within a building. Decoration is the furnishing or adorning of a space with fashionable or beautiful things. In short, interior designers may decorate, but decorators do not design.
Interior designers apply creative and technical solutions within a structure that are functional, attractive and beneficial to the occupants' quality of life and culture. Designs respond to and coordinate with the building shell and acknowledge the physical location and social context of the project. Designs must adhere to code and regulatory requirements and encourage the principles of environmental sustainability.
The interior design process follows a systematic and coordinated methodology—including research, analysis and integration of knowledge into the creative process—to satisfy the needs and resources of the client.
Many U.S. states and Canadian provinces have passed laws requiring interior designers to be licensed or registered—documenting their formal education and training. By contrast, interior decorators require no formal training or licensure."
Know difference and watch out for the one who has a "knack for decorating". Odds are that's the one using its own personal taste to change your space and not the elements and principles of design and the tenants of environmental and color psychology. Be smart!
Modifying one's environment to achieve
Geri loves to consume color through art, architecture, photography, and interior spaces of all built environments. She is a museum enthusiast. Exploring new places, cultures, and restaurants will always be a part of her life. Geri loves the creative process of cooking with natural fresh local ingredients and adores the beauty of colorfully plated food.