10 Tips for Child-friendly Design!
(Helpful hints from our Adelaide-based shopfitters – Total Fitouts Adelaide Central)
Unless your business is an office or a bar, chances are your business will at one time or another need to cater to the needs of children.Many restaurants, medical offices, cafes, hairdressers and retail stores only consider adults when designing their spaces, and add aspects in for children as an afterthought. It is worth considering your smaller guests beforehand – a few simple adjustments to a design can make your business much more safe and welcoming and hassel-free for tiny humans and their parents!
Step stools in bathrooms –Consider integrating a pull out step in the kicker and bottom drawer of the bathroom vanity cabinet. This small consideration makes it much easier for parents when taking their children to use the bathroom of your establishment, without affecting the look of your bathroom. It also means that smaller children who are just reaching the age of going to the bathroom alone, are able to do this without getting as much water everywhere.
Designated high chair storage –Have a designated hide-away store area for highchairs and chair booster seats. This will tidy up the look of your restaurant while still allowing you the option of welcoming families with your children to your restaurant/cafe.
Avoid sharp corners –Tables with sharp corners, they can be a risk for children running through your store, as unfortunately they are at the ideal height for little heads to bump into. When choosing furniture consider getting tables with rounded edges as they are a much safer alternative.
Welcoming waiting rooms –It can be tempting to get a crate full of cheap plastic toys and a small table and chairs and place them in a corner. The fact is though that doing this only caters to the interests of very small children, has no visual effect and children lose interest in each toy quickly when there are too many choices. Try creating a cosy area with natural colours, comfortable small lounges, a bookshelf with books that have lots of visual interest or have stories that can be read to children. Have a number of tables and chairs and wall mount some simple board games with the pieces attached. Certainly have loose toys available for children to play with, but try to choose toys that cater to a range of ages and abilities.
Avoid stairs –Avoid stairs or changes in floor level where possible. Children can be very active and don’t always look where they are going, so it is important to either avoid steps completely by using ramps instead, or visibly indicate where changes of level are happening. A fun suggestion for places with small flights of stairs and many little humans waltzing in, is to section off half of the width of the stairs and place a small slide there.
Avoid too many bright colours –This might seem the opposite of what you would assume to do when designing a space to be welcoming for children, however, when choosing colours it is wise to go for toned down pastels or only one bold colour with toned down accents if you prefer to go bold. Too many colours can create an overstimulating environment which can hype up children, and can give some children sensory overload.
Use rugs on hard floors –
Whilst carpet can be warm and welcoming, it can also be prone to damage from spills. While your space may not be a restaurant or cafe where food is served, if you want to design a space that accommodates for children, it is important to remember that most parents will have snacks and drinks on hand and spills will be unavoidable. Hard flooring is fantastic for easy cleaning, and rugs are a great way to soften the space, and can be replaced when needed at much less expense than replacing a carpet. Alternatively, wherever carpet is use, try and confine it to a smaller child area so that should it need replacing, it is not such a large task.
Sensible furniture choices –Obviously hard furniture is going to be the best option when designing for easy cleaning, and there are many great plastic furniture options out there when it comes to furniture for kids. If you are choosing to have lounge chairs in your space, don’t feel that you have to avoid soft fabrics, however it is important to choose fabrics that can be easily cleaned. A great way to avoid stains is to buy sofa or chair covers that can be easily taken off and washed and protect the original materials of the sofa or chair they are on.
Noise reduction –It is no secret that children know how to make noise. There are a number of amazing products on the market that can help to soften the noise. Acoufelt are an Australian company that manufacture noise reducing carpets, wall panels and ceiling tiles that can be printed to look like almost any material, adding lots of visual interest. Hush Acoustics manufacture an amazing sheer fabric for curtains and blinds that absorbed up to five times the amount of other lightweight fabrics, while still allowing in plenty of light. Materialised fabric suppliers also sell acoustic wall mounted art that can be made to custom sizes and look great while helping to absorb noise!