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Take your cue from the kids

By involving Prescott, the Blacklers did the right thing, says author Joanna Copestick. In "The Family Home: Relaxed, Informal Living for All Ages" (Stewart, Tabori & Chang,1998), she writes that parents should incorporate their children's ideas into the room design - where practical.

"Encourage children to have their say on colors," she writes, "even if you end up with a pink girly room or a lurid blue boy's room."

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Interior designer Alexandra Stoddard also considers the child's input crucial. In "Living a Beautiful Life" (Avon Books), she writes: "Allow the child's personal point of view and vibrancy to guide you."

Before decorating a child's room, she always talks with the child, especially about favorite hobbies and interests. Then she solicits opinions on color chips and fabric swatches. This approach encourages a sense of responsibility and ownership on the child's part.

Above all, she says, "Don't let children's rooms become stage sets. The room must grow and change with the child."

In her book, Ms. Copestick offers different design suggestions for different stages - the nursery years, preschool,"in-between years," and teenage.

"The child's room is an area of the home where parents feel they can take a more adventurous approach to decorating," she writes. "Bright colors, borders, and painted motifs are more stimulating and fun than plain walls."

Especially during the in-between and teenage years, Copestick writes, "The room becomes a place for refuge and reassurance, a place to retreat to for quiet playing, reading, and thinking away from ... the rest of the home."

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