I love my kids. I also love having a space where my kids can run around, play and learn. But as an interior designer, I’ve never loved the idea of my kids’ carefree lifestyle overhauling my adult living space — and I know I’m not alone in that, so here are a few home-keeping tips I’ve used to keep a home that is comfortable, clean and kid-friendly.
Baskets, baskets, baskets
Let’s debunk the myth that toy storage has to be ugly (or excessive). I use solid-colored woven baskets with lids to house all my boys’ toys. Family homes today can get too overcrowded with toys and playful knickknacks. But be honest: Kids don’t really play with that many things at one time, do they?
Lessen the mess by keeping only what your kids love most, and donate the rest to charities like Baby2Baby. Better yet, start a toy exchange with your close friends. When it comes to the big toys and games, it’s either in the basket or it’s bartered — simple as that.
Quality over quantity
Remember, mom, you’re the boss. You’re responsible for what comes in and out of your home. Kids like collecting things. If those items are plastic, multicolored toys, those will potentially be strewn across your space. To avoid this, I tapped into something they enjoy: making necklaces and collecting crystals. I love that we can go to a local farmers market and collect beautiful jewels together. The boys feel empowered that they can select the ones they love and create something with it. Meanwhile, I’m thrilled the pieces don’t look tacky lying around my home. Fashion and function really can coexist.
White really works
One of my best-kept secrets for design clients who have kids? Buy white canvas couches and purchase an extra set of white canvas covers. I know this sounds crazy, but a white canvas couch cover can be switched out as needed. Canvas wears exceptionally well, so your sets won’t look different. No more stressing if the kids spill things on it right before your mother-in-law stops by. Simply switch it, wash the soiled cover, and keep your peace of mind.
Another great reason to go white? You can bleach whatever gets stained. Whether it’s baby food or baby poo, a little bleach will not only handle the blemish, but it won’t discolor the furniture. I’ve never met a stain on a white surface that bleach couldn’t tackle.
Splurge on stylish necessities
When I had my first child, I knew my son would need a good high chair. What I didn’t need was a piece of furniture with cartoon caricatures that existed in the space I used daily for both kid and adult functions. I chose to splurge on a high chair that would meet both my child’s needs and my own. The Bloom Baby high chair’s sleek design and avant-garde style didn’t look like a child had taken over my home. And because it converted, I was able to use it from infancy through my son’s toddler years. Small choices like that can make all the difference in your home’s appearance.
The frame game
Kid art is a quintessential visual element of any family home. Ditch the tape and magnets, and instead, exhibit your young artist’s work in a photo frame. I keep five Ikea frames (that come with a matte) for my kids’ artwork. The frames were inexpensive, and I can rotate their art whenever they create something new. While I don’t want to “decorate” my home with kiddie originals all over the place, I do want my boys to feel valued and to know that I appreciate their artistic expression.
Fake plants are OK
Moms understand that time is often too precious to spend it maintaining greenery around the home. Take the pressure off and use artificial ones. Once upon a time, I would have never considered or suggested that, but good artificial plants, like orchids, can beautify your home without the mess.
It’s not difficult to have a home that maintains a kid-friendly feel while keeping an adult appeal and atmosphere at the same time. After all, mom, you deserve both beauty and comfort.