Kids, Color and Compromise

by Quinn Larson

Kid: “Mommy I want to paint my room”

If you haven’t been presented with this statement, I’m sure you will one day soon. Kids inevitably reach a point in their lives, when the notion of individualism spreads to their surroundings. They begin wanting to change their environment to better suit their budding tastes.

Mom: “OK, what color?”

Kid: “Ummmmm…. Green!”

Mom thinks: ‘Green isn’t so bad I can live with that.’

Mom: “OK green it is.”

Here is where things start to go wrong. Mom is agreeing to that nice green she saw an interior decorator paint a bedroom on the design channel last week. Her child, however, isn’t thinking the same thing.

Kid thinks: ‘Awesome, my room is going to look just like my favorite TV show ­­__________ ‘(fill in blank with latest and greatest kids show -probably something animated with bright colors and obnoxious characters.)

At the paint store: The child heads straight for the brightest greens he/she can reach. Mom frowns, holding her neutral chips, frantically thinking of a way to avoid a paint department meltdown and feelings of betrayal when she says “No Way!”

This situation can easily be avoided by taking a designers approach to color selection. Designers first get to know the wants and needs of the client then, present them with options and guide their choice with professional knowledge. Room planning with your child should be done in the same fashion.

1. Ask your child what color they want their room to be

Children have vivid imaginations, so expect their response to be equally so. Assume they are thinking a scheme that is bright with multiple colors- much like the toys and TV shows are designed to attract their attention. Start with one color they really want and move forward from there. Discuss with them the different effects that color can impart on a space, such as feeling of warmth, energy, coolness, or tranquility.

2. Set constraints

Make this a learning opportunity and present their color selection and design like a problem they must solve. You set the constraints that they must conform to. Children generally don’t mind boundaries when they can control their choices within them. Example: They can only select two colors (1 for walls and the other for the ceiling), they can paint a multi color design or stripe over the current color, or they can paint one wall only in a bright color.

3. Guide their color selection

Depending in the degree of control you want over color selection you can do

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one of two things. The first is select the colors you feel you can live with and then present options for them to choose from. Be prepared, if you find your hand full of neutral family color chips, for a less than enthused response. The second option is to make this a coordination lesson and walk through the color options. If bright red is the color desired, explain how this color when applied over large spaces is aggressive and can make a room feel uncomfortable. Present some lower chroma options that will still make the room appear red, but will be much more livable, or limit the color to use as an accent.

4. Remember it’s only paint.

Choose your battles for the sake of family peace. You can always paint over a horrendous color, or you might be surprised at beauty of another.

Colorfully Yours,

Quinn

One response to “Kids, Color and Compromise”

  1. Lisa says:

    This is a great article- and it’s true, you have to pick and choose the battles with the kids! Now what do you do once they’re teens and want black walls? That’s the question in my house lately! 😉

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