Fall Home Fall Home Fall Home Fall Home

Tips for family-friendly decorating

A glass coffee table, white leather sofa and expensive ceramic statues are popular and attractive design options. But such items are often impractical for a household with an active family. Decorating when there are one or more kids residing in a home doesn't have to mean vinyl furniture you hose down or plastic on the sofa. But smart choices can make rooms look beautiful and be functional.

In the not-so-distant past, many homeowners kept a "display living room." It was the room in the house that had expensive breakables and white carpeting perfectly vacuumed into a footprint-free pattern. This was an off-limits room reserved only for special occasions. The children of the house were often forbidden to step foot inside. Today, many people have revised their thoughts on rooms of the house -- preferring all rooms be used even if it means modifying the decor to do so.

Active families will require a design style that fits with their lifestyle, not vice versa. That means individuals should examine how they live and fashion rooms accordingly. These designs will have to take into account that children often have accidents, get into things they shouldn't touch, and entertaining company will lead to stains, and perhaps pets will cause their own mayhem.

A number of today's fabrics are forgiving to greasy fingerprints or accidental spills. Microfiber sofas often clean up well, and leather options may wipe down easily. Select colors that mask stains. Darker-colored shades or patterns are more forgiving than light beige or white. Consider purchasing the warranty protection that many stores offer on furniture in the event a stain or tear occurs. Chances are it can be mended or replaced under the warranty.

Many parents worry about sharp edges or fragile items in living areas. This can be remedied by choosing rounded designs that are easier on limbs and heads should falls occur. Consider an upholstered ottoman to serve as a coffee table instead of something wood or metal. Not only will it be soft, many ottomans have flip-up covers where toys or extra pillows and such can be stowed away. They also double as extra seating when guests come around.

Rustic, weathered design styles often fit in well with active families. That's because, should a scratch or gouge occur, it blends in with the design. Avoid frilly fabrics in lieu of simple, streamlined designs. This reduces the dirt and dust accumulation that's common with kids and pets in the home.

Don't overload furniture and shelving with a ton of knick-knacks. It gives you more work in dusting and cleaning and give kids a greater number of things to touch and potentially break.

Consider hardwood floors or tile. Should spills or accidents occur, they can be mopped up rather easily. This way you don't have to contend with or worry about damaged and stained carpeting.

Here are some other family-friendly design tips.

* Choose a paint color and finish that hides scuffs and stains. Semi-gloss finishes may be wiped down to clean off some items, like crayon or dirt. In a child's room, consider painting one wall (or a portion of the wall) with chalkboard paint. This way you can deter drawing on other areas of the home.

* Avoid long drapes. Such drapes are tripping hazards and choking hazards, and kids typically can't resist pulling on them. Opt for shutters, shades or miniblinds.

* Use stain-guard sprays or cover dining room chairs with a protective covering so that they can hold up to tomato sauce and other food items that might drop on kids' chairs.

* Buy durable items. It may cost a little more to by a dependable brand, but it will pay off in the long run when Junior is using the sofa as a trampoline.

* Keep spaces for the kids. It's inevitable that toys will stray out of bedrooms and into other areas of the house. Build baskets and other storage devices into the design so there are places to quickly store items out of the way.

* Don't wait to decorate until the kids are older. Then you'll have a room full of mix-matched things pieced together over the years. Select quality pieces in forgivable fabrics and materials, and you can have a room everyone can enjoy.