Your Kids Won't be Toddlers Forever

As a renovation contractor and designer having been in the business for 15 years, we are sometimes asked about common renovation and design mistakes made by homeowners.  While we have seen (and fixed) many, one fairly common mistake comes to mind, which revolves around renovating for the kids.

When part of your space requirements are to give you kids a place to hang out, it is important to keep in mind that while your kids may be little now, they won’t be forever.  Particularly when it comes to basement developments, we often meet parents that have plans for a “playroom” area, because it is what their kids need today, but fail to recognize what their needs will be tomorrow.  We have re-renovated many rooms that were splashed with bright, primary colours, or are simply no longer meeting the needs of the now teen-aged kids and are therefore sitting unused.

If you are handy and don’t mind doing a little DIY updating like changing paint or flooring down the road, then customizing to your toddlers is OK.  But if you’re not that type of parent, then it’s important to keep that in mind when you are designing a space, so it can adapt to the changing needs of your kids.  Here are a few tips:

  1. Add colour with furniture, accessories, pillows, throw rugs, removable toys and other items, but keep the walls and flooring neutral.  This allows you to simply re-decorate when your kids grow older and their tastes change rather than having to renovate.
  2. Today’s playroom is tomorrow’s teen hangout.  Remember that those toddler years are short-lived.  Today they spend their time playing with toys and crafts, but tomorrow they’ll be having friends over for video games, movies, board games, fooseball, or other activities.  Keep this in mind perhaps with the addition of a games area, wet bar or mini kitchen complete with fridge, popcorn maker, microwave, etc., so they can enjoy their space without having to invade yours. 
  3. Consider a basement bedroom.  Understandably, many parents of young children can’t imagine their kids sleeping way down in the basement by themselves.  Take it from the parent of a teen that this doesn’t last forever!  While your kids may want to be close to Mommy and Daddy today, by the time they get to be around 14 years old, they usually stay up later than you, and they spend an incredible amount of time locked in their bedroom, emerging occasionally to eat or go to school.  Privacy is a big part of their needs at this point, and many kids prefer having their own space in the basement - AWAY from Mom & Dad!
  4. Full bath in the basement.  While a 2 piece powder room in the basement may suit their needs today, if they do eventually move to the basement, having a proper sized tub or shower may become a necessity - plus it adds to resale value down the road.  

Remember, when planning out today’s renovation, it’s important to consider tomorrow’s needs as well.  That way, you renovate once and save the costs and inconvenience of doing it again later.