Allergy-Proof Your Child's Bedroom

The bedroom is where growing kids find rest, relaxation and rejuvenation. The decorating choices you make can have far-reaching effects.

| January/February 2002


This bedroom for Kenny Madden, who suffers from asthma, is free of materials that will collect dust or harbor mold. To liven up what could have been a sterile environment, interior designer Shelley Black commissioned an artist to create a mural using paint designed to inhibit mold. Window shades, which are preferable to heavy blinds or curtains, are capped with an easy-to-clean wooden valance.

Three years ago, as twelve-year-old Kenny Madden’s asthma attacks grew worse, doctors warned that unless his exposure to the dust mites and mold aggravating his illness could be reduced, Kenny’s lungs would be permanently scarred. As it was, they were functioning at only 80 percent. Once scarred, there would be little chance for improvement.

The place to start, doctors told Kenny’s mother, Karen, was in the bedroom, where the average individual spends 30 to 40 percent of his or her time. Because Kenny was a typical adolescent, Karen figured the time he spent in his room was closer to 50 percent and would likely increase.

What she didn’t know was just how significantly his bedroom contributed to Kenny’s illness. Not only was his room in the basement, but he slept on a waterbed—both breeding grounds for mold. Clearly, the waterbed would have to go, and Kenny would need to move upstairs.

That was the easy part. More difficult, Karen feared, would be designing a room a teenaged boy would feel good about.

“The doctor gave me a booklet,” Karen recalls, “that said here are some things you can do to help control allergens. The room in this picture looked like a hospital room. No carpet, no curtains, no books. It looked really bleak.”

As would Kenny’s, or so Karen assumed, until she met Shelley Black, a Denver interior designer who specializes in environmental design.

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