Yes, You Can Have Nice Things: 6 Secrets of Kidproof Home Decor

As a parent, I can personally attest that the struggle to keep an orderly house is real—especially when your little people seem blissfully unaware of the havoc that sticky juice, sidewalk chalk, mud, and so many bodily fluids can wreak on your couch, your rugs, and your sanity.

But take heart (and learn from my mistakes), fellow moms and dads: It turns out you don’t have to swath your entire home in plastic sheeting, or deck it out in shabby-looking, bargain-basement finds for the next, oh, 18 years. You can keep the luxe factor in your home—even during your kids’ most destructive phases—but you just have to know what to look for.

Heed these designer-approved tricks that will have you saying, “This is why we can have nice things.”

1. Choose dark, patterned rugs (and don’t spend a mint)

Photo by Natalie Myers

“When in doubt, go darker,” says Whitney Parrott of Everything Creative Designs in San Diego.

The rationale here isn’t rocket science: The lighter the rug or pattern, the more you’ll notice, say, grape jelly (or—ahem—red wine). A nice dark pattern can conceal all manner of sins and makes for easier cleaning.

And while it might seem obvious, resist the urge to drop major cash on rugs, especially in high-traffic areas such as the dining room (have you seen a hungry toddler at mealtime?). Instead, check out big-box stores or online retailers for more reasonably priced options.

2. Embrace easy-to-clean fabrics

Photo by Adrienne DeRosa – Crypton sofa

“The fabric genies making textiles today get it about kids,” says Jaimee Rose of Jaimee Rose Interiors in Phoenix. “New weaves such as solution-dyed acrylic are colorsafe and cleanable with bleach water (even if your sofa is red, blue, or black). This doesn’t have to be stiff outdoor fabric, either—there are yummy velvets and linens.”

While Rose personally loves fabrics made by Perennials, she also raves about another textile that’s a crowd favorite with the mommy market: Crypton.

“Think Kryptonite,” she says. It’s “soft, beautiful, indestructible stuff. I’ve seen people literally wipe red wine off of white Crypton fabric without a trace left. You’ll be seeing a lot more of this.”

Crypton Super Fabrics has been around since 1993 and has been steadily gaining in popularity for its chic look and durability—the fabrics have even been installed in the White House and Buckingham Palace.

Another tip from Maize Jacobs-Brichford of Brynn Olson Design Group in Chicago: Look for fabrics labeled as “performance.”

“Sometimes it’s an upgrade, but it’s definitely worth it in the long term so that your furniture can withstand kids” (and dogs).

3. Reconsider leather

Photo by Houzz

Have you been avoiding leather because it’s too luxe? There’s no need! For an easy-to-clean option, consider leather dining chairs, sofas, or accent seating: Most high-quality leathers simply wipe clean. And how’s this for a bonus: Scratched, gently used leather actually looks better over time.

4. Look for upholstered ottomans

Photo by For People design

This option will have your home looking enviably chic and keep you from worrying about your coffee table’s dangerous sharp corners.

“Upholstered ottomans can appear so luxurious and are safe for your little ones,” says Christina Hoffmann, an interior designer and creator of luxury e-commerce lifestyle site Epitome Home.

If your room is on the larger side, choose a few smaller ottomans and group them in front of your main seating area to mimic the look and feel of a larger coffee table.

5. Lean in to that rustic look

Preempt your kids' destruction by opting for some distressed pieces.
Preempt your kids’ destruction by opting for some distressed pieces.

It might seem counterintuitive, but Chicago designer Summer Thornton swears by incorporating rustic, antique-looking pieces throughout your home.

“That way, when a little scratch or ding happens, you don’t notice it,” she says. “It just adds to the overall charm and complexity of the piece.”

6. Take advantage of built-ins

Photo by Chip Webster Architecture

It’s nearly impossible to contain all of your kids’ stuff in their bedrooms, regardless of how big your living space might be. To control the chaos, consider built-ins with closed storage, which Thornton calls “a godsend for families.”

A good interior designer or contractor can create a system for you with open shelves at the top for books, accessories, and other breakables, while closed storage at the bottom can hold board games, dolls, and other toys.

“We’ll usually build them and incorporate baskets that hold the toys, so kids can just throw all the toys in the baskets, parents can toss the baskets in the built-in and then close the door,” she says. “It creates instant organization.”

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