How Not to Decorate a Home With Small Kids

A well-designed home is still attainable with little ones running around, but a few adjustments are necessary. See the decorating elements you'll want to kick to the curb, and find out our smart alternatives for creating a kid-friendly yet stylish home.

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October 05, 2017
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The Snazzy Bar Cart

While a bar cart is great fun when you're sans kids, the thought of glass + drinks + toddler hands = a disaster waiting to happen. You don't have to forego your bar completely though. Stow your alcohol and mixers in a built-in cabinet with a child-proof lock and display your beautiful barware on floating shelves. You'll still have all your nightcap essentials at hand after getting your little ones off to dreamland.

Clean Lines and Sharp Corners

The streamlined look of a clean edges may be visually appealing, but it's a surefire way to give a tot a black eye. Look for round or oval coffee tables, and even better, choose an upholstered ottoman in a durable fabric. You'll feel confident your kiddo can learn to pull up or start walking without the danger of bumping into a sharp edge.

From: Denise McGaha

A Chic, Glass Coffee Table

While we're on the subject of coffee tables, forgo the glass, too. Not only could it cause a nasty bruise if your early walker falls, but it also shows every fingerprint and smudge. You'll wear yourself out trying to keep it looking pristine. Give yourself a break and choose a round wooden or upholstered leather option that's easy to wipe down.

All-White Living Room

You know what loves jam hands? White anything. An all-white living space is fresh and bright, but when decorating with small children in mind, it's guaranteed to mean a lot of scrubbing. Choose hard-wearing fabrics for your furniture in darker shades or patterns that will hide stains and dirt.

Displaying Your Most Treasured Tchotchkes

Your favorite decorations and accessories need to be far above little hands — at least 48 inches off the ground. Use lower shelf space for displaying kids' books and pretty baskets, where you can stow away toys.

High-End, Luxurious Rugs

A gorgeous area rug pulls your room and color palette together and provides much-needed softness underfoot. However, with small kids around, investing thousands of dollars into a rug might not be the best idea. Crumbs, spilled juice and muddy feet are just a few of the horrors your rug will have to endure. Look for inexpensive options that you won't mind replacing when they've seen better days. Bold colors and fun patterns will hide spills and dirt better than a white shag rug. Or consider an indoor/outdoor rug, which is already designed to be more durable.

Upholstered Dining Chairs

Mealtime is a flat-out mess with little ones. Instead of upholstered Parsons chairs or formal tufted ones, look for simple wooden or metal dining chairs that can be quickly wiped down. If you want the look of upholstery, try vinyl, laminate or outdoor fabric, all of which will add softness to your chairs or banquette while still being easy to clean.

From: Emily Ruddo

Styled Coffee Table

Your elegant display of magazines, coffee table books and eye-catching accessories may make for an artful design, but with little hands around, it's not going to stay that way. Go with simple trays that allow kids to color without marking on your table or a mostly clean slate for imaginative play. Keep a pretty yet sturdy cloth bin nearby, so you can sweep everything in at the end of the day. Then, relax with your feet up and binge on Netflix, as all well-deserving parents should.

Lightweight Furniture

Anything that can be climbed on, will be. That tulip side table might be easily toppled over; instead, select heavy-weighted end tables or nightstands that can stand up to rough and tumbly children. And since bookshelves are basically a ladder to most kids, consider anchoring them to the walls for extra protection.

Accessible Knife Block

Having knives handy is ideal for any chef, and there are some clever ways to display them, like this integrated knife block in the center island. However, you'll want to keep knives far away from the edge of the counter while you have small ones. If you still want a modern display, try magnetic strips that hold the knives on the wall or a block installed horizontally under the upper cabinets.

Tufted Furniture

Tufted sofas and ottomans add instant sophistication to any living space. However, with kids, the button detail is the perfect place to trap lots and lots of crumbs. Instead, opt for flat-cushioned sofas. Even better, find a sofa with a one long cushion, so the kids are less likely to lose little toys, game pieces and Legos between the cushions.

Delicate Fabrics

Linens and silks are beautiful, luxurious and the perfect fit for formal living spaces. When decorating a house with kids, you want more durable fabrics that are easy to clean and hide stains well. Wools, cotton blends, performance velvet or microfiber are smart options that can withstand goldfish-eating kiddos. Leather is easy to wipe down, and if you opt for distressed leather, it'll just look better with the more wear it gets.

Luxurious, Pooling Drapes

Dressing your windows in floor-to-ceiling curtains adds height and drama to any room. With little ones, you'll want to stay away from pooling draperies on the floor, which are a major trip hazard. Have your curtains stop right at the floor or choose tailored Roman shades. Also remember, if you have blinds, make sure the cords are safely secured well out of a child's reach.

Beautiful, Sculptural Cactus

Cacti are easy to take care of, add texture and shape to a room and fit into any design style. But those prickly plants would be painful for tiny fingers. Get a similar look with soft-to-the-touch succulents. On a parallel note, be sure your other houseplants aren't poisonous. While you may never consider taking a bite out of a pothos leaf, that doesn't mean your toddler wouldn't try it.

Natural Fiber Area Rugs

Sisal and jute area rugs add great tone-on-tone texture to any room. Keep in mind with young ones though, that those natural fibers will be rough on crawling knees. If you love the look, try layering a softer rug on top. Not only does it add coziness, but the layered style gives the room a relaxed, lived-in feeling.

Open Storage

Remember those days before you had babies when all your stuff was stored neatly away and your only decorations were carefully curated and strategically placed around the house. Kids come with stuff. So much stuff. You need to double your storage and stat. Look for pieces that have dual functions: an ottoman with interior storage, drawers under your banquette or a toy bin that also serves as a bench.

Monochromatic Palette

Our most playful and fun counterparts need a space that is bright and colorful. While an elegant monochromatic palette creates a restful atmosphere (and can be wonderful for a nursery), be sure to inject color into your toddler's bedroom and living spaces. Incorporate a brilliant rug, brightly-hued pillows or vivid artwork. Most importantly, let your child be a part of the decorating experience by selecting their favorite shade to include.

Tiled Entryways

Tile for foyers or mudrooms is a smart option since it's easy to clean. Just remember kids will come running into the house at top speed, rain or shine. And little feet can easily slip and fall on wet tile. Make sure to have a mat or rug by the door, and use a non-slip pad to keep it in place.

The Flow of Your Home

Whether you're planning a home with kids or not, you want an easy flow throughout your space. But when considering young ones, the walkways become even more important. Those little feet need clear paths to run, hop and skip. And don't forget about corners. A glass table exactly at forehead height right around the corner is an accident waiting to happen.

Having Everything Picture-Perfect

The most important rule of decorating with kids is not to be too precious: stuff will get messed up, milk will be spilled and there will be muddy footprints. Your home can still be stylish and inviting; chic and lived-in. Mainly, pick sturdy finishes and fabrics, stow the breakables way up high and make sure your kids will be safe. Because, cushions can be flipped over, rugs replaced and a wall repainted. Enjoy living and playing and relaxing with your kids in the home you created for them.

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