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Mum's Cheat Sheet for Creating your Child Friendly Home

As an interior designer my eyes were opened when I had kids. They are the ultimate little home destroyers with their sticky hands and obsessive need for glitter glue. The different phases and how your house has to adapt for each one can seem a little daunting. The crawling phase when the floor has to be constantly cleaned otherwise they will find this mornings scrambled egg crumbs to snack on. The pulling themselves up phase when stuff had to be glued to the floor or moved incase it got pulled on top of them. The tottering phase where all sharp corners had to be wrapped up to avoid injury. The potty training phase where the washing machine seemed to be constantly on and every rug in the house got stained. And now for me, it's the muddy hands and strawberry mouths phase where everything gets marked unless it's wipeable! Every phase has a different requirement, but there are a few things you can do to plan your house to make each stage a little easier on your home. Because at the end of the day, it's their home too and they should be able to play and explore without the threat of imminent danger, or mum loosing her sh*t because you touched the expensive curtains.

So.... here's my little list of cheats for the mums who love their houses and want their kids to have happy memories in there.

No 1. Flooring

Personally I'm not a fan of carpets downstairs, however there is an argument for having them when little ones are crawling. I have a pretty open downstairs and I prefer to have LVT (luxury vinyl tile) or wood floors (budget dependant) and large but cost effective area rugs for warmth and comfort. That way it doesn't matter if they get wrecked by food, juice or coffee when your kid head butts you mid sip... I speak from experience. A word of warning, get your little ones the socks with the little rubber pads on the bottom incase yours are feral like mine and run circuits around the ground floor. Just a note, the shaggy rugs are a bit of a nightmare for cleaning properly so I would get short pile and buy a spot cleaner. Carpets are fine upstairs, or if you have a closed living room, but I would got for a mid colour one. Not too dark, but not too light will help with hiding stains. Patterns are good too because they draw your eye away from marks. A word of warning... your kids will vomit the second the carpet is laid and every month after. This goes for cats as well. Again, I speak from experience.

No. 2 Walls

Never buy standard matt paint! Get the durable wipeable kitchen or bathroom paint like Dulux Easy Care. Everywhere! Except the ceiling unless your kids are particularly good at throwing upwards, and someone has given them that horrible slime, which we all loved as kids. Yes it's more expensive but it will save your blood pressure rising when you see their cute little hand prints all over the wall in strawberry red. If you want a wall covering then I would go for vinyl because they have come on leaps and bounds in terms of design recently. They do so many beautiful options and I use them regularly in clients houses because they are so much more durable and stain resistant. Have a look at Wallpaper Direct for some I personally would not spend a ridiculous amount on a wall covering despite being a kid in a sweet shop at places like DeGourney and Fromental. I cannot understand some of the high end interior designers that showcase their houses who have stunning hand painted or embroidered wallpapers with kids. I personally, don't feel like they should be used in areas of the house other than a locked office unless they can be sealed properly. But that's my opinion. Even in a master bedroom seems absurd to me, because my kids are running about making dens and bringing in shampoo potions whilst I'm doing my makeup. Life is hard enough with small children without stressing about your £4k wall covering.

No. 3 Curtains

I love tailored curtains.... but again, it just seems pointless spending a lot of money on something with such a high price tag if your kids are small. Save your money for tailored curtains for when the kids are a bit older, unless you are Mrs money bags and tailored curtains aren't a massive expense for you. I have literally watched my son wee up the curtains in our living room during potty training so even as an interior designer I am very happy at this stage of my life to have curtains that cost me less that £100 rather than upwards of £1000. You can layer more cost effective and off the shelf items to get a lovely effect, which is exactly what I've done. You just have to search a bit for the right colours to match your scheme. I've gone for pale privacy blinds from Blinds Direct, which I measured myself, and off the shelf curtains from Dunelm with their brass curtain pole. You can mix things up by getting a double curtain pole and having a voile with a curtain if you like the really layered look. I love Dunelm and Ikea for their range of off the shelf curtains.

No4. Electronics

Hide everything! My TV devises are out of reach on a unit and my TV is mounted up on the wall. And even then I've seen my kids throw things at the tv like it's target practice. I once heard a banging coming from the living room and found my son wielding a wooden toy duck on a stick at the TV like a tennis racket. So even hiding and mounting electronics out of reach is still no guarantee they will survive, but at least it gives them a fighting chance.

No 5. Upholstered Furniture

Sofas, mid to darker tones. Even better is faux leather and then a washable throw to soften and protect them. My kids have wet themselves on countless occasions on the sofas. I've also caught my daughter wiping her chocolatey hands on the nicer fabric sofa we have. Needless to say, I was not impressed. Get a spot cleaner is all I can say if you have fabric sofas, and double up with a throw to add additional protection. It's not worth the mum guilt when you shriek at them.

No 6. Toy Storage

If you have a play room then amazing. Unfortunately, we don't and I'm currently working out how to build a storage unit that is accessible for the kids but easy to swipe their toys into so I'm not constantly holding the F word in when I stand on a lego brick. My conclusion is individual cube storage seems to be the best solution (for us anyway). If you have a big dumping toy basket then the likely hood is that toys that are out of sight will never get played with. Or the contents will be tipped out all at once for you to have to step over and clear up later. My thoughts are that individual cubes of toys are easier to rotate and keep certain games, puzzles etc. together. That way you can pull out a couple, let them play and then rotate the next day. I might sound a bit uptight in my way of thinking, and my issue has never been the amount of toys my kids get so long as they always show gratitude (which they sometimes don't). It's about toys that don't get played with, damaged and end up in bits because there's too many in one space and then more are piled on top every Christmas and birthday. It feels wasteful. Also they end up all over the house for me to clear up and I'm sorry, but my brain is cluttered enough and I need space to breath in my own home. M is for Mummy.... Not Maid and I don't get paid to clear up everyone else's stuff!

No 7. General furniture

Everything will get climbed on, everything will be touched, and everything will be face planted. If you have this in your mind when planning your space you should be fine. I have storage units where my kids can't reach my nice decorative glass vases and scented candles, I have shelves and open lit cabinets for nicknacks, and my lamps are away from jumping, screaming children. Everything else is game on for them. They can jump on the sofa, hide under side tables and make tents out of my throws and cushions. So long as I can have my little bit of decorative luxury in my own home then I don't mind. Additionally, my tables are round edged and I don't have any overhanging counters. I learnt this from my daughter when she was a toddler. At a certain height she just stopped seeing table tops and would run at them full speed. I only managed to save her about 50% of the time so it taught me to buy round edged tables or bubble wrap anything sharp when my son came along.

There are so many other things I could talk about but I don't want to ramble on for fear of loosing your interest. Also, please don't think I'm perfect at this because I'm far from it, I'm not always tolerant of their wild games in the house, and at times I do get mums guilt because I've shouted, and, I do sometimes have to remind myself that my home is not a show home. By the way, that's easier said than done when you're an interior designer. It's our family home and it's their home. One I want them to remember as somewhere they played and had fun. I don't want them to have (too many) memories of me blasting them mid game because they damaged something expensive that shouldn't have been in their way in the first place.

Anyway.... that's me done for now. I hope it's been helpful and if you liked it then it would be great if you could like, share or comment.

With Love



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