Let me be clear when I say, you DO NOT have to sacrifice style just because you have children. (And you don’t need to break out your grandma’s plastic furniture covers either). You DO need to be thoughtful though. When it comes to kids, things need to be durable, cleanable and replaceable – this is not the season to display your most valuable family heirlooms. Your home should be a place of refuge where you can recharge, not a battleground full of endless fights about not touching breakables. Let them be little!
Storage options are a necessity, especially when you have children, but they don’t have to be purely functional. Baskets are a great way to corral toys and lovies, and can be found in almost any style. We especially love lidded baskets. With my kids, I have learned that simplicity works best. When my oldest was a toddler, we had separate bins for every toy. Although everything was beautifully organized, as we added more children into our family, the ability to put each toy back where it belonged was turning into mission impossible. I have found that having a few bins and baskets around the house - one for stuffed animals, one for smaller toys and trinkets, and one for larger toys - has helped keep the house clutter free, and it takes a matter of minutes for the kids to clean up.
Closed storage is also incredibly important, because not everything can be neatly tucked away on a bookshelf. We utilize the cabinets next to our fireplace to store bigger items, like board games, playing cards, and other bulky toys. The cabinets are at ground level, so the kids can take things out and put them away without our assistance. We have a small cabinet in our kitchen bar area that houses coloring books, crayons and colored pencils, as well as play-doh, kinetic sand and all the trays and accessories that go with them. By having these items accessible near the kitchen, the kids are able to play with them while we make dinner and then put them away, so they aren't living on the kitchen counter!
If you have a separate space for kid things, like a playroom, a really easy way to keep your living spaces looking stylish is to create a rule that "only pretty toys" are kept in the family room. There are so many beautiful children's toys and books out there, so display the pretty ones in public spaces, and leave the Duplo blocks and chewed up books in the playroom.
Having littles is a season of life, but depending on how many you have, and how far apart they are, this season can last a WHILE. As the oldest of four, my youngest sibling was just turning 11 when I left for college. Had my mom waited until he was that age to purchase “nice” furniture, she would have waited 18 years! I don’t know about you, but there never seems to be a perfect “age” to upgrade to nicer things, which is why I live for performance fabrics . Crypton is my go-to, but there are many indoor/outdoor fabrics that are family friendly and feel good to the touch. My thoughts on furniture with kids is this: if your children climb on your furniture for the occasional game of “floor is lava” but also curl up for movie nights, then you should splurge on a high-quality sofa in a performance fabric, because it will last you a decade or more. If, however, you are a mama of 4 boys who play tackle football and practice their WWE moves from your sofa, I would be more concerned with furniture actually breaking (like springs and frames). In that case, I would recommend a nice, sturdy, budget friendly couch (Ikea) that can take a beating but is cheap enough to replace in a few years.
Every purchase in a home with kids should first be filtered through a safety lens. The hard edges of a coffee table around small kids gives me anxiety, so I’m glad we went with an upholstered ottoman instead of a traditional coffee table. We have a nice tray on top which provides a safe area for drinks, as well as a catch-all bowl for stray Legos and Barbie accessories. We don’t keep much else on there, and despite the photos you may see on Pinterest or Instagram, neither do most people. Photos are often styled that day, with vases and bowls and fresh flowers, etc., but most of that is removed after the shoot because it’s just not practical.
Look for a kitchen or dining table that will wear gracefully. We once made the mistake of purchasing a farmhouse table with deep ridges that I thought would wear nicely. It did mask any dents, but those grooves became home to more crumbs and glitter than I’d like to admit and we ended up replacing it a few years later. Our current table is a gorgeous piece from Restoration Hardware, but I had a glass top made to protect the finish. For seating, benches are a great option for kids, and when paired with beautiful upholstered seating, still allows the adults to have a more stylish option. An alternative are chairs that are easily wiped down. We chose Herman Miller's Eames chairs, made of eco-friendly, recycled plastic that wipe down beautifully.
Patterned rugs are a lifesaver because they hide stains so well. Vintage rugs are on trend now, and though you may feel like they aren’t family friendly, don’t forget – they are VINTAGE. They’ve been through it all already! Another kid-friendly option is a washable rug. I recently used a runner from Ruggable in a kitchen and the client loves it. Any time it gets dirty, she just picks it up and tosses it in the wash!
LET THE KIDS BE PART OF THE JOURNEY:
Another great way to get kids to respect your home is by letting them be a part of decorating it. If you have a bookcase, consider giving them a shelf near the bottom to style with their own favorite things. Then you can explain that this is their space for their favorites, and the other shelves are mommy (or dad's) favorite things. If your child loves collecting “treasures”, look for a pretty bowl that you can keep on your cocktail table, and let them fill it with items from their collection. The more you let them be a part of the design in your home, the more they will feel like they are part of something fun.
If you have an area for a gallery wall, try mixing bold, bright, colorful artwork with black and white sketches, and leaving some frames open for your kiddos masterpieces! They will be so proud to show off their projects, and you don’t need to sacrifice your refridgerator in the name of art! (all art c/o artfullywalls)
The design goal for every project at Tiger Oak Designs is to create a space that is reflective of you, not a picture perfect magazine spread, so it should include your children, their trinkets and their artwork. Cultivating a relaxed atmosphere by removing anything fragile or irreplaceable, and allowing kids to be part of the decorating journey, will improve your overall satisfaction tenfold. You don't need to erase your children from your living spaces in order to maintain an adult-friendly room, you just need to be thoughtful in where your kids' items are displayed. I hope this post provides you with new ideas for how to merge your style with your season of life. For more information on how I can help you elevate your lifestyle, visit the Design Services page on the website!
xx - Natalie
"When your home shows up well for you, you can show up well for others"
*all sources linked in images.