kid friendly living room design

Designing a Kid-Friendly Home

More and more these days, I hear from young families who have a really savvy design sense, and a strong desire for a stylish home. BUT, and this is a big but, they are afraid of putting too much thought into their interiors because they fear their kid or kids will wreak havoc on their thoughtfully-executed design plans.

It’s a common worry, and it’s understandable.

However, I always like to offer some reassurance. 

Your home can be beautiful AND kid-friendly. I promise. It can.

Now, for some, this is a hard concept to believe, so I figured I’d devote a blog post to the topic.

I will say, it helps if you are starting fresh, designing a room or house with your families’ needs in mind. But even if you are living in an existing space, there are some easy changes you can consider as well.

So, without further ado. Here’s a list of tips to consider if you are part of a young, growing family who likes style as much as fun and function:

kid friendly furniture
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Go Durable Where It Counts

As I mentioned earlier, you don’t have to cover your whole house in plastic wrap just because you have children. But it DOES make sense to stick to more durable materials and fabrics for your big ticket items that can’t be replaced as easily (or cheaply) if they do get “toddlered.” For instance, a leather couch is a great choice because leather tends to be more forgiving and is easier to spot clean. If you find a distressed leather that works for your room, even better, because any new scratches or discolorations will likely just blend in. Similarly, a nice wooden farmhouse table will survive kids very nicely. So be thinking along those lines as you make any new, bigger purchases. 

Don’t Be Afraid of Neutrals (Just Be Wise About Them)

I know, the idea of white or light colored anything just doesn’t seem to mesh with the reality of life with kids! But you are simply LOVING the neutral wave that has swept over the interior design world. Trust me, you can have it. Just be smart about where you go light. For instance, if your walls are white, and you use a lighter wood for your flooring, then you can work in a darker rug or furniture. The overall look will still be open and airy. But you won’t have to constantly be fretting about a spilled drink or muddy shoes. Win-win!

A Kid and a Carpet Don’t Mix

Yes, carpeting can be very easy on young knees and falls. But it can be a nightmare to keep clean and pristine. So if you have the choice, I’d go for wood floors and get your comfort and contrast from a variety of well-placed rugs. Younger families seem to be moving away from wall-to-wall carpeting anyway.

Now, you may not have a choice if it is already in your home, or a home that you are about to buy. In that case, you may want to take a peek underneath one discrete corner of your carpeting and see if there’s some decent hardwood underneath. If so, and if it’s in your budget, you may consider pulling the carpet and getting the hardwood refinished. If that’s more work than you have an appetite for, maybe consider some strategically placed rugs on top of your carpet for a layered look. The layered look is very on-trend right now anyway.

kid friendly carpet
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Say Yes to Rugs

So on the topic of rugs…this can always present some tricky buying decisions. You don’t want to purchase a really expensive rug only to find you need to replace it in a year. But if you go cheap, you may be looking at an even faster path of destruction. So make sure you do your research on this front, and keep a couple things in mind.

First, patterns and darker colors are typically more forgiving. You’ll also want to consider the material, and stick to something more durable like wool or cotton or even jute. Look at the pile, too. A deeper pile can trap dirt and be more difficult to clean.

Or, maybe you think a little further outside of the box. Carpet tiles are catching on, with the idea being that if you sully just one spot on the rug, you only have to replace that one tile versus the whole thing. There are also some nice looking washable rugs being marketed, although those tend to be smaller in size. Or, you might even consider using an outdoor rug because it will hold up to liquids and fading.The bottom line is you do have some options here.

Designate Kid Spaces

One good idea for giving yourself a break from the bubble of kid-friendly life is to create designated areas in your home that are set off as either family-friendly or adult-only. For instance, you might have a study or more formal living area that is set off by pocket doors or French doors. Inside, you can proudly display some of your more breakable pieces or sit in your silk chairs. Similarly, if you have a designated play room or kid area that is also separated by doors, you can easily just close the door to the mess before company comes over. 

Take The High Road

Wallpaper has been trending again, and there are some really beautiful options out there that could add the perfect pop to your room. But be smart about this. If you are going to pursue wallpaper, don’t put it anywhere where a kid can put a crayon or marker to it. Instead, consider placing it above a chair rail or wainscoting where they can’t reach.

performance fabrics kid friendly design

Pick Performance Fabrics

This seems like a no-brainer if you have kids or pets. Consider performance fabrics, because they stand up well to any dirt or grime that life will throw at them! And the good news is this doesn’t mean you have to choose between tacky and tacky. There are a whole bunch of stylish options available now. You can even bring some of your outdoor fabrics in now, as those selections become increasingly stylish! For more info on this topic, check out this article. 

Find Creative Storage Solutions

I’ve got one word for you (ok, three): The Container Store! Creative storage solutions are a must for a young family. And even if you aren’t interested in buying anything just yet, even just a trip to this store will give you plenty of inspiration for ways to tuck away mess and organize your clutter.

If you are planning a renovation or building a new house, you have even more options. I’d highly recommend building some storage solutions into your home plan.For instance, you could consider storage seating or built-ins with lots of nooks and crannies, or a mudroom with a hall tree. 

Boho, Baby

If you have kids, you will inevitably have dirt and stains. That’s why it makes sense to pick a design theme that is pleasantly disheveled. Well, it just so happens that the boho look, which is all about tousled charm, happens to be very popular right now. Rich with patterns and textures, this look welcomes wear and tear with a warm hug. Another design theme that works well for young families is the modern farmhouse look. Rustic touches, durable materials . . . a little extra chaos from kid items only seems to add to the charm.

kid friendly art wall gallery
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Choose the Best Art Around

One design idea that I simply love for young families is finding stylish ways to incorporate the kids’ artwork into your decor. For instance, pick out a few of their best “abstracts” and have them nicely framed and hung for a gallery wall in either a playroom or the mudroom. Or take a photograph of one of their custom pieces and have it blown up and framed, for one striking display. After all, why not celebrate all that life with kids offers!


Hopefully, this is encouraging and helpful to you. And remember, I welcome any phone calls or emails . I always love the opportunity to explore some of my blog topics further. I hope everyone is staying happy and healthy!