How I Keep My Decorating Style with Young Kids in the House

Is it possible to keep your personal decorating style with young children in the home? This is a question I pondered for a couple of years after my first daughter was born back in 2011. Eventually, I found the answer was YES! You absolutely can. You will, of course, have to compromise in some areas for matters of safety and mess making, but overall, it is still possible to have a stylish home that you and your children can enjoy.
Last summer, I shared a guest post over at Yellow Bliss Road with 5 Tips for Kid Friendly Decor. Today, I am resharing portions of that post, along with more thoughts and ideas on how to keep your own style and make your home inviting and safe for the little folks.

When my oldest, Hazel, was at the stage where she could move around on her own, climb on everything, and get into my stuff, I struggled with decorating my home. It was a passion of mine for years (I mean we are talking since my teen years people! I even had the best decorated dorm in my humble opinion, of course). I lived and breathed decorating.

My husband and I were married five years before having children and that was a huge part of my life...decorating (and redecorating) our home. Then a baby came along and suddenly I felt lost, as if one of my greatest joys was being taken from me by having to "baby proof" everything. And while it is true, when babies are in the house, a lot of extra, over sized gear tends to swallow you up. But let's be real, when they are very tiny, you don't have a lot of extra time to do anything other than catch a cat nap and clean the dishes if you are lucky. Maybe wash your hair and the clothes with spit up on them. It is a time completely devoted to that new little life. A beautiful (albeit stressful and sleep deprived) season of life.

But then kids get a little bigger, some of the gear goes away, and you can find ways to keep your home stylish yet still safe for the little ones. Today, I am going to share my take on how to keep your style with young children in the house, and what I have learned in the past few years with having two children, fifteen months apart. Hazel is now just over three and a half and Owen will be two and a half soon. I personally think our house is pretty stylish (even if I do say so myself), but I strive to make it a loving home that we all can enjoy.

So here are my top five tips for kid friendly decorating! I should preface this by saying, my style is mainly vintage, rustic, eclectic and bohemian. I love a comfortable, lived-in look and feel. Which tends to make it a bit easier. So for those of you with little ones, I hope these tips help and inspire you!

1. Safety’s first but that doesn’t mean style has to go out the window

The most important thing for any parent is keeping your child safe. For me personally, this meant I had to develop new ideas for decorating. Out went sharp-edged and chippy painted furniture in rooms where the kids play. Our coffee table (which was a rustic trunk) was traded for a soft ottoman. Delicate collectibles were moved or exchanged for more durable finds, or at least placed higher up on shelves where little hands can't reach.

2. Stain masking furnishings

When we were on the search for a new sofa, I wanted a Chesterfield leather one, but it wasn't affordable at the time. I was happy to find a good alternative with faux suede microfiber. The dark brown matches my rustic, eclectic style and the microfiber makes for easy wiping away of spills (which happen regularly around here!). We have two pieces in this style from Raymour & Flanigan and they have held up very well, masking any stains.

You could also opt for slipcovered furniture (especially if you prefer white or light colors for sofas and chairs) and then pop the covers in the wash as needed. There are so many options on the market today, so don't think you have to settle for something you don't love just because you have young children.
Most of the photos shared here were taken in summer of 2014 and our home has changed a bit since then, including new Benjamin Moore wall color (now Revere Pewter). In fact, you can see the different paint colors on the wall in the photo below when we were trying to decide! A little "real life" thrown in for ya...
And a new rug from RugsUSA (the red kilim rug that I found at the flea market and shared in this post, became overwhelming in here for me, so I moved it to the playroom. Here is the space when the new rug arrived (which you can read about here)... 
Even though the new rug is off white, it has stayed very clean looking in spite of the abuse it takes from us every day. We put out a lot of wear and tear on our things and this rug still looks great in this space. It's soft too, which is great for kids playing on the floor and running around.

3. Thrift stores, flea markets, & garage sales are your best friends

Having young children means things are prone to get broken, which is why I avoid too many expensive or impulsive decor purchases. I shop thrift stores, flea markets and garage sales to find budget friendly accessories. To keep the space from feeling disconnected with “their stuff vs. mine”, I try to find creative ways to blend the two together. I always have to remember that this is our home, our sanctuary, our safe place, not my “show room”, as difficult as that is for me as a blogger who loves interior design.

4. Decorative storage solutions

We never seem short on toys or books around my house. One way that I have dealt with this is to find decorative storage in styles that I love. I like to keep them down low for the kids to have easy access to (and hopefully help in putting away!). To create an eclectic, comfortable style, I like to combine both new and vintage storage containers.

These wire baskets are new but made to look old.
I found several canvas totes and cute storage baskets at Marshall's that were perfect for storing toys whether I keep them in the playroom or living room.
Stacks of wooden puzzles fit nicely on our rustic shelf.
Vintage baskets can work well too. I have an old apple picking basket that has been filled with everything from books (as shown below) to stuffed animals to toy kitchenware and food. I am always careful to use vintage baskets that aren't broken or with sharp edges.

5. Embrace this stage in life!

My final tip (which I have to remind myself of often) is to embrace this stage of life. Sure, your style might have to change a bit, and you might have to get used to dinosaurs on the floor, but this is your life right now.
I have spent a lot of time the past few years trying to conceal all the toys, shove them into their own “designated” spaces, but not so much anymore. These are the signs of life in my home. Little hands. Little creative minds. I want my children to know that they (and their loot of stuff) are welcome here.
I know that one day the toys will be gone, and I will probably even miss them. So for now, I want to strive to enjoy it. We are building this home for them, for our family to enjoy, so I say embrace it! Make your house a home by creating a place that your whole family can love.

For more inspiration on how I create a stylish space, yet keep the kids in mind, check out my guest post, Rustic Bookshelf Styling, over at Jennifer Rizzo today! Here is a sneak peek...and a glimpse into what my living room looks like right now!

If you enjoyed this post and were inspired, please pin and share!

If you have any tips for kid friendly decor, I would love to hear them in a comment below!

Till next time,
~Alice W.

Portions of this post originally appeared on Yellow Bliss Road on July 30th, 2014.

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  1. I like kid friendly decor. We have grandchildren and you have done a beautiful job. I love the little Brownie Hawkeye camera. My mother had one she used when I was young. I was so disappointed when I found out she gave it to her sister. Guess I could buy another, but it wouldn't be Mom's original. They took great pictures.

    1. Yes, those little cameras are some of my favorite finds! I understand why you would want the one your mom had though instead of buying another :)

  2. I am so glad that you had safety first! I have been in some homes where they do not take that into consideration! Usually there ends up being an accident and a few times a child ended up injured, so for me that is #1.

    1. Yes, indeed. Safety trumps everything here :) Thankfully there are a lot of stylish and cool decor pieces that are also safe for little ones!

  3. This is a great post; I always am wondering what it is going to be like someday with kid's toys everywhere... you definitely do an awesome job of having a super stylish home and keeping them happy. :)


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Thank you for your comments! I love to hear from you! ~Alice W.

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