Kid spaces are some of my favorite to work in as they are the perfect opportunity for some whimsy, fun, and colorful designs. We are in the thick of child-rearing with three girls ages 3 and under, so we currently are living in a very family-friendly home, including a living room that doubles as the playroom!
One of the most important things I think about when I think “kid-friendly” is SAFETY. I won’t go into a full description here on how to child-proof your house, but a few things that relate a little more directly to decorating would be:
Cover any unused electrical outlets.
Place heavy/bulky items on bottom shelves so they can’t fall.
Anchor furniture, especially tall shelves and dressers, to the wall if necessary (especially if you have a climber!).
Place non-kid-friendly items out of reach or behind safety locks.
Be mindful of where you place coffee tables, end tables, or anything with sharp corners. Lots of furniture pieces have corners the same height as children, so try to keep head bumps and such to a minimum by rearranging your room(s) appropriately.
Consider replacing rectangular tables with round ones without corners. Or how about a soft ottoman instead of a traditional coffee table? A lot of ottomans also can be used as storage for blankets, toys, etc. Now that’s killing 3 birds with one stone (safety, function, & style)!
Now that we have the space “safe” for little ones, let’s talk about some fun kid-friendly decorating tips! I’ll separate this into two sections – kid zones & family/other zones.
Kid zones (Kid bedrooms, designated play rooms, kids craft areas, etc.)
Use colors that are appropriate for the gender, age, and personality of your child(ren).
If you’re not one that likes to change up colors too often, select colors that will be appropriate both for your child now and when he/she gets older.
In play areas, choose energetic colors that encourage creativity and playfulness. Think yellows, oranges, greens. If the thought of a brightly-colored room scares you, subdue colors with a bit of neutral tone to them. Or—choose a neutral color for walls and brighten up the space with a fun rug, curtains, or colored furniture.
If you want to involve your child in deciding what they want the space to look like (or if you just can’t decide on your own!), narrow down the colors to two or three options and let them pick their favorite! This would especially be fun for kids in their own bedroom!
Use multi-colored or darker-colored rugs for play areas to keep them looking clean.
Natural rugs or indoor/outdoor rugs are great for this, but you may choose a plushier rug for kid comfort when they’re playing on the ground.
Paint in eggshell, satin, or semi-gloss finishes for easier cleaning of walls.
Place shelves or toy storage low enough for kids to reach what they need.
Cube shelves are very popular for kid storage for good reason – put these horizontally instead of vertical so all the bins are accessible for little hands. You can even use a short cube shelf as both storage and seating.
Before we had kids, I vowed to keep our main living room as much as I could looking like a living room and not as a child disaster zone. During the days I can't say that is the case, but once all the littles are in bed, our living room actually gets put back together pretty respectfully! Here are some of the functional ideas for kids stuff in non-kid zones that have worked for us.
Use functional, practical furniture.
Leather, microfiber, and darker furniture are great options for homes with kiddos. You could also use slipcovers for furniture that you can just throw in the wash.
Choose an appropriate floor plan for your family preferences.
Do you want to be able to sit and watch TV and still see your kids playing? Do you want kids to play in a separate, designated area? Are there unused spaces in your home that you could convert to a play area or other function, even if it’s temporary?
FUNCTION, FUNCTION, FUNCTION.
As a busy parent, anything that can simplify life even a little can be a big deal! Because my daughter and I spend so much time in the living room each day, I have pretty much every daily essential in there. Diapers/wipes, medicine, lotions, clothes, pajamas, headbands, socks, shoes, toys, blankets, burp rags, books…it’s all in our living room. We don’t have a huge living room, yet it doesn’t feel cluttered at all because everything has its own home in baskets, bins, or the closet. We currently use a coat closet in the living room as her closet because it is just SO convenient on a daily basis. I’d MUCH rather walk a few steps to the closet than run upstairs a few times a day to get what she needs. This may not work in your house or for your preferences, but it works for us and that’s really the important thing. Likewise, think about how you could perhaps move things around in your house to make them more convenient and functional for your family.
Save kid-looking storage pieces for kid zones.
If you have the same goal as me to keep your family areas looking less like kid spaces, choose storage that flows with the décor and style of the space. Not only will this conceal toys and kid stuff for a less cluttered look, but you’ll also be able to use the same storage for different uses once the kids are grown! Baskets, ottomans, and trunks are all great options!