Experts tips for staying true to your aesthetic while keeping your home family-friendly
Life has so many stages. As a young professional, I built a lovely home, decorated and designed for a couple without children. Then along came another stage—parenthood. The home that had been designed for a couple now became inhabited by two kids.
Those of you with children will understand the true meaning of clutter. Highchairs, playpens, bouncy chairs and toys start taking over the space and your once stylish home can start resembling a disaster zone. This was a point in my life where I tried desperately to ignore what was around me, which I found very difficult because I am extremely visual. I lasted a few years in this mayhem and then the real me came out. I had to figure out how to stay true to my aesthetic and yet still keep my home family-friendly.
Here are a few tips I now swear by...
Storage is key and there are some very clever ways of hiding things. Ottomans that open up to storage are a fabulous way of hiding children's toys. Entryway cubbies or drawers are useful for hats, shoes, gloves, backpacks and coats. (My husband will attest to the fact that I 'struggle' with walking into our mud room and seeing coats and shoes not put away.) Make it easy for your family by adding hooks, another great option. And if you are building or renovating your home, you have a great opportunity to plan ahead. As research, walk around your home and see where things tend to pile up.
2. Use scrubbable paint
My 7-year-old son seems to feel the need to touch the walls wherever he goes. I find little handprints everywhere. In my last home, I used basic, run-of-the-mill paint. When I took a cloth to it, I could see that scrub mark forever. It drove me crazy! We recently built a new home and I chose crisp white walls. This time around, I went with a higher-end paint. Other companies have their own versions. It is very easy to touch up and it’s super scrubbable. It makes my life so much easier.
3. Select durable fabrics
I think it goes without saying that at some point you will have a spill occur on your kitchen chairs, bar stools or couch. Your choice of fabric on your furniture is very important. While you may love silks or velvets, you might want to save those fabrics for when your kids go to university.
In the kitchen, consider leather or faux leather for easy clean-up. The new faux leathers are nothing short of amazing, so you certainly won't need to sacrifice style.
For upholstered pieces in living areas, choose a durable fabric. The durability is measured in double rubs. If you want a fabric that can outlast your children, go for anything over 15,000 double rubs. And stay away from light colours which can be difficult to keep clean even in the best of times. You can add lighter shades by choosing beautiful accent pillows and a great throw.
4. Choose child-friendly decor
I've had to learn this one from experience. I placed a glass lantern at the base of my stairs. My son was fooling around one day and slipped down the stairs and into the lantern. We had a take a trip to the doctor for stitches. While you can't always anticipate every potential danger, you can take steps to avoid the basic ones. When choosing glassware, lamps or sculptures, look for broad-based bottoms, things that can’t be easily tipped over.
Avoid a lot of small objects and try to find things that are not easily breakable. As my kids got a bit older, I added a few more pieces that I would have been afraid to put out before.
Also, do your research before choosing plants. You'll be surprised how poisonous some of them are and how appetizing they can look to a toddler.
5. Pick appropriate art
In heavy traffic areas, I like to stick to lightweight, unframed canvases, especially in children's bedrooms. Heavier pieces need to be properly secured. I have a hallway lined with framed pictures of my kids and they’re all very well-secured. Tapestries and other woven pieces can also bring great style to your walls, without adding the potential dangers associated with weight.
6. Consider spacing
Don't overcrowd your rooms with furniture or decor. It’s very important to allow for enough space in high-traffic areas such as hallways and entryways. The recommendation is typically four feet. It will save wear and tear on walls and furniture. (It also just feels right when you are in the room.) With kids inevitably running back and forth throughout the house, in this case, less is more.
When it comes to making your home child-friendly, much of it comes down to planning. Take the time to do it properly and explore the options available. You owe it to yourself and your family to enjoy the space you are living in.