I frequently recommend paints with a slightly higher sheen than the typical flat finish. Most manufacturers offer these, but they may have different names such as “satin” or “egg shell.” These paint surfaces are more washable and more forgiving than their flat-finish cousins. I happen to like the look of them better anyway, so that’s a happy coincidence. The only drawback is that these alternative finishes may show wall imperfections, but for me the benefit outweighs any downside. I always recommend low VOC paints.
Carpets and rugs are available in fibers and weaves that are more stain resistant and cleanable than ever. The dye method and manufacturing process affect cleanability and durability as well. I prefer nylons, and solution-dyed carpets can actually be cleaned with bleach. Always clean a test area before trying such aggressive chemicals. Heavily textured rugs such as jute or sisal are best used in isolated areas, as food or debris may get into the hard-to-clean crevices. Indoor/ outdoor rugs are a good option and many may simply be taken outside and cleaned using the hose. Many other well-priced area rugs are on the market, and they won’t break your heart or the bank if you have to replace them.
Hard-surface floors such as tile and wood are great and easy to maintain. Wood floors can be scratched however, and the finish and use of specific cleaning products are very important. Porcelain tile and other ceramics will create more potential for breakage but are beautiful and substantive finishes.
Several synthetic fibers and types of fabrics work well in areas for kids. Crypton fabrics were originally marketed to the commercial, hospitality and health care design sectors. This product is tough, waterproof, a true workhorse, and the manufacturer touts it as a “miracle fabric.” There are wide selections of indoor/outdoor fabrics that are also proven performers. Many of these fabrics have a soft hand and are available in wonderful colors, textures and patterns. They make smart choices for upholstery, slipcovers, rug protectors, and even place mats in high traffic or high spill areas. Microsuede and microfibers are, believe it or not, good choices, as are embossed and patterned vinyls.
Beautiful and kid-friendly can live together happily. Remember that kids are kids and things are, well, just things. Designing a home for all members of a household and having realistic expectations make day- to-day living more enjoyable for everyone. It also creates an environment that promotes a spirit of compromise, which is always good when it comes to design, especially in the active years.
When the kids are young and at some point you tire of the constant presence of a giant exersaucer in your family room or the high chair in the kitchen becomes bothersome, just remember: as with all things, this too shall pass, and this stage may actually be missed when it’s ultimately gone.
Thanks to Crypton fabrics for all of the photos in this post.
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