Remember when you were growing up and you would walk into the corner candy store and see all the beautiful and delicious candy that was just begging for you to eat it? But then your mom gives you a quarter and points out the 3 semi-ok looking candies that you can actually buy with your allotted 25 cents? So it goes when it comes to decorating with kids. Having your own place to finally nest after you have kids can be one of the most exciting things, but once you start thinking about decorating for it you begin to realize that there are a lot of limitations and restrictions that, as a responsible parent, you should follow for the safety of your child.
No sharp corners to poke an eye out, no fragile items near the ground for kids to grab and smash, storage to put away the toys so that you or your toddler doesn’t slip on that Tonka tractor and wind up in the ER with a fractured head. The list goes on and on, but not all of us want to live in round-cornered, bubble-wrapped houses for the first years of our child’s life. So we have come up with a few tips to keep both your home, your child, and your design sanity in check.
1. Choose furniture that does double duty. Think storage trunks, side tables with drawers, or dressers as changing tables.
Once you have a baby you organically have more “stuff, ” it’s just the way it goes. From toys, to diapers, to baby clothes, to everything else, you will quickly realize that your home looks like it houses 200 babies rather than just your own little bundle of joy. Help combat that overflow of new items by finding furniture that helps to hide away the unwanted clutter when not in use. Anything that is functional in more than one way is a winner for me.
2. Look for heavy, chunky, and not too leggy furniture.
Once babies and kids realize that they have enough strength to push over or destroy anything it will be their sole mission to do that to everything in your house. Try and find pieces that are well grounded or too heavy to knock over. Opt for chunky coffee tables, rather than leggy or tulip based pieces, which will prevent them from accidentally (or intentionally) knocking a piece over.
3. Use stain repellent fabric.
Children are messy. Period, the end. No matter how careful you may be, it is just inevitable that your cute little toddler is gonna rub his grubby little fingers all over your velvet sofa, or choose to wipe his face with your linen curtains. There are plenty of fabrics that will help prevent you from wanting to rip your hair out after an accident like this happens. has expanded its inventory to include hundreds of beautiful options that are completely stain repellent and cleanable. We covered our sofa (pictured above) in their which is both beautiful and totally functional in resisting stains. In addition to those, leather, ultrasuede, and performance velvet are all great and very forgiving options.
4. Opt for safe accessories.
Accessories with children are tough. They love to grab (and break) any shiny or small object in sight. So rather than have your precious mementos strewn about, stick to safe accessories which include, books, pillows, and blankets. Move your fragile accessories from your coffee table to higher shelves, and keep your lower shelves filled with baskets, books, or empty until your children learn their manners and proper vintage etiquette skills like their parents.
5. Fall in love with forgiving rugs.
Spilled milk is nothing to cry about, unless it spills all over your living room rug, in which case you might want to eradicate all but clear liquids from your fridge. Keep your rugs and your babies happy by using easy to clean and forgiving rugs. Stay away from viscose and silks and opt for quilted hides (I have one in my living room), Persian rugs (because of their dark and busy patterns), and natural fiber rugs as they are all very easy to clean and or hide a spot in.
With just a few simple changes we all can find a very happy (and kid-friendly) solution to decorating our homes as our little bundles ones go from completely destructive to flea market mavens – just as their proud parents had planned. Charlie hasn’t quite figured the difference between Saarinen and Baughman but I’ll give it a few more years to sink in.
****Photography by , for Domino, and for Good Housekeeping Magazine.