I just moved into a new house with my wife and three kids and I am at a complete loss for how to design our living room. Our kids are young, always climbing on the furniture, and finding new ways to make a mess, so I want to make sure our new space holds up to their energy.
I want to create a space that is kid-friendly but still looks attractive and well-designed. How do I design a nice comfortable living room with my kids in mind?
Dad with Three Kids and an Empty Room
Dear Dad with Three Kids,
We’re right there with you. Figuring out the right furniture for a kid-friendly room is a very common design struggle.
It’s not surprising since there are a lot of factors to consider – storage for the toys, a nice rug that can take a few spills, and finding the right fabrics for sofas and chairs. Choosing the right pieces that will last and look nice is a real challenge!
To help you get started, here are some quick tips for designing a kid-friendly room that isn’t a total eyesore.
Start With a Strong Foundation
First things first: In a room that sees heavy foot traffic, opt for a natural-fiber rug that provides a stylish and durable foundation.
The tight construction of natural fibers, such as sisal or jute, means they can stand up to wear and are easy to clean – you can wipe spots down with a damp cloth and upkeep simply requires light vacuuming.
Given the neutral tones of natural-fiber rugs, they also make for versatile staples that work wonderfully with a range of design styles and colors. You can easily place a colorful sofa or a more traditional chair together on top of a natural-fiber rug and they will combine for a cohesive and stylish look.
Stylist Tip: If you’re not a fan of natural rugs, consider an indoor/outdoor one instead. These come in a range of colors, patterns, and sizes, and are made to withstand heavy wear.
Choose for Fabrics That Do More
When it comes to a kid-friendly living space, your sofa, chairs, and pillows should also balance comfort and practicality.
Opt for upholstery that can withstand the climbing, jumping, or accidental crayon marks and spills.
Fabrics in darker hues with tight weaves are great as they better conceal blemishes. Sofas with slipcovers are another option, as you can simply toss them into the wash when needed.
Likewise, upholstered pieces covered with busier patterns will help to hide stains. So don’t be afraid to choose a chair, rug, or even pillows sporting a bold and graphic print!
Stylist Tip: Many retailers provide furniture options in stylish performance fabrics which are stain- and spill-resistant. These can be a bit pricey, but the extra cost for a piece that has longevity can be well worth the investment.
Keep It All Rounded Out
If your kids are just learning to walk or are prone to bumping into things, a coffee table with sharp, square edges might make you nervous.
One option, is to swap in a large ottoman (or a smaller, matching pair) to keep your seating area totally void of sharp edges. Some options also offer interior storage and double as a comfy footrest.
If you don’t want to forgo a coffee table completely, a round option can also be a great way to eliminate sharp corners. If you go this route, opt for wood surfaces, which hold up to scuffs and scratches and are less sharp than glass, metal, or stone tops.
Organize With Closed Storage
Having plenty of practical storage is essential for any kid-friendly space.
While open shelving and storage options are lovely, they do require constant upkeep to keep them looking great. If you don’t want to commit to high maintenance storage a great alternative is to opt for closed storage pieces. Enclosed storage easily conceals clutter and helps keep your space looking neat with minimal effort.
A credenza is great for storing toys and small knickknacks and can function as a TV stand. An ottoman or bench with interior storage is another great option for stashing toys in a pinch.
Stylist Tip: For some extra small storage, try placing a few baskets around the room (you can never have too many storage baskets) for easy-to-tote storage that’s much prettier than plastic bins.
Hang Colorful, Eclectic Art
All practicality aside, kid-friendly spaces should feel as welcoming for your entire family. Mix in some fun, colorful artwork on your walls to give your space a less serious note that your kids will appreciate. You’ll be surprised to find that black-and-white photographs can look just as pretty alongside colorful illustrations and bright, whimsical paintings of flowers and animals.
Style Tip: Choose a few nice frames and put up artwork by your kids next to your decorative pieces. Sometimes it’s these small personal touches that make gathering spaces feel perfectly relaxed for everyone in the family.