Somewhere along the way, from carefree coupledom to “mommy, mommy, mommy,” you looked around and realized that your signature style (yes, you had one once) got lost in the padded trenches of parenthood. Good news! You can have a stylish living space without hyperventilating when you-know-who sets foot in the room.
I interviewed three design pros to get their top family friendly home decorating ideas. Go from playscape to unbreakable chic with their solutions to our biggest decorating dilemmas:
Your seasonal coffee table candlescapes are now a fire hazard and your chic collection of Buddha statues could crush small toes.
You don’t have to wait until your kids outgrow sippy cups and juice boxes before you can have the accessories that give a space personality. You just need to be selective, and creative, in what to place within your child’s reach.
For tiny tyke hot spots like coffee and side tables, Mother Nature is your new BFF. “A wood platter with lemons and limes and other seasonal fruit can be really beautiful. The worst that happens is that your kids pick up an apple and eat it. How bad is that?” says Marni Jameson, home design columnist and author of The House Always Wins. During colder seasons, sub in artichokes, pumpkins and pine cones.
If you’re not the outdoorsy type, you can forage in your attic or basement for some up-cycled finds. A colorful tray with stacks of vintage children’s books is a sweet display or take fabric scraps and create charming and indestructible decorative globes.
Other fun ideas for home accents that won’t totally kill your cool – sculptural wooden figures made with miter saw, world globes, and table runners made from mod (e.g. Marimekko) or exotic (think: sari and kimono) fabrics.
Kitchen Nightmares: Kid Edition
Baby food, ketchup, milk and juice form a Monet-like impression on your tablecloth and a tic, tac, toe game has been etched into the tabletop.
Like the Kardashians and plastic surgery, spills and messes are inevitable. So how do you deal?
“Try not to make your placemats precious. Get something cheap and easy that you can toss out when they get gross. I take burlap, cut it into squares and shred the ends to use as placemats. I have no regrets when it’s time to toss them out,” relates Jameson.
Sherry Petersik, founder of younghouselove.com and author of Young House Love: 243 Ways to Paint, Craft, Update & Show Your Home Some Love, brings fun prints inside with outdoor table cloths. “They’re easy to wipe down, and if you add Velcro so they cling to the tabletop lip, you don’t have to worry about little hands pulling it down,” she says.
We all know the foodie trail doesn’t end tabletop and that’s why I heart this idea from Good Morning America’s Lara Spencer, creator and host of HGTV’s “Flea Market Flip.” Cover upholstered chair seats with coated, opaque shower curtains. Wipeable, durable and cheap. Genius!
Your kids are channeling Picasso during his prolific years and there isn’t a fridge big enough to keep up.
Instead of trashing macaroni art and squirrel drawings (and feeling like the world’s worst mom!), choose the best and make a big deal out of them. “Pick your 10 favorite pieces of kid art and create a gallery wall. Different size pieces are okay, as long as they are all in the same color frame,” recommends Spencer. For a cool, loft vibe use colorful mattes, rustic wood frames or line pics up along art display shelves.
To pull the artwork and room together, pick a color you love from your child’s pictures and use splashes of it around the room (e.g. throw pillow, baubles, blanket). Suddenly their masterpieces become the room’s crown jewel.
The cords on your Roman shades could strangle your curious tot and your vertical blinds are being destroyed, one slat at a time.
“Curtains are the unsung heroes of the house. They make a room look taller and more polished,” shares Petersik.
Because they also make the perfect hide-and-seek spot, use rod clips to hang them, Petersik recommends. The next time your sneaky squirt tugs on the curtains, the material will just slip out of the clips. Besides avoiding another co-pay at the pediatrician’s, rod clips make curtains easier to take down for cleaning. (Psst, if you hang curtains ¼-inch above the floor they won’t get as dirty.)
Another go to? Shutters.
Rhymes with Mutter
After toe stub #23, you’ve resorted to vaulting over the couch and tiptoeing like a Russian high-wire act through the toy labyrinth you call the floor.
Dear Svetlana, if you want to bust clutter like a boss you need a game plan to head off toysplosions. For tots and toddlers, play zones are tops. “It’s nice to place different toys in different zones of the house. If the blocks are all over her bedroom and the dolls are all over the living room, it’s much easier to put stuff away and it all stays together. And, one room doesn’t end up looking like a bomb went off,” says Petersik.
For older kids, borrow an idea from the library. Store toys, puzzles and games in one place (basement, garage or play room). Kids “check out” a box or basket of toys, but must return them before getting something else.
Your Crib’s Style? Momdom.
Friends think you’ve opened a daycare and your aura glows red, blue and yellow.
Breathe deep and repeat after us, “baskets, ottomans, leather boxes, oh my!” Just because you have a bunch of toys doesn’t mean you have to store them in a big, red trunk that screams kids. The key is finding storage containers that exude you for every homeless trinket. (Check out these stylish containers at Apartment Therapy.)
Lara Spencer likes to use an aged trunk both as a coffee table and toy storage. A stack of vintage suitcases as a side table would work too. A bonus? Dings and scratches only add to their patina.
For more family friendly home decorating ideas and parenting inspiration, ideas and fun, follow me on Pinterest.