Family-Friendly Design

Ready to live with the "cheap stuff" until your baby has outgrown this stage?
Ready to live with the "cheap stuff" until your baby has outgrown this stage?

I hear this so often, "There's no point spending money on something nice, when the kids will just destroy it". This kills me, and what kills me most is that I have done the same thing! We need to stop it!!! Do you remember how old you were when you truly began to respect your parents furnishings and treat their home with care? I think, for me, it was when my own children were born. Do you really want to wait to have nice things until your kids have grown and moved out? I know I don't.

I also don't want to childproof a couple choice areas full of junky furniture for the kids to destroy. You absolutely CAN have nice things, beautiful things, and let kids be kids. Don't believe me? Read on!

Let's start with the large pieces:


First of all, stop assuming that leather is the way to go just because spills wipe off easily. It also absorbs those liquids, resulting in quick stains, and unless you're going for the rustic or industrial look (which IS another option, more on that later), it scratches and shows marks. I know we all cringe at the word "pleather", but there are some great options out there (I recommend polyurethane over PVC, it is easier to keep clean and is more durable).

Not a leather-look person? Look for a mid-to-dark polyester-blend fabric. I take it a step further and avoid tufting, buttons, or any unnecessary cushions. One long cushion that can be flipped (good side for company, messy side for family) means less gunk that can creep between the creases.

Tables and other case goods:

Concrete top coffee table

Look for pieces that are durable and have easy to clean surfaces (stainless steel, concrete) or go for the distressed look! I have a saying for my own home, "If it can be hit with a heavy chain and that ADDS to the charm, it's the right piece!"

Another trick is to look at outdoor items. If it can withstand the elements, chances are good that it can withstand the kids!


Hard floors are great- they can handle a little activity and even sensitive hardwoods can often be buffed out to a good as new finish. But, what about those baby falls and bumps? Sometimes a rug can really save the day and warm up a space significantly. I am a huge fan of FLOR carpet tiles- get a few extra and easily swap out tiles that have been damaged.

If carpet tiles aren't your game, take a look at cotton or synthetic materials such as nylon or acrylic for something that is easy to clean.


This is my favorite part, because it's a chance for your children's existence to be acknowledged in your home! Setting a crystal bowl on the coffee table and trying to keep hands off all the time is tiresome and forgets something very important- you're not alone in this house! These wonderful, peanut-butter faced, grimy fingered kiddos are likely the most important part of your life- so let that show! Frame their artwork (no glass if it's going down low!) and display it for all to see. Rather than flowers in a vase that is within reach, get a metal vase and fill it with peacock feathers (we picked them up at the pet store for fifty cents each). The kids will pull the feathers out and play with them, and why not let them!? It's beautiful, but serves as a toy on the side!

Let's be honest- kids' toys do not stay in the "play room" or their bedroom, so make it part of the decor. Some kid's toys are really gorgeous and look lovely when artfully placed on an empty table. On the coffee table, let the kids help you set up a train display or build small tower of blocks right in the center rather than the typical bowl of decorative balls). The trick is to avoid the plastic toys here, and go with the more vintage looking wood or metal toys. We keep a few Golden books on the coffee table, rather than coffee table books!

Select lamps that can handle a tumble and remember that the minimalist look is very chic- if nothing is there to be knocked over- well... problem solved! We keep a small, attractive basket with a few choice toys in the rooms where we spend a lot of time. If we are fortunate enough to be caught up on dishes and vacuuming, the few toys laying about looks almost artful!

Maybe your dream home has polished wood pieces, a white linen sofa, and mirrored side tables, and while that won't work right now, that doesn't mean you have to live with delaminating coffee tables and sagging, stained sofas! Love where you live!

photo credit: via photopin