How to Create a Chic but Kid-Friendly Home

Time Several Hours

Budget $ $$$

Skill Level

WORDS BY Gillian Grefe

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Published on June 2, 2020

Can toys and a minimalist aesthetic peacefully coexist? Is it possible to have an Instagram-worthy home when kids are in the picture? Can you get grape jelly stains out of a white rug? The answer to all of these is “yes.”

We absolutely love questions about designing kid-friendly homes that are still chic. We firmly believe you don’t have to sacrifice style to create a home that feels good and functions well for the whole family. 

Here are a few of our favorite tips for kid-proofing a stylish home (stain removal kit not included):

In your living room, skip the traditional coffee table in lieu of a large fabric ottoman, one of the most versatile pieces of furniture you can own

An ottoman’s soft edges ensure no bumps or scrapes (and resulting tears) during playtime. Ottomans also add a cozy vibe to your entire space — the kind that makes you want to kick up your feet and relax. And, they’re a great design element to weave in a complementary texture, color or pattern. 

We love the Kim Salmela striped ottoman at Crate & Barrel for its timeless pattern and relaxed palette. Or consider this circular leather beauty with tuft details from Article to add rich texture and warmth to your room. For smaller spaces, we recommend placing two identical, oversized poufs side by side, like this durable wool option from Cove Goods. 

For all of the above, layer with a tray and coffee table books to complete a well-styled look.

Speaking of coffee table books, they’re one decor element a designer can’t live without.

They’re not just for coffee tables anymore. We stack them anywhere and everywhere (think consoles, shelf moments, under our laptops during these WFH-with-kids days) because they add visual height and create a layered look. 

Luckily, this stylist staple is also a kid-proof accent. If you’re on the hunt for decor that can’t be destroyed, particularly when arranged on lower surfaces that little hands can easily reach, bring in the coffee-table books. 

And if you can’t bear to display the latest Rizzoli or Assouline title with a crayon-wielding kindergartener in the house, you can pick up amazing pre-owned books at your local thrift store and on eBay, or by searching for gently used copies on Amazon.

Bookshelves are a designer’s best friend, but they can be challenging (and potentially dangerous) if you have a toddler who wants to remove every book, vase and family heirloom within arm’s reach. 

We suggest opting for a statement sideboard with glass doors. Typically found in a dining room, a sideboard allows you to show off your books and decor vignettes without the risk of styling destruction. 

Some of our favorites include this traditional iron stunner from McGee & Co, a more contemporary and colorful design at Crate & Barrel, and one with luxe details and art deco flair from AllModern.

blues interior design

To create a home that’s comfortable for the whole family, choose fabrics wisely. You don’t want to be on edge and stressy every time your kids go near the sofa with sticky fingers. The good news is there are a wide range of stylish, kid-friendly fabric options available today. 

One of our top recommendations for both durability and sophistication is leather. If you’re willing to invest in long-term quality, leather will endure beautifully over time, developing a well-loved patina that adds warmth and character. 

Beyond leather, the options are countless. Fabrics like microfiber, canvas and Crypton are popular for families because they’re stain-resistant and require minimal care. 

And don’t forget Sunbrella! It’s an outdoor-indoor fabric that will, quite literally, weather the years and elements (including wine). And it’s just as stylish in your den as it is on your deck.

Pro tip: Some retailers, like Interior Define and Joybird, offer quick filters to easily discover kid-friendly fabrics.

It’s never too early to teach kids to put away their toys. Leverage storage bins and stylish baskets (including baskets with lids) to hide play things after playtime. 

Or take it a step further: Research has shown that when kids have too many toys, they are more easily distracted, and the quality of their playtime suffers. It’s far better to have fewer toys they really love. 

So feel free to pare back on dolls, Matchbox cars, coloring books, etc. By limiting the quantity, and incorporating storage opportunities, you’ll reduce clutter in your space and create a calmer vibe for your kids. 

Even without an excess of toys, kids still need room to move about and let their imagination carry them on countless homebound adventures (especially these days).

Be sure you include open floor space in your layout so kids can stage an impromptu dance party or hop from sofa to ottoman to avoid the dangers below.

Because everyone knows the floor is lava.

Ready to tackle a home design project that the whole family will love? Take Havenly’s style quiz to get started.

Words by Staci Sturrock