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Reader's dilemma

Tasha emailed with a dilemma. "I'm a single mother to a 17 month old about to move into an apartment (have been living with the parents to save money), and I was wondering if you had any tips for making a place kid-friendly without LOOKING like it's kid-friendly. I'm wanting classy but functional, and ideas about how to pull that off. I sorry, this may be too broad a request, but I'd appreciate any insight you might have!" Where do I begin!!

I'm a firm believer in children enhancing your life and not restricting it. There are responsibilities with keeping your children safe (no knives on the bench, faulty electricals and exposed sockets, dangling blind cords and the list goes on) but I don't think we have to live in a padded room or a cold white germ free box to keep our children safe. Here are just a few ideas.

Slipcovered sofas and chairs. Dirty? Put it in the washer. White is fine because you can bleach it. All over busy patterns are great because they hide the sticky hand marks. Leather is good and I have even covered my dining room chair pads in oilcloth - spill and wipe clean.

Focus on the walls. If you can't have too many nick nacks out on side tables then fill your wall with art to create the focus. High shelves. Keep those precious pieces on display but out of reach. (There's a great example above in the domino picture just ignore the booze bottles ..... oops.)

LivingetcFree Spirit Interiors
LivingetcJonathan Adler
Elle DecoBohl Architects

Ottomans make great kid friendly coffee tables. No sharp corners or glass and a large stable tray can provide a spot for drinks. So what if it spills. Pull off the slip cover or hey live with it because if it's a dark colour it will hide the juice stain. Rugs can be cotton and a size that can be thrown in the washer.

Collections can be in screw cap bottles. Lena from a couple of posts ago had wonderful bottles holding all sorts of normal choking hazards. Screw the caps tight :) I could go on and on but I'll stop there. Perhaps the readers could chip in with more suggestions.

The photos I've found will give you an idea. Just remove the hazards you see with your imagination. A couple of Jonathan Adler ceramic pieces on a coffee table are just asking for trouble but that picture has a good example of a child friendly pattern. Relax, enjoy and if it gets broken or stained or there's a small bruise on your little one that's all part of living with kids. Hey your biggest problem isn't living stylishly with a toddler, it's living stylishly on a just moved out of home budget. Good luck and buy vintage!

Reader Comments (10)

Soft furniture and as minimalist as possible. Fabrics that are stain proof and will hide dirt. Also, not a lot of stuff on tables, specially stuff you like, because it will become a toy and will break.

28 May 2008 | Unregistered CommenterYoli

Oh my I love that first photo! It looks like a patchwork quilt fireplace! So amazing!

28 May 2008 | Unregistered CommenterIF+D

I love the first photo, too.
as a mother of three I have say leather resist children very well.

28 May 2008 | Unregistered Commenterkarina

I love the patchwork upholstery. So fresh and yet very forgiving I am sure!

28 May 2008 | Unregistered CommenterFreshly Found

I read that clothing designer Bill Blass has always covered all his couches in white Sunbrella fabric and let his five golden retrievers just be at home. I've seen several photos and they looked quite lovely. I have 2 and 3 year old and my choir rug has held up against many spills. Good luck!

28 May 2008 | Unregistered CommenterKaye

Ikea has very afforable and comfortable slipcovered furniture including a wonderful ottoman that doubles as a toy box. Buying multitasking pieces of furniture is always a good idea in a limited space with children.

Anna :)

28 May 2008 | Unregistered CommenterVilla Anna

Thanks, jo! The high shelves I had thought of, but the ottoman/coffee table/toy box is brilliance. I'd been searching for a coffee table, and EVERYTHING I'd found seemed to be asking for headbumps.

I was already planning on slipcovers, but it hadn't occurred to me that they would make cleanup that much easier. And leather...also a very useful thought.

I knew it was possible, I just needed a place to start. Your help is much appreciated. =)

29 May 2008 | Unregistered CommenterTasha

You're welcome Tasha :) and thanks everyone for your ideas!

29 May 2008 | Unregistered Commentermidcenturyjo

My husband and I are slowly doing some major reno to our house on Bribie Island (an hour from Brisbane). Kid-friendliness is always on our minds and this post was awesome! Thanks for sharing all your ideas and those beautiful pics.

30 May 2008 | Unregistered CommenterJanet

Faux leather sofas are wonderful because you can clean them up with a damp rag. Baskets and buckets are a great wayt to corral kid stuff and a great way to teach babies how to clean up after themselves (it isn't overwhelming if everything goes into a big bucket). I frame and hang my kids art along with my other art and it makes them feel that they are a part of each space so they respect it more.

30 May 2008 | Unregistered CommenterFaith

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