» Go Back to The Complete Bathroom Decorating Guide
Families are never static, and in a household with young children the bathroom should be flexible enough to adapt as they grow.
Imagine a bathroom that not only allows room for bathing and grooming, but also welcomes reading, dozing and congregating as well.
OK, not really the dozing part so much, but everyone is so crazy sometimes getting ready to go, cleaning up after a hard day’s work (or play) and nobody seems to be on the same schedule very often these days.
If you’re fortunate enough to have the luxury of space, consider the option of a multi-use bathroom designed for the whole family.
And if not, here’s how to make the most of limited space, diverse bathroom usage and needs, and all the rigors a rugged and practical family bathroom has to withstand!
The Littlest Ones have the Biggest Needs!
Very young children need help with every aspect of personal care from teeth-cleaning to using the lavatory, so bathrooms designed for families must have plenty of clear space to allow parent and child to move around easily.
Get the basics right by providing efficient heating, waterproof surfaces and robust fittings that will stand up to the heavy wear they will inevitably receive, and respond to your children’s developing tastes by changing the décor and accessories.
And you can really add a personalized touch for the family with delightful upholstered furniture, displays of personal photos, toys and reading materials; you’ll have nearly everything a family that shares a busy bathing space together could want.
Family-friendly Décor and Materials
Children grow up fast and as teenagers will not appreciate ducks, frogs, and dinosaurs on tiles or a mural that made bath-time fun when they were small. The key to maximizing the investment in a bathroom remodel is longevity and versatility. Choose timeless design approaches and materials (like marble, stone, plain tiles) that focus less on entertainment value or “cute” themes.
Consider using texture (mosaics, relief tiles, undulating tiles, sandblasted surfaces) and timeless colors (cream, palest greens, soft whites, pale aquatic blues). Another way to add interest is with sculptural shapes such as a handsome faucet or an interesting, fun mirror.
It is best to avoid decorating the bathroom in primary colors. Hard yellows and reds and strong blue are perfect for baby toys but not for the bathroom.
Walls, Floors and Other Surfaces in the Family-friendly Bathroom
Children tend to splash water around, and wall and surface materials that wipe down easily and won’t be damaged by water are ideal. Tiles or special bathroom paints are the most tolerant wall materials, while laminate, tile or stone surfaces for shelves and tops of units are good-looking and robust.
Children’s bathroom floors are often (always!) wet – and children are always in a hurry. Walls and floors should be both safe and practical. Floors must be waterproof, slip-resistant and warm to the touch. Materials such as rubber, linoleum, cork and vinyl have the right characteristics and, unlike ceramic tiles, provide a relatively soft landing if accidents do happen.
TIP: If you are using tiles, choose non-slip or textured tiles to prevent slipping; in a family-friendly bathroom things can get pretty crazy sometimes, so you want something with texture and designed not to be so slick when wet. Throw rugs may need to be thrown out quickly, but they are always good to have in higher traffic areas near sinks, tubs and showers.
Family-friendly Bathroom Fixtures
The bath in particular needs enough space for a parent to kneel or sit beside the tub to supervise bathing, read stories or just discuss the day before helping their child dry and put on their pajamas.
When choosing a bath, opt for a bigger size, preferably with taps and plug- hole placed centrally so two children can bathe at the same time.
A shower stall is not essential for a bathroom shared with children. Stub it out on the wall above the tub for future use, but hold off on installing glass shower doors around the tub. It is easier to bathe the baby without glass doors (framed or not), and less glass means less cleaning! More convenient in most cases will be a bathtub with shower curtain and a faucet that extends for handheld use; that is the ultimate tool in the fight against grime and time since its such a versatile configuration.
If there is room, definitely fit twin basins; they will be invaluable when children start school and the whole family needs to leave home at the same time in the morning. You also get bonus storage space under a two sink set up. Add a wall mirror and overhead cabinets to increase storage space.
And speaking of kids and bathrooms, it always seems children need a lot of closet space for bath towels, special shampoos, step stools, and bath toys. Plan for extra storage with adjustable shelves. As the years pass, children’s needs change and the dozens of small towels needed for baby are swapped for big bath sheets. Have some of the cupboards lockable to keep potentially hazardous cleaning products, medicines and perfume sprays out of harm’s way.
Provide plenty of storage in the form of pegs, hooks, racks and bars to hold dressing gowns, laundry bags, face clothes and towels, so that children can get in the habit of picking them up and letting them dry.
Essential Safety Tips for the Family-Friendly Bathroom
- To reduce the risk of falls choose slip-resistant flooring, mop up spilt liquids and keep the floor clear of toys, step-stools and other obstacles.
- Keep medicines under lock and key.
- Reduce the risk of scalding by opting for a mixer faucet instead of separate hot and cold taps.
- When your child is old enough – and secure enough – to sit alone in a bathtub, purchase a non-slip bath mat for the bottom on the tub. Some mats come equipped with temperature sensor devices that indicate when the water is too hot for baby.
- Do not leave a baby unattended in the tub. Stay and play.
- Children love to play with water, so prevent painful bumps and bruises, cover the waterspout with a special soft cover (you can purchase at a hardware store).
Here are some thoughtful tips to make bathroom spaces fun for children:
- Make it easy for children to keep the bathroom tidy by fitting pegs and rails at a height they can easily reach.
- Incorporate some color in your design! So that the décor won’t outlast your child’s taste for a primary color scheme, introduce the color in accessories and towels that can be easily changed.
- Try color-coding toothbrushes, mugs and towels to remind children to use their own personal kit.
- Encourage independence by provide sturdy stable foot stools to help children reach basin and lavatory.
- Accessorize the bathroom with some gentle bubble bath, rubber duckies, toy submarines, some play fish, and bubble blower so that you and the children can play together at bath-time. Both babies and parents will sleep especially well.
» Go Back to The Complete Bathroom Decorating Guide