Designing a bathroom for kids is a fun challenge. It gives you the chance to blend practicality with whimsy, durability with fun. You design for the moment, but plan for years to come as your kids grow. Your kid’s bathroom might also serve as the bathroom your guests use. If this is the case, it’s worth the extra effort to make sure the space serves both purposes equally well.
From the Ground Up: Tile
When it comes to spaces for kids, a couple of requirements come to mind: “is it durable” and “how easy is it to clean?”
Porcelain tile is an excellent choice for the high traffic in a kid’s bathroom. Not only is it extremely durable, it is water resistant making it a tried-and-true bathroom favorite. Use it as flooring as well as the bath or shower walls.
PRO TIP: If it’s in your budget, carry tile all the way to the ceiling on shower and bath walls. This gives the space a cleaner, finished look.
Counter Tops: So (Too) Many Options
Currently, the three most recognizable and easily sourced bathroom counter top choices are marble, quartz and granite. And each could be appropriate for a kid’s bathroom.
Cost, like everything else, is dependent on supply, demand, and other outside factors (remember COVID-19?). After watching your favorite HGTV shows, you may think marble is always pricey while quartz is the budget-friendly option. That is not necessarily true. When visiting your local counter top warehouse, keep an open mind and ask for estimates on a variety of options. Pricing may surprise you.
Priced by the square foot, each variety has its own particular set of pros and cons.
Natural stone that comes in a polished finish or a honed (matte) finish.
PROS: Rich, timeless, luxurious look Properly sealed, it will stand up to most stains.
CONS: Can scratch or chip. PRO/CON: As a natural stone, color and pattern will vary.
Man-made to look like marble or granite with a low gloss finish.
PROS: Low maintenance and easy to clean.
CON: Some quartz brands are more expensive than expected .
PRO/CON: The sleek, uniform look of quartz can translate as cold. But beauty is in the eye of the beholder!
Natural stone that can be polished, honed (matte) or leathered (textured).
PROS: Super durable and stain resistant.
CON: Should be regularly sealed.
PRO/CON: While still very popular, some granite selections are beginning to look dated.
The materials don’t stop there. Counter tops can be concrete, tile, or one of my favorites, quartzite. And the list goes on. With so many options, it’s best to determine your budget and function of the bathroom first before stepping foot inside a showroom. This narrowing of focus will make things less overwhelming.
PRO TIP: Most supply warehouses have an inventory of remnants, or leftovers, from other jobs. If you have one smaller-sized counter top to select, you may find a remnant to suit your purpose at a discounted rate.
This is why we CAN have nice things
Manufacturers have been hard at work developing beautiful materials to be used in homes that are family friendly. Today, every upholstery purveyor has a selection of performance fabrics that are miraculously stain resistant. These herculean fabrics stand up to daily wear and tear, can be sanitized with bleach, and are fade resistant to boot. If you need proof, take a look at my living room sofa, which is still in tip top shape after five years of play dates, naps, snacks and juice spills.
Even wallpaper has improved by leaps and bounds in recent years. Wallpaper can add a touch of fun to a kid’s bathroom like nothing else. And yes, I can hear you now. “Wallpaper!? Sweetheart, I lived through the 80’s and 90’s and I cannot do wallpaper again!” But hear me out.
Many wallpaper designs now come in vinyl varieties. This means that the paper has been coated with a thin protective layer. This layer resists moisture, scratching, and tearing. Some are even deemed scrubable for when children decide they are Van Gogh and the wall is their canvas.
Still nervous? Consider adding wainscoting to your bathroom. Wainscoting is decorative wood paneling that extends part of the way up your wall. It is usually painted or stained and adds loads of character to the room. Standard wainscoting usually runs about 4 feet up the wall. When hung above wainscoting, wallpaper provides extra protection from little hands.
To Theme or Not to Theme
As you gather design ideas for your kid’s bathroom, it’s easy to fall victim to the “Theme Monster.” Your daughter may love unicorns or your son is crazy for soccer so you design the bathroom based on their current obsession. But as you probably know, kids’ interests change faster than the weather in west Texas. And you’re stuck with a unicorn-themed bathroom! Try this approach instead:
1) START WITH A CLASSIC, NEUTRAL BASE:
Tile, counter top, and bathroom fixtures (tub, toilet, sink)
• These are your investment pieces, they are the most difficult and costly items to rip out and replace so do it once, do it right.
• Choose classic colors and styles with longevity
2)ADD POPS OF COLOR TO SUIT THE CURRENT DESIGN
• Towels and bathroom rugs can add color and pattern.
• Paint your vanity cabinetry a fun color or even the ceiling.
3)MAKE DESIGN CHOICES THAT CAN GROW WITH YOU KIDS
• Remember to think about how your kids will use the bathroom in future years.
• Will you need a cabinet for a larger laundry basket or a space for your daughter to put on makeup?
4) LAYER IN WHAT THEY LOVE
• This is where you can branch out and have some fun.
• Try using unique artwork and towel hooks or a playful rug.
• These items can be painlessly (and inexpensively) updated as your child grows.
Don’t feel constrained designing a kid’s bathroom. The space can be durable and practical with an added touch of fun everyone can appreciate.
By Callie Harris
Photography By Shayli Anne Photography