Designing a shared space

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Designing a shared space

Space is always an issue in cities, especially when you’re stuck with a two-bedroom apartment and are forced to share a room between two siblings.

Designing children’s shared living space can be quite challenging but a fun exercise too. Definitely a cakewalk if the siblings get along well with each other.

If not, all of parents’ organisational, tactical and creative skills have to be summoned to get both the children to agree on the design for the room. After all, no well designed room happens by accident.

Before drawing up the design for the shared space, each child’s personality has to be taken into account and efforts should be made to design the room around their individual personalities. It pays to involve both the children, the future occupants of the room, in the discussion about the design of the room.

First and foremost, the theme for the room has to be chosen and, regardless of how well siblings get along, no two children will agree on the same theme. Fret not, for, it is to be expected. Convince them to go with the general theme of the rest of the house and carry on with your decorating ideas.

Once the theme has been selected, discuss the wall colour options with them and help them zero in on the colours of their choice. If the children find it difficult to agree on one colour, it is best to guide them to choose complementary colours so that two walls of the room can be in the colour of one child’s choice and the remaining two in the colour of the other child’s choice. Teaming yellow ochre with orange, red with pink, or sky blue with purple can brighten up the room while also create a feeling of bonhomie between the siblings.

Matching personalities

As each room is an extension of the occupant’s personality, the shared room will need to reflect the personalities of two individuals and still look unified. Here lies the challenge. Going in for identical bedroom furniture is half the job done.

Bed spreads, pillow cases and rugs can then be matched to go with each child’s choice. Talking of bedroom furniture, bunk beds are an ideal choice for shared rooms as they free up a significant amount of space in the room as also add an element of adventure to it as most kids love to use a ladder to climb up.

If children fight for the top, they can always be told to take turns. Other creative options to maximise the usage of space are loft beds with the sleeping area on top while the storage and play or study area is beneath, trundle beds and captain beds with its built-in units that can double up as storage units.

Once the type of cot has been decided upon, the next in line in the list of priorities for the shared room includes study tables. While arranging the study tables, it is advisable to arrange them in such a manner that children look away from each other to avoid getting distracted. If the tables are placed back to back, they can always be separated with tall book cases or headboards. Separate lamps for each table can take care of the lighting needs as each child's study pattern and timings are different.

Room dividers

However harmonious the relationship between the siblings is, each child will need some space and privacy for himself. Respecting this sentiment of children, room dividers can be introduced in the form of curtains or wooden stands. Tall book cases or wardrobes can also create good room dividers. However, it is best to go in for only such dividers that can open and close as desired. For, siblings also feel the need to play with each other at will and space is a major constraint in shared rooms.

Storage space

Since children are famous for hoarding broken toys, used dolls, books of all kinds, games, puzzles, etc., the need for storage space in the shared room is almost double that of any other room in the house.

An easy way out of this mess is to have big wardrobes where the top portion can take care of clothes while the bottom half can handle their personal treasures. If the children are too young, then individual tubs that can be conveniently shoved under the cots can be used to dump all their play equipment.

Storage units that can be stacked on the floor also serve the purpose quite efficiently. Attaching toy hammocks to walls to hold lightweight stuff is a clever way of clearing floor space. Another brilliant usage of space in a shared room is the use of storage shelves behind the door.

These shelves, in different colours, help children clarify which shelf belongs to whom. Once the issue of space has been resolved, turn your attention towards the walls. This is where children can be involved in decorating the room that will be their own. Encourage each child to come up with ideas for the decoration of their own private space.

Paintings, drawings, posters, maps, charts… the choice should be theirs. However, on the common wall, if it is still bare, blown up photographs of both the siblings together can be mounted. Teaming up the photographs with large wooden letters spelling the name of each child works wonders in transforming the look of the shared room and fosters a feeling of ownership of the room in each child.

When space is a constraint, all that is needed is a little creativity to make the shared room an interesting haven for siblings, ain’t it?

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