Kid-Friendly Bathroom Design

Resist the temptation to micro-size. Kid-friendly bathroom design begins with the selection of smart and stylish design fixtures that accommodate the needs of a growing family -- both children and adults.

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Bath Time for Baby

The bathroom, one of the smallest rooms in the home, poses the biggest challenge for children who struggle to reach sinks and climb into deep soaking tubs. While a parent's inclination may be to remodel using child-sized fixtures, Rob Bennett of Indianapolis-remodeling company Bly Bennett Inc. encourages homeowners to think twice. "Building a bathroom for children is only for those with no concerns about budget or resale," Rob says. "Build bathrooms for adults and resale; then buy after-market elements to help small children use the bathroom."

Here are some tips for making your bathroom kid-friendly:

Get a taller vanity.

Beverley Binns, owner of Binns kitchen + bath design in Ontario, Canada, recommends a vanity taller than the standard 30 inches. "Kids do get older and taller, and eventually they're going to want a taller vanity," she says. Until a child hits that growth spurt, Beverley suggests, get a bathroom stool that can be tucked away in a cabinet when not in use.

Choose a kid-proof countertop.

Granite countertops can be stained and scratched. "Parents don't want to worry about kids spilling something on a granite countertop," Beverley says. She recommends using quartz, which is scratch- and stain-resistant and mimics the luxurious look of granite.

Install a standard-height toilet.

Although a child-sized toilet may seem a smart choice, it's impractical as children grow and adult guests share the bathroom. A taller, comfort-height toilet isn't a good choice for a child's bathroom, either. They're the height of a chair, which is too tall for kids. The best choice is a standard-sized toilet. To help little kids reach it easily, put a step stool next to it. And installing a soft-closing toilet seat will eliminate squabbles over toilet seat etiquette.

Choose fixtures that offer bathing options for all ages.

Many designers select a bath/shower enclosure with a shower bar to hold an adjustable showerhead and handshower. The showerhead can be repositioned to suit the needs of children, teens or guests. The handheld sprayer comes in handy when bathing tiny tots -- or cleaning the tub and shower stall.

Protect children from hot water.

To keep small children from burning themselves when they're bathing or washing their hands, Beverley advises parents to install anti-scald devices on faucets and showerheads. These devices control temperature by limiting the amount of hot water that can flow.

Include storage for toys and personal items.

You need a storage plan to corral kids' bath toys and personal items. Beverley incorporates storage baskets and drawers accessible at a child's level. For families with more than one child, she suggests giving each child his or her own storage spot. "If each of them has a drawer or a medicine cabinet, it gives them somewhere they can keep their things and take pride in ownership of that," Beverley says.

Add personality with paint and accessories, not fixtures.

Express your child's personality with brightly painted walls and fun accessories. Cheryl Kees Clendenon, owner of Florida kitchen and bath design firm In Detail, recommends neutral colors for tile and cabinetry and a saturated color palette for towels, accessories and, of course, paint. Beverley agrees. "You can be really fun and dynamic with paint," she says. "It's a very economical way to jazz up a space, and easy to change in the future."

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