Whether it’s the pint-sized shoes by the front door, the child-safety locks on every cabinet or the colourful crayon scribbles on the walls, it isn’t hard to tell if a home is a pre- or post-kid space. And while there are certain precautions you have to take with little ones running around the house, creating a child-friendly home doesn’t have to mean saying goodbye to your personal sense of style, or the fun and freedom that comes with decorating. To figure out how to create a space that’s both sophisticated and sippy-cup friendly, we enlisted the help of interior designer Andrew Pike; read on to discover his tips on turning your home into a stylish, family-friendly space that doesn’t sacrifice style.
1. Opt for Durable Materials & Performance Fabrics
White slipcovered chairs impart a breezy, no-fuss appeal in this dining room at Fulbrook on Fulshear Creek in Fulshear, Texas.
When upholstering or customizing big-ticket furniture items like a sofa, consider using performance fabrics — speciality fabrics that are specifically designed to withstand wear and tear while being simple to clean — or upholstery materials that can be easily wiped down. “Materials like leather and vinyl are great,” says Pike. “If you need to go with fabric, an outdoor grade fabric is a great idea for durability, and darker colours are always better for general wear and tear. Failing that, slipcovered furniture allows you to have light-coloured furniture with far less worry.”
2. Use Patterned or Darker-Coloured Rugs
A pattered grey rug adds interest underfoot in this Wyndfield home in Brantford, Ontario.
It’s no secret that solid and light-coloured rugs are more likely to show dirt, spills and spit-ups. To avoid the contents of your child’s juice box becoming a permanent work of art on your rug, opt for one that’s patterned or is predominantly dark in colour to help mask messes. Rugs made of natural materials — including wool or hides — are also great options for a child-friendly space.
3. Consider Distressed, Industrial or Natural Finishes
A rustic headboard and whitewashed side table are cozied up with layers of linen and a chunky throw blanket in this Fulbrook on Fulshear Creek bedroom.
When it comes to selecting wood furniture pieces, such as your coffee or dining table, consider using pieces that come in a distressed, industrial or natural finishes. “These are currently very on trend, and they’ll help hide scratches and general wear and tear on wooden furniture,” says Pike. “Avoid high-polished finishes on woods to make them more kid-friendly and longer-lasting.”
4. Buy Must-Have Children’s Furniture in Neutral Colours
A simple white teepee and wooden chair don’t overpower the relaxed aesthetic in this family-friendly living room in our Avalon community in Caledonia, Ontario.
Whether it’s a child-sized dining table or a miniature chair for them to sit on, be sure to buy children’s furniture pieces in neutral colours. Doing so will help them blend seamlessly with the adult spaces and decor while still providing a special spot for kids to call their own.
5. Use Baskets as a Clever Way to Conceal Toys
In our Delaney floor plan at our McLean community in Belmont, North Carolina, two-toned woven baskets keep miscellaneous kids’ toys neatly out of sight when not in use.
“Baskets are an excellent way to conceal toys, and they’re available in just about any size and material,” says Pike. “Find ones that work with your overall colour scheme so that they tie in if they’re visible; if they’re hidden away, a durable plastic tub is also a great option.” Label every basket to ensure that everything has a place and make clean-up a cinch.
6. Accessorize with Care
Abstract artwork and decorative jars flanked by a set of terrazzo lamps make a simple yet striking statement in this Avalon kitchen.
When accessorizing for smaller children, be sure to look for things that are not easily broken, like wicker baskets or resin boxes. “Coffee table books are quite durable, as are decorative trays that are made of leather or rattan,” says Pike. “Keep breakable items like glass and crystal on higher shelves that are out of reach, and anything that’s slightly top-heavy or tipsy (should someone accidentally bump into a shelf) should be gently affixed with blue tack to help keep it steady.”
7. Be Mindful of Your Flooring Selections
Running hardwood throughout the home and into the kitchen creates a cohesive feel throughout the home, and makes it feel more expansive. In this Wyndfield kitchen, dark wood floors are warmed up with an oak dining set and barstools.
When it comes to choosing hardwood or carpet for your new home, it’s important to consider more than just the tone or type of wood. “Hardwood floors that have a matte finish to them will hide more scratches than a glossy wood, and going with something that’s hand-scraped or slightly distressed with help conceal a multitude of sins,” says Pike. “Lighter coloured floors will show less damage when scratched, as the light colour underneath the stain on dark floors will be more drastic. As for carpets, synthetic carpets can be easily spot-cleaned, and darker colours will help eliminate the darkening of high-traffic areas and pathways.”
8. Build a Little Magic Into the Home
Have a spare bedroom or an unused corner in the living room? Get creative to give kids their own special space, like this kid-friendly arts and crafts room in our Avalon model home in Caledonia, Ontario.