Want to know one of the best parts of my job? Learning what makes my clients feel at home and working together to create it. Everyone needs a "home base" to be ourselves and recharge.
What if you could create a space like that for your child? A place that helped them grow and reinforced who they are?
Let me show you how.
First, listen carefully and ask lots of questions. Second, sort through what you hear and draw big circles around the things that sound important. Third, create a plan to build it together.
Job One: Chief Listening Officer
Imagine a conversation that starts off something like:
"In this whole house, you've got one space that's all yours and I want to make sure it's one of your favorite places to be. Have you ever thought about ways to make your room special?" (Maybe she's got clear ideas already but if not, let the exploring begin.)
"Tell me about a place you really like to go. What are the best things about it? How does it make you feel when you're there? Why? If you could take pieces of that place home, what would you bring?"
You can ask about trips she's taken, movies she likes, a book she reads all the time. Your goal is to help your child identify things that make her feel good.
Job Two: Draw circles around what you hear
Are the places she describes colorful? Quiet and cozy? Full of life? Outside? Tell her what you're hearing and see if it resonates. When you're on the same page, pick a theme.
If her favorite places are bright, open spaces full of color and nature, your theme could be "summer day in the garden" or "afternoon hike in the woods."
The theme becomes a guiding principle for designing the space. You bring in things that make her feel like a summer day in the garden and take out things that don't.
Job Three: Come up with a plan
Now that you've got a theme, ask her, "What are some ways we could make your room feel that way?"
• Find a few pictures on Pinterest of a beautiful summer garden and use it to pick a color palette. Find photographs or art that make her room feel like she’s outside. Bring in natural elements like plants, tree branches, or river rocks. Together, you can choose pieces (new or reinvented) that feel inspired by nature or her favorite garden. The possibilities are endless and getting creative together will make the space feel even more personal.
Now, here are the last two ingredients to make the room truly hers.
When you’re a kid, it’s easy to feel like you’re just along for the ride. So, give your child an opportunity to highlight moments and people that are significant to her.
Ask her: "Are there people or moments you want to remember every day?"
• Maybe you had a complicated relationship with your dad, but her memories of him are pockets full of butterscotch candy and a man who adored her. Make it OK for her to have her own history by giving her a way to remember him. Go big with wallpaper made of personal photographs or small with a dish of butterscotch candy on a shelf. What matters is that she gets to say, “This is something I want to remember,” and that you help her find a way to do it.
"Tell me about people who do things you admire. What do you like about them? How would you like to remember them in your room?"
Before you cross your fingers and pray, “Not Miley Cyrus, not Miley Cyrus,” just remember that the most relevant question isn’t who she likes but why. Her reasons may surprise you. But no matter what, she’s her own person and they’re her reasons. Help her focus on the best parts of her role models. She’ll learn that everyone is complicated and she can choose to like parts of people and let the other (tongue-related) parts go.
• OK, I brought Miley up, so I’ll use her as an example. What does your daughter like about her? “Her music is fun!” And then, the conversation hits a full stop. Don’t panic. There’s plenty of room to maneuver. Let her pick colors for her room that feel bright and lively like the music. Create a little dance floor. Go to school on Miley. Who are her inspirations? Bring in their music or styles. Does she have a charity? Your daughter can have a piggy bank and save money for donations. Inspirational song title? Paint it on the wall. (I just googled her song catalogue and I’ll be honest, this will be a stretch but I have faith in you.)
Now you’re ready for your child’s first design adventure. She’ll learn how to create a home base that reflects who she is and what she cares about. And that's a big step towards being a happy (and pretty great) person.
It’s like drinking a V-8. She’s going to get all kinds of good stuff without ever knowing it. :)
What did you love about your room growing up?
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