Styling a Rustic Shelf {with kids in mind}

Hey everybody! Life has been busy with the little ones and my grandfather, whom I love and adore, is not doing well. I have been trying to visit as often as possible, and even though he is 96, saying goodbye is never easy. Prayers are welcomed that the rest of his days are as pain free as possible and filled with peace.

Today, I am sharing a guest post that I did last month for Jennifer Rizzo with some tips for styling shelves while keeping young children in mind. As you may know, I have two preschool/toddler age children, fifteen months apart, so my decorating has changed a lot in the past few years. I still love to decorate, but have found the need to make compromises to keep my home well styled, yet safe and fun for my children. I actually enjoy the challenge of combing both elements (most of the time - finding places for all of those toys in a tight space is a challenge all its own).

Before we had children, my husband and I bought a rustic shelf from an antique store in our area. I loved decorating it with vintage touches and various tchotchkes. Once our first child was able to move around on her own and began climbing up on everything, all of that changed. In fact, I eventually took this shelf out of the living room entirely for awhile.

We had a second child fairly quickly, and soon our house was overrun with toys and baby gear. I lived in decorating woe for a couple of years, thinking I could never have the best of both worlds: a stylish home that was safe for small children.
Now that my children are no longer babies, life is a bit easier, as is decorating. I have found the spaces and places to decorate for me and the ones to decorate for them. This shelf has become one of those compromising places. I currently decorate the top few shelves with my own style in mind, and keep the lower shelves kid friendly (but still cute).
My style is a mixture of vintage, rustic, industrial and bohemian elements, which you can find throughout this shelf. I love adding natural elements, like the bundle of wheat. The color matches with the glass of the lantern, and the woven basket is a good balancing piece for this top shelf vignette.
For the top two inside shelves, I combined industrial finds with old books. I like to think of what my kids would enjoy seeing, so I always throw in some elements of interest for them, like the globe ornament and little owl peeking through the books.
I know that my kids will play with whatever is on the middle shelf, so I purposefully put things that aren't too precious. I don't mind if they play with certain vintage finds. I want it to be our home, not my collection of untouchables. And sometimes things do get broken, but since most of my decor is thrift store finds, the loss is usually not too great.
The bottom two shelves are reserved for my kids. We have a playroom for most of their toys, but I don't mind having some in the living room. They end up playing in here anyways, so I might as well make the most of it. I try to keep it cohesive with the rest of the look, so in this arrangement, I have an old wooden box filled with blocks for easy access.
The bottom shelf has a basket filled with books, a maraca, and off to the side, a macrame purse is filled with more kid's books. All of these elements keep with the boho chic vibe that I love.
The decorative storage basket on the other side is filled with stuffed animals hidden under a stylish throw.
This is real life, and I know that my kids won't keep these shelves "styled" as I would all of the time. They play with things, move them, do their own rearranging and it's all good with me. I have gotten used to it and love seeing these signs of life in our home. Some day I might even miss the challenge of incorporating toys into my decor...
I hope that you enjoyed this peek into our living room and are inspired for your own living spaces, especially if you have young children running around. It is possible to keep your own style and have a fun and safe space for kids to play. To see more of my home be sure to check out my home tour page.

Please follow along with me on Facebook and Instagram to get more glimpses into my every day life, and follow me on Pinterest to see what is inspiring me!

Till next time,
~Alice W.

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  1. Alice, I really enjoy your blogging. I love your style! Have a great day sweetie. :) Jo

  2. You have great ideas, Alice! I really love this shelf/cabinet and I think you have such a great rustic style in all that you do.

    When my kids were young, people often asked how I had plants and knick knacks and books on the coffee table etc. First, I made sure everything was safe. Then I did a lot of pointing and saying "No-No"!! If anything got toppled over, it was usually because they were wrestling or running and it was an accident. I always kept a huge basket in the corner of the living room as well. I filled it with books and toys. I rotated things once in awhile to keep it interesting. And clean up time was a breeze...everything just got tossed back in. I think they feel good that they have their own things mixed in with yours, they feel important. girls are always in my make up, jewelry and perfume. No no doesn't work anymore!!! :)

    Sending prayers and keeping your grandfather and family in my thoughts. 96!!! What a great, long life!

    Jane xxxx

  3. I love your style Alice! Our kids are grown but, I still incorporate toys for the grandchildren and my dog in baskets and boxes. Prayers for your Grandfather and your family.


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

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