If your living room is overrun with plastic toys, listen up. TODAY asked design professions for ways to share living room space with kids. Here are their tips on how to keep things attractive, tidy, sustainable and safe.
1. Strategize storage.
Any parent knows that ample storage is an absolute must when it comes to maintaining an orderly area shared with kids.
“Select furniture pieces that will allow you to put kids’ stuff away while making it easily accessible,” says Olga Adler of Olga Adler Interiors. “Drawers are always better than doors. They are easier to use by you and less likely to hurt your kids.”
Roomhints' Tiff Wilson also suggests that cupboards and bins are a great way to conceal toys that aren’t being used. “You can also store the toys on the lower shelves so your kids can easily access the toys and put them away after they play,” she says.
Ovadia Design Group’s Jack Ovadia (who is a father of three in addition to an interior designer) says that for his own home, “I got a TV unit that had a lot of storage in it. This way we can hide all the kids’ board games, toys, and knickknacks.”
Noelle Micek of Noelle Micek Interiors suggests storing woven baskets underneath a platform coffee table to “conceal the small toys and [remain] easy for your kids to access.”
2. Think easy maintenance.
Kids mean stains, and stains mean stress — unless your living room fabrics and surfaces are all easily washable. “Spot cleaning beats professional cleaning,” Adler says — for ease and expense.
Beyond that, she says, “Choose surfaces that are easy to maintain. Avoid delicate woods with polished finishes.” Instead, she suggests distressed woods and natural materials such as rattan.
3. Dedicate a space.
Wilson suggests you dedicate a particular place within the room for kids to play—say, in front of the TV. That way, you’ll keep them from claiming the entire room as their territory, when it’s really shared space.
“If there is no designated space for your kids to play, they will play all over the living room. That means toys spread all over,” she says. “By having a designated space in front of the TV, you can keep an eye on them and the toys won’t seem like they are everywhere!”
Ovadia adds that a room divider can help achieve spatial separation. “Use a good room divider that has storage in it,” he says. “This way you can hide the doors in the cabinets, and have the play area separated from the living area, and not make it feel like an entire separate room.”
4. Closets in the clutch.
Don’t forget about nearby closets when it comes to keeping things tidy and orderly.
“Invest in a built-in organizing system with shelves, but don’t forget to leave ample open floor space at the bottom to house larger toys,” Micek recommends. “We took the doors off of a nearby closet and hung colorful draperies that matched our throw pillows. The kids stash their larger toys in there and also love to use the curtains and closet as a stage for their many performances.”
5. Safety first.
In addition to all your storage and aesthetic needs, safety is obviously the paramount concern when it comes to cohabitating with kids.
Adler suggests minimizing decorative objects, which can be projectiles. She adds that when choosing furniture, “Avoid sharp edges and hard materials, such as glass or metal. Go for round tables and stools instead. Choose sofas and chairs with upholstered rounded arms instead of exposed wood frames.” And of course, make sure your window coverings are kid friendly. “Avoid long cords and opt for cordless shades or blinds,” Adler says.