Make it kid-friendly
When creating a family space, it’s vital to make sure the room is safe and kid-friendly. “Crawl around on all fours to see things from a child’s perspective,” suggests Debbie Williams, parent educator, organizing strategist and coauthor of Organized Kidz: EZ Solutions for Clutter-Free Living. Move fragile items to high shelves and secure furniture to walls so it won’t topple over if kids crawl on it. Choose furnishings with rounded edges, which will be slightly less dangerous if kids crash into them. If you already have square tables, buy high-quality edge guards. Keep toys and games on low shelves for easy access.
Small children often have difficulty with lids and drawers, which can jam or pinch, so opt for open-top bins and baskets instead. “Drawers that stick and shelves that are too high can sabotage a child’s efforts to keep the room tidy,” says Heller. When it comes to fabric and carpeting, “durability is key,” according to interior designer Gretchen G. Edwards, owner of Gilstrap Edwards Interior Design in Atlanta, Ga. Consider a washable slipcover to protect your sofa. Since kids use the floor a lot, choose washable rugs and stain-resistant carpet.
Aesthetics are important, too. “Whether it’s primary or pastel, anything is more exciting than neutrals when it comes to fun family areas,” says Edwards. To make tots feel at home, include toddler-size furniture and accents that can be used as learning tools like numbers, letters or animals.
Once you’ve thought about function and form, it’s time to get organized. Many great organizational products are available, so don’t settle for just anything. Buy things you love. “If you love it, you’re more inclined to use it,” Heller says. Choose storage containers that fit your style and color scheme. Magazine files, which can be turned around when company is on the way, can be used to hold children’s books.