One of the biggest challenges facing interior designers comes in a very small, very active package: kids. Kids often act like tiny tornadoes, and expecting the home to be spared is not realistic. Hartford Homes’ three contributing interior designers – Kathryn L. Kurtz, Terese Theisen-Leuschen, and Nancy Molin — put together some tips for creating a home that is kid-proof but does not compromise on adult style.
1. Kids’ furniture should be classic and quality, with re-purposing in mind.
Kids outgrow things constantly. Their tastes will change as they grow, but this shouldn’t mean constantly refurnishing. Instead, the designers recommend buying miniature versions of “classic” pieces.
“I buy pieces that are stylistically cohesive with the rest of the house and painting them ‘fun’ colors. They can be repainted later to either be passed down to another child or transition back into the rest of the house,” Kurtz said.
“I would recommend staying away from infantile colors. Kid spaces don’t have to be so different from the rest of the house,” Molin added.
Buy quality pieces that are worth repainting or repairing as children grow and ultimately there will be a smaller financial commitment. “Just because it is for a child doesn’t mean it can’t be quality. But that doesn’t mean they need to have high-end designer pieces, either. Lots of knock-off brands look great and don’t break the bank,” Theisen-Leuschen said.
2. Plan for storage in every room.
The bottom line is that there have to be established areas for “kid stuff” in every room or the kids will come up with their own solution.
“I am really a fan of big baskets in every room. Furniture like ottomans or benches with hinged tops and storage inside are awesome, too. I know some people really like everything hidden, but in my book if it is off the floor its good,” Kurtz said. “The big thing is to just plan to have a place in every room.”
Creating spaces like built-ins are a more long-term solution, and often translate well to another purpose after kid stuff. “Built-in storage spaces can be really fun, especially when they are a little unexpected. These take some planning, but they can be really great,” Theisen-Leuschen said.
Try not to make storage too fussy that a parent has to help. “If it gets too hard or complicated, kids are going to avoid it and then it becomes another mom or dad job. And then the purpose has been defeated,” Molin said.
3. Big items should be low maintenance.
High-traffic items in a home with kids have to be up to the challenge. They can be high or low maintenance, but in the modern age low maintenance doesn’t have to mean low style.
For example, before putting in gorgeous dark hardwood floors (which require constant mopping and show every imperfection), consider alternatives like vinyl planks. They look almost identical to real wood but are much more durable.
Eliminating carpet is helpful, but in rooms that are dedicated “kid space” like playrooms, putting down carpet squares allows for easy replacement. To cover hard floors, consider using stylish outdoor rugs.
For walls “up your sheen” to create a wipe-safe surface. Many paint manufacturers have created “scrubbable” paints intended for kid-proofing.
Soft furniture like couches almost always come in stain-resistant fabrics. To increase the durability of other soft items, consider bringing outdoor fabrics inside. These fabrics will stand up to wear and tear and keep looking great.
This article was originally written for Hartford Homes and appeared on page 11 of Real Estate Weekly on Saturday February 27, 2016.