Contain the chaos that often accompanies living with children by creating kid-friendly spaces throughout your home. Children are both seen and heard in homes today, and a domicile's design reflects this inclusive attitude, says Allison Spampanato, a senior vice president of product development with Pottery Barn Kids in San Francisco.
"The reality is that children live in every room of the house," Spampanato says. "Gone are the days when kids were sequestered into a room to play with the door closed. Now, the family room is a place where both children and parents live and play together."
Spampanato is the mother of two young boys, ages 5 and 8, and the coffee table in her living room doubles as a surface for a train set that the family can play with together. But Spampanato says you don't have to sacrifice style and allow your home to become the proverbial poster child for a kid's free-for-all.
The first step is to create a place for play in common areas of the home, where fun and function can intersect.
With active children, a home's walls can easily show wear and tear. The use of gloss paint creates a harder, more durable, stain-resistant finish, which is also easier to clean. Depending on your family's style, a wall could also be covered in chalkboard paint, which allows family members the freedom to actually draw on the walls. An ever-changing in-home exhibition is as easy as dedicating space for children to hang their own works of art.
In a shared space, area rugs can help define play parameters. A rug also provides a soft place for children to play on the floor, whether they're putting together a puzzle or playing a game.
As varied as each home and family are, Spampanato says kid-friendly pieces keep the peace:
-- Storage and Stowing. In neutral colors, wall units like Pottery Barn Kids Cameron Collection (pieces starting at $199 and up) can also double as a television console in the living room.
Storage options that are low to the ground with open or closed shelving allow children to not only choose their toys, but also encourage them to put items away when they're done.
Choosing modular pieces offers a variety of options for storage needs, which can be custom-built to fit a space. Grouping like toys in marked baskets not only organizes a space, it also gives children the freedom to grab a bin and go.
-- Fun With Food. The kitchen remains the center of the home, and children like nothing more than to mix it up with parents before mealtime. Spampanato encourages families to bring the play kitchen into the real deal, so children can "cook" at their fire-free stoves while adults are preparing a hot meal. Pottery Barn Kids Play Kitchen collection pieces start around $200.
-- A Watery Respite. The spaces used by children should be an extension of your home's overall design. A bathroom used by children can be both tasteful and tot-friendly. With the use of a simple step stool, kids can get a leg up on washing up. Pottery Barn Kids' wall art encouraging good hygiene ($39) is a great reminder to kids and parents alike.
"Making a space for children in our home, which includes them, allows for teachable moments," Spampanato says. "Children like things to be organized, too, so get them involved in cleaning up after they're done with a project."
Life with children isn't always neat and tidy, so be ready to clean the clutter quickly by depositing items into large baskets placed in shared areas. Pottery Barn Kids wire baskets with liners ($39.99) can also be monogrammed with the names of family members, which give children even more personalized responsibility.
Even the private domain of a child's bedroom is becoming more sophisticated in style. "Parents don't have to check their design sense before entering their kids' rooms," Spampanato says. If you buy furniture you love, you can move a chair from the bedroom into the living room without a designing downgrade.
Expect the spaces in your home to evolve as children grow and their playing preferences change. Swap out that bin of stuffed animals for a shelf of puzzles or art supplies you can enjoy with your child. What may start as a haven for toddler toys can grow into a school-aged space with sophisticated building sets or board games.
"The home is the most special place for both adults and children to gather," Spampanato says. "Children want to feel connected to their parents as much as parents want to be with their kids."
Design That Is Child's Play
Go to PotteryBarnKids.com and click the "Free Design Services" link to make an appointment for a child-friendly consultation.
(For editorial questions, please contact Clint Hooker at firstname.lastname@example.org.)