To make the kids' bathroom fun, you don't have to get carried away with an exaggerated theme or loads of expensive licensed products. Even a sophisticated design can be kid-friendly. A jaunty splash of bright wall color, a band of patterned tile, fanciful towel hooks, stripes painted on a bathtub surround, or a framed poster of a nature scene can be enough to add flavor to a vanilla space. Give the room a colorful boost with towels, rugs, or a bold shower curtain. By keeping the bones of the room fairly plain, you can change the fashionable add-ons as the children mature.
There's no question children come with lots of stuff -- particularly in the bathroom, where detangling sprays, squirt guns, and fluffy bath sponges crowd the tub ledge. Evaluate how and when the bathroom gets the most use, and plan features accordingly. With toddlers, bath time is a big event. Store extra towels within reach of the tub so you never have to turn your back, keep a quick diaper-change station at the ready, and string up a quick-dry nylon bag to corral oodles of toys. Older children and tweens will want to claim a drawer, shelf, or spot on the counter for their things. If you can provide two sinks, you'll save yourself from territorial squabbles in a shared bath.
The bathroom is typically where a child's day starts and ends. Broadcast the first news bulletins -- reminders of after-school guitar practice, whether they need to wear gym shoes today, or a note of encouragement for the spelling test -- on a moisture-immune message center, such as a magnetic or dry-erase board. Small touches, such as soaps in their favorite cupcake scent or a heat-generating exhaust fan to take the chill off, will send them to bed in a comforting way.
Safety is paramount in the bathroom, which poses hazards in nearly every square inch. Because hot water burns like fire, consider installing antiscald devices on the faucets, and turn the water-heater temperature to 120 degrees F. Keep slips to a minimum with rubber-backed rugs, mats for the tub, and stout stools with rubber-tip feet. Lock away all medicines and cleaning products. To eliminate drowning hazards for small children, never leave a child unattended in the tub, put a lock on the toilet lid, and empty and turn over cleaning buckets when you are finished with them. Be wary of electrical appliances, such as toothbrush chargers and razors; make sure they are plugged into GFI outlets and are not being used around water. For hair-conscious tweens and teens, it's often best to move activities involving blow-dryers and hair straighteners to vanities away from the sink.
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