Kid- Friendly Design Rant

Let's talk about "kid friendly."  I may be tired today or I many be impatient this morning, but I'm going to say it pretty straight:  You CAN (and SHOULD!)  have a well-done beautiful home with children in the house. 
I find that sometimes kids are people's excuses for not getting exactly what they want or for buying ugly furniture.  Not okay.

{Coastal Living}

There are plenty of beautiful homes out there and most of them have (or had) kids living in them while they still looked beautiful.  Yes, kids are messy and they will turn your house upside down, but generally this mayhem is pretty fixable.  (My house looks like it was ransacked by burglers multiple times a week but it's just "mess" not damage.) 

There is no reason why having kids should keep anyone from buying a sofa with a beautiful silhouette or fabric.  Yes,  we might have to choose the ottoman instead of the glass coffee table in the family room, and there are safety issues we need to look at, but there are beautiful child-friendly options for just about everything out there.   (Let me be clear too, that I'm not talking about money/ budget issues...  if something unattractive is chosen for a room because cost is an issue, that's completely different. )  Curtains & pillows can still be made in beautiful fabrics that will withstand time.



{Coastal Living... I'm in the mood}

I think it's important when putting together rooms that people have realistic expecations.  They should also understand the pros and cons of what they're choosing.  So yay, we have an unattractive piece of furniture that they kids can't destroy no matter what they do to it:  Does it matter if they can't destroy it if it's an eyesore on a daily basis? (Ever had a piecce of furniture you pray gets destroyed so you can justify replacing it?? ;)

I'm typically pretty diplomatic on my blog (and in person) but I do have very strong opinions about certain "don'ts."  (Some of them, I've even committed myself and now regret!! )

Some things are REALLY unattractive to me and I see a lot of young families with kids - or even just young couples & single people- buying these things.  (Including me!)  Here's a quick list:

-Upholstered pieces with bulky silhouettes / bad lines.  (I honestly think that a lot of the upholstery being sold / mass marketed is pretty bad.  (I even own some of it.) ...I think the typical furniture "set" that the typical young family goes out & buys isn't attractive.   I've seen it over & over: the microfiber sofas with big arms in some sort of darker neutral color.  (My friend Maria of Colour Me Happy recently wrote about microfiber here.)   (And I own some microfiber so I'm not just outing others here! ;)    I wish this trend would just STOP now.  I really do.  (Why?  Because microfiber/ suede isn't at all timeless.  It looks very manufactured/ fakey and the "suede" doesn't fool anyone.  I will admit that I find it to be very practical, although there are other practical options that look much better.)



- Lighting:  Insubstantial iron lamps on either side of a sofa.  Sometimes being afraid of glass or porcelain scares families into buying the generic lamp.  They haven't taken any risks, and it shows. 

-Artwork: "Decorator" artwork can be everywhere.  It's those large pieces -either framed or on canvas- that can be of anything really that takes up a lot of space/ fills the walls, but feels like it belongs in a hotel.  And be wary of ikea's artwork too.  Some of it can actually look pretty good but it can feel really impersonal/ generic.  (Again, to out myself, I've bought this stuff before too!) 


{Generic Tuscan = my pet peeve}

-Rugs that are too small.  I see this all the time.  Sometimes rugs that truly fit a space aren't readily available, so families just buy what they can.  (The rug might sit in the middle of all of the furniture instead of under it.)  They might figure that the smaller rugs are cheaper and that their kids are young and messy and it's not worth spending on the right rug becausee the kids will destroy it anyway.  But not so!!!  Get the right material, and you can have the rug for life, even after the kids have grown up & gone. 


{Don't do it!!}


There are definitely more & these are just the ones off the top of my head, but please don't hate me for that list if you own a micriber sofa with bulky lines or have "Tuscan" artwork all over your house.  I wrote that list not to find fault with anyone who has these things in their homes, but to hopefully raise awareness.   When I walk into clients' homes and see these items, there's no judging.  I too have purchased these items a time or two, and have worked really hard to train my eye & hone my sensibilities, which is an ongoing process.  

 Most of us working in the design field & those who are reading magazines & blogs are growing
design-wise almost daily.  And sometimes part of that growing is realizing we've maded "don'ts" in the past & being okay with that.  Maybe we can't fix them right now, but we can at least start a plan for the fixing and be sure not to make the same mistakes again.

I came up with a short list of things to keep in mind when thinking about decorating a home with kids & I think it even applies to single people or couples.  (I'll be honest that I'm the one in the house who usually makes the most damaging messes...  well, my dog does too.)

The fundamentals are:
-Washing hands  (a LOT)...  teach the kids to do it automatically after meals to avoid accidents on soft goods.

-No ball (or anything) throwing in the house. 

-Teach kids to put away their things (hahahaha  I have been trying this for years but it never gets any easier...  just try not to give up the fight.)

-On pretty things low & within reach:  When my kid first learned to walk, they were too little to understand "no" and pretty much wanted to touch & pick up everything / anything I'd put on the cofee table or other low areas.  For that point in time, I removed breakables & bouquets from their reach.  (Now that Justin is "getting it"  at a year and a half, we have breakables/ flowers/ plants back out on the tables and he's pretty goood with them.   Every once in a while when he's being naughty and wants some attention, he'll pick one up and (start saying "no no no!" and then I'll put it up for a lilttle while.)

-No eating/ drinking on the upholstered furniture.  (Exceptions are made for movies & dry snacks like popcorn/ gold fish/ etc.)  Heee heee I have completely broken this rule myself, but mostly on our slipcovered sofa.  One night about a year or so ago, I went on a chocolate binge and just started eating chocolate chips on our family room sofa (which is an off-white/ natural slipcovered shelter sofa).. And I fell alseep and woke up with chcocolate all over the sofa.  (How gross am I??)  But all came out because that slipcover is THE BEST.  And sometimes  a little someone will escape with dirty fingers or with something yucky and we'll find a mess on something upholstered but we just clean it right away and all is fine.

- On white:  It depends on who you are & if you're into slipcovers/ washing, but white can be very kid-friendly.  Some people think the thought of having to wash a slipcover as ridiculous, while I love it.  (Ie the "chocolate incident.")  I have both off-whit and pure white slipcovers and I like my off-whites better because they don't show any general dinge.  The pure whites do.  Both are easily fixed but it really just depends upon you & what you're willing to do.  I think living with all dark furniture -if it's not your style- is a bad thing. 
 It's important to notice the difference betweeen white and natural/ oatmeal/ beige & gray. Pale neutrals give you a LOT of wiggle room.  They can even read white in a room.  (Everyone who visits thinks of my family room sofa as white, but really it's a sort of natural/ off-white color.)   But the important thing is, they're not PURE white and don't show every little tiny thing.  Just being slightly off saves mulitple washings a year.
 
- On upholstery.  If you can, and when you can, buy good upholstery and plan on having it for many years.  You can reupholster it when the fabric's worn/ dingy or the stuffing's flattened.  Have realistic expectations about it.  I've heard lots of different "rules of thumb" for upholstery lifespans, but ones I hear a lot are 5-7 or 7-10 years.  (And I've seen fabric last 30+ years at my grandparents' house...) Either way, just know that the fabric will age and that's okay.  Some fabrics age beautifully (ie linens, velvets) and others hide things like patterned fabrics.  Just know what you're getting into and be okay with it.  But upholstery will eventually neeed to be freshed up if you plan on keeping it for life.  That's reality.

-On rugs.  Buy good rugs.  They don't have to be expensive.  They can be seagrass or cotton but make sure they fit the space & needs of the space.

Anyway, I'm off for the day, but I'd love to hear your thoughts on these subjects.  I also hope that I didn't hurt any feelings with my list of things that I find unattractive.  I normally try to keep my posts focusing on the positive, but these are just a few things I see over & over that I think ruin rooms.  If you have some of these things & truly love them, then that's what's important.  Enjoy your day!!


xoxo, Lauren

If you'd like help creating a home you absolutely love, contact me about our design services.

82 comments:

Jane @ The Borrowed Abode said...

I think this is a great post. The straight-from-the-Room-Store microfiber sofas are one of my pet peeves!

Life of Style said...

Thank you for this post, I totally concur as I am a designer, have 3 kids myself, and think you can have beautiful things plus children (pets too) all in the same place. Yes my upholstery does get dirty, someone comes to clean it every few months and a few things have broken over time but it is not worth living without all these lovelies. Your kids will grow up to appreciate them too.

Becki said...

Decorator mom of twin boys chiming in to say "yes yes yes" to what you've said. I think it's also important to make the kids spaces fabulous so they stay out of my stuff :)
And can we add the big cheapo iron pieces to the pet peeve list?

Becki said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
raladtx said...

I understand hating on microfiber, however it holds up well and cleans easily. I can't afford professional upholstery and have to buy from the box stores. What sofas would you suggest for someone on a budget?

Domestic Engineer said...

I loved this post! I am not a microfiber fan. Lack of money caused me to live with the herringbone sofa I bought when newly married instead of jumping on the Natuzzi leather, oversized armed dark leather, and then microsuede sofas. Thank heavens for small favors. We bought denim sofas when the kids were little for the gameroom and still have them 15 years later. They age just like a pair of worn in jeans. Cool. Our sofa downstairs I've had for 10 years and it is a textured beige/gold/green tufted back sofa. It looks just a few years old, mostly just because we need to adjust the bottom cushion. The arms and dramatic back look brand new. It is not worth it to buy stuff for just a short time. Teach your kids to respect nice things and do your best. BTW, I still love my tufted storage ottoman I bought at Ballards and had covered in a leopard chenille. I'll tell you, good quality chenille, not the stuff that was mass marketed, holds up extremely well. I am so over the leopard now, that I may look at one of these sunbrella velvets you spoke of to reupolster it and just have them replace the down wrapped cushions in the sofa since the fabric looks great.

Sarah Kuhn said...

LOVE. IT. Totally agree. I don't like the sofas you spoke of, but the lamps and the generic tuscan artwork(which ive also owned before) are a major pet peeve. I would rather have nothing on my walls(whichis practically the case, thanhave that. No offense to those who love it.

Carla@DesignintheWoods said...

Totally agree. I love using Sunbrella type fabrics now on indoor upholstery for families with kids. I just did a beautiful tufted sofa out of a Kravet Soleil in white for a family with a rowdy boy. You can clean it with bleach if necessary. Durable doesn't have to mean ugly. Great post! You always echo my thoughts.

m e g a n said...

Yep we did all that when we bought our first pieces of furniture, matching sofa and chair {in microfiber but sleek not bulky}, matching coffee table and side tables, and a set of 3 matching lamps. I'm now weeding them out and trying to collect pieces that are different but go well together, I like the look as if it's been collected over time, new with old, nothing matchy matchy. Loved this post by the way...and totally agree with it all!

Meg

Valerie Wills Interiors said...

Here here..... there is absolutely no need to have a yucky house when you have kids... I suggest big hampers where toys can be thrown into at the end of each day. Teaching kids good habits is the key.

Cherie said...

I did not want to be one of those Nana's with a do not touch house -- we had our new sofa made with a sunbrella fabric and it's so durable and beautiful. But, like Lauren, we don't encourage snacking and eating on the sofa and the kids wash their hands after meals, esp the toddlers. Not a big fan of microfiber either though we do have a small couch in the bonus room in this fabric -- waiting for it to show more wear and it's outa here!

Margitta said...

five kids - off white slipcovered sofa's... it works for us. Microfiber is great for cleaning rags. For sofas? NOT. Right now we live without rug, because we cant afford a large one... (:
Great article!

Lindsey said...

As a young couple who's starting to talk about babies and at the same time wanting to refresh our decor, this post has perfect timing. As we talk about slipcovering and getting a new coffee table, I've been concerned with little dirty hands. I appreciate the confidence!

Also, could you give me some more information about your slipcover - what kind of material, where is it from, etc. That would be great!

Thanks! I love your blog!

Lindsey @ One Sweet World
bakerlg.blogspot.com

Sherri Cassara said...

Two things... I do the same thing with chocolate chips ALL THE TIME... those things are deadly. I raised two kids and multiple dogs with white furniture - easiest thing ever - everything comes out and no fading! I prefer the true white because the off white leaves a fade mark if you use a bleach pen - which works great on red wine spills by the way! Great post! Happy day off ;)

vignette design said...

I've been thinking about this subject a lot lately. My daughter has two girls exactly the same age as your boys and their house is one big playroom. I think it's possible to have too many toys! I want to do a makeover for them! You really hit the nail on the head with the faux Tuscan artwork and faux suede fabric. To me, it all belongs in a cheap hotel! Ugh!

Rachel said...

Yes, I love this post. We are a younger couple and have avoided these pitfalls even though we are on a budget. I hate the microfiber and the matchy matchy stuff so we live with an underfurnished house since we can't afford to get a bunch of nice stuff all at once.

It is possible to get a sofa with great lines without shopping one of those stores. We got a Rowe sofa with very sophisticated lines off of Craiglist - the seller kept it in immaculate condition so we got a great deal at $200!

What do you think Ikea's Ektorp sofas? I love the price and the colors of slipcovers they offer (love the white and the deep charcoal make me swoon) but the thick roundyness of the arms kinda bothers me.

Also, our biggest dilemma in decorating on a budget is working in hand me downs yet still developing our own style. Any tips?

40daysof said...

I agree. I have a lot of friends with a lot of kids and I see this stuff pretty often. But in most cases I think it's budget and time related, not because they love it.

Courtney said...

Generic "art" in homes drives me crazy! I know that art has differing levels of importance to people, but as an artist ideally I only want original art on my walls or occasionally a print purchased from the artist. This means that my walls are more bare than I'd like them to be, but it also makes the art I do have special. And as my collection grows over the years I know I'll have something unique that can be handed down to my children and possibly even theirs.

ddu said...

Lauren, thanks for your candid thoughts. You may discover one day that teenagers are harder on furniture than toddlers -- bigger feet, clumsier buddies, bigger messes!

On the microfibre issue: We recovered our beautiful Buatta-style chintz sofa after 15 years, more because we were weary of the pattern than because it had worn. So durability was important but not the most critical factor for the change. We chose a microfibre in the hope of getting us through the teen years (see above!) without a huge investment in fabric. So far, so good. In another five years, we'll change out the fabric for a finer finish -- and then wait for grandchildren to draw all over it with crayons, ack! The superior workmanship of the sofa's underlying structure has been the abiding element in all design changes, and that has been worth every penny spent in 1989!

Best wishes!

Elisa @ What the Vita said...

I love it when you're honest on your blog!! I'm pregnant with my baby right now (only 9 weeks to go!) and sometimes I get worried that all of my hard work so far might turn out not to be child friendly, but your rules make a lot of sense and seem possible. We plan to have a no-eating rule in our living room, so we're trying to enforce it on ourselves right now! Hard to follow, but worth it, especially with our new rug!!

Jeni said...

what about my kids? they are 3 furry shedding messy cannot wash their own paws Labs that I have to keep chairs on the couch when I'm gone so they don't nest. They've ruined every rug in the house and the hardwood floor? don't even get me started....

UrbanCountryMom said...

Thanks for saying something about bulky, micro-fiber furniture. This is one of my pet-peeves too. Especiallly the two-tone, dark brown leather bottom with tan microfiber cushions. It's everywhere. Stop the insanity! :)

Sofas should have good legs and I'm a huge fan of white. Especially white/ivory leather. It is very kid and pet friendly.

Gretchen O. said...

I AGREE Wholeheartedly to point 1, 2, 3 all of it!!! My children have learned to live and respect our home.... it is their friends that I have to worry about that haven't learned to NOT swing bats in the house! I love when you post on this subject, b/c I think our kids are better off learning to live and respect nice spaces...ours or any one elses!!! Amen sista!

diane@onlinefabricstore said...

I raised three kids with a white couch and white embroidered dining room chair seats. How? First of all they were taught to respect belongings...dont put your feet up with shoes on for example. But they can get comfy once their shoes are off. While they were young we simply put beach towels on the chairs at dinnertime and i had those chairs for years. Still have the chairs,just different seat cushions. Kids hear "no" too often and that makes them curious. I never put locks on cabinet doors, just had one cabinet my daughter could explore with nothing harmful and the other cabinet was a "no" to her. It worked! and I am so with you on the generic artwork!! Interesting post, Lauren.

Katie @ covestreetblog said...

Lauren,
Well said, thank you!

paula said...

amen sister. Love this. Although the other day my boy did play ball in the house and broke a glass room in his room. Oh well, life goes on.

Jodie Okun Interiors said...

ok...i am still laughing about the choclate chips! that is too funny! i totally agree with you on having a beautiful home with children...it can be done! and the lamp, rug and tuscan prints...you are right on! but...i am guilty of using micro-suede. it was for dogs though not kids! is that better? anyhoo...as usual you are making me think about using other things in the future. b/c it definitely isnt my first choice. thanks for being so direct!

Elizabeth said...

I totally agree with everything in this post. I don't own a house and don't have kids, but I plan to do both and am starting research now, because I want to buy older (ie better made) furniture off craigslist and recover it (no I don't expect this to be less expensive, just better quality and to be exactly what I want) I also follow Maria and loved her suggestion of sunbrella fabrics, there is nothing I hate more than microfiber and bulky sofas.

Miss Rubio said...

Could not agree more...hate generic crap that looks like its out of a tacky furniture store show room. I dont have kids...well at least not the 2 legged kind, i have 2 indoor dogs that sleep on our bed and hang out with us on our sofa and I still love having nice pillows and comforter and rugs..if they mess up pillows then oh well, we buy more. I'd rather spend a few xtra bucks on making the place look nice and my own style than cheap and generic. Great post. Have a beautiful week.

Katy said...

I think this post needs to be written a thousand times! We share the exact same pet peeves, and I've committed several of them myself (mostly before I started reading blogs and became interested in design). I've never given in to the micro suede furniture thing though...ugh. I don't understand the obsession! :) It's so true though, that people who read design blogs are learning on a daily basis...I was just thinking the other day about how much more knowledge I have gained and how much my design taste has changed just in the last year! Great post.

needspark said...

GREAT POST! I couldn't have said it better, but still struggling to live it myself. :) We keep putting off replacing the worn, hand-me-down furniture "until the kids get a little older." Thanks for the push and reminder!

Lane McNab said...

I literally jumped up off of my white slip-covered sofa and yelled "Yes!" as I read your post! You're my new hero and I am going to forward this to every friend/client who sighed, threw their hands up and said "but we have kids" as they bought the dark brown microfiber sofa. There are also affordable ways to have a beautiful home as I can attest! Thanks for a FANTASTIC post.
theurbanorchard.blogspot.com

kayce hughes said...

So well said. I am a huge fan of slip covers in our kitchen/family room where we live.

April @ A kitchen table for two said...

Amen sister! I don't know if it's just here (I Live in the Phoenix area) but fake tuscan art/deco is EVERYWHERE and I just want to take people by the hand, walk then through a Kirkland home and say, "there's more than this out there!" And I had to search for 6 months on craigslist to find a sofa that was not microfiber and/or overstuffed. Thank you far saying all of this and showing people that kid friendly doesn't have to mean design drab!

A Country Farmhouse said...

Well put Lauren! I absolutely agree!
xoTrina

Carrie said...

Holly at Life in the Fun Lane has a great post about living with white. http://www.inthefunlane.com/2009/06/realilty-of-living-with-white.html

I have committed so many of these sins... We have the microfiber recliner sofa upstairs in the toy room to prove it! But, there was a time and place for it and I think ours served us well. It's just like anything else, a trend that has passed (unfortunately the big stores haven't gotten word yet). Let that be a lesson in and of itself. Don't buy/make something for your home just because it's popular (we see this a lot in the design blog world, don't we... not all sunburst mirrors are attractive or right for every space, people!). Just go with what you like and others will see the love and be comfy in your home, too. Even if they are sitting on a microfiber sofa set!

Fiona said...

I fear the damage my cat will do more than the damage my daughter will do, to be honest! I know my daughter (admittedly, a pretty obedient child) will follow my rules most of the time and will tell me IMMEDIATELY if something spills. (You'd think the house was on fire; I've trained her well!)

But that said, I have a microfiber loveseat I got from ABC Home that is actually very attractive. It's red and modern. I think a lot of times, it's the lines of the sofa that matter most.

I was eyeing a pretty velvet sofa, but with the cat...not happening.

JoAnna Jackson Garnto said...

SUCH a GREAT article! I'm bookmarking it to come back to again. Thanks for you awesome insight.
PS. I'm new to your blog and I LOVE your house!
-JoAnna
www.re-Ublog.com

rebecca @ older and wisor said...

I love that you put in the disclaimer about budget...if I had to wait until I had saved up enough to buy a rug that was the "proper" size (we don't use credit cards), we'd have to live without one for YEARS. Yes, I'd love to have timeless quality things, but I'd also like to eat.....following design rules will always be a lower priority than groceries ;)

(And I think it's interesting that a lot people who commented about having whatever you want with kids in the house don't actually have any - HA!)

Cyndia said...

Standing! Clapping! I know that there are compromises that have to be made when you have kids, but that doesn't mean you have to give up good-looking furniture and design! I always encourage clients to buy the best they can afford, and that it suit their lifestyle. Sunbrella fabrics or slipcovers work great with kids. And just simply laying down some groundrules such as washing hands and not eating on the furniture goes a long way toward protecting the life and look of the space.

Shelley said...

Agree that having kid friendly decor doesn't mean you have to compromise on style. Am neutral on microfiber but don't like the imprints left. Like the sunbrella option, though. Think that nice artwork, tasteful lighting and "bigger" area rugs really finish a room. Also wish clients would put more emphasis on buying a nice rug. It makes such a difference. Love your blog for its design insights and cheery delivery.

Boo Hazard said...

I loved this post! It's great to be real with everyone and face some realities of bad design. Isn't that our job as designers?! If y'all got a sec, I did a post on a terrible offender of bad design a cpl months ago:

http://bywaterboo.blogspot.com/2011/05/that-awful-sofa.html

- BOO

Natalie said...

hahahahahhahahahahaha i LOVE this.
i, too, am a self employed interior designer who has committed many of these faux-pas in my past...granted they were during my newlywed-we-cant-afford-anything-except-target-"artwork"-lets-just-fill-the-walls-NOW phase. i have accepted these mistakes. but sophisticated taste takes time, just as sophistication does :) so i dont give myself TOO hard a time. but mass-production in general is my ultimate pet peeve.
UGH!
thanks for sharing

Brenna said...

Great post. I agree with your statements. I am totally laughing about the chocolate incident. Great visual. :)

JNoPie said...

Lauren-
I've been reading your blog for at least a year or two at this point and this has to be one of my favorite posts. Maybe it's easy for me to say this as someone who doesn't (yet!) have children, but it really frustrates me to hear the "I have children, I can't have nice things" excuse! How can children ever grow up to appreciate nice things if they don't grow up around it? I'm not talking about expensive things either, just the fact that some things and places should be respected.
As a museum curator, I also LOVED your comment on the faux-Tuscan painting epidemic. I don't know what we can do to stop its spread around the country, but it's got to stop!!! A child's framed finger painting is a much cheaper and more thoughtful alternative.
Seriously, you and your blog has shown me that you can have children and have special, fun and comfortable design. Keep up the great work and thanks for sharing your thoughts.

monirose said...

Thank you for your fantastic advice!
First, because I agree with you completely that in everything (including our home) we shouldn't wait to do it the way we want until after our children are gone -- surrounding them with a beautiful home and personal things is very formative!

Also, thank you for confirming for me getting rid of two things: namely, those yucky and useless table lamps, and the tuscan print... know anyone who needs those things? ;)

Sonda said...

What is the best material to look for in rugs? Thanks

Unknown said...

This is hilarious! I always say I'm going to start a non-profit to raise awareness against house abuse. Too often, it's seen as a victimless crime, but we've all been perpetrators and unwitting accomplices. ;-)

Sixty-Fifth Avenue said...

Such a great post Lauren! I have been in so many homes with children and their furniture is ruined...among other things.
I knew I wanted to do something different when we had a family. Everything still looks great five years later. I'm sure my friends think I'm a loon because I wipe their kids hands and dust them off before they go off to play after a snack. But it really can work. And teaching kids to respect their home is a good thing.

alison@MyLittleHappyPlace said...

Cracking up as I read this post, sitting on my dark-neutral microsuede couch! Yeah, it definitely needs to get a life - ha!
Love what you had to say - perfect advice!

Camille said...

Amen.

B.x said...

This post was a delight Lauren, Well Done! There is nothing sadder than a generic family home with no personality. Children should add to the richness and character of a home, not be used as an excuse for its absence.

Jacci said...

Yup. I totally agree with everything you said! We're welcoming our 5th child into the family next month (our oldest is 10) *and* they're home all day because we homeschool. Our living room sofas are natural/stone colored slipcovers and we have bright white slips in the family room. I have to wash the white ones more, but we follow similar guidelines to the ones you posted, and I'm just now about to wash the stone slips for the first time in the 8 months we've had them. Someone got a marker streak on the seat cushion. But, they're washable, so we review the "markers stay at the table" rule and do an extra load of laundry. No biggie :)

Mary Catherine said...

Lauren: This is a fabulous post! You have such incredible taste, and I appreciate that you shared your tips on how to keep a pretty home and let your kids play!

Jerico Jien said...

This is indeed very coastal. I like the light blue and white combination. Perfect! It's glamorous and very refreshing.

"braun k650"

Amy said...

Amen and Amen! ....and can I add to the list matching light fixtures. You are saving the world one sofa at a time. :)

Maria Killam said...

I adore your 'rant's and thanks for the mention! Awesome post!
xo
Maria

Chesapeake Chic said...

Love this post! We had white slipcovered sofas and I did get tired of washing and so (in spite of being told I was crazy a billion times) we went out and bought Natuzzi white leather sofas with the rounded arms so that they'd resemble the coastal, relaxed look I was looking for. We have a 3 year old, a 1 year old and a clumsy me, the sofas have definitely been tested, but I love that when something spills, it can usually be wiped right up with a wet cloth!

Catrina said...

Thank you for your post. I have a four year old and am in the midst of a living room make over. I'd love to hear more on what type of sofas, lamps, and rugs you recommend in rooms.

Ann said...

I'd be interested to know how well your green velvet sofa is holding up. It's beautiful, btw. Is it outdoor fabric or regular? I think I want to go velvet next time, but worry about cats and the occasional spill. How well does yours clean up?
Ann
ruggles6546@sbcglobal.net

Karen said...

Lauren,
As a mom of two adult sons and now our first granddaughter I couldn't agree more. Its all a matter of how you teach your kids to respect their surroundings and give them plenty of options for play. I'm so happy to hear a young mom share your thoughts on this topic, thank you.
Karen

Laura said...

Love your don'ts Lauren! You give such practical advice and I love your style. I'm glad you give it to us straight!

P.S. I'm inching my way towards a "purer style" at my home.
www.welivethegivenlife.blogspot.com

Kellie Collis said...

These are really wonderful tips! Kids should never be a reason to not to have a beautiful home. Enjoy the fabulous day, Kellie xx

Kerry said...

I couldn't agree with you more. Most
overstuffed furniture being sold is wrong in a number of ways. I have a 2 year-old, so the lucite coffee table will have to wait. In the meantime, I refinished an old coffee table in a distressed finish so that our family room can be relaxing and she can't really destroy the table. My sofa is newly reupholstered in a Pewter color that is easy to spot clean.
Don't even get me started on art,LOL! I only buy and hang original art but that doesn't have to be expensive. I buy from Etsy and Ebay often.
Great post.

CRICKET said...

I have two small children and a dog. My pet peeve is walking into a house that is decorated with Homegoods items. There is no personality...

I have one custom couch but when it came to the budget for the playroom all that was left was microfiber. I agree with "raladtx" above what do you suggest as an alternative? Say $800-$1200 range.

Wives said...

Lauren, this is brilliant. Everyone knows someone who is a perpetrator of the microfiber match-y set from a mass-produced, low quality home furnishing store. I want to vom when I see them. I often almost feel like a hypocrite when I look at my own sofa, that I had custom made, but chose a gray herringbone suede fabric to cover the dog's harshness on my furniture. in the wrong light, it can look microfiber-ish, with swoops of cross fade where you rub your hand. oh well, it was the right choice for our family, er, dog, and its such a good quality piece that I may have Paul make a slipcover for it one day.

You know what else i HATE!!?? The glossy fake leather look that you also get some said stores. Even Ikea and Target have a lot of that. You see a lot of storage cubes, dining room chairs and even sofas with that plastic-y dark espresso colored "leather". people really need more help than they know :)

Meredith said...

What other furniture options would you recommend? Indoor/outdoor fabrics? I could use some good ideas and options!

Lisa, An American Mom said...

Lauren, I love this post! I was just thinking about this today after visiting another mom's house where they had white walls, beige furniture, and really no style to the house whatsoever. I understand they have 3 kids (and they're older than mine), but it makes me wonder if I'm missing something. We are contemplating buying furniture for our formal living room which right now is bare. I am hoping to find kid friendly, yet stylish.

I'd love to hear more of your thoughts on kid-friendly design because I think it's possible too, but need help with it. And for the record, we have a massive brown leather sectional in our great room. We just bought it and love it because it's sooo comfortable and durable. But yeah, it's brown. :( I'm working on adding color to the room via a rug and paint.

Laura Lynn said...

Amen! This train of thought was always a pet peeve of mine. (With the exception of the cost issue. Sometimes there are more important costs.) I blogged about this same topic once.

I was raised in a home where my mother had good taste and nice things. She always talked about investment pieces but didn't go hog wild buying things. It was thought out and money was saved up to make a purchase. People always asked her how she could have such nice antiques and how they stayed that way with 4 kids.

She just simply said that if they grow up around it, it would just be their way of life; respecting their surroundings and enjoying it too. There was never any reprimand for running in the house or anything like that.

Kids will be messy and careless at times and inevitably something will break but it's nothing that can't be fixed or replaced. We just gotta roll with it. And I'd rather enjoy the time with them now in surroundings we love.

Thanks!

decorartsnow.com said...

I agree with almost everything but the microfiber. I thinkit can look good and be comfy on the right silhouette.
Plus, although slipcovers can be great if you are ok with the loose shabby look and the maintenance, they are not for everyone.
I have had them and the washing can be a drag.
Lynn

under spanish moss said...

Dear Lauren,

We agree with every word and at one time we would have just bought a piece not thinking long term. Life changed, kids came, and style was a must! You can have style... you just have to think smarter, not work harder and keep practical hygiene rules!

Thank you for a wonderful post!

Have a great week!

XO,
Renee and Angela

Susie @ Maddie's Nest said...

Agree with much of what you have said. I've got a 9 month old and a 3 year old and I really refuse to decorate around them. Funny enough I've got a very high end rug in our family room but it hides things like spit up like you wouldn't believe....and I send them out to get professionally washed from time to time. I, personally, am not a huge fan of slipcovers....but I am just too into a more tailored look for myself. My big pet peeve is the living room or dining room turned into a full on playroom. Really? We are still adults....not just parents...But, to each their own....just my opinion.

Jilly said...

Your home is looks very beautiful with numerous stuffs. People keep this furniture in smaller spaces. This kind of furniture completely fit in your home or office. You get enough space in your home with this type of furniture.
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Alison said...

What a great post Lauren! Like you I live in northern Virginia, which I think is a major hub of all things microfiber lol. I have an Ikea Ektorp sofa and loveseat in my family room, currently covered in crazy floral print slipcovers from Bemz, and my neighbors think I'm nuts. Oh well, I LOVE them, and of course they stand up great to the baby and pets.

Linda Merrill said...

Great, great post Lauren! I get so frustrated with people when they claim their kids will destroy everything. And yet, because I don't have kids, I feel like I can't contradict them with authority. So, it's nice to hear someone with two young children say it loud and proud!

Karen@StrictlySimpleStyle said...

My kids are now 16 and 20 so I feel like I can speak intelligently on this subject. You are absolutely right. I've always tried to create a good looking yet family friendly how. My furniture choices early on were leather pieces and more recently white slipcovers. Someday I'll chose different options but those choices allow for my kids to live in a home where there aren't so many "rules" about where you can and can't spend time. I don't want to be one of those parents who has rooms that are off limits.

Jakabock said...

I couldn't agree more. Its sad when you think that families have to live in a "play pen". It's not as if a home is specifically for children... its a home for the family. So the entire family should be happy living there. I also agree that most are afraid that if they purchase "nice" things, the kids will just destroy them. But perhaps the kids are destroying things because they are not nice. Or maybe there should just be some ground rules for the family. Either way... great article.

You Don’t Know Jak

Megan said...

I completely agree with you. The thing that bothers me the most is the generic "hotel" art. For this reason, I find myself doing a lot of DIY art in my home, and being very selective over what I do purchase. To sympathize, art is rather expensive, but I feel it's worth it to take your time in choosing art for you home. I would rather have bare walls (and do) than purchase something generic just to fill a space. Another thing - art should be pesonal and meaningful, and something that does not just follow a trend, it should be something you love.

Starr @ The Kiefer Cottage said...

Yes Yes YES!

I grew up in the home of an avid antique lover. We learned what we could jump on (nothing--we could go outside) and what we needed to respect (everything). It was awful having friends over sometimes because something would always end up broken. We never broke stuff ourselves, and it wasn't until I was older that I realized my pals were never taught to take care of things. Sure, they're just *things*, but my mom still has a house full of her pieces. They're still beautiful, and I'm now over 30.

Hate the generic art, too. Gimme something with flair!

andieandrews said...

Hi Lauren! I love reading your posts. This one made me laugh so hard! Thanks for a good start to my day!

Cote de Texas said...

CHEETOS - never!!!! my daughter was never allowed to have ketchup - EVER!!! or spaghetti with sauce - only butter! all those things just stain and cause dirty hands. ugh. to this day she doesn't care for ketchup that much becuse she never was allowed to have. or cheetos or doritos. i just can't stand dirty hands that leave prints everywhere = esp. going up stairs - she wasn't allowed to put her hands on the stair walls. now, she WAS allowed to smoke pot and have sex - those didn't ruin my house decor. hahahah.

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