Can Kids & "Nice Things" Co-exist & The Best Fabrics & Finishes to Use With Kids

Our Work | May 28, 2013

First things first! I hope you had a great memorial day! And secondly I wanted to make sure you know about my instagram giveaway going on right now! I am giving away one kids room e-design!! That’s right. If you have a kids room that needs some design help you could win an e-design plan designed by me! 
So make sure you head on over, follow me on instagram and enter the giveaway! 
And now back to our series! 
Today I am asking the experts if kids and nice things can co-exist? And also what are their favorite fabrics and finishes for kids. 

I believe that kids and nice things
can co-exist, just not perfectly.  I love decorating with white which is
not normally deemed kid friendly.  I used to use dark colors in order
to be practical but I hated the colors I was using.  I finally just
started lightening up my home because it made me happy.  I’m still happy
with my white walls, finger prints and all.  If you go light like I did
just make sure to use a semi-gloss as flat paint is really hard to
clean up.
far as furniture goes I love a mix of old and new.  Old pieces are
great with kids because the more banged up…the more character.  If you
are opting for a lighter couch (which truthfully is hard to keep clean)
than opt for slipcovers that can be thrown into the wash.
if anything is very precious or has a special memory attached to it by
all means put it on the top shelf.  There are no guarantees.
– Trina, La La Lovely
I want to be able to shout “YES!!” to this question… but honestly?
 The answer is more like, “meh”.  We’ve had our fair share of mishaps
around here and not everything has survived the carnage.  One thing I do
swear by though is microfiber.  Both our couch and our dining chairs
are microfiber and no amount of thrown food, baby throw up, or even
dry-erase marker has managed to penetrate them. 

– Stephanie , Modern Parents Messy Kids 

I absolutely think you can have a beautiful, magazine-worthy home with kids – it’s all about making thoughtful selections and being realistic. Pillows are going to end up on the floor so make sure they have zippered closures and can be washed. Spills will happen so select floor coverings accordingly. Would I leave an heirloom Tiffany glass bowl on a coffee table with 3 toddlers running around. Um, no. But you also don’t have to live in a personality-less, brown filled home. If there are things you love and can’t bear the thought of having broken, then yes, place them out of reach. But don’t banish them all together. As kids get older and learn to control their impulses a bit, I think it’s important for them to learn boundaries. In the meantime, here’s my cheat sheet list of things that work great in houses with kids. 

– Dina, Honey & Fitz

I truly believe kids and nice things can co-exist!!  We’ve got “breakables” in our house and yep, sometimes they break.  (Lamps seem to break more than anything else around here.)  In terms of pretty, kid-friendly options for furnishings-   I’ve had luck with white washable slipcovers on furniture, along with good leather and stain-treated velvet. I use a lot of wool rugs and sea grass rugs because not only are they beautiful, but they can really take a beating.  I don’t have much that’s truly “precious,” more just things that I’m crazy about that I’ve found over the years.  When we have a baby or toddler around (every other year or so it seems at this point! – 3 boys so far 😉  the breakables move higher up around the house and some go away for a while and come back when it’s safer for the object & the child 😉 😉  I love collecting old paintings and I’ve found that artwork is something in our home I’ve never really had to worry about the kids wrecking.  I’m also a fan of hutches and open shelves for the same reason- things are safer up on the walls & out of reach.  Also, having touch-up paint around is key for fingerprints, the occasional crayon or just general random grossness that I may find on the walls.  I have the same paint color in almost every room in our house which makes it easier.

– Lauren  Liess, Pure Style Home

I completely understand the need to baby-proof a home, for safety reasons when littles are growing and curious.  I do believe, however, that decor and kids can co-exist.  Once kiddos reach a certain age, they are able to understand what is for play and what is for pretty.  It is fairly simple to find lovely decor that is not breakable, which can be kept at lower levels, and nicer more fragile items can always be displayed on higher decorative shelves and bookcases. 

When it comes to furniture and fabrics, I have found that indoor/outdoor fabrics work best in heavily used kid areas.  We upholstered benches in the playroom with outdoor fabric, as it repels stains and is easy to clean.  I like to use outdoor throw pillows, inside on the couches for the very same reason.  Our family room has a large leather couch, and boy oh boy has that been a decorating road block for me.  But it has held up maintenance wise better than any other furniture we have ever purchased.  As we have slowly been upgrading the furniture in our nicer living area and kitchen, I knew I had to find something that would still work and be durable with kids, but not be leather!  I have found that polyester velvet cleans up so nicely, which is what we ultimately ended up going with for both our sofa and a cozy reading chair.  
In our kitchen/dining room, I tried numerous seating solutions before finally just going with what I had wanted all along, which was white slipcovered chairs.  I thought I may have been asking for punishment, but every couple of months I just toss them in the wash, and they look like new.  Sure, it’s an extra step, but they are so comfortable and I just love the softness they add to the dining area, yet if the kids or I spill on them, they are completely cleanable.  We also paired the table and chairs with a bench upholstered in a moleskin fabric, that also wipes right up with any spills and has also been really great with kids.  Last but not least, I am a rug addict, and a few have been really perfect for our family: Flor carpet tiles which can be lifted, washed and replaced, natural fiber rugs which hide stains and are easy to clean and dark wool rugs, which again, easily disguise traffic and any kid prints.  

– Jen , I Heart Organizing  
Our “everyday suede” Pottery Barn- the Pearce sectional is super kid-friendly.  Every sippy cup spill wiped clean with soap and water.  We do eat here occasionally too and I just vacuum it about once a week to catch the crumbs. The “baby-safe” large faux-leather ottoman stayed with us until my son was about two, then I exchanged it for an oval mirrored coffee table.  I love the new look, the only downside is that the mirrored top gets lots of fingerprints from James playing with his toys on it and I have to wipe it down almost daily if I want it to look nice.
 These wooden bench seats are particularly good for kids because there is no fabric to clean and they are pretty indestructible. We eat, color, and do play-dough on this table.
 Our home has a large entryway, perfect for riding bikes and motorized scooters, but I really prefer those be kept in the garage and ridden outside!
– Megan, Honey We’re Home

I think that they can. It always makes me laugh when my friends kids come over and are always grabbing at the decorations and touching everything.  I guess that my girls were just raised to know that we don’t touch the “stuff”.  At the same time, my friends let their kids wrestle and play rambunctiously in their house and I don’t.  I think it’s about setting rules from the beginning and sticking to them. 
Kids and nice things can co-exist! I always said that I would never
change my home just because I had kids and  while I only have one child
and he is just 17 months I have yet to make any major changes. 

1st tip: Set boundaries: Even though my little guy is still really
young and doesn’t understand everything I say I still show him and try
and teach him what things are off limits in the house. Mainly these
items are things like lamps, vases, photo frames, and artwork. I don’t
want him touching these things because if they fell they would break
into a million pieces and possible hurt him, but secondary they are
things that I picked out because I loved them and don’t want to see them
disappear.  Of course even with my constant pleas of don’t touch that I
have had a vase or two hit the ground. I may pout for a minute or two,
but seriously it’s just a “thing” and no one got hurt so it’s easy to
get over it.
2nd  tip: Take Precautions:  If you are super attached to something
or have something that is super expensive or one of kind it’s probably
best to store it for a while during the toddler stage. I think in the
majority of cases are home aren’t filled 100% with to the trade/1st dibs
antiques so it’s safe to say you would probably only be storing one or
two pieces while your little gal or guy gets a bit older and understands
the concept of not touching something and being careful.

3rd tip: Call in for reinforcements: A couple of additional items in your closet will help out when you have kids.

– 3M command velcro strips:  So I can velcro down a vase or lamp that Hudson is constantly grabbing for some reason or another.
– 3M command decorating clips so I can hide lamp cords that look oh so tempting to pull. 
Krazy Glue
: So a broken vase, etc can be glued together quickly before I lose any pieces
Carpet Cleaner
: In case my little artist spills something on my favorite rug
and let’s face it in my home they are all my favorite
Bleach Pen
: In case my all white sofa gets a stain
Museum Putty
: I use this on the corners of my framed artwork so they can’t be taken down easily

tip: Anticipate: You know your child(ren) so if you know they have a
trigger like they just love to grab that elephant figurine (I have an
obscene amount of elephants) and it’s on the high shelve of your
bookcase and they are going to try and climb then make sure you place it
on a lower shelf so they can grab it. I know that Hudson loves yanking
flowers out of a vase so I always place my flowers out of sight level so
he doesn’t freak out.  Doing little things like this can help pretend
tears from both parties.

5th tip: Relax. I have clients all the time that get me to design
beautiful spaces and present design plans and then I never get to see
the finished product because they don’t want to order anything because
their child is going to climb on the sofa and fling him/her self off it
along with dangle themselves from the chandelier and pull down every
window panel they put up and dance on the coffee table, etc. I honestly
think that’s going a bit overboard. I know many people have active kids
that like to get into everything, but I think if you follow the tips
above you’ll be able to have a nicely designed room that both you and
your children can enjoy. In my living room I  have an all white sofa
with pillows made out of designer fabric that cost a pretty penny, 
vintage lamps I adore, a glass coffee table and window panels held up by
clips and we hang out in there all of the time. Yes on occasion their
has a mishap, but overall everything stays put. 

Kid friendly fabrics:
– Velvet (linen or cotton)
Vinyl (In order to make it more design friendly I would go for a
textured option like an ostrich:
-Outdoor fabric (comes in a huge array of patterns and price points. A
designer favorite is Perennials Fabrics
-If you are
ordering to the trade favorite many companies now offer a nano-tex
treatment to their fabrics that will help with stains and spills. 
– Camila Pavone, Effortless Style 

I love using non-kids fabrics and designs in kid rooms.  We all know the “theme” cartoon character type space is not a fave of desginers but I continue to be in love with the trend away from “kid room cliches” and the increasing use of chic fabrics in kids rooms…really al kids need and want are books and a few toys to make it their fabric or furniture is really off limits for a kid space as long as it is safe and farily durable! Kids love antlers and wheels and things that light up and color! If you are a perfectionist white slips probably aren’t for you
whether you have kids or not.  They are hard to keep perfect but if you
really love the look of a white sofa like I do you can make it work with
spot cleaning and washing. Most things will come out but they may leave
a dingy little spot of aftermath.  You have to decide if you can live
with that, often you can just flip a cushion or hope the stain is where a
pillow will be!  If you have an inexpensive IKEA ektorp or PB sofa you
could even have an extra set of white slips.  I love white, it brightens
my older cottage and its not perfect but  that is okay.  And if you get
a stain on a print or color you cant use bleach.  I also like borax for
my whites.
– Holly Mathis, Holly Mathis Interiors 

We love our “What’s Cooking” Kitchen appliances from Land of Nod. The neutral colors make it easy to give to a boy or girl. And if you don’t have your own playroom this Kitchen set would fit in seamlessly to any living room, bedroom or kitchen. Jett seriously spends hours making food and tinkering around in his kitchen. Not only do these items look great they are also sturdy and are sure to last for however many cooks you have in your kitchen. 
Missed the series the last time around? Read the answers to the same question from a different panel of experts here