The Design Diva Dishes! Design Trends and Lifestyle Tips July 2010 by Article Author Dear , Summer is in full swing, and as I write we are experiencing a long run of over-90 degree days. I feel especially badly for the abundance of pregnant women I notice walking around. Perhaps all these pregnancies are a consequence of the very long, cold winter we experienced, but whatever the reason, it inspired me to make this issue all about decorating children's rooms. Even if there isn't a new baby or grandchild on your horizon, perhaps your child's room might be in need of an update. This is a great activity for you both to work on while school is out. I will give you a guide for planning a room that will grow with your child. Our Trend Report will alert you to safety issues facing nursery decor, and Green Design will give suggestions for going green in your child's room. The Color of the Month is white and the Recipe of the Month is a muffin recipe that was a favorite of my daughters when they were growing up. Please feel free to call me at 704-987-0277 with any questions or comments, or if you prefer you can email me at [email protected] Happy Independence Day and God Bless America! Barbara Green PS - For those of you who missed last month's issue, I announced that I am a now writing about design for AOL. If you would like to see some of my posts, click here. Decorating Children's Rooms Whether decorating for an unborn baby or any aged child, there are 7 basic areas to consider: walls, flooring, furniture, bedding, window treatments, storage, and accessories. Big ticket items should always be of high quality and neutral design so that they can grow as your child grows. Featured photos represent a bedroom that was redecorated when the young boy was ready to leave his crib behind and move on to his "Big Boy Bed." His parents were smart to make choices that will grow with him, all the way through his teens years and even off to college. Walls The goal for a bedroom is to create a soothing environment conducive to a good night's sleep. While it is tempting to choose a bold and bright juvenile color scheme, I caution against it as it will impede your child's ability to fall asleep. A soft blue or muted green is always relaxing, but buttery yellow, pale apricot or soft lavender are also good choices. Neutrals such as sand or gray are also restful. Add some fun to the plain walls with removable wall decals. Flooring My preference for children's flooring is hardwood or laminates, as they are easier to keep clean and non-allergenic. An area rug can be brought in for a pop of color and comfortable space to play. Furniture Buy the highest quality, solid wood furniture that you can afford. Buying classic styles that grow with your child end up costing less in the long run. Furniture made from composite wood will not withstand the wear and tear of active children, and it also off-gases harmful toxins which have shown to increase a child's risk for asthma, autism, and cancer. Right now the piece below is used for storage, but when needed, the bottom doors open to become a computer desk. Bedding Look through any catalog or online store and you will see thousands of adorable "character-themed" bedding sets. Before you commit to an entire bedroom in your child's favorite cartoon character, remember how frequently children change their minds. My advice is to purchase durable, washable bedding and curtains, in a neutral color, pattern, and design, and reflect your child's personality in the accessories such as pillows and posters. This denim comforter and sham set will get more comfortable with each washing. Window Treatments It is important to incorporate room darkening window treatments in a child's room to prevent the sun from waking them too early in the morning or keeping them from napping in the afternoon. Since children are known for having dirty hands, I advise against full-length draperies. Instead, opt for either roller shades or blinds for the light control and valances for design style and color. Storage Kids today accumulate A LOT OF STUFF. There is no way around it, you just need ample storage options to accomodate it. Thankfully there are bins and buckets galore available in every size, shape and color to make it easy to keep things in order. It is important to start kids early with picking up after themselves. If you wait too long, bad habits are formed and the messes will only grow bigger as your child does! (Trust me on this one... I know from experience!) I love this bookcase as it has a pull-down bin on the bottom which makes clean up time a snap. Accessories This is where you can really add your child's personality into the room. This room was decorated for a boy who loved the movie "Cars." Along with the high-quality, neutral basics, we added sheets, pillows, posters, and accessories to reflect his love for "Cars." When he outgrows it, it will be an easy and affordable task to make minor changes in the accessories to reflect his latest favorites. Trend Report To some, this may appear to be an adorable photo of my daughter Bonnie, taken eighteen years ago. To others, however, this is a photo of a DEATH TRAP and they will demand I be taken off in handcuffs immediately. Are you confused? I'm sorry, but the three latest trends in children's room decorating will explain: No Drop-Sided Cribs Perhaps your read in the newspaper or heard on TV that more than 2 million dropside cribs have been recalled. It seems that the moveable side can malfunction or detach from the crib, creating a space where babies' heads can get trapped, strangulated, or suffocated. There were no actual deaths that occurred, but there were 16 cases of entrapment and one child was found unconcious and needed to be hospitalized. If you already have a drop-side crib, the Consumer Product Safety Commission recommends you get a kit to immobilize the drop-side. Congress has introduced legislation in both the House and Senate to permanently ban the sale of drop-sided cribs. No Bumper Pads According to a study done by Washington University's Department of Pediatrics, 27 cases of infant death were attributed to bumper pads. The most deaths, 13, occurred when the infant became wedged between the bumper and another object; 11 deaths occurred when the infant's face was against the bumper and 3 deaths were the result of the bumper tie around the infant's neck. I thought I was being a good Mom by using the bumpers to prevent my baby's head from hitting the hard, wooden spindles, but the study says that the risk is far greater than the benefit. No Stuffed Animals or Toys in the Crib As you can see in the photo, my daughter's crib was full of blankets, pillows, stuffed animals, toys, and books. I kept them there in hopes of keeping her entertained after she woke up in the mornings to give me a few more precious minutes before I needed to get her out for the day. Now the experts call all these items "Breathing Blockers" and recommend that they be removed from the crib. The risks include something as dangerous as suffocation to mild irritations as dust collectors which might aggravate allergies or lead to stuffy noses. Sometimes I feel like it is a miracle that both of my daughters survived to adulthood, considering all the things I did wrong! My advice to young parents is to use your common sense, listen to the experts, and do the best you can with the knowledge that is available. It wouldn't hurt to pray for your best to be good enough. Color of the Month July's Color of the Month is white, which might seem counter-intuitive when considering how messy children can be. However, since white is a light that is composed of all colors of the spectrum it is a great way to temper the bold colors that children are naturally drawn to. For those who are renting, there may not be any option other than white walls. That didn't stop this family from giving their daughter a totally customized look in her bedroom. The removable wall decals, monogrammed headboard, and colorful accessories give a homey feeling wherever they set up home. This tiny bedroom's size was maximized by the use of custom-designed furniture, bedding and storage pieces. The bright white reflects the sun coming in from the window and visually expands the space. Pre-fab modular furniture is gaining in popularity and is a great option for creating mulit-functional rooms in limited spaces. While the idea of an entire room painted that bold pink might scare off some parents (not me, of course!), choosing to use the pink on the cabinetry and keeping the walls a clean white helps to keep the room from being overpowered by color. Notice again the use of decals for extra interest. There are decals designed for every design aesthetic for both boys and girls. Pure white is not the only option for a crisp, clean look. The wainscotting paint has a barely-there blue tint to give a whisper of color and an inviting beachy look. Green Design Did you know that indoor air pollution is thought to be 10 times worse than outdoor air pollution? Home products manufacturers use so many chemicals when making your furnishings that they "off-gas" (emit chemicals into the air) for up to ten years. Indoor air pollution is believed to be a factor in the staggering increase in childhood asthma, allergies, autism, and even childhood cancers. Thankfully, manufacturers have heeded the call to cleaner and more eco-friendly manufacturing processes and each week more and more new products are released. So what can you do? After you choose your perfect wall color, make sure you have it blended from a "Lowor No- VOC" paint formula. VOCs are volatile organic compounds, which produces the odor when you paint. The chemicals that cause that smell linger for years, and are responsible for some of the indoor air pollution. Next, for flooring, there are amazing options made from recycled materials. Old tires are being recycled into durable flooring that mimics wood, tile, and stone and soda bottles are being recycled into carpeting. Bamboo flooring is another eco-friendly option as it is a rapid growth agricultural product, and regenerates much faster than the trees used for traditional wood flooring. If you or your child suffers from allergies, I would stick to the hard surface flooring as opposed to wall to wall carpeting. Dust and allergens collect in the carpet fibers, but can easily be mopped or swept up from the hard surfaces. To complete the eco-friendly design plan, choose furniture and accessories manufactured by responsible companies that are committed to replenish wood they have harvested and that use chemical-free finishing products. Try to buy locally made furnishings, as this not only helps the local economy, it also reduces the carbon footprint of each product by reducing the fuel used in transporting your furnishings across the country or across the globe. Quote of the Month by Article Author What is a home without children? Quiet. ~ Henny Youngman Recipe of the Month by Few things are associated with childhood more than Peanut Butter and Jelly. This recipe was a favorite when my girls were growing up. It features a moist, peanut butter muffin, with a surprise filling of jelly in the center. We always used strawberry preserves for the filling, but use whatever is your child or grandchild's favorite. PB&J Surprise Muffins 1 3/4 C flour 1/3 C sugar 2 1/2 tsp. baking powder 1/2 tsp. salt 1/2 C creamy peanut butter 1 egg 3/4 C milk 1/3 C butter, melted 1/2 C jam, jelly, or preserve of your choice Preheat oven to 375. Line a 12 cup muffin tin with paper liners. In large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. In a separate bowl, mix the peanut butter with the egg; add the milk, a little at a time, then add the butter. Mix well. Pour the wet batter into the bowl with the dry ingredients and stir gently to combine (the batter will be stiff). Put a heaping tablespoon of batter in the bottom of each muffin cup. Use a finger to make an indentation in the center and put a teaspoon of jelly in the hole. Cover with another heaping tablespoon of batter, or enough to fill each cup two thirds full. Spread the top batter gently until no jelly is visible. Bake for 20 minutes, then turn the muffins onto a wire rack to cool. Be careful - the jelly centers can get hot! Community Outreach by Article Author Most people say there are only two things guaranteed in life: death and taxes. Well I would like to submit to you a third guarantee: No matter how bad your life is, there is always someone worse off than you. I believe that it is more important to give than to receive. Additionally, it has been my personal experience that when I give generously, whether it be of time or money, the rewards I get are exponentially greater than anything I might have given. In this spirit, I am going to share with you each month opportunities available for us all to give back, for we are all greatly blessed, even in these times of struggle. Boat hosts needed July 24 for Big Day at the Lake Big Day at the Lake on July 24th means deserving kids in Big Brothers Big Sisters will be converging on Lake Norman for a sixth year in a row for a day of fun on Lake Norman. Big Day at the Lake needs Boat Hosts to take them out for tubing and swimming. Literally hundreds of Boat Hosts are needed, starting at 9 a.m. on Saturday July 24. All you have to do is take the "Little" and their "Big" out on the lake and do what you'd normally do on a hot summer day with your own children or friends, then join in the fun at a picnic held at the Duke Energy Explorium. You can meet your match at your home, marina, yacht club or boat ramp. Many Boat Hosts join together for extra fun on an island or at a particular home. For more information about Big Day at the Lake, please call 704-895-1335 or visit www.bigdayatthelake.com to register to be a Boat Host.
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