Ginger Rodriguez is an interior designer from Alexandria, Virginia who found a new mission in life after fostering an infant living with disabling medical conditions. Four years later, Sean is now her adopted son, and Ginger has a new focus to her design business: helping other parents create rooms that are both attractive and functional for kids with special needs.
According to Ginger, the aim of this type of redecorating is to make the child’s room look like a bedroom, not a hospital room. The advice she provides includes some simple ideas that can go a long way in making caring easier, and they may make a big difference for a child who is often confined to a bedroom due to health issues.
- Remove carpet from the bedroom and other areas of the home to which the child has access. This allows wheelchairs and IV poles to be moved around more freely. If the child utilizes a wheelchair, keep in mind the average wheelchair requires five feet of space to turn, and accommodate this space in your design planning.
- Think about height. Move light switches, bookshelves, door handles, closet shelves, and access to music or other entertainment within reach of the child by lowering their position on the wall.
- Keeping a child’s mind occupied during treatments or periods they will spend in bed goes a long way towards having a happy child. Make sure the TV, radio, books and other activities are within reach of the bed. Ginger suggests using Velcro to attach the television’s remote control to the headboard so that it doesn’t get lost or fall out of reach.
- Find dual purpose ways to use furniture. Try using bedside tables that include a mini-fridge for medicine and juice, or that can be locked to house medical supplies.
- Consider switching the bedroom door for a pocket door, as this frees up much of the room’s floor space normally taken up by a traditional door.
- Let your child help pick out paint colors. Especially for a child with health issues, it can be confidence-boosting to have some control over their surroundings. Consider swapping traditional art and decor for murals which help avoid the safety risks that framed or 3-D art may pose if it is knocked off a wall.
- Battery-operated door alarms can be a huge asset, and allow you to get more rest as they will sound if the child opens the bedroom or front door.
And don’t forget these other possibilities:
- A desktop sized water fountain or trickling water sound effect may help with pain management.
- If smells do not bother your child, a vanilla or lavender scent can be calming.
- Focus on pleasant tactile elements like squishy toys or silky fabrics.