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Murals in Children's Rooms
by Dr. Oneida Cramer
Painting on the wall, especially in children?s rooms these days, is not just child?s play. Interior designers, retailers, artists, even parents and grandparents are finding a lot of freedom of expression in creating the child?s room.
?You can kind of do anything in any color in a child?s room,? said Peggy Callison, co-owner of Shelbi?s Custom Infant and Children?s Rooms at Preston Center Plaza. It doesn?t have to flow with the rest of the feel of the house, almost, like the children?s room can be excluded from the rest of the house. Then, some people want it to flow with the rest of the house. We have all kinds.?
First consideration in any child?s room is safety in cribs, cradles, and bunk beds, all of which are now standardized by mandatory Federal Safety regulations, the latest being bunk beds as of July 2000. For fans of antique or second-hand furniture, note that old cribs with bars more than 2-3/8 inches apart are considered dangerous. And bunk beds manufactured before July 2000 may not meet current safety requirements.
After safety, the primary issue is making an environment that?s stimulating and gives the child a sense of individuality and confidence. Parents should include the child in designing the room, at least, by school age and even younger, when maturity allows. But, of course, parents have all the say about the nursery.
When Nicole Huffstutler was pregnant with her son, who was born two and a half years ago, she refinished the furniture pieces she had collected from members of her family and brought them all together thematically by painting a mural on the nursery wall.
?It was a picture of Peter Rabbit, the Mom buttoning the jacket of Peter Rabbit and three little girls running through the woods,? Huffstulter said. Soon, she started painting a few other murals here and there, and she also painted furniture pieces. ?I thought this is a way I can stay home with my son?get into the furniture painting business. Indeed, business has been booming, and the job incurs almost no overhead, except for paints and a couple pieces of equipment. Also, projects are readily available through word-of-mouth referrals, including retail, like the establishment?Stephanie Anne Room to Grow at 4346 Lovers Lane, owned by Stephanie Anne, A.S. I.D. and Jens Almborg, which opened in February 1996.
Stephanie Anne had begun designing and manufacturing her own line of children?s furniture after trying to find the types of cribs her customers were wanting. Her first patent was ?the countryside gate? crib style, and since then, she has created many styles of cribs and beds including a big bed that accommodates a trundle for pulling out when a friend comes over to sleep.
?There?s a lot of competition now that we didn?t have ten years ago,? Callison said. ?We were probably the originators of custom nursery designs, and now everybody?s into it.? Shelbi?s Stuff has been decorating children?s rooms, manufacturing custom bedding, and selling children?s furniture for 22 years. This year, for the first time, Callison is on a second-generation nursery after doing the nursery of a child who has grown up and is now expecting her own baby.
?As far as changes in colors and styles?not really,? Callison said. ?Some people still like the traditional styles. Some people like the little more cottage styles.? And a lot of people who used to go with a theme room are avoiding that today. In the nursery, most people, if they?re planning to have more than one child, are thinking long term and planning more of a neutral design.
?Rather than having the baby grow up in the room, they plan to use the room for each baby and then have the child move to a different room when it gets older,? said Callison.
?Still, some people are doing baby-baby-baby,? said Jill Lee, co-owner of Cat & The Fiddle, a 1?-year-old establishment in Plano. ?And a lot of people are carrying their nursery to what the big boy or the big girl is going to be.? Very popular here is the rustic, cabin/lodge look with beams installed in the ceiling for the little cowboy or the peapods/teacups/flowers/bunnies/and such for the girls. On the other hand, neutral themes are also popular. Cat & the Fiddle manufacture and sell their own furniture as well as design and sell custom bedding and window treatments. And for people who want custom murals and painting, Cat & the Fiddle refer them to Denise Currin.
Up until six or seven years ago, Peggy Brown was busy raising a family. Then, when her first grandchild was born, she decided to paint a mural on the wall of the baby?s nursery.
?I didn?t have any idea if it would work,? Brown said. ?But if we didn?t like it, we could always paint over it.? Only they adored the mural. So, Brown painted a second mural for the room of her second grandchild and discovered, in the process, that she loved painting. That?s when she established Lil? People Murals, Inc. Brown takes a grandmother?s point of view of finding excitement in each brand new baby and having fun in watching new families start off making their babies feel secure.
These are just a few stories behind the growing industry of children?s muralist and custom furniture painting. Charges are extremely variable and depend primarily on the nature of the designs, especially the detail requirement. For Lil? People Murals, the costs range from not less than $200 up to $3,000, so far, and may include driving distance. Designs on the ceiling are most expensive because of the difficulties working overhead on a scaffold. Yet, a well-trained artist, who can create art that fulfills the varied desires of the clients, residential and commercial, is in big demand these days.
?People really don?t want what is trendy,? said Brown. ?They want something unique.? Take for example an above and below water scene with a lighthouse and breaking water line around the room or, perhaps, an outer worldly view of the earth curvature alongside part of a space shuttle.
?It?s a good idea to tear out pictures?if a boy loves cars, truck, and buses,? Callison said. Or go to a coloring book and cut out those drawings that the children like, especially for single-line appliqu? on pillow shams. For that matter, consider design possibilities everywhere in the room?walls, furniture, bedding, and windows. And remember it?s all subject to change.
For example, Callison just finished enclosing a tent on the bottom bunk of an indoor playground bunk bed with a sliding board to the top bunk. Originally bought for a little girl, who recently moved upstairs to a new big-girl bed, the bunk bed now belongs to younger brother. And he loves its new tent?complete with windows and door.
Dr. Oneida Cramer
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