Nigel Barker Gives Tips On How to Design a Room for a Family

Nigel Barker is a family man. As dad to Jack, 13, and Jasmine, 10, and husband to Cristen, his house is a busy and bustling place full of activity and laughter. Nigel says becoming a parent changed his life in several ways—from commitments to values. It also changed how he approaches design. WGTL blog caught up with Nigel to ask him for his tips on how to design a room for a family.

Photo courtesy of Nigel Barker
How has being a dad impacted your home design?

Nigel Barker: All parents would agree that being a parent changes your life as well as your home. Where you might have had something for show, now it’s important to have something that’s more functional. And it’s not just for our children; we have a dog, cat, a three-foot iguana and fish. Our home has to fit the many things we do. I have heavy bags from my photography, so pieces need to hold up to some rough conditions. My wife is a Yogi, and she’s often barefoot. You have to consider how you live when you design where you live.

Do your children impact your color choices?

NB: We don’t shy away from light colors. We think about what we can do to protect our furniture. We have a lot of earth tones as well as cream and white; it feels comfortable and relaxing and I love that blank canvas look and feel. In the right places it also works to soothe the children. You immediately feel an oasis of calm. It’s funny; when you put a child in a calm room, you’ll often find them sitting on the sofa and reading book for an hour.

Is your whole home calming or do you mix things up?

NB: Some areas are calm, while others areas are meant to inspire play. When you walk into my upstate New York home, the first floor has a modern look and feel, with the majority of the pieces from my NB2 collection. It’s very classic, simple and chic with elegant lines and a modern feel, yet not so modern that it feels cold or minimalist. Upstairs, each room is special. And we’re currently renovating the basement. It’s a huge project and it’s going to be predominantly a massive playroom. I’m the biggest kid I know. 

Photo courtesy of Nigel Barker
Do you have a favorite piece of furniture chosen for your family?

NB: I love when all four of us can curl up on the sofa with our animals and watch a movie after dinner. We also love the daybed—it’s everyone’s favorite. Even the dog likes it. Furniture has to be functional. It has to stand up to real life. We treat the fabric so it repels a spill because that’s what life is like. Furniture has to be able to handle whatever you throw at it.

Nigel certainly knows how to design a room for a family. We’d love to know what changes have you made to your décor since becoming a parent?

How to Organize Toys and Design an Awesome Play Space

If you’ve got kids, you’ve got toys and you’ve seen your share of joyful messes. Whether playthings are confined to an area of their bedroom, your basement rec space or a dedicated playroom, you can avoid the feeling of chaos if you employ a few methods to organize toys.

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1. Start by clearing out all of the toys

It’s hard to create a sense of organization when your starting point is a room full of stuff. As you remove everything, decide if you are going to keep, donate or dispose of it. You can also store away toys for later, if they’re not age appropriate or aren’t played with.

 

2. Next, think like a preschool and add task centers

A table and chairs will help kids keep puzzles, games and art projects contained. A beanbag chair and lamp creates the perfect spot for cuddling up with a book or watching a movie.

 

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3. Now it’s time to find storage solutions that fit the room

Forego the old-fashioned toy chest – items get lost in the bottom and won’t get used. Instead, use a mix of open and closed storage bins that allow you to hide away visual clutter while displaying colorful items that can add personality to organize toys. Be sure to attach furniture to the walls to avoid tipping and possible injury.

 

4. Choose storage bins that are item specific

It’s a good idea to choose smaller bins that hold a certain item, and choosing a neutral color palette will allow you to transition them into an updated décor or another room in your home. You can have one box for blocks, another for dolls, another for art supplies … you get the idea. Make sure your storage bins are accessible and simple to use so your kids can quickly and easily organize toys and put them away when they’re done.

 

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5. Add an area rug

Not only does it put a soft surface under your child; it can help define the play space, especially if it’s in a section of a room that serves other purposes.

6. Finally, think comfort, durability and wash-ability when designing your room

Easy-to-move furniture helps when it’s time to change up the room. And consider investing in pieces that little ones can grow into and use when they’re teenagers. It can be hard to imagine when you’re knee-deep in dress-up clothes and Play-Dough that you’ll miss the mess, but you just might!

Choosing a Rug for a Child’s Room

Your child’s room is like their own private retreat, and one way to create that cozy feel is by using a rug. A rug not only warms up a space, it softens the floor and provides plenty of room to spread out and play. Even if you have carpet in the room, rugs add a layer of color and pattern, enhancing the décor. When it comes to choosing a rug for a child’s room here are four things to consider.

Choosing a rug for a child’s room
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Size

Decide where you want to use a rug. In a bedroom, you can use a rug to anchor a bed, placing it completely under the bed or under two-thirds, leaving the space around the nightstand. A general rule of thumb is to have 18 to 24 inches of rug around the sides and foot. If one side of your child’s bed is against a wall, you can place the right to the side where they get up. In this case, a 5’ x 7’ rug is ideal. You can also use a rug to define a special area, such as a play corner or reading nook.

choosing a rug for a child's room
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Material

The rug material is especially important in a child’s room. From jumping and playing to food and craft materials, you need a rug that is durable and easy to clean. Wool rugs last a long time, but they’re also more expensive. Blends are stain resistant and more affordable, making them perfect for kids. Plus, they come in a variety of colors and patterns, so finding one that fits your child’s décor will be a breeze.

choosing a rug for a child's room
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Color and Pattern

Your child’s room is a place where design rules go out the window, and the more playful or whimsical the style the better. Decide if you want use a rug to complement the décor? Add a pop of color? Or introduce a fun pattern? The sky’s the limit, so have fun with this rug.

choosing a rug for a child's room
The Tie Dye Fun Rug is available now. Shop the look at artvan.com.
Safety

Finally, when choosing a rug for a child’s room, make sure your child’s rug is safe. If it isn’t anchored under the bed, make sure you use a non-slip rug pad beneath it. This will ensure that the rug doesn’t slide under your child, causing them to fall and possibly become injured.

Create a Bucket List of Fall Family Activities

Summer might be the season for vacations, but fall is the time for day trips, outings and weekend fun. The weather is just right, and the scenery is changing every day. Before the hats and boots come out of the closet, put these 10 items on your must-do bucket list of fall family activities.

1. Go apple picking

Here’s a list of orchards to help you find one close to you. Then get the family together and make apple pie, applesauce or apple cobbler.

2. Learn to knit

You’re going to need a scarf soon. Why not make one? Check out this beginner’s tutorial on YouTube.

3. Jump in the leaves

Raking doesn’t have to be a chore if you’ve got a fun goal. Get the kids some rakes and see how high you can get your pile.

4. Go on a color hunt

Challenge yourself and your child to find leaves in all of their transformative colors. Walk around your neighborhood or take a trip to a local hiking trail.

5. Make a Halloween costume

Be creative and assemble a costume from what you have on hand. Or check out these no-sew versions from Martha Stewart.

6. Play touch football

One of the fall family activities that provides exercise is touch football. It’s the perfect thing to do on a crisp afternoon, especially after you watch the Detroit Lions or Chicago Bears. Gather friends and neighbors and play ball.

7. Go on a hayride

Nothing says fall activities better than a hayride. Here is a list of hayrides in Michigan. Or find one near you by searching “[city name] hayrides.”

8. Run or walk in a 5K

Fall weather is perfect for outdoor exercise. Find a race near you with this link. Many also have one-mile run runs that are perfect for young kids.

9. Visit a cider mill

Who doesn’t love cider and donuts? Here’s a list of popular locations.

10. Go to a haunted house

Older kids and adults might love a good scare. If you’re brave—here’s is a list with hours and ticket prices.

Have fun and be sure to let us know how many of these fall family activities you do.

How to Design a Home Office for the Whole Family

Millions Americans work from home and as technology makes it easier and easier to communicate with employees and customers at far flung locations, that trend is expected to continue. If you’re among this group, you can get more done by taking the time to design a proper work space. Whether you log in full-time hours or simply manage household affairs, here are seven ways to design a home office to work efficiently—and in style—from your home sweet home (office):

design a home office
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1. Claim a space

If you haven’t done so already, choose a spot in your home that can be used exclusively for work. A formal home office or spare bedroom is ideal – a spot on the sofa with a laptop is not. Look for an area where you can place a desk and storage system –you can even if you convert a closet if need be.

2. Choose a work surface

Every home office needs a desk or work surface. From a sleek writing desk to a larger executive set, the amount of space you have will dictate which style is best for you. If you have the room, consider an L-shaped desk that will offer room for your screens as well as a surface for writing.

Shop home office.
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3. Clear out distractions

When you design a home office, sometimes it needs to double duty as a guest room or den, but you’ll want to get rid of anything that might steal your attention. This includes everything from clutter to media components, such as a television – you want your space to be focused on work. If your job requires you to watch videos, however, the TV can stay; if you’re tempted to watch Judge Judy, it should go.

4. Personalize your room

Just as you would place a picture of your loved ones on your desk at an outside office, personalize the area so it is welcoming to you. Choose a paint color that makes you happy, hang art on the wall, and consider furniture beyond a desk and chair. For example, a loveseat or accent chair might make sense if you do a lot of reading at work and want a comfortable place to sit.

Design a home office.
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5. Incorporate good lighting

No matter what kind of work you do, you’ll want to do it in a room that is well lit. This means including an assortment of lighting. Overhead lights are a good place to start. Then add task lights at your desk or workstations, as well as accent lights that will help create an inviting atmosphere.

Shop home office.
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6. Find a place for paperwork

No matter how much of your work is digital, you’ll most likely have papers you need to keep and reference. If your desk doesn’t have adequate drawer space, include filing cabinets or bookcases that can handle the excess. You’ll find several options that look like furniture, which will help keep your room from looking like an office supply store.

7. Maintain a clean-up routine

Once you’ve organized your space, do the work to maintain it. Every evening before you quit work, take a few minutes to put away papers. On Fridays, take out the trash and to run the vacuum cleaner so that everything is fresh and ready when you come back on Monday. And reserve your office space for office activities. If kids bring toys in, remove them at the end of the day. Do a visual sweep each day, and you’ll stay organized.

Shop home office.
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