Creative Countertops for Kids

If you're redecorating a bathroom just for the children, start with the countertops just for fun, and get them to help.

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Kids are all about fun, so why not have a little fun in their bathrooms, too? In lieu of countertops that play it safe — from a design point of view, anyway — opt for something that shows a little more ingenuity. Whatever you choose should be easy to maintain and, of course, have no safety issues. That said, there are a wide variety of inventive options. Here are just a few ideas to get your own creative juices flowing:

Add a Splash of Color
Even with the most basic laminate, you can have some fun with color, says Christine Shaw, CKD, CBD, from Denver. Use a trendy color such as orange, she advises; not only will it add some pizzazz but — because it's relatively inexpensive — it can be replaced when you grow tired of it. Likewise, Andrea Dixon of Dreammaker Bath and Kitchen in St. Louis Park, Minn., says quartz is one of her favorite materials — specifically Cambria or Caesarstone. "It's maintenance-free and pretty much indestructible," she points out. "Plus, there are also some fun, vibrant, kid colors to choose from. I used a bright blue quartz countertop with flecks of orange in a boy's bath and it looked great!"

Select a Complementary Sink
Countertops and sinks go together, well, like soap and water. And by considering the two design elements as a team, you can take creativity to yet another level. The plethora of solid surfaces on the market, for instance, not only allows all kinds of color choices, inlay options and edge treatments. They also give you the opportunity to use an integral sink, says Curtis Ostrom, CMKBD, from Excelsior, Minn. This real advantage of going this route, says Curtis, is that an integral sink — one that's custom-crafted seamlessly into the countertop itself — can be easily cleaned. On the other hand, there are ways to all but go off the chart in terms of fun. "There's one particular sink on the market," says Christine, "that actually holds live goldfish. That could be a lot of fun with, say, a Corian countertop with inlaid fish motifs."

Let Kids Get Creative
A child's bathroom is one of the best places to let his or her imagination go wild. For instance, says Andrea, have your wee ones paint and fire their own ceramic tiles. (There are more and more retailers, all the time, that offer this service.) Then, incorporate them into the countertop, the backsplash — even wainscoting or a shower wall. "This is such a fun way to have the child involved in the remodeling process and 'display' their own art!" she says. Still another way to let a child express his or her creativity, says Christine, is to apply chalkboard paint to a smooth countertop surface. Water won't harm it and — by keeping colored chalk and erasers close at hand — the "mini masterpieces" can be changed just as often as you like.

Incorporate Precious Items
Although she admits that it's probably not the first countertop surface people think of for kids, Christine says that concrete is a perfectly viable option, especially if you take steps to customize it. You can really make it something special, she says, by imbedding small items such as marbles and shells. And Dixon concurs that embedding items into a countertop can have striking results. "Another fun idea is to have (ceramic) tiles custom made with some of the child's memorabilia imbedded into it," she explains, "such as coins from international travel, charms, etc."

Create Separate Spaces
And what if the bathroom has to accommodate not one child, but two? If space allows, create separate grooming spaces, Curtis recommends — with two distinct countertops, sinks and storage areas; perhaps put them on opposing corners of the room. This "separate but equal" approach presents the opportunity to do something slightly different for each child, too. One countertop, for instance, might be a navy blue solid surface with a cream-colored inlay and the other cream-colored with a navy blue inlay. Or, using the imbedded-tile idea, customize each child's area with items that best reflect his or her personality.

The bottom line is this: Take a tip from your kids and make fun a top priority.

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