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Parents, here’s how to Design a Home that lets your Kids Be Creative and Independent

The design of your home can help encourage your kids to be creative and independent. Independence (in terms of not overly dependent on parents or adults and the development of their own ideas) fosters creativity, according to Dr Esther Joosa (PhD), the Director of Pedagogy at Playeum, a not-for-profit organisation in Singapore that creates art experiences for children. This creativity, she says, can then be nourished by “first creating safe spaces, rich with opportunities for discovery and that allows children to move freely without obstacles that can easily be damaged.”

How then can we go about creating these sorts of spaces for our children to grow to become independent and creative people? We ask the child expert for tips.


Don’t let your living room be dominated by toys or play equipment

Too many toys and it distracts your children from creative learning and play. Instead, surround your space with books and artwork that will help inspire creativity.

Design: Make Room

A living room dominated by toys also has another unintended consequence. It signals to your children that they’re the ones in charge. Dr Esther stresses that while play is important at home, “it isn’t a playground or a childcare” and that your children should learn that there are shared spaces in a home. Your living room should therefore be a shared space for both the adults and children.

Design: The Local Inn.terior

She highlights that encouraging independence isn’t about encouraging an individualistic, ‘all about me’ attitude. “[Instead], place ‘independence’ in relation to interdependence within the wider context of community, to help children recognise the value of creativity within a shared space, to think about self as well as ideas that could benefit others.”

Design: Chark Private Limited

But you shouldn’t go the other extreme either and be overly precious about your choice of furniture and furnishings. A home that cannot be lived in comfortably can instil fear among the occupants.


Set aside small pockets of spaces in each room for your kids

For  your children to feel welcomed at home, create small pockets of spaces for them in communal spaces at home, while giving them exclusive access in their own bedroom. Make sure you also set aside zones that both parents and children can mingle and spend time together.

Design: New Nyew

In the living room: create a small nook or table in which your kids can have their own space to draw or to play. It allows them to invite you into their world while also providing a sense of ownership to your kids. The sofa can also serve as a place for both you and children to relate to one another e.g. by reading a book together.

Image courtesy of Playeum

At the dining area: Provide chairs that allow children to sit at the height of adults so that they can feel included. Being at the same height creates a sense of togetherness.

Design: Fuse Concept

In your kids’ bedroom: Here, you can give your children their own private space, which can also help them feel independent. Ensure that they have a table for creative art and play.

Design: The Minimalist Society

In zones where both parents and children mingle, it’s important that they are safe and child-friendly e.g. the sofa in the living room should come with removable and washable covers, the dining table shouldn’t have overly sharp corners.


Avoid cartoon themed designs for their bedrooms

When it comes to their own spaces, we tend to design them with cartoon themes as that is how we perceive children’s spaces to be. However, themes are outgrown very quickly and can hinder their creativity in terms of imagining who they could be.

Design: Akihaus

With your designer, sit and listen to your children and allow them to draw out how they would like their rooms to look like. And if they insist on a theme, you can incorporate them on their bedsheets instead.

Consider your furniture carefully and think about how they would interact with it and whether it can instil independence and creativity. Choose a good bed and mattress that your kids can grow with. An adult bed (at the right age) can give them a sense of independence. Go for a strong shelf system and install them at the right height for them to store their collections and possessions. Create a space where they can sit and draw. Have toy chests for easy storage. Have a recycling bin filled with odd materials for them to play and create things with.

Don’t neglect arrangement, says Dr Esther. “Arrange the play materials in a visually pleasing, creative and aesthetic way so your children will be drawn to them. Present them in a way that they see their space as an inviting space to which they can rearrange things around.”

Design: Fuse Concept


Pay attention to paint colours

Bright paint colours with bright curtains and themed posters can be overstimulating for children, according to Dr Esther, who thinks this vibrancy of primary colours fails to help nurture their aesthetic or visual capabilities.

Design: H2O Interior Renovation

Instead, she advocates going for neutral colours and recommends introducing bright colours in smaller doses such as through your children’s own artwork, in colourful picture frames or in their pillows or sheets. Neutral walls also provide the space for shadow play, which is a great way to tell stories and interact with your children.

Finally, move away gender specific hues like blue for boys and pink for girls so as not to limit their choices and creativity.

As spaces aren’t just physical entities; rather, they are also emotional and social, it doesn’t matter if you have a very large or a very small space. Work with the area that you have, think outside the box and be flexible and adaptive to changes.

How then will you be designing your home to encourage creativity and independence in your children? Share with us in the comments!


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