Who doesn’t love a lazy Sunday spent watching home decorating programmes on TV? But don’t let those charming interior designers fool you. Creating a functional, beautiful and family-friendly home is not as easy as their three step plans would have you believe. Behind the cameras, they have a team of experts working their magic, while you have a small budget, limited time and a family of very real people who like to leave messes and stains on your favourite furniture. Sound about right?
Thankfully, there are ways to maintain a stylish home while managing the chaos of kids which don’t involve employing a support team of stylists. Here are some of our favourite real life ideas.
- Draw up boundary lines
Have you ever been to visit a friend and wondered how she manages to keep such a pristine home with three kids, two dogs and a hamster? Before you start to feel too bad about yourself, ask her to show you the “kid zones”. We’ll bet she’ll blush and usher you around the corner to the play room, where the kids have set up a four-level fort using every cushion in the house.
The success of maintaining a family-friendly home all comes down to zoning. Mess is a necessary part of life but it doesn’t need to consume your whole home. Create areas where the kids can play freely but make sure they know that they do not have the run of the house.
Bedrooms and backyards are great places to allow the kids some freedom, granted they help tidy up once they’re done. You can also use your imagination to create different zones to meet different family needs. For example, string some fairy lights, and throw a soft rug and some oversized cushions in a corner to make a cozy book nook for quiet time, or use masking tape to allocate an area of the living room or patio for messy fun.
- Think like a kid
Before you know it your kids will be out of the house and you will have the freedom to buy every crystal vase you can get your hands on, but while they’re still living at home, there are some basic design limitations you may want to abide by.
When your kids are little, you’ll want to steer clear of furniture with sharp corners or fragile items placed anywhere in reach of small hands. You’ll also want to invest in some discreet toy storage that can keep building blocks from causing maximum foot pain. Look out for furniture that doubles as storage, such as an ottoman that can open to store cuddly toys, or side tables with drawers to stash band aids and wet wipes.
A good rule of thumb is if it can withstand a Springbok rugby scrum, it’s probably safe for your home. Avoid any furniture that looks too delicate or can be easily knocked over or broken. Chunky furniture with solid legs that can handle both toddlers and teenagers will stand the test of time, as will rugs that can be spot cleaned and couches covered in durable leather or slip covers.
The time will come for that white linen couch, but that time is not while you have kids in the house.
- Lighten up a little
You may have a penchant for modern Scandinavian design, but the chances are your kids don’t. Remember it’s there home too, so why not allow for a little bit of silliness that will make the whole family smile.
This could come in the form of a quirky lamp or some playful scatter cushions. Or, if you have a budding Picasso in the family, you may even want to frame some of your kid’s artwork and hang it on display.
If you’re feeling brave, you could even allow your kids to choose the occasional decor item. This will help them to feel proud of their home — and may even encourage them to help out around the house more!
- Bring the great outdoors inside
It’s the oldest trick in the parenting book; when the kids get too much to handle, send them outdoors. It’s amazing how even the most hyperactive of child will calm down when placed in nature. So why not bring a bit of nature’s magical calming properties inside?
A simple pot plant can make a room feel instantly calmer, while purifying the air and increasing oxygen circulation at the same time. All great benefits for growing minds! But you’ll be forgiven for baulking at the idea of having to keep one more thing alive, so rather give your children the responsibility of caring for the plants. A stylish decor addition and nature lesson all in one!
Do you have any other child-friendly ideas for the home? We’d love to hear them in the comments section below.