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!

Storage Must-Haves for Kids

If getting your child to clean their room is a constant struggle, it may be time to set them up for success. Too often kids’ rooms become activity catch-alls: part bedroom, part den, part playroom and part library. Keeping all of those tasks neat and contained is a challenge – especially when you’re four feet tall or under. Smart parents take time to bring in storage solutions for kids that can make cleaning a room easier. Here are ten tips for helping your child’s keep their room tidy:

storage solutions for kids
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1. Include them in the organizing process

It’s tempting to rush in and take care of it, but getting your child’s input on furnishings and where things go is important. If they have a say, they’re much more likely to keep up with it.

2. Get rid of extras

Make sure everything that is in your child’s room needs to be there. For example, store out of season clothing and neglected toys in bins in the basement or attic.

3. Create zones

Organize your child’s room with a designated area for sleeping, studying and playing. Then add storage solutions for kids that can accommodate the items needed for those tasks. Place a bookshelf near a beanbag chair for reading, for example, or include basket or bins for storing toys.

4. Set a limit

Keep things fresh by keeping toys to a minimum. Decide on a number of items that is manageable and rotate out the toys so they play with them more.

Storage solutions for kids
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5. Reclaim wasted space

Maximize storage capacity by looking up and down. Choose a bed with storage drawers built in the base – perfect for storing clothing as well as toys. And hang pocket organizers on closet doors to hold small items such as socks or stuffed animals.

6. Display special items

Have a space where your child can keep treasures, such as trophies, awards, artwork and vacation souvenirs. A shelf or bulletin board will keep these things neat and contained.

7. Think small

Consider your child’s size when you bring in storage solutions for kids. For young children, keeping shelves low will encourage them to put things away. Make sure closet rods are multi-level, helping your child get ready in the morning.

Storage solutions for kids
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8. Label where things go

Help your child know where things belong by making it clear. You can use words, pictures or a combination of both.

9. Color code for siblings

If children share a room, consider assigning each a different color. Then use bins and hangers in those colors for their toys and clothing.

10. Schedule in regular maintenance

Make cleaning up a habit by creating a routine. For example, create a rule that beds must be made before breakfast. Or wind down every day with a 15-minute tidy-up session before bedtime. Set a timer and it will feel like a game.

When kids make picking up their rooms a habit, the whole house will feel more organized!

How To Purchase Your Child’s First Bed

Going from a crib to a “big boy” or “big girl” bed is a big step in your child’s life. While some parents choose to transition to a toddler bed, going right into a regular size bed is just as easy, saving money in the long term. When buying a child’s first bed, here are four things to consider.

 

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Start by identifying the right size

Twin, full or even queen are great choices, and which you choose will have to do with the space in your child’s room. Twin mattresses take up the least amount of space, which is nice if your child’s room is small or you want to provide lots of floor space for playing. If your child will have sleepover guests when they get older, twin beds can be outfitted with trundle beds. Or consider full- or queen-size beds when buying a child’s first bed, which provide extra room for spreading out or sharing with friends.

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Select the best mattress

Kids need a mattress that will offer proper support and pressure relief. Since they probably can’t tell which mattresses feel best, Art Van PureSleep takes out the guesswork with our patented diagnostic machine, ensuring that your child has a more restful and productive sleep.

Sleep helps us all retain what we learn during the day. At night, we go through different stages of sleep where our minds are working, filing and organizing all of the information we collect during the day. If the mattress doesn’t support your child properly, he or she will toss and turn and that can lead to fragmented memory and trouble in school.

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Set a realistic budget

While it’s tempting to allocate most of your budget to the headboard and frame, the most important investment is the mattress. When buying a child’s first bed, know that a good quality mattress will last through childhood. You can always purchase a headboard and frame later.

Invest in safety accessories

When you’re buying a child’s first bed, consider their safety. You can purchase guardrails that prevent your child from falling out of the bed while they sleep. Another option is to purchase a bed that doesn’t require a foundation, so your child is lower to the ground. And make sure to place a rug or carpet around the bed to reduce the chances of slipping and falling.

Moving into his or her own bed is an exciting time for your child. Make sure you celebrate the milestone by creating the perfect setting.