Designing Spaces for children
Fraher & Findlay
By Lizzie
April 2020

The Artists House:
Loft bedrooms make lovely kids rooms as the eaves spaces can provide reading nooks, child height storage and makes them feel like that they are top of the tree house.

Designing Spaces for Children
The Artists House:
Often spaces need to double up as kids spaces during the day and adult spaces during the evening. In one recent project a ceiling mounted curtain meant that the spaces could be divided, but also doubles up as an excellent Theatre curtain for little ones shows!
The Courtyard House:
At the Courtyard house the Client's children were approaching 10 years old and so wanted their separate sleeping spaces but wanted to still feel very much connected via a loft based den space. This provides great sleep over space with the eaves framed out to create den spaces and reading nooks. Playful joinery provides bedside storage for favourite items and books with oversized button handles scattered across the surface of the joinery.
Our Clients range in age from 8 weeks to 80 years old. One of the reasons that we love working in the private residential sector so much is our Client base. Each Client's family situation is unique to them, this gives us a creative brief to work towards across every single project. We get to know our Clients, understand family dynamics and this always enriches the design process.

So with a family focused business and being parents to two young daughters myself, designing for children is a fulfilling element of every project that we work on. Little people see the world differently to adults, teenagers need different spaces to adult spaces….. So a clear understanding of how spaces can support children and young adults is really important within a domestic setting.

Cognitive development explores how children think, explore and figure things out. It is the development of knowledge, skills, problem solving and helps them understand the world around them.

  • Living spaces for children should be designed to support their cognitive, social and physical development.

  • Physical activity plays a vital role in allowing children to test many different and important developmental skills.

There has been a great deal of research carried out on the spatial impact on children's cognitive development which provides a fascinating read.

Some amazing Ted Talks:

But what I want to chat about, is how in the studio we try to translate that into a design approach?

  • Approachable spaces - We try to include spaces that children can see into, encouraging and stimulating activity.

  • Textures and touch - Children experience and understand the world around them through touch. A way of doing this is using materials: tactile handles, textured wall and floor finishes, patterned wall finishes.

  • Children that are into creative activities play higher usually. This supports close up work and building things need a flat long surface that they can change to help them do this. We love a play table and have designed these across a number of projects.

  • Some children instinctively play low, meaning they take things to the floor. A soft floor surface with texture makes sure they are comfortable and engaged when playing. Its good to know what form of play your child naturally falls into.

  • Storage is really important but any storage that the children can be in control of helps with independence and self discovery.

  • Carefully consider heights of door handles, lightswitches, picture ledges, shelves etc. Kids experience our world from a lower level. Also reducing the size of spaces so that they are more responsive to the children is important - hunkering down into nooks, reading snugs etc.

  • Mirrors are brilliant for kids as they learn alot from studying themselves.

  • We like to create spaces that children can look out from and take in their environment so that they can choose when to engage. Lowered ceilings, corners and raised areas help define these special child sized spaces.

  • The above focuses mainly on >10 years old, teenagers are another topic for another day.
Etch House:
At the Etch House I was designing for my own children. The girls wanted to share bedroom space but wanted a separate sleep over space. We also know that in 5 years time they will probably want their own spaces so two sleep spaces open out onto a shared play space.
If you are thinking about starting on a project and have younger members of the family, it's good to really look at how they play, communicate and let your design team know about their needs so that we can try and look at a design response that considers them.

If you have a project that you would like to discuss with us in the studio, please contact us on 02082916947.

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Journal - Designing for children - Fraher & Findlay