Friday, July 8, 2011

Kid-Friendly Furniture Ensembles

Guest post by Ethan S.

Sometimes it’s just hard to have nice things. Especially when you have young children. In the midst of Crayola, glittery Play-Doh (also made by Crayola), and food stains galore, one must choose one’s furnishings wisely. It is my contention, however, that it is possible to set up your home in such a way as to maximize style and functionality without sacrificing safety and easy-cleaning. Here are a few thoughts:
·    Perhaps when you were single (or at least before kids), and spent more time away from home, it was ok to have a load of fragile and ornate furniture pieces that weren’t exactly useful or comfortable. They just looked great, and that was ok. With kids however, this will not do. Consider how you really live day to day. Your home should be a haven for your family, not a museum that they have to restrain themselves within.  Don’t be afraid to make your house beautiful, but do focus on creating a simple, sleek look that will allow for occasional clutter, but not be difficult to clean or fix up quickly.

·     Regarding the messiness issue, try to stick with furniture that is easy to clean and won’t hold stains (because, you will get spills…everywhere!). Look for sofas and chairs that are microfiber, leather, or even acrylic. Microfiber has a great suede or leather look, depending on the color or style, and it’s incredibly soft! My furniture now is microfiber and it’s so easy to scrub out everything from food to ink stains. If you go this route, focus on earth tones or darker colors to minimize the degree to which the stains show up. Leather is a great option I because it’s essentially wipe-up friendly!  The only problem can be scratching or fading, and this is only true is you go with faux-leather (pleather), or a cheaper, painted variety. I suggest that if you go leather, go all the way with it! Acrylic is great for some varieties of furniture (such as outdoor cushions, etc.) but can also be used for throw pillows and other types of more tossable and rugged pieces. And if you are set with your furniture repertoire, then consider different slip covers that are machine washable.

·     Make sure your furniture is sturdy, but soft. Avoid tall pieces with narrow bases or glass table tops. Wood is definitely sturdy and can be just light enough to avoid injury, but if you can manage more plush types of furniture then go with that, assuming it’s easy to clean. Avoid rough edges and sharp metal ridges on boxes, cabinets, or TV tables (these tend to be just high enough to do some damage). If you love ottomans, consider ones that are wide and flat to avoid toppling over (I popped a hole in my chin as a little kid on one of these; but I’m fine now, so don’t worry if it happens to your kid!).  
·     Finally, the biggest tip for making your home kid-friendly is adopting functional and versatile furniture. A coffee table set that fits plush foot rests/kids seats underneath is a super cool option. (Like above)

     Also, you want as much storage as you can get. Additional cabinets and chests built in to other pieces like a TV table, a bookshelf, or an ottoman with a lid top (or even a flip top with a solid wood surface/table on the flip side) are really nice.  

      Area rugs offer a few different functions as well. They protect the wall-to-wall carpet from mess attack, provide a cushion from hard woods, and they enhance a room’s space and tie various themes together.
These were just a few ideas, but if you will simply pad, strengthen, and prepare for disaster you will be off to a good start!
Ethan S. writes on behalf of Design55, a UK-based designer furniture shop, that has a great selection of kid-friendly livingroom ideas

Thank you, Ethan, for your contribution to Mommy Rantings! We love kid-friendly!

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