When you love fine art, are partial to high-end furniture, but have children who dominate your home, staying true to your design aesthetic can be challenging. How do you show off the gorgeous new fabric you snagged on a trip abroad without worrying that your child will turn it into their bib? Is there really a way to showcase that pricey auction treasure when your kids have turned your home into a playground? Here, seven pointers for nailing your decorating approach when kids are in the mix.
Weaving sophisticated art into a home with children is a struggle. Cynthia Rowley, founder and designer of her namesake lifestyle brand, believes a little creativity is needed here. “Set up distractions around the house so they’re not focused on playing with your ceramic sculptures,” says Rowley, who owns a rustic beachside surf retreat on the cliffs of Montauk. “We have a rock-climbing wall at our house, plus a music room where they can bang it out.”
Rethink Your Ottoman
One of the main concerns when decorating with kids is safety, so furniture that’s free of sharp edges is a non-negotiable. A stylish upholstered coffee-table ottoman is the perfect solution for this reason, advises interior designer Keita Turner. “It’s the ultimate must-have for kid- and family-friendly decor,” she says. “Kids can play around it without fear of sharp edges. It provides extra seating and serves as an awesome foot rest.”
Consider Antique Seating
If you’re an avid antique collector, don’t fret. You can still express your passion for antiques when living with children. “I love using antique seating in children’s rooms with fun, fresh, and colorful fabrics,” says interior designer Sasha Bikoff. “The juxtaposition between the antique shapes with contemporary fabrics makes for an inspiring and inventive children’s room. Many times I will look for Victorian heart-shaped chairs for girls’ rooms or old ice cream parlor chairs for game tables in a children’s room. These pieces from the past have so much history, so it’s nice to incorporate those elements in the room of a young mind.”
Pay Attention to Fabrics
For interior designer Anne Hepfer, paying close attention to fabrics is key. Hepfer swears by vinyl for kitchen chairs and bar stools along with durable white outdoor fabrics for sofas, as they are easy to wipe clean. There’s even Ultrasuede, which Hepfer says can be spruced up to your liking. “Ultrasuede is an amazing product that’s easy to wipe with a sponge and comes in any color of the rainbow,” she says. “For an interesting touch, you can add baseball stitching or pipe the seams in a contrasting color.” Another versatile product Hepfer is fond of for kitchens, family rooms, and dining areas is Bolon. “It’s a rubberized flooring product that looks like a flat weave,” Hepfer says. “It comes in white, gray, and black, and you can mop it, sponge it, and vacuum it.”
Play With Patterns
If you’re on the adventurous side, you can trade solid-colored fabrics for vibrant patterns. “Patterned and printed fabrics add personal style and pizzazz to space, while hiding damage like stains and spills,” Turner says. She especially likes patterned Persian, kilim, and Moroccan rugs, which she finds add global flair and still hide spills that are bound to happen with children.
Welcome Fine Art
When it comes to fine art, your first reaction might be to exclude it from your space. However, the opposite should be the case, according to interior designer Sandra Nunnerley, who appreciates seeing art displayed throughout a home, from the children’s room to the powder room. “This allows the children to grow up with an appreciation of high-end furnishings and to understand that beautiful furnishings and artwork belong throughout the home, not simply in the formal living room,” she says.
Turner, who grew up with a mother who is a fine artist, also suggests taking things to the next level by incorporating color. “Brightly colored abstract artworks or figurative art not only bring sophistication to your home, but they can also enliven a space, making it cheerful and delightful to young children,” Turner says. “Children like to engage and be visually stimulated, so why not appeal to their budding love for culture and the arts by introducing brilliant pops of art? They may be young, but kids really do recognize quality design early.” To complement high-end pieces, Turner likes to showcase children’s art as well. Frame it and you’ll have an instant conversation starter.
Make Clear Museum Gel a Staple
“Another trick to incorporating and displaying valuable decorative arts in your home, without the fear of collectible ceramics, sculptures, or vases toppling and shattering, is to use clear museum gel to secure such breakables,” Turner says. “It is the ultimate kid-proof and invisible bond.”
credit: Vogue Living MARCH 2017 by MONIQUE VALERIS