How to Design a Grown-Up, Yet Kid-Friendly Home


I recently got a call from our client, Alissa. We had furnished her entire home and backyard several years ago and it was one of our favorite projects because of the four young children! We were able to give the family a kid-friendly home that is also sophisticated. Today, Alissa wants to add a few pieces to the backyard and turn their garage into the kids’ “school” and playroom. (We love when clients want to work with us more than once!)

Anyway, she told me how she loves all her furniture and is happy we suggested high-performance fabrics for the upholstery. In fact, she shared this story…

One day, her youngest was carrying a carton of strawberry yogurt from the kitchen to the family room and tripped. Poor guy face-planted and the carton of yogurt flew out of his hand and splashed all across the back of the new sofa. After making sure the little guy was not hurt, Alissa was mortified and feared that her brand new sofa was ruined forever. But she grabbed the binder we gave her with all the care instructions and wiped off the yogurt with a warm wet cloth. Low and behold it cleaned up perfectly and no signs of disaster remained!

Has this ever happened to you? Maybe not this exact story but the inevitable spill on the rug, chair, or sofa? And you’ve had to live with it FOREVER?!

By incorporating a few smart strategies and the right materials, you too will have a happy ending in a home that can stand up to kids and pets and still look beautiful.


Tip 1: Choose Durable Performance Fabrics

As I mentioned, we ALWAYS recommend high-performance fabrics for all our upholstered goods. Whether you have kids and pets (or not), they just make sense since they repel spills and dirt. And when the occasional, unintentional accident happens, clean-up is a breeze. (I don’t know about you, but my husband and I spill stuff all the time!)

Our upholstery line comes standard with Sunbrella, Crypton, and InsideOut fabrics, plus for a small upgrade you can add extra stain guard. These fabrics were originally used for outdoor furniture only, but the technology has greatly advanced and we have many shades and textures that are soft.

Another option is leather. We only recommend top-grain leather because bonded leather will peel and look bad in a few short years. The price of your piece will be double with leather, but with proper maintenance it will last a long time and look even more luxurious with that “worn-in” look.


Tip 2: Opt for Textured Fabrics & Darker Colors

There is lots of power in hiding stains and dirt when you simply add color, pattern, and texture (not to mention added beauty). Use textured textiles on main furniture pieces, like a sofa and chairs. Then mix in deep colored (think jewel tones) pillows and blankets. Layer them on patterned area rugs to complete a tailored, yet functional look when you have kids and pets.


Tip 3: Embrace Rustic Finishes

I often make the joke when something has a slight flaw or scratch – “it’s patina!” But the fact of it is, selecting slightly weathered or rustic look wood furniture makes your life a lot easier. While it’s great to have a beautiful room, if you can’t “live” in it, why bother, right?!

By selecting furniture that is rustic, you don’t have to worry about the occasional “extra” scratch or dent, you can simply say it’s got more “character.”


Tip 4: Select Quality Flooring & Paint

Our favorite floor covering is Luxury Vinyl Plank. It is extremely kid and pet-friendly. This scratch resistant, and easy to maintain floor will resist scratches from pet nails and Tonka trucks alike. And since it is virtually waterproof, who cares if someone has an “accident”, it won’t bubble up like laminate floor and you won’t freak out as if it were high-end solid wood flooring. But . . . it still looks luxurious.

When it comes to painting the walls, make the investment to buy the highest quality of paint you can afford. The biggest expense of painting is the labor and the time, so don’t worry about spending a lot for the paint. It is a good investment because you can wash away countless messes and have your paint job last many, many years.


Tip 5: Use Rugs for Beauty & Function

I don’t have young children at home (except when my granddaughters visit), but I have two big dogs (one yellow and one black lab). Their blonde and black hair is everywhere and no amount of vacuuming will keep it 100% dander-free. Since my dogs are my children, they live with us in the house and I wouldn’t have any other way.

That is why I picked areas rugs that are black and tan, have a lot of abstract patterns, and are made of polypropylene. I vacuum the heck out of them, and clean them every month, but in between cleanings, the dog hair is barely noticeable.

You can select rugs that are made of easy-to-clean materials, and have colors and patterns that hide the dirt (like bread crumbs) until you have time to clean them.


Tip 6: Invest in True Craftsmanship

It’s great to think about the fabrics and materials that you can visually observe, but be sure to invest in high-quality craftsmanship for pieces as well. Things like a sofa or dining table that will be getting constant use require a sturdy foundation that will help the piece last years longer.

All of our upholstered goods and casegoods are made to order so you can get the exact look you want. We’ve only stocked furniture lines that we have personally vetted, so you know it is good quality.

You may pay a slightly higher price than if you go to some of the big box chain stores, but it will serve you best and you will not have to replace your large pieces nearly as often.


Tip 7: Include the Whole Family in Designing the Home

At our most recent consultation, it was the dad and son we met with. Jack is only 14, but I tried to ask his opinion on the ideas we came up with. He became very involved and enthusiastic.

This made me think about how important it is to involve the kids, because if they feel they have a say in the space, they are more likely to care for it. Plus, during these times of at-home schooling, you can make it a fun family activity with many teachable moments.

You can have a kid and pet-friendly space that is as creative, elegant, and luxurious as you want by being smart about the materials and quality of furniture/finishes you select. Look for the best balance of aesthetics and function for your family (including the furry ones) and you can have a home that looks adult chic, but acts kid-appropriate!

The good advice doesn’t stop there… sign up for our newsletter to get more actionable tips you can use at home!

Until next time,

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