Your kids might not like brushing their teeth, but I’ve never met a small child that didn’t see the bathroom – especially the bathtub – as a place of adventure, and just another room to play in. And, of course, we all want to encourage those feelings to help promote good hygiene. But little ones are also notoriously fickle, and they grow up fast – so before you go painting that big mural of frogs across four walls, consider whether you want to have to re-remodel in five or ten years. If the answer is “not really,” you want to start your redesign with two things in your mind: what your kids will love and be able to use, and what you’ll be able to keep once they’re in college.
The bathtub is the heart of any kid’s bathroom, and while your average run of the mill acrylic soaking tub can be all the high seas your little pirate or mermaid could desire, adding a little extra flair with a fancier freestanding tub can really spark their creativity. I especially love cast iron clawfoot tubs like this Epoque slipper tub for a couple different reasons. First, they’re built to last and will hold up against the use and abuse of a house full of kids, so you’re much more likely than with acrylic to come out with an intact tub on the other end of rearing. Maybe more importantly, clawfoot tubs are dramatic and breathtaking for grownups and kids alike, which makes it a good investment both short and long term. My favorite thing about them though? The outsides are designed to be painted, and can be colored to match just about any paint or accessory in your bathroom. That means the perfect princess-pink throughout your entire bathroom for your girly little girl, a bright, bold blue to match some fun fuzzy towels, or whatever color your kids can dream up. And once the kids are gone (or grow out of neon green) you can have the tub repainted to match a more neutral, grown-up decor.
Other freestanding tubs are great for this, too. This Iron Works tub from Kohler also comes in a wide variety of finishes and can be custom painted, but what I love is the contrast between the wood frame and the tub – and as a bonus, the wood frame can be painted as well. It’s a little less of an investment than repainting a cast iron tub, and can give you a lot of flexibility as your kids are growing – you can even let them help decorate. It’s also little less effeminate (for your boys) and a little more modern (for you!), and when the kids move out you can simply repaint and re-accessorize.
Vanities can be a little more difficult to figure out. Many of them, especially antique styled ones, come with beautiful wood finishes that you’d neither want to paint nor get damaged from spills and splashes. If you want the furniture to be able to make a comeback once your kids are out of the house, opt for a simple pedestal sink like this English Turn Pedestal. Across all styles, they almost always come in solid white from top to bottom, which makes them easy to pair with just about any color or style of decor. From a laid back kids bath to a cozy cottage style, or even a classy vintage chic, these sinks are extremely versatile, which makes them almost impossible to grow out of.
Victorian style vanities work great, too. I like this Silkroad Double Vanity especially for little girls – the soft antiqued finish gives it a beautiful aged, fairy-tale feel, and in a pink-dominant room it’ll have a soft rosy hue. Pair it with a matching elaborately carved antique style Mirror, and some dainty pink Crystal Lights and any young girl is sure to be enchanted. And all you have to do to grow the room up is tone down the pink walls down to a more neutral off-white and emphasize the gold tones in the vanity and your dress up room will instantly turn back into a sophisticated powder room.
Wall mounted two-leg fireclay vanities like this Sonnet Petite from Porcher actually work really well for kids, as you can cover them up with fitted cloth skirts in just about any material or pattern and change it as often as your kid’s whims (or as often as they wind up with muddy hands!). Because it’ll take up a reasonable portion of your bathroom, this is a great place to anchor themes you can accessorize throughout the bathroom (towels, shower curtains, soap dishes, and so on), but once the kids are gone? The skirt can come off and you can show off your sink’s legs for a little extra antique style elegance.
If you have more than one kid sharing the bathroom, though, or especially more than two that are relatively close in age, you’re probably going to want something a little bigger to help get them through the ready-for-bed assembly line a little faster. In that case, hands down, I’d recommend opting for a cast iron utility sink like this Harborview. Like cast iron tubs, these can be painted just about any color on the exterior to match your decor and your kids’ personal style, and can wash, rinse, brush, and otherwise clean up to three unruly offspring at a time. And like the cast iron tubs, they’re easily repainted or resurfaced, and will add a great country cottage flair to your bathroom for years after your kids are through with it.
No matter how many kids you have or how old they happen to be (or if you might have more on the way!) it’s important to give them a space they can be comfortable in. But always, always assume their tastes will change, and try to find a balance between a decor that they’ll enjoy, and one you can refit back to your own tastes! Have you don any major bathroom remodels for your kids? Any tips on staying flexible and kid friendly? Do your kids have any favorite fixtures? Let me know in the comments!