6 ways to create a beautiful livable home with kids
It may seem like an oxymoron – a beautiful home with children actively living inside. Is that even possible?!
Listen, we’ve all been there. You have something (anything) in your house that is remotely nice or breakable and…they destroy it. Like moths to a flame.
Honestly though, it is possible. About 90% of the projects we work on are for clients with kids living at home. We didn’t just happen upon families with magical, dainty children that use coasters and never eat on the furniture and take their shoes off at the door. No, these are actual real children complete with mud, cheerios, and Crayola markers.
We design bullet-proof interiors unless instructed otherwise.
Here are 6 ways to create a livable beautiful home that the whole family can enjoy (and not destroy). These tips are also great for pets as well!
If you learn nothing else, it’s this. Every upholstered piece of furniture that you care about needs to be covered in performance fabric. Thankfully, internet shopping has made this much easier as you can sort and filter most websites by showing only the performance fabrics.
Look for terms like: Kid and Pet Friendly, Performance, Stain Resistance, and, the king of all – CRYPTON. Crypton fabrics are what we use in offices and hospitals – they are some of the most durable and stain resistant fabrics on the market. Worth every penny.
Tighter woven fabrics with multiple colors of yarn running through and velvets are a great choice. Avoid anything too-solid or linen unless it’s a true performance fabric; it won’t be very forgiving.
This is my actual sofa in this very light (and otherwise unforgiving) cement upholstery. The fabric checks all the performance fabrics, and the cushions are machine washable. This has stood up to my 3 boys for 5 years and still looks awesome.
Pro tip – if you can, take a fabric swatch home and systematically try to wreck it. Get dirt on it, spill wine and coffee on it, rub it on your dog. If it still looks good after that kind of damage, you’re golden.
Engineered finishes like engineered quartz countertops, engineered hardwood floors, and leather-look vinyl (aka vegan-leather if you want to sound pretentious) are pretty darn bullet proof and an awesome way to hedge your bets against child destruction. They have the look of their natural counterparts but have been impregnated with resins to offer more durability. They stand up to scratching, staining, and puncturing.
Mother Nature can be pretty darn hearty. Solid natural wood, marble and other natural stones, saddle colored leather – these natural materials will stain and scratch to a degree, but the more you beat them up, the more it adds to their patina.
Some tips for natural materials:
For natural stone, be sure that you seal it to avoid staining. If you’re not one who can live with a stain on your marble, opt for engineered.
For wood – solid wood with a more natural finish (something oiled or waxed) is going to serve you better than a thin veneered wood with a varnish. You’ll still want to take care of spills when they happen. Also, hot tip, lighter wood shows less dirt and grime than darker wood!
For leather – the mid-toned browns, like a saddle leather, patina beautifully. Those first few scratches will hurt your soul, but as the piece gets used it will age wonderfully. You can treat it with leather conditioner once in a while. For immediate scratch issues, I will spit shine it. Literally, just lick my thumb, and the spit + oil from my fingers us usually enough to blend the scratch away. Gross, but true.
I put durable rugs into three categories – vintage,polyester fiber, and wool rugs. Vintage is awesome because if it’s survived 50 or 100 years, your kids probably aren’t going to be the ones to ruin it. Polyester fiber rugs are great because you can spot clean them. Usually water is enough to get most stains out. Occasionally you’ll want to use a carpet cleaner, but use much less of it than you think and use lots of water.
Pattern is really important here. The overwashed look of vintage (and vintage inspired) rugs are extremely forgiving of stains. Anything with a light colored base, even if it’s polyester, is going to be more of a challenge to maintain. If you want a lighter rug, opt for an affordable one and be okay with replacing it after a few years.
Wool is actually a really great and durable option, but some people do find it a bit itchy. They also shed a bit when you first get them. I personally love wool and have never had a staining issue. But again, pattern is important. A creamy white wool rug in your kitchen might not be the best choice if you are an Iron Chef. In your bedroom or bathroom, though? Probably okay!
Natural fiber rugs, like jute, sisal, and other flat weave rugs, can be durable, but they tend to be scratchy. Also if you spill something really gross on them (like, sorry, barf) you will likely never be able to fully clean it. We tend to stay away from those in homes with kids and dogs.
Washable rugs, like Ruggable, are an option, but they aren’t my favorite because of how thin they are.
DURABLE PAINT FINISHES
Flat paint is a favorite among contractors because it’s easy for them to touch up, and for designers because it looks awesome, but unless you go with a VERY high-quality paint, you can’t clean the walls. Any scuff mark means that you may have to repaint some (or all) of the wall.
Trust me – our entire home was painted with builder basic flat paint (not my choice), and 18 months in, half of the house could stand to be re-painted. That’s a HUGE investment of time, money, or both.
We like to specify Eggshell finish paint for walls. It is mostly flat without much sheen, but it is far more cleanable than a flat paint. For doors and trim, we prefer satin. A bit shinier than eggshell but not super high gloss (which can look cheap).
SOLIDLY WELL BUILT PIECES
If you buy cheap stuff, you’re going to get what you pay for. Opt for solid, well crafted pieces that can stand up to being rammed by a Tonka truck or used as a Parcor course (let’s be honest, this stuff happens).
For anything that your kids will have daily contact with – sofas, beds, dressers – invest in well built pieces. Secondhand or vintage pieces are a great resource for solid wood pieces that are less than the cost of something new and made from particle board.
That said, there is definitely a time and a place for cheaper fare. Table lamps, for instance. While my kids still routinely kick soccer balls inside the house (against my wishes) I will not invest in an expensive lamp. High quality or not, if it’s hit with a projectile, it’s going down. It’s just not the right life stage. Side tables, lamps, and playroom furniture does not have to be high end with small kids at home. Keep the price point at a level where you won’t die inside if they break it.
Here’s a handy roundup of all of our tips – pin this now to save for later!
Step 1 in creating a home you love is choosing pieces to suit your lifestyle. Now that you have a handle on the best kinds of pieces to bring into your home, how do you begin to pull it all together so that it feels cohesive? I want to invite you to jump into our FREE Discovering Your Signature Style Mini-Course. It’s a 30-minute video that will walk you through the 3 simple steps to unlocking your Signature Style, so you can start creating a pulled-together space that you and your family will love. It’s a great resource to jumpstart your home transformation. Hope to see you inside!