If you have an active family, you need a house that can accommodate that activity while still providing comfort. From the sofa to the dining room furniture, the kids bedroom to the coffee table, you need a family-friendly design for your furniture right from the beginning.
- Don’t believe the false dichotomy. A false dichotomy is a form of improper logic in which you are presented with two choices as if those are the only two you could make. When it comes to homes and families, many of us succumb to the false dichotomy of thinking we have to choose between living in a place that looks like a bomb went off, or creating enormous “zones of perfection” that children are not allowed to touch. By arranging your sofa, decorations, and expectations, you can enjoy a clean and orderly home while still allowing for children’s activity and energy.
- Start with one room at a time. Don’t try to arrange every room once. This will just get you frustrated and in the end, you may even give up. Rather than look at the house as a whole, consider how you live in each individual room. You need to think about what you do in the room and the habits of the people you live with. As a simple example, if you know that your family prefers to eat in the living room in front of the television, choosing a sofa of the right color can minimize the look of stains and spills. A sofa with the right design will keep kids from dropping crumbs all down the sides. Similarly, you can get a sofa with a design that prevents things from sliding under it, meaning that you’ll never have that sick feeling that comes from sliding the vacuum cleaner under the sofa only to hear it suck up a Lego.
- Don’t assume your children can’t appreciate nice things. The truth is our children will appreciate nice things if we teach them to do so. If you put off getting any nice furniture or any interesting decorations in the house “until the children are older,” and meanwhile allow them to tear up and destroy the cheap junk you fill the house with, all you’ve taught them to do is to destroy things. Involve them in the process of decorating and choosing furniture so they feel a sense of ownership. The first time one of them brings chocolate milk in and splashes it all over the rug, calmly involve them in the cleaning process.
- Use colors and patterns effectively. The right patterns and textures can hide fingerprints and spills. They also add interest to a room and make it more fun to be in, especially for children. You can kill two birds with one stone by choosing interesting colors and patterns that will also hide the stains.
- Cheap is not always better. The temptation when you have children is to assume that since they’re going to jump on the sofa, you should get the cheapest sofa you can. Paradoxically, the better quality furniture you buy, the better it will hold up to your children’s abuse. Invest in quality pieces and then teach your children how to value them. If the kids start jumping on a reading chair and destroy it, make that their designated chair for watching TV. When they complain, explain to them what happens when you jump on a piece of furniture and that you’ll replace it when you have confidence that they’ll treat it with respect.
- Make space for your children. One of the best ways to ensure that your things are treated with respect is to treat your children with respect. They need space, too. Make spaces in each room where they can just “be kids.” These should be areas where they can run around without fear of knocking anything over or where a small trampoline gives them a place to jump up and down.
You don’t have to choose between a nice home and a pigsty. Invest in quality pieces, set up your home well, teach your children to value what you have, and then you can enjoy your home and your kids at the same time.