03 Sep 2015

Creating a home that is both comfortable and stylish as well as child friendly can be a challenge.

You need furniture and flooring that can withstand spills, pets, and rough play. But don’t despair! While you may not have your pristine white carpet and delicate silk covered chairs until the kids have moved out, you don’t have to live with a cheap, dirty university dorm look either. Follow these tips to create a space that reflects your tastes and style, while still looking good through the years.

Look for tough materials and finishes

Wall – Today’s paints are designed to be wipeable and clean up easily. Semi-gloss, satin, or eggshell finishes hide damage the best, but if you prefer a matte look, there are new flat paints on the market that are designed to be washable. And since it is inevitable that young children will be tempted to colour on walls, why not paint one wall with chalkboard paint to create a designated drawing spot?

Floors – Wood, tile, and linoleum floors are more durable and easier to keep clean than wall-to-wall carpet. You can use area rugs to add accents and provide comfort in high traffic areas. Look for materials that can be easily cleaned or are inexpensively replaced.

If you want the protection of wall-to-wall carpeting for your young children, consider decorating with carpet squares. These let you design a custom look and have the added benefit that if one area is damaged, you can replace it easily without disturbing the rest of the room. If you do decide to install carpet, look for nylon or wool/nylon blends for stain resistance and durability.

Go with great colours, patterns, and textures

When choosing your next sofa or new area rug, look for items with an interesting pattern and/or texture to help hide dirt and spills. For flooring, look for dark colours and rich patterns so that the next time your little ones track in mud from the playground, you won’t have to cringe.

When purchasing a new sofa or chair, look for reversible cushions so you can get twice the wear. Consider spending extra money on removable cushion covers to make the cleanup easier. Look at textures such as vinyl, pleather, leather, or ultrasuede for fabric durability.

Purchase pieces with a stain resistant finish, or spray Scotchgard on your fabric to add your own stain resistance. For kitchen and dining room chairs, you might want to laminate the fabric to deal with inevitable food spills. Most fabric stores can provide you with a quote for laminating services.

Plan for inclusion

You want your children to feel like they are part of the family and have some independence. Encourage them to help keep things tidy by creating an organised storage system using buckets and bins on the bottom shelf of bookcases.

Create a play space and a child-size reading nook in the living room to encourage kids to spend time with the family instead of staying in their rooms. You could also set up a table and a collection of games and create a family game night tradition.

Accidents are bound to happen no matter how well you set up your home or how carefully you select materials. Be prepared by keeping a stash of stain removers, cleaning wipes, and markers to touch up nicks and scrapes. While there is no way to avoid all problems, choosing materials and finishes wisely and being prepared for minor mishaps will help you maintain a welcoming, child friendly home.