How to child-proof your home
(without losing your sense of style)
Today’s story is for all the interior-lovers out there who are adjusting to starting a family soon, as well as those who may now have their kids at home for a lot more time than normal! Whichever situation you are in, it is possible to keep your beautiful taste and style alive at home, albeit with a couple of changes here and there.
My biggest challenge in becoming a mum was to learn how to be more flexible and understand that my house wasn’t going to be tidy and perfect all the time. Actually – it still challenges me now! But over the years of working on my own home, as well as completing many projects for clients with young children, I’ve learned some tricks to child-proof your home, while still keeping your sense of style intact.
The first time you look into home staging, it can feel like a whole new world. The first thing you need to decide is if it’s something you want to attempt yourself or if you want to get some expert help on board. One of the biggest reasons I love working as an interior designer and helping to stage homes is that I just love taking the stress away and making the whole process easy for my clients. After all, I obviously love interior design, but if it’s not enjoyable to you, or you’re time poor, it can feel tedious and stressful.
So let’s look at some of the reasons you could benefit from getting help with your home staging, so you can weigh up if hiring an expert is right for you!
1. Decide on what’s important and make a wish list
This tip is especially important for those welcoming a new addition for the first time. When it comes to adjusting your home for your baby, you definitely don’t need to give on your dreams of a beautiful home, but there will be some small sacrifices to make.
So before you start, I suggest sitting down and deciding on what your priorities are, so you know the things that are most important to you, and what you’re willing to forgo or compromise on for now.
For example, we decided from the outset that our boys would learn to fit into our lifestyle, and there were certain elements of our social life and our home that we wanted to keep the same. I know that approach is not for everyone, but it’s what works for us, and it has made our family so strong together. We all get along great because there is so much love, respect and trust.
There are also some things I have always wanted in a family home that we still haven’t gotten to. These are the things we can live without for now, but will remain as a goal for our home (especially with our planned renovations coming up). The current things on my wishlist are; a super fun playroom where my kids will never want to leave, a big laundry (you will do a LOT more washing when you have kids) and a butler’s pantry – because who doesn’t want an extra space to hide all your mess from the kitchen? I definitely do!
2. Save your most valuable accessories
Once you know your priorities and goals for your home it’s time to start taking action. First thing’s first, you’ll need to accept that for the first few years of your little one’s life, your most-valued accessories will need to be out of reach. Take it from someone who had some of my favourite things broken by my boys when they were 1 or 2 years old. It’s sad at first – but I lived!
With those prized accessories out of the away, your space might feel a little bit bare. If you know me – you’ll know I hate that! So it’s time to add in some new pieces that are less breakable or valuable. Add some nice kid’s books to your coffee table, or hit up vintage stores for some inexpensive but unique ornaments.
Of course, this is only temporary. Once they are old enough to start understanding boundaries better, take the time to simply teach them about respecting other people’s things (including your decor). From here you can start slowly reintroducing some of your precious accessories. Nowadays, my eldest will even take the initiative to move my things out of the way before he kicks a ball around – it’s very sweet!
3. Decide on what’s important and make a wish list
As an interior designer, I’m always thinking of ways to make a space as functional as possible. And as a mum – it’s much the same! You will want to make every element of your home as low-maintenance as possible. For example, washable paints will be your best friend, so if you plan to do your own painting, make sure you ask about washable options.
One other main thing to keep in mind is fabric options. Always go for something stain resistant where possible, and prepare to get regular professional upholstery cleaning to keep everything looking fresh. Investing in more durable finishes, as well as caring for them, definitely pays off in the long-run when you can make soft furnishings last for years rather than having to replace them whenever a spill happens (and they will happen, trust me!).
If you are lucky enough to have a big backyard, make the most of it! I love to take outdoor areas and make them an extension of the living space. This is also a good strategy for keeping your inside space tidy and clean – the more playful your outside area is, the more time your kids will want to spend playing there and not inside! If they are old enough, you can even get them involved and let them be part of the design process. Discuss your plans and ideas with them, make them part of it, listen to their wishes; they will respect the space more if they can be part of the process.
Through doing this over the years, I swear I am “creating” two gorgeous stylish boys. They appreciate beauty and want to live in a beautiful space. Somehow they are aware of the beautiful things in life. We are designing our new home right now and my boys are fully involved in the process. I want them to be a part of it and appreciate it after it is all done. It is amazing to see how excited they are and how much input and ideas they are giving to us. So make them part of it and they will understand, respect and somehow want to live in a tidy and beautiful space!
4. Set up some great toy storage
If you’ve been thinking that all your child’s toys will just stay in their playroom or bedroom – think again! Your kids are going to want to always be playing and doing their thing wherever you are, so their toys will end up all over the place, and we just have to accept that. But I do have one hack that helps a lot!
Try to get your hands on a beautiful cabinet for the living room where you can quickly throw any toys hanging around in more public spaces. It’s so handy to do a last-minute clean up before having people over. Believe me, you will use this a lot! Just remember as your young one gets older (and stronger) they will try to go digging for their favourite things, so think about safety and avoid anything with low-set corners, heavy doors that could jam little fingers or tall sets of drawers that aren’t secured to the wall.
If you are lucky enough to have a playroom or if you are designing one, get your kids to design it with you. Pretend they are your clients and listen to their needs and what they love about it. If you can do that, I am sure they will spend more time in the playroom and you will get so much more use out of it. I am getting my boys involved in our home design process and it is amazing how creative they are!
5. Prep your kitchen
This may sound weird, but the way you enjoy meals as a family will probably be quite different compared to when it’s just adults at home. In our case, we are always spending time together in the kitchen. It’s where we cook, talk about the day, get homework done, and so much more.
When your family expands, you’ll want to make your kitchen as functional as possible. Invest in a decent-sized bench space with room for seating. We end up eating around the kitchen bench most nights rather than the dining table, it’s very casual!
We’ve always had good kitchen benches with stools where we could sit and enjoy our meals together. My personal tip is to find stools with good back support so the kids can be well-supported. I swear they work amazingly! My boys hardly used high chairs because we had these. So I’d suggest investing more in great quality stools that will last their whole childhood and beyond, and save on the high chair if you do get one.
6. Think about safety
While we’re talking about kitchens, don’t forget to also rearrange your drawers, pantry, and cabinets so that anything potentially dangerous or not child-friendly is out of reach. So grab all your gin and move it to the top shelf now!
If you have the opportunity to do some minor renovations, I’d also suggest thinking about what you can do to replace or modify any sharp edges, hard surfaces or glass. You can’t always get rid of these things completely, but the more you can minimise them, the more you can minimise accidents.
Safety gates are also a must for blocking off any rooms that you want to stay child-free or to keep them safe from stairs until they are old enough to climb up safely. I taught my boys this fairly young and they loved the challenge!
This goes back to helping your kids fit in with your lifestyle at home. We have always lived in places with stairs and even though we had safety gates for a little awhile, my boys learnt so quickly how to climb the stairs. Because I was always so close to them and within distance I was able to help them learn how to manage stairs safely. This may be a little unorthodox, but I believe you can’t be too overprotective. You will go crazy!
It’s true what they say, kids really do grow up fast, so make the most of those early years while you can, and try not to worry too much about your space looking perfect 100% of the time – nobody’s home does! It’s not easy, but if you keep these tips in mind, you can still have a beautiful space that makes you happy to be in every day.
Are you in the process of making your home more child-proof? I’d love to see your transformation photos! Tag me on Instagram @styledbydanit
If you do get stuck and need some help along the way, I also offer room-by-room Virtual Styling, which is perfect for a new nursery or any room you want some help decorating.
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