I read somewhere “home is where life happens” or something to that effect. I totally agree! While it’s certainly nice to have a perfectly decorated, neat & tidy home, let’s be honest. It’s almost impossible to live like that 24/7, 365 days of the year. The daily coma of family life can take a toll on your paint, furniture and accessories making decorating perfection a fleeting, if not impossible, goal.
As much as we love them, kids (BOTH the two & four legged kind) can make having the perfect decor even more of challenge. Since beautiful decor goes hand in hand with neatness and cleanliness, it’s an almost impossible feat with kids or animals around.
I consulted with a client recently who apologized for her lack of decorating. Her excuse was that she and her husband had been in a “kiddy coma” for over 10 years. I know that’s the way a lot of parents feel. It’s a very real condition in many households and no reason to be ashamed.
Kids will be kids. As they should be. But, that doesn’t mean you can’t have pretty things or a reasonable expectation of everything looking nice. Here are a few of the best tips I’ve shared with young families over the years to help wake up quickly from the dreaded kiddy coma:
1- Set boundaries. Children learn quickly. Teach them the difference between adult spaces and kid-friendly ones. Start early, making sure the kids understand which spaces are meant for child’s play and those for adult “play”. That doesn’t mean the two can’t or won’t overlap from time to time. But, if the kids have a space that is all their own, they’ll be less inclined to trash the ones you would prefer to keep neat and pretty.
2- Storage. Provide plenty of it! It’s easier to keep things looking neat and tidy with lots of storage. Cabinets, trunks and storage ottomans are great accent pieces in your decor. And they offer perfect places to tuck things away. If possible, toy boxes should have lids and should be tucked behind a sofa or chair. And don’t forget decorative boxes. They’re both a beautiful addition to your decor and very useful to keep life organized.
3- Paint. No matter how hard you try, expect your walls to take a beating, especially with younger kids and animals in the home. Save yourself time and money by using the right paint for the lifestyle in your home. Most paint manufacturers including Benjamin Moore and Sherwin Williams now boast products specifically designed for durability and washability. And while it’s better at hiding blemishes and touch ups, flat paint tends to show rubbing and burnishing. So, consider using a satin or eg-shel finish instead. Finally, I find an ample supply of Mr. Clean Magic Erasers™ is a must-have in any active household. (Just be careful… they can remove paint as easily as finger prints.)
4- Area rugs. Inexpensive, cleanable area rugs are much cheaper and more easily replaced than other wall to wall floorings. Protecting high traffic areas with inexpensive rugs will help protect the finish of hardwood and make carpet last longer.
5- Upholstery. Your gut may tell you to go a cheaper route with furniture. Unfortunately, all furniture has a “life expectancy” based on its quality of construction. Kids can be rough on furniture. Cheaply made furniture will need to be replaced more frequently and may cost more, in the long run, than more well-made pieces.
The key to buying furniture that will stand the kid-test is to pick fabrics that are both durable and cleanable. Check the cleaning code of the fabric. “W” is the code used for the most forgiving and durable fabrics because it can be cleaned with Water. “WS” refers to fabrics that can be cleaned using Water and/or a mild Solvent.
Depending on the price and coverage, fabric protection insurance from furniture retailers is a good idea with young kids and pets. Many cover accidental spills and bodily fluids (both human and animal). DIY fabric protectors from Scotchgard™ and others can also add a layer of protection.
Home is definitely where life happens. And life can be messy sometimes, especially living with kids. Using these ideas and making smart choices as you decorate your home for an active family lifestyle will help you wake up from the “kiddy coma” much sooner than you might have expected.