How to make your decor kid-friendly without sacrificing style. Decorating when you have kids is certainly possible when you adopt the right mindset, choose where to spend and where to save, and get them on board to help!
“She must not have kids…” I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve gotten that comment, or some variation, on social media images or even here on my blog. Pack away your great-grandmother’s clear plastic slipcovers, because I’m here to tell you that decorating with kids is certainly possible.
Honestly, you probably already knew that. I’ve noticed that many modern moms and grandmas understand that we don’t have to completely sacrifice style for function in kid-friendly decor. The problem is in getting started and finding the right balance!
Decorating With Kids | How to Make Your Decor Kid-Friendly
1. Adopt the Correct Mindset
When I reply to the comments that I do have kids, there are sometimes follow up questions. Don’t they stain things? Get fingerprints on the walls? Break things?
The answer? Yes, they do. They break things and stain things and drive me bonkers with their messes and clutter. However, these things would happen whether my decor was “nice” and “light” or not. The biggest thing I’ve found about decorating with kids is that you just need to do it anyway.
Although I don’t see this as much anymore, back in 2014 when we painted our orange oak cabinets, it was a more controversial practice. One of the most common (and perplexing) comments was, “they’re going to get so dirty”. My rebuttal: that dirt is there whether it’s painted white or not. I’d rather be able to see it and clean it than let it build up! I basically take that philosophy and apply it to anything in our home the kids touch: white slipcovered sofas, bedding, light paint colors. It may mean a bit more maintenance, but I personally find that it’s worth it to have the decor I love.
To look at that in reverse, I also understand that I have to have a relaxed mentality with my kids. That’s not to say I do it perfectly, I get as frustrated as any other parent when they’re careless and leave a popsicle to melt on the chair or whatever. However, I do try to keep in mind if they break something, that it was put in their path to begin with. Kid-friendly decor requires letting things go.
2. Choose High/Low Decor with Intention
This brings me to the next point. I don’t actually have a ton they can break, or that would be irreplaceable if they did break it.
We do have some big-ticket items, of course, but our furniture style is more on the rustic side. This makes it less important when there are scratches and dents.
I also opt for indoor/outdoor fabric as often as possible (like on our breakfast nook bench in our previous home) and to add the stain-proof coating upgrade to rugs and carpets.
I mentioned the slipcovered sofa above. That was an intentional decision, since buying a new slipcover eventually is more cost effective than a whole new sofa. We made the decision to invest in the more expensive Pottery Barn sofas for upstairs, but an IKEA slipcovered sectional in the basement playroom. They also have budget and kid-friendly IKEA furniture in their bedrooms.
Another important point is that we live in a beautiful time when we don’t necessarily have to spend a ton to get pretty things. I mostly get my decor accessories at places like Target. I’m not a knick-knack collector and I don’t have expensive things sitting around.
Overall, my philosophy on what to buy when you’re decorating with kids is two-fold. Go as durable as your budget will allow or get something inexpensive that you aren’t as worried about the outcome of after it serves its purpose.
3. Get Kids Involved in the Decorating Process
That isn’t to say that the kids don’t also have some responsibility to be respectful of their surroundings. One thing I’ve found is that they’re more likely to be respectful if they feel invested.
Even my boys, who are not big on noticing these types of things, are kinder to the throw pillows they’ve helped to pick out. They’re proud of the decor in their rooms. When my son was eight, he liked to point out the chalkboard globe I got him to visitors as a “Post-Zombie Apocalypse” version of the world. Hey, whatever works!
4. There’s a Season for Everything
My kids are a bit older now, ranging from 8-15, and I do get that it’s trickier when they’re really little. We did have to take the coffee table out of the room for a while when they were toddling, etc. I love the idea of an inexpensive tufted ottoman for those years! Safety is something you definitely have to use your judgment on.
There’s a season for everything, and it really does go by fast. I know it’s said constantly, but before you know it, the baby and toddler phase will be over! Decor is obviously never worth risking the safety of those little people we love so much.
Now, my youngest absolutely loves to help decorate and has since she was tiny. In fact, I had to re-photograph a tablescape when she was a toddler because she had snuck in a few of her toys. She sometimes will move things around on shelves or tables, but it really doesn’t bother me. Perfection isn’t my goal.
Overall, I think that’s exactly the lesson to end on. Having things look pretty in our home isn’t the same as needing things to be perfect. When you’re decorating with kids, things are never going to be perfect, and that’s completely okay. After all, there are memories in the “mess”!
Can you decorate in a way you love when you have kids?
Yes, you can. You just have to relax and accept the outcomes (whatever they happen to be), choose where to spend and what isn’t worth it, try to get them to take pride in their home, prioritize safety, and overall embrace imperfection.
I’m trying to show a bit more behind-the-scenes in my Instagram stories this year! Come on over and join the fun!
I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments. What are your favorite kid-friendly decor ideas?
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Lifestyle Images by Heidi Hope Photography