"How can I beautifully organize my home, while still keeping it kid friendly?"
As a mother of two (toddlers may I say) this questions is all too familiar. Many parents struggle with the design of their room that is also shared with their children. Some people have the option of a Family Room and a separate Living Room (which can be a more formal and toy free). A lot of people have just one room for their living space and need help with storage solutions and ideas that will not break the bank. I am here today to give you some ideas and resources to turn your living space into a place that can be relaxing for you and a great place to still play for the kids.
We should first talk about some general design basics. These are things like focal walls (in most living spaces this is the TV/Media wall), and furniture/ fabric choices.
There is a great blog by Centsational Girl that breaks down 9 different options for creating a focal wall around your TV. Below are some examples of the ones I felt were the most universal in design.
The great thing about the Centsational Girl post was that all the designs show how people are embracing their TV's and using them as part of their design and decor. There are so many option out there for creating frames around them, or recessing them and having closers to hide them. Many examples also show how to hang artwork around the TV almost as if the TV is one of the art pieces (this is the option I chose for my family room). Some additions that I have found that are easy to DIY are these below.
Many of the solutions provided use some type of storage unit/ media console. You may already have one of these. Now its time to evaluate it and see if it is really giving you everything you need. All you may need to do is add some storage containers such as baskets, wire bins, or cloth boxes. If you do not currently have a console unit, hopefully these ideas above will inspire you. One thing that I have heard over and over again is that people do not have a grand living room like we see in many photos. In order to maximize the space you have go vertical. Use bookcases to create a built in media wall or even just a storage wall. Below are some examples of IKEA hacks that worked well for families limited with space. You can also visit my pinterest board for more media/focal wall ideas.
Next lets move onto furniture choice, which also ties into color and fabric. I think most of us have already chosen a darker fabric (brown) sofa because it hides messes and stains easily. If you are stuck with that sofa until your children are older there is still hope creating a beautiful space with what you have. If you are looking to replace or reupholster your current sofa I have some options for you as well.
Learning to love your brown sofa
I think the challenge with a brown sofa is how it makes your space feel. The darkness of the fabric can bring a space down. With a little help in accessories you can make your space light and airy like these examples below.
I think these rooms work well because of the light color in walls, and the amount of white and neutral surfaces brought in. You can do this white throw pillows, white accent furniture, white or neutral area rugs, and artwork or frames. The other fun thing is the variety of color and pattern introduced to these spaces. Some stuck with blue and brown color scheme. But mixing in reds, yellows, or grays draws your attention away from the brown. There is a lot to look at in each of these rooms which seems to balance the room.
I had a white sofa my mom gave me, that since has had all kinds of hot chocolate stains that I could not get out, as well as marker drawings. I love the sofa, it is made very well, so I decided to sew a slipcover myself. The great thing about a slipcover is that I can take it off and wash it once something gets spilt or drawn on it. I used the largest drop cloth from home depot. It is comfortable (after washing) like linen, and once it is bleached a few times adding bleach to the wash is no problem when stains do get on them. If you want to go the upholster route just try to choose fabrics with a higher polyester percentage. Polyester absorbs slower so you have more time to soak up a spill before it soaks into the fabric. Polyester is also a little more durable than cotton or linen. If you can get a mix of polyester/cotton or polyester/linen I think you will be happy with the look, feel and durability with kids.
Replacing what you have, choosing a timeless style
Emily Henderson with Style By Emily Henderson wrote an informative post on sofas, and choosing affordable ones that are easy to stylize and fit with great design. Basically you do not want to choose anything that is overly stuffed or has arms that are too tapered. Most furniture store near you carry a large assortment of these types of sofas, so it’s hard to find something that is simpler and will fit into a designed space more seamlessly. Here are some of the sofa styles to avoid.
She has a great break down with links to some online retailers with prices between $300-$600 and $600-$1000. My recommendation for buying sofas especially if you have children is look for QUALITY. Look for heavy, solid furnishings constructed with kiln-dried hardwood that's been screwed, glued and corner-blocked. Make sure upholstered pieces have eight-way ties. Upgrade cushions to spring down, which does an excellent job of holding its shape. These pieces will stand up to years of abuse and can be reupholstered once your children reach a more civilized age. Most piece with this kind of quality are out of a lot of families budgets. A great source is vintage furniture that can be reupholstered.
DIY Storage Solutions
We already talked about bookcases and their ability to maximize storage and free up your floor space. I have a few other suggestions that can be stylish as well as efficient. The first option is look at your space, is there seating that you could replace with a bench or ottoman that hinges and has storage inside? Here are some great examples of DIY ottomans and window seats (you could also do this against a wall).
Another simple solution would be to add some pullout storage under your sofa. This can be done with old dresser or cabinet drawers, or with baskets. There is a great Pottery Barn under bed basket hack here. Ikea also makes a Trofast storage unit that has bins that would work perfectly under a sofa. The DIY tutorial for that is here. Here are some images of those examples so you can see how some of them work for under sofa storage. I am definitely going to add some of these to my sofa. Its a great way to add storage without adding visual clutter.
Can I just say baskets should be your new best friend. They look great in your space, they add texture, which creates warmth, and they can hide a ton of toys, blankets, movies, or magazines. Baskets can be tucked away in the bookcases, console tables, sides of sofa or chairs, and under coffee tables. Marshalls, Home Goods, Cost Plus and Pier one always have a large assortment of reasonably priced baskets. For you crafty mommas out there, you can quickly sew up a linen, or patterned insert for the baskets to add a little more color to your space.
And our last comment for the day is that one design element that is strongly encouraged is creating a special space in your living room (or kitchen, or both) that is tailored for your little one. More design inspirations can be found on our Family Friendly pinterest board. This could be a reading area, a flat surface for playing cars or puzzles, are a chalkboard wall.