On The Boards | Childhood Comfort by Design
When looking back on our childhood bedrooms, many of us will think of them fondly as a safe place to relax, play, and figure out who we are away from mom and dad. But for children who have been displaced from their families due to poverty or immigration, the basic security and privacy of a bedroom is not available. The Bailey Edward Interiors Team was recently challenged by the Heartland Alliance to design three, age-appropriate bedrooms for immigrant children who come through their program. Heartland strives to eliminate hardships that often go hand in hand with poverty, injustice, and homelessness by providing the tools and necessities to overcome these struggles. The bedrooms designs strive to be desirable places for children, not just a room they have been assigned. We had an overall goal of creating rooms that make the kids feel safe and comfortable.
Using a limited color palette of warm and neutral wood tones with limited color injections of varying levels based on the target age of each room, we ensured children would not be overstimulated or feel uncomfortable. Storage furniture gives children a place to keep their belongings, giving them the security that they have a place to call their own. We are sensitive to the fact that some children may not want to feel like this is a permanent home, so the rooms also feature areas to tuck bags away quickly allowing for their emotions to settle into their environment.
Each room includes a window with views to the outside and natural light. A sidelight at every door lets borrowed light into the room from the corridor. To ensure privacy, each sidelight has blinds that the children can control. Multiple light sources in the room gives children control and security in their new space.
0-5 Year Olds
For the rooms of the youngest in the Heartland Alliance program, the color palette was kept its softest with light blues and greens mixed with wood tones. As babies and toddlers that need adult assistance would be staying in these rooms, a rocking chair and a dresser that doubles as a changing station provide the tools necessary to care for the children without changing their environment. Small, soft play pieces give children unready to join the communal play area a chance to play and explore their environment. Finally, simple abstract mobiles hang from the ceiling provide mental stimulation without overwhelming the children.
6-13 Year Olds
As the children enter their elementary school years, they become more aware of their surroundings and company. The colors in these rooms are more prevalent than those of the younger group, but still desaturated and limited in location: warm terra cotta tones with muted teals. Bunk beds not only offer an opportunity to bond with a roommate, but also offer an added sense of security by surrounding the child without making them feel enclosed. Desks give children a place to work on homework or explore creative pursuits such as drawing or writing. We included some loose bean bag chairs whose mobility gives children the opportunity to move them and make the space their own. When children sit in these chairs, they can sink in, feeling as though they are being tucked in or hugged, which all children need, but may not be comfortable with receiving from others at this point in time.
14-17 Year Olds
While still technically children, these teenagers want the autonomy of being an adult. A more sophisticated version of the same color palette fills these rooms with soft teals, corals, and oranges. A lofted bed and a standard twin bed give the teenagers more variety in choice without having to be fully tied to their roommate. This allows for a larger desk area under the loft as well as more nooks to stash personal belongings. Structured poufs act as “adult” bean bag chairs and can easily be moved around when not in use.