Contrary to popular belief, making a home comfortable and practical for a family does not require bare bones decorating and iron clad textiles. A few simple guidelines apply for families with children of all ages.
The most important thing to remember is this: start your children off by surrounding them with decorative things. Nothing too precious mind you but get them accustomed to books, plants, and other accessories being around the house and they will 9 times out of 10 ignore them for their own, infinitely more interesting toys.
Here are my rules for designing and decorating homes with small children:
Use large scale furniture and accessories and less of them.
Use fabrics with prints and patterns which conceal spotting.
Use textured fabrics which resist staining and wear longer than slick cottons.
Avoid exposed electrical cords by using conduits or by running them around the walls.
Have items out on the tables early on so kids are used to seeing them. They aren’t nearly as interesting as their own toys and are for the most part left alone if children are used to seeing them daily.
Avoiding poisonous plants goes without saying.
Candles within reach are an obvious no no too.
Fine glass objects must obviously be kept up high.
Exercise care when choosing lamps. For “floating” lamps (lamps not placed against the wall) choose metal or woven materials.
Coffee tables with sharp corners are the cause of so many emergency room visits, they should be completely omitted from homes with children or grandchildren. Glass coffee tables should be avoided as well.
Think in terms of horizontal lines and keep vertical ones to a minimum. Tall, narrow items tip easily. Horizontal lines are restful and comfy.
Slipcovers in printed, lightly textured fabrics (not solid cottons which stain easily) are fantastic for families because they can be removed and dry cleaned. Don’t wash slipcovers unless you are certain the fabric was pre-washed several times.
Unless your family is allergy prone, down blend cushions and pillows are oh, so comfy. It is an added softness that’s a real treat for children.
My last tip is more personal opinion than rule. Don’t raise children in minimalistic spaces. Let them enjoy the homeyness of a family environment with books, pets, soft throws, baskets, and mementos of a life well spent.