What are the Best Fabrics and Finishes to use With Kids?

Our Work | October 19, 2010

Outdoor fabrics, pleather, laminated fabrics, leather, slip-covers.  So far I would have to say stay away from silk velvet couches:) ha!….Actually I have a silk comforter that shows a mark every time a kids crawls all over it and slobbers.  Oh and stay away from flat paint.
-Christina Brian  Full House
Hardwood floors, satin finished interior paint, medium to dark upholstery. I bought a white shag rug for the babies room. Big mistake.
-Danyelle Mathews Dandee Designs
Stay away from veneers! Furniture made from solid wood can always be refinished, whereas a table with a veneer top will probably not last long with younger children! Leather is a great choice, just wipe any mess away, and tweed fabrics with texture will nearly always come clean after an accident. 
-Janell  Beals   Isabella and Max Room’s

This is contrary to many’s beliefs but I go WHITE all the way.  But it all has to be washable or wipeable.  I love using faux white leather (aka vinyl) on many of my upholstered pieces.  I also have custom white slipcovers on my sofas and two of my dining chairs.  Here’s the thing.  You would NEVER not wash you bedding.  However, if you think about your sofa, people do a lot more dirty things on their sofa then they do in their bed.  Sofa’s are slept on, drooled on, jumped on, sweated on, etc.  People never wash their sofa’s either…germy!  With custom white slip covers I can wash and bleach them whenever I need to.  Love them!
-Michelle Hinckley Three Men and a Lady
Outdoor Fabrics are great and extremely durable when it comes to kiddos and four-legged friends.  Chenille, duck and cottons are good- think anything washable.  And when looking for new pieces, or having old ones reupholstered 1.) Make sure to get slip covers made so that you can just toss it in the washer and 2.) Scotch guarding is a must.  
-Krista Salmon Kiki’s List 
  I know some people are totally opposed, but I swear by our microfiber sofa.  I’ve gotten out every gross thing you can imagine, even blood from a scraped knee, and the sofa still looks good. 
Emily Clark   
My hubby talked me into a couch that is leather and has the ultrasuede pillows. It wasn’t my first choice. I have to now admit that it has been amazing. It is in a room that is primarily our playroom and family hang out space. Everything comes off of it and it hasn’t shown any wear and tear at all. Kudos to the husband. And I can have fun with great throw pillows from a design aspect. When it comes to the children’s bedding I love the down alternative comforters. They wash and dry so nicely and you can switch out the duvet anytime you want to change things up {bad habit of mine!}
-Courtney Fernan   A Thoughtful Place
Despite the conventional wisdom that eggshell and satin finishes are washable,
I prefer flat paint – because it’s easy to touch up without having to repaint the
entire wall. I speak from experience when I say that, while it may take a couple
of coats, even cream paint covers crayon marks. I’ve also found the Benjamin
Moore Aura paint to hold up remarkably well. It’s expensive, I know, but I think
it’s worth it, especially for those areas (hallways, stairwells) where you know you
are going to get hands on the wall.
White – so long as it’s something washable – is actually quite practical because it
can be bleached.
Of course, outdoor fabrics are wonderfully durable – and now, often soft
and quite sophisticated. You can even find velvet Sunbrella! Ultrasuede is
wonderful, not only for children but also for that glass of wine that you know
will get spilled at some point. Textured, tweedy fabrics also tend to hide
My Pottery Barn painted kitchen table has not held up well. If I had it to do
over again, I would have purchased a table with a catalyzed top coat – which
is basically an endurance finish that resists just about everything. Otherwise, I
would have had a piece of glass cut to go over the top of the table. That is one
of my favorite tricks! It’s virtually invisible on the surface of the piece of furniture,
but it protects against sticky hands or Hot Wheels tire treads. Plus, then you can
clean it just by spraying it with some Windex.

I stay away from beaded or silk pillows and fabrics like twill for non-slip-covered upholstery.  Leather and heavy woven upholstery fabrics wear beautifully.
We install wainscoting or bead board painted in semi-gloss paint in high traffic areas, like halls, stairways and bathrooms. Little handprints easily wipe off of semi-gloss paint, and the added architectural trim adds character, warmth and value to any space.

-Autumn Design Dump
I use outdoor fabrics all the time! My LEE Industries roll arm sofa is upholstered in ivory Sunbrella velvet and I LOVE it! I can literally spray the thing down with Clorox and the color and fibers won’t get destroyed! 
I also use indoor/outdoor rugs a lot. Dash and Albert makes some really great outdoor rugs that don’t look or feel like many others do. I also use FLOR tiles a lot in homes with pets and children. It’s so nice to be able to replace a tile or an area that gets damaged.
Make sure to invest in good rug pads with kids. Keeps rugs from sliding and gives some extra padding for slips and falls.
If you have upholstered dining chairs, go with outdoor fabric or (my favorite) vinyl. My dining chairs are getting upholstered this month in a soft gray ostrich vinyl that looks just like leather, but I can spray them down with counter cleaner after meals.
I don’t ever like to use flat paint on furniture or walls in homes with kids. I try to keep the finishes at least as glossy as eggshell. The more gloss, the more durable and the easier it is to wipe down.
-Jenny Komenda Little Green Notebook 
I think white linen is great because it can be bleached or other less harsh methods to clean and linen is a strong fiber. I also use a lot of ticking stripe and outdoor fabrics are great. I think outdoor rugs are great… curious about sisal, natural fiber rugs and kids. Nothing works great with vomit but juice and goldfish would be fine I think. I do  let my kids eat in the living room on little ottomans with slipcovers. I just wash them a lot. 
Holly Mathis  Holly Mathis Interiors

Best fabrics are leather for upholstery, oilcloth or vinyl for bench seats, indoor/outdoor for pillows, and patterns that are busy and multicolor so you wouldn’t notice a spill.  You can also get any fabric coated so it’s like oilcloth to use for benches and chairs as well! 

Caitlin Wilson