A good home design is the one that works for all households. If you live alone it is all about your needs and preferences but a family home should be a place where both grown-ups and kids can feel like they have their own space and freedom, where everybody can work, relax and have fun.
Ultimately, a family home should have a perfect balance between functionality, looks and coziness.
While I admit that adapting your home for new members is a task that requires imagination, carefully thought decisions and a lot of dedication, it can also be a lot of fun!
So today I am sharing my most important tips to design a stylish home with your kids in mind.
1.- Don’t underestimate storage
There is no such a thing as too much storage. When you’ve got kids. Think about double duty furniture like storage benches, beds and sofa, and consider custom made pieces for funny corners. The more the storage capability the easiest your life will be and the better your home will look and feel.
While too much storage does not exist, too many toys can be a real thing! I strongly advise you to look for cute baskets (they are out there in all kinds of shapes and material such as woven, wood, plastic) and just have the amount toys that can fit in your baskets.
2.- Reconsider white for your décor
Believe it or not, white can be a great choice for your sofa! For a kid friendly home, I recommend you to buy white performance canvas couches and purchase an extra set of white canvas covers. That way they can be switched out as needed on each cushion or back. Canvas is a fabric that wears very well, so your sets won’t look different.
Another great reason to go white is that you can bleach whatever gets stained. I’ve never seen a stain on a white surface that whiteners or bleach couldn’t tackle.
3.- Embrace Pattern Styles
If the white choice still scares you, think about patterns. Patterns tend to be incredibly forgiving for spills and nicks, so make sure to look for pretty prints on upholstery, pillows and especially rugs.
And if you are planning to redo your kitchen, I invite you to consider a patterned floor also. It will help you hide a multitude of stains and dirt, letting you go longer between mopping the floors.
4.- Consider Performance Fabrics
No matter how careful you are, grubby little hands will find their way onto every fabric in the room. This is why I strongly advise you to consider performance fabrics for all your upholstered pieces.
Stain-resistant outdoor/indoor fabrics, known as performance fabrics, are extremely chic and grape juice-friendly. There are plenty of choices out there in terms of textures and colors that will make your home look beautiful and dirty fingers proof.
5.- Invest in mandatory child necessities
When you have a baby, you need a highchair. What you don’t need is a flashy piece of furniture with cartoon caricatures in that space meant to be used by both kid and adult.
Splurge on a highchair that can meet both your child’s needs and your own. Later on, that piece will be infinitely easier to sell.
6.- Hang your lighting
Table lamps and toddlers usually are not a good combination. When it comes to electricity, elevating your light sources is a smart decision.
Basically, make sure to look for fixtures you can hang on a wall or suspend from the ceiling. And if you must plug the cord in an outlet, consider a cord cover to keep grabby hands away from it.
7.- Soften your coffee table
Coffee tables are usually centrally located in heavy trafficked areas. They are known to take out even the nimblest of adults, let alone little kiddos, with its sharp edges.
But covering it in foam should not be the answer. Spring for a circular alternative (no sharp edges is key) or an upholstered option like a stylish, oversize ottoman or a storage bench.
8.- Go for legs over skirting
Skirted seating and tables can be very pretty but they’re also a magnet for scuff marks, pet hair and major dust bunnies. With kids running around, you’d do well to opt for chairs and sofas with exposed legs and clearance underneath. This makes for easy cleanup and the illusion of airiness.
9.- Pick a smart wall finish
Let’s be honest: kids love making of our walls an art installation. Usually when we are not looking. This is why, if you decide to go for paint in your walls, semi-gloss, eggshell finishes are your best friends. They can be cleaned up with a sponge and water, whereas matte finishes tend to embed dirt and grime.
If your choice is wallpaper, stay away from silks and grasscloth. Instead, try vinyl papers. They are very durable and easy to clean.
10.- Go for Natural woods
Most of the materials out there to choose from, like glass, metal, laminate and also high-gloss woods can be spotlights for greasy fingerprints. So, if you don’t want to be chasing your kids with a bottle of Windex, your life will be much easier if you can opt for wood pieces with natural finishes when it comes to side tables, consoles and bookshelves.
For your dining room table, I even encourage you to go for a natural rustic wood. Solid wood can handle food all over it and has no sharp edges.
11.- Discover the beauty of chunky furniture
Babies and small kids will always make it a fun game to topple anything to the floor. So, when looking for furniture, look for pieces that are well grounded or too heavy to push over. Go for chunky coffee tables rather than leggy or tulip-based pieces, which will prevent the small ones from accidentally—or intentionally—knocking a piece over.
12.- Use benches at tables
Chairs are always our first thought, but you should consider benches. The reason is very simple: benches allow you to fit more kids at a table and allow easy access for them to climb up on their own. Plus, if you do have nice upholstered chairs (i.e. not very kid-friendly), mixing benches and chairs provides a stylish alternative to getting rid of your fancy chairs entirely.
If benches are not a good option for your space, try some indoor/outdoor dining chairs. They are lightweight, wipeable, not to mention easy to clean yogurt, paint, or any other delightful mess your kids want to create.
13.- When buying kid sized furniture, go for neutral colors
Kid sized furniture can be witty, but the secret here is to choose neutral colors. They should not be the focal point of your space, so neutral colors will ensure that these new acquisitions will blend much easier and seamlessly with the “adult-furniture” while still building a special spot for the kids to create and take ownership.
14.- Create an “Adult Only” space
I have some friends that are role model parents, they are the best with their kids 24/7. But even they can get exhausted. They have this tip: to be the best parent you can be, you need to have some time to rest and regroup. This is why I encourage you, if your home allows, to have a space designated only for adults.
For example, keeping your bedroom or the office a “kid-free space” will help reduce the mess and clutter in those rooms, in addition to giving you a place to “take ten” when you need it.
15.- And last, but above all: Simplify
Simplicity is the name of the game. As a general rule, when you have kids, the less furniture you have, the better.
Leaving empty spaces for the kids to move around means they are less likely to knock over and break things. Besides, most kids are easily distracted so if you keep it simple you will help them be more focused for whatever activity: mealtimes, homework or even more creative during playtime.
With these tips in mind, I hope you and your children can together create a kid-friendly home that still feels is grown-up friendly.
Will they still play leap frog on the sectional? Sure. Will you still find used socks sitting next to you on the floor by your desk? Yes, probably.
But for the most part, you will have a friendlier home, where you will be able to enjoy welcoming others –both, adults and kids alike– and be proud of it.