High design with kids in mind

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, August 14, 2012

(ARA) – For many years, creating family-friendly spaces meant sacrificing your design aesthetic. Thankfully, gone are the days when having children meant succumbing to a house full of bright-yellow bins and sofas wrapped in plastic. Today, new materials and technologies make it easy to create a beautiful, well-designed home that meets the needs of adults and children alike. The following tips may help you design a living space that satisfies your design goals and meets the demands of your youngest family members.

Invest in good furniture.

It may seem counterintuitive, but Erica Islas, interior designer and founder of EMI Interior Design, encourages clients with young children to buy high-quality furniture. “Some people are afraid to invest in living rooms and family rooms because they think kids will ruin everything,” Islas says. “But the truth is that you have to get things that will hold up to children.”

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Children are notoriously tough on furniture; and the cheaper furniture you may be tempted to buy will likely break more easily and need to be replaced frequently. Instead, look for pieces that are built to withstand years of abuse and can be reupholstered or refinished once your children have grown. Furthermore, many furniture manufacturers and stores offer warranties. Consider those carefully and decide if the extra protection would be of value to your family.

Use color, pattern and texture.

Instead of creating a neutral, never-used formal area, use bold, textured fabrics throughout the rooms in which you spend the most time. Pieces incorporating color, a bit of pattern and touchable textures will not only create interesting focal points throughout your home, but will help camouflage spills. If complex patterns aren’t your thing, consider materials such as leather or vinyl that can be wiped clean. No matter your design aesthetic, make sure to protect your upholstered pieces with a stain guard.

Accessorize out of children’s reach.

Creating a kid-friendly space does not mean glass and art should go into storage. Instead, teach your family to appreciate beautiful objects by living among them and elevate the more fragile accessories so they are out of reach. Shadow boxes and enclosed shelves make stunning display cases for your most delicate decorative pieces.

Prevent a mess before it happens.

Kids learn and explore through hands-on activities, but too often their adventures translate to extra work for you in wiping away mess and grime from household items. To reinforce the importance of washing hands after play time, consider investing in a hands-free or touch-activated faucet, such as the Delta Addison lavatory faucet with Touch2O.xt Technology. The faucet turns on when tapped or when hands are within a 4-inch sensing field. This helps kids reach the water, even if the handles are too far away, and makes it easy for anyone to turn on the flow of water without transferring messes. Best of all, the faucet has graceful curves and multiple finish options that bring an added sense of style to the bath.

Make surfaces easier to clean.

When selecting paint for high traffic areas, consider semi-gloss and high-gloss finishes, which are easy to clean. A damp sponge is all you need to clean fingerprints and smudges from your walls. Behr Premium Plus Ultra Semi-Gloss Enamel paint, for example, forms a protective shell to protect walls against scuffs and marks.

Encourage togetherness with savvy storage.

Many parents designate separate play areas to keep clutter out of communal areas. Instead, encourage togetherness by creating storage options in every room of the house.

“Clutter is part of family life,” Islas says. “The key thing to remember is to have a place for everything; this means coat hooks for jackets, storage baskets, designated drawers for toys, shelving for books, etc.”

Providing these spaces within children’s reach and close to where they play will encourage children to clean up after themselves. Look for multitasking furniture such as a coffee table with a large surface for playing games together and ample storage underneath to stow toys and remotes when they aren’t needed.

Following these easy steps will ensure each room in your home meets your design aesthetic, while still offering maximum functionality fit for the whole family.