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How To Make Your Home Kid Friendly


Remember when you were growing up and you would walk into the corner candy store and see all the beautiful and delicious candy that was just begging for you to eat it? But then your mom gives you a quarter and points out the 3 semi-ok looking candies that you can actually buy with your allotted 25 cents? So it goes when it comes to decorating with kids. Having your own place to finally nest after you have kids can be one of the most exciting things, but once you start thinking about decorating for it you begin to realize that there are a lot of limitations and restrictions that, as a responsible parent, you should follow for the safety of your child.

No sharp corners to poke an eye out, no fragile items near the ground for kids to grab and smash, storage to put away the toys so that you or your toddler doesn’t slip on that Tonka tractor and wind up in the ER with a fractured head. The list goes on and on, but not all of us want to live in round-cornered, bubble-wrapped houses for the first years of our child’s life. So we have come up with a few tips to keep both your home, your child, and your design sanity in check.


1. Choose furniture that does double duty. Think storage trunks, side tables with drawers, or dressers as changing tables.

Once you have a baby you organically have more “stuff, ” it’s just the way it goes. From toys, to diapers, to baby clothes, to everything else, you will quickly realize that your home looks like it houses 200 babies rather than just your own little bundle of joy. Help combat that overflow of new items by finding furniture that helps to hide away the unwanted clutter when not in use. Anything that is functional in more than one way is a winner for me.


2. Look for heavy, chunky, and not too leggy furniture.

Once babies and kids realize that they have enough strength to push over or destroy anything it will be their sole mission to do that to everything in your house. Try and find pieces that are well grounded or too heavy to knock over. Opt for chunky coffee tables, rather than leggy or tulip based pieces, which will prevent them from accidentally (or intentionally) knocking a piece over.


3. Use stain repellent fabric.

Children are messy. Period, the end. No matter how careful you may be, it is just inevitable that your cute little toddler is gonna rub his grubby little fingers all over your velvet sofa, or choose to wipe his face with your linen curtains. There are plenty of fabrics that will help prevent you from wanting to rip your hair out after an accident like this happens. Sunbrella has expanded its inventory to include hundreds of beautiful options that are completely stain repellent and cleanable. We covered our sofa (pictured above) in their linen fabric which is both beautiful and totally functional in resisting stains. In addition to those, leather, ultrasuede, and performance velvet are all great and very forgiving options.


4. Opt for safe accessories.

Accessories with children are tough. They love to grab (and break) any shiny or small object in sight. So rather than have your precious mementos strewn about, stick to safe accessories which include, books, pillows, and blankets. Move your fragile accessories from your coffee table to higher shelves, and keep your lower shelves filled with baskets, books, or empty until your children learn their manners and proper vintage etiquette skills like their parents.

GH-Emily Living Room

5. Fall in love with forgiving rugs.

Spilled milk is nothing to cry about, unless it spills all over your living room rug, in which case you might want to eradicate all but clear liquids from your fridge. Keep your rugs and your babies happy by using easy to clean and forgiving rugs. Stay away from viscose and silks and opt for quilted hides (I have one in my living room), Persian rugs (because of their dark and busy patterns), and natural fiber rugs as they are all very easy to clean and or hide a spot in.

With just a few simple changes we all can find a very happy (and kid-friendly) solution to decorating our homes as our little bundles ones go from completely destructive to flea market mavens – just as their proud parents had planned. Charlie hasn’t quite figured the difference between Saarinen and Baughman but I’ll give it a few more years to sink in.

****Photography by Tessa Neustadt, Brittany Ambridge for Domino, and Mike Garten for Good Housekeeping Magazine.


Fin Mark


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Darcy R

Just wondering where the storage trunk with backrest & arms can be found? That is so perfect for a child’s room. We were thinking of getting our son a child’s size chair for Christmas, but that would be way more useful.


She got it at the rosebowl (I think, for sure a flea). Vintage and recovered.

Darcy R

Bah – of course it’s vintage. That’s why it is so lovely. Thanks Sarah & Lilli.


Your room looks beautiful. One trick I like to use is putting some of that tacky putty under my lamps and vases that are at kid level. This has made those toddler years when they bump into everything much less stressful.

I do miss the freedom of pre-kids decor! My little boy is 19 months and his favourite activity is to pull all the books off the bookshelf and throw them across the floor. I heartily endorse your rug recommendation too, particularly in the nursery! Ours has taken a battering, but the carpet still looks great!


I’m just curious… Is the fire in the last pic photoshopped in or real? If it’s real I think I’d add a screen in front, not that it’d stop burns from happening but it’d least give me another couple seconds to intervene. I’m a nervous mom, though, and I don’t mean the comment judgmentally. I mainly was curious if the fire was pasted in. ; )


Could be photoshopped in. Or not.

Since this was a photoshoot, not a snapshot of real life, the screen would have ruined the look… I’m sure there was a separate Charliewrangler making sure he doens’t get himself killed while this was being shot 🙂


I don’t know, there are pretty screens and the post was about child proofing. I wasn’t worried about Charlie. I was mainly curious if people pasted fires into their shots. I assume so since it is all about appearances. But thanks.


I like to use my room’s corners for secluded little play stations for kids. My bottom shelves have decorative (thrifted) treasure chests holding small toys, kids books, and extra floor pillows. Kids like their own semi-private places near the adults and will often play quietly for quite a while in a sanctuary.

I love all of these tips, especially the inexpensive rugs. We purchased an $80 8×10 rug from walmart when we moved into our new home with all wood floors this year and I love the design of it, and I never get upset when my kid does literally spill milk on it, or my daughter spits up/has an accident.


Is it weird that in college I would shelf style and clean as a stress reliever… don’t know what that says about me haha.


Sarah D.

Any thoughts out there on the difference between a sofa with a single seat cushion like Emily has, or one with 2 or 3 seat cushions? I like the idea of a single with minimal stuff falling in between the seats, but I wonder about people “falling” into each other since there’s no break in the cushion… Thanks!


My husband and I got a single cushion, more by accident- it just happened to be the one we liked- and it’s been a game-changer! It’s like all the perks of a twin-sized mattress (more space, easier to clean, looks better) married to the goodness of a couch (cushion, back support, etc.). Sold for life!


Personal experience: multiple cushions mean that you can flip them over/switch the spot on the couch when your kid, oh say, drops some grape juice on the couch.

Even better: couches with individually slipcovered cushions, because it’s relatively easy to change the look, and you can replace a single cushion cover if that’s the cushion that has juice/gum/disagreeable stains on it.

My general philosophy is that I could try and stop anyone from eating/drinking/art-making near the couch (and we have an open-concept first floor, so that would impact our living) or I could learn to like slipcovers.

I don’t think people falling into each other would be more of a problem. My little one tends to tip over if she is sitting on the edge of one seat cushion and someone heavier (read: any adult) sits in the center of the same cushion. It’s not so much an issue with adults, but it happens regardless, I think. If anything, I think a single cushion would be nice since no one really wants to sit on the crack between the seat cushions.


These are actually all the things I do for my life with pets. Nothing breakable on shelves they can access, washable fabrics, no delicate furniture, storage furniture for ugly toys and forgiving rugs.

Because cats and dogs are mayhem, too. Snuggly, snuggly mayhem.


Hi Emily, I have the brass floor arc lamp in your last picture. How do you keep Charlie from tipping that over?


One of the best decisions I’ve ever made was to get an indoor/outdoor rug for our family room. It looks nice (enough) and spills, dirt, footprints, etc., are invisible and wiped up so easily. Bonus is that it was pretty inexpensive too.


Love these tips for kid friendly home and your blog.
I really like the slate blue chest with arms and backing to it. I’m trying to find something like that for a fireplace hearth. Do you mind please sharing where you got it? Thank you!


Hi! I just saw that the storage bench is vintage. Thank you for these great ideas!


Hi Emily! Where is your heathered blue living room rug from? I’m sure it’s somewhere on this site but I can’t find it and have been searching for something similar. Seems perfect for toddlers and pets!


Looks like a Loloi rug.

Great article.
Keeping rugs clean with kinds around can be quite a challenge. There are two options: you can have a cheap rug and change it as often as it needs be or opt for a quality rug which can be an expensive investment but will usually last a lifetime even after countless cleaning.

At first, I misread the title of this as “How to Make Your Kid Home Friendly.” I don’t even have kids, and that piqued my interest! So… maybe a future post 😉

Excellent tips. I especially love the rug ideas that are clean-up friendly. I wouldn’t have thought of hides. Thanks!


Hi Emily,
Thanks so much for this post. With two little ones myself I constantly struggle with how to keep a safe and stylish living room. I recently purchased that hide rug and I was wondering how you care for it? Do you vacuum it?


“…Opt for chunky coffee tables, rather than leggy or tulip based pieces…”

yet the one photo with a child in it shows a tulip table 😉

I noticed the same thing. It also has large, glass lanterns in easy reach of a toddler and a plant with pretty, trailing tendrils that would likely find their way into my 1 year-old’s mouth.

I know a lot of the photos were done for different photo shoots, but I do wish that she had used more relevant photos in the post that actually followed the advice in the post. Advice is great, but I want to SEE how to style a room that follows all these tips, not just pretty photos of rooms that aren’t toddler-friendly.


How is the picture with the tray on the poof an example of what to do? That would be knocked down in my house in five seconds. The lanterns on your coffee table? Those would be in shards. Maybe you are home with a full time nanny to monitor your child’s comings and goings. I just don’t find any shots of your house to be kid friendly. Your house is “styled” but I don’t look to you as a guru of anything practical with kids. If I didn’t know better, I think that you would keep your kid locked up in his room and only take him out for cute styled shots for your website or magazines. When you are a parent at home alone without help for even an hour, everything about your photographs are just way out of touch with the way people really live. I love your blog however because it is like design porn.




It might be time to schedule a night out with some girlfriends. And some wine.

Kate Lim

It’s strange how I can understand where Lisa is coming from. I don’t look to Emily has a guru for kids friendly stuff too. She is a stylist and suddenly she becomes a “mini guru” after having 2 kids. LOL. Sorry guys, just can’t resist.

Maybe because I’m not a mom. I am not particularly drawn to these “mom advice”. Also, I happened to have time to read some of her back-dated posts. I strangely feel that she is repeating what she had already posted. This child-proofing thing seemed to be an easy filler post with different wordings like child-proofing, kids-friendly, and on and on.

This is a great post. I admit I have some foam bumpers on the sharp corners of a desk and credenza and yikes, are they ugly! Definitely not stylish at all. One thing I like to do to get my styling fix is to style a shelf or the kids’ play table with the pretty wooden toys that I like to look at. You know, the expensive toys made with organic wood and plant dye they don’t ever really play with. Those toys can look really great when arranged nicely on a bookshelf or even a coffee table and bonus points if they actually play with the wooden toys for a change.

That looks really beautiful. Loved the ideas with rugs and furniture.

Those cushions are amazing. I love the way you have mixed complex designs and plain designs together and made it work very well. I will be thinking about taking up this kind of style once I get my lights from Ferrious Online

Thanks for this post.


I love the rug in #5 that is shades of ivory/beige and looks like scallops. Can you share the rug source?


I remember West Elm had something like that.


Erica, Thanks for your suggestion. I was able to find a scalloped rug at West Elm, but the rug was one color instead of the multicolors of beige. I appreciate your help and I will keep looking.

Kate Lim

First of all, I am shocked she used the same cover image for 2 blog post consecutively back to back that is not related to each other, it isn’t a part 1 and part 2. Then I realized it was styled differently. There is something about overexposing the bookcase that disturbs me.

I know she just had a baby and is probably VERY busy with work and life but, I kinda feel like she just let these things slip. I rather she post less frequently but pay more attention to the choice of photos and content. I agreed with the rest about photos not match her words. These are not “kid friendly” pics, these were back-dated pics she already had in her files.

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