Our Best Mess-Free Design Tips for Homes With Kids
Toys all over the floor, stains on your couch and a refrigerator covered in artwork — ah, the signs of a home with kids. You love your children, but you probably don’t enjoy the mess.
Parents know decorating your home can be a challenge. You need a kid-friendly design that cleans up easily and will last for years to come, but you don’t want to sacrifice on style.
Luckily, you don’t have to. We’ve gathered some tried-and-true tips other parents have used to create design-savvy spaces that will make keeping a clean home a reality.
1. Create Storage Everywhere
The most significant change you can make to clear the clutter in your house is to create as much storage as you can. Built-ins look beautiful, hold lots of stuff and can boost your home’s value.
You could use functional and beautiful furniture if you don’t have the space or money to add permanent storage fixtures. Console tables are a great decor piece — add baskets underneath to round up kids’ toys when not in use.
Ottomans are an untapped resource for storage. Get a large round one with a hidden lid, so no one needs to know you tossed the changing pad, some crayons and your daughter’s Cheerios in there when the doorbell rang.
2. Be Willing to Spend on Quality Furniture
Many moms fall into the trap of buying budget furniture because they figure it will get broken anyway, so why bother spending extra money?
However, it’s cheap for a reason — manufacturers cut corners on quality, meaning you’ll likely need to replace it multiple times or live with shoddy-looking items. This is especially risky if the pieces are easily damaged by everyday use.
Instead, invest in quality furniture that’s made to last and designed to stand up to spills, daily wear and accidents. You can always protect vulnerable materials with furniture covers, inexpensive throw blankets and regular cleaning.
You deserve to have a home that looks beautiful right now — you don’t need to wait until your kids are grown and out of the house.
1. Choose Pre-Loved Pieces
Of course, quality doesn’t always mean new and pricey. Raising a family is expensive, after all! Buy secondhand if you don’t want to or can’t splurge on new pieces of furniture. Thrift shops, Facebook marketplaces and estate sales are great ways to find hidden gems that can last decades.
The great thing about buying preowned items is they’ve already proven to be durable, and any new scratches or dings will blend in with the rest. This type of piece tells a story and is an aesthetic of its own.
2. Be Picky About Carpets and Rugs
Carpets can make or break a home when it comes to looking clean. Nylon or frieze rugs wear well over time and come clean quite easily. You’ll want to choose an earthy tone or gray, which will hide dirt the best.
Area rugs are even more family-friendly than carpeting since they’re easier to launder or replace. You can’t go wrong with a wool rug, which naturally repels moisture, or you could choose other natural materials like seagrass or jute.
Another option for high-traffic areas like your entryway is an outdoor rug, which is made to get wet and muddy and wipes up easily.
3. Get a Sofa With Attached Cushions
Building blanket forts is a great way to make memories, but those imaginary clubhouses may be diminishing the life of your couch. Cushions aren’t meant to be removed and used as a play toy. Even high-quality ones aren’t built to withstand that type of wear and tear.
Some parents avoid this situation by looking for a couch with attached cushions. That way, they won’t be an option during your little architect’s next project.
Of course, there are other workarounds, too. If you find a model you like, couches with removable and washable seat covers can be the real holy grail — you won’t be doomed to a lasting stain if you can quickly throw the cushion cover in the wash.
4. Establish Kid Zones
Your grandmother’s design advice may have involved having a room full of precious things children weren’t allowed to touch, but let’s be honest, nobody ever used those rooms anyway. Instead of focusing on off-limits spaces, take the opposite approach — create kid-friendly zones that invite children to be children.
These are locations specially designed with your little ones in mind, where the function of the area is for them. It might be a dedicated playroom or a simple craft table in your kitchen.
Wherever it is and whatever it looks like, the important part is its function is just for kids. It gives them a place to put their things and try out activities where you won’t have to worry about your most delicate treasures getting in the way. Plus, they’re more likely to take better care of their space because they feel ownership.
5. Frame Kids’ Artwork
A cluttered fridge seems to be an unspoken mark of parenthood. However, you can show your kids how proud you are of their work without compromising your kitchen’s aesthetic.
Give each child one frame where they can display their latest work or a favorite piece. You could even create a whole gallery wall if you have the space.
Shift Your Mindset For a Kid-Friendly Home
The most important thing you can do is change your way of thinking when creating a beautiful home for your family. Keep these two things in mind:
Furniture and decor are replaceable — your family isn’t.
Messes happen, no matter how hard you work to prevent them.
These mess-free design tips will help you create spaces you love without sacrificing your kids’ needs. However, even if you incorporate every item on this list, you’ll still end up with messes from time to time. You’ll just have to learn to see the memories made when looking at damaged furniture or an untidy house.
Evelyn Long is a Baltimore-based writer and the editor-in-chief of Renovated. She publishes home decor advice and product roundups for readers in spaces both big and small.