How to nail stylish, kid-friendly interior design room by room
Trust me when I say this: Kids. Destroy. Homes. So how do we go from the ‘double income, no kids’ sleek, curated home to a safe but stylish space catering to the messiest fingers and bucketloads of dribble we all come to ‘love’? It’s all about planning for the future and making the right choices, based on form and function. Ready? How can you make your family home stylish but comfortable, durable but not daggy!
This zone is a nightmare to keep clean at the best of times. Short of hiring a full-time cleaner, there are a few steps you can take to ensure the heart of the home is beating smoothly and muck-free.
Anyone with little angels knows the chaos that is the breakfast/before school combo. It is truly a war zone. The best bet here would be a butler’s pantry, if you have the space, or a ‘butler’s cupboard’. This way, all the gear from the morning routine (toaster, bread, kettle, etc) can be easily packed away, leaving your space free of clutter.
Natural stone and marble benchtops are best left to the unencumbered homeowners (so, those without kids). They’re too easy to stain and too expensive to be forking out for the little ungratefuls. Instead, consider a composite stone such as Caesarstone, Smartstone or Essastone, as they are a mix of quartz and resin, and virtually indestructible. A new matt-finish laminate, AbsoluteMatte by Laminex, has a soft, sleek look and a fingerprintproof, scratch-resistant finish.
Grout can become a grime magnet on a tiled splashback. For an easier wipe-up, opt for a single-slab splashback in the same material as your bench or try Beaumont Tiles.
If you’re building from new, you’ll want your kitchen layout to enable the little tackers to run through, as they tend to do, without tripping you up. This is best achieved with a walk-around island bench or a double-entry galley kitchen layout. Keeping the foot traffic in your kitchen flowing is key to functionality.
Kids love a handle, and the best way to keep their grubby little paws away from your cabinetry is by installing push-to-open drawers and cupboards. At least it will take them a little longer to figure out how to get into every corner of the kitchen.
A mid-mount wall oven is the safest option when toddlers are underfoot. It will not only save your aching back, but also may save a burnt little hand or two by keeping the hot stuff out of reach.
The living area
This is where the kids’ 1.3 million toys will live – and for those of us without the bonus of a separate rumpus room, you’ll need some clever planning to keep the space looking somewhat presentable.
Furniture that serves two purposes can help keep all those toys packed away. Try an ottoman or a sofa with hidden storage inside, or even set aside a few cupboards in the entertainment unit for all things Peppa Pig and the gazillion books.
You can kiss goodbye that lovely velvet or linen lounge you had your heart set on. The cascade of vomit, avocado and smushed blueberries can destroy even the toughest of fabric couches, so leather is the way to go. Avoid the lighter leathers if you can, and make sure you clean it often and as recommended. Although leather can seem a bit cool, dress up your sofa with plush cushions and plenty of texture. If you’re buying a new lounge, pay that little bit extra for the ‘no questions asked’ warranty. You WILL use it.
Kids’ heads seem to be a magnet for sharp corners or a solid edge, so choose furniture that will ‘soften the blow’ every so often. Selecting a round coffee table, an upholstered arm on the sofa and cabinetry that extends all the way to the walls will save plenty of bumps on the heads of your little treasures.
Like the sharp edge of a table, kids are drawn to the TV that blares The Wiggles at 7.05am EVERY morning (can you feel the angst?). Mount your heavy TV on the wall and you’ll never have to worry about your kids pulling your expensive pride-and-joy down from a shelf, or hurting themselves in the process.
Bathroom routines are the bane of every mum’s and dad’s life. It’s either World War III as you even hint at the idea of personal hygiene, or the bathroom has been turned into the set of Waterworld, with toys strewn over the floor and litres of water lapping at your ankles. If we can’t prevent all this, at least smart design can quell the chaos.
A smart bathroom layout will be your best friend in here. A wet zone can contain all the water-based fun in one area, preventing you from getting wet feet when you brush your teeth at the end of the night. Try having the shower next to the bath and a glass wall dividing that space from the rest of the room.
Large-format tiles do away with excessive dirt-attracting grout, saving your Saturdays for fun things such as going to dance recitals and footy training instead of scrubbing the bathroom floor. YAY!
Ditch the whole shower/bath combo. Visually it’s a mess and it can be dangerous for both young kids and older folk. If you can afford the space, a separate shower and bath ticks plenty of boxes, looks so much better and caters to a busier household.
Glass doors can be a big hazard for kids with slippery hands and feet, so ditching the swinging glass door will be a godsend. Install a fixed glass panel and save on cleaning the hinged edges.
Dark grout on the floor of a tiled bathroom will hide so much more dirt and grime than a lighter grout. You could even take it a step further by committing to an epoxy grout (as opposed to the regular cement-based version). This resin-based grout is much hardier and will look better for much longer.