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Family-Friendly Style Defined

Keep your home stylish and safe for kids, with these great decorating ideas

By Lisa Frederick

Family-friendly design cuts across the boundaries of style and taste. Whether you're a modern décor maven or crave cottage comfort, safety and practicality are musts when kids enter the picture—but that doesn't mean you have to sacrifice sophistication. Today's furniture, surface, and textile options marry durability with decorative aplomb.

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The Basics

Casual Contemporary Kid's Room
Rachel Reider

Think simple and sturdy. Finicky fabrics, breakable collections, and edgy industrial gear don't lend themselves to family life as well as oversize club chairs, distressed wood case goods, and accents that won't shatter if they're knocked off a table. Kids are notorious for flopping down wherever they happen to be, so soft surfaces such as shag rugs and floor pillows are a bonus. And don't forget to correct safety hazards such as steep, ungated stairways and loose window screens.

These designer rooms display family-friendly design:

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Does family-friendly style sound like the right fit for you? Here's how to get it.

Seeing Stripes

Durable fabrics. From sticky fingers to muddy feet, family furnishings take a lot of wear and tear. Choose textiles that can handle whatever you throw at them, such as denim, cotton twill, and leather, and coat them with fabric protector if appropriate. You might also consider one of the many attractive indoor/outdoor fabrics on the market which are practically indestructible.

Easy-to-clean surfaces. With kids come drips, smears, and spills, so go for flooring, wallcovers, and countertops you can wipe down. Wood laminate and ceramic tile floors are always a good bet, but if you want something more comfortable underfoot, consider natural cork or removable carpet tiles. For walls, go with a satin or semigloss paint finish or invest in one of the newer washable paints on the market. Solid surfacing, engineered quartz, and granite are great countertop options.

Big, comfy furnishings. You can't curl up for movie night on a dainty side chair or narrow bench. Think overscale: cushy sectionals, ample ottomans, cozy floor pillows and poufs. Modular pieces or furnishings on casters, which you can pull around the room as the occasion dictates, are a bonus.

Smith + Noble

Functional storage. If you're like most people, you'd rather not include Lego sculptures, stuffed animals, and princess tiaras in your décor. Furnishings that double as storage, such as lidded ottomans and shelves with cubbies to house baskets, provide a place to tuck away toys, books, and other clutter at cleanup time. You may choose a large armoire or sideboard and designate it as a kid zone; with the doors shut, no one will know what's hidden within.

Rounded corners.
 Little ones have a knack for bumping into sharp table edges and other pointy hazards. Protect them by opting for furniture that's rounded rather than squared off. The good news? Many iconic pieces such as Noguchi coffee tables, Eileen Gray sidetables, and classic Windsor chairs fit the bill perfectly. Straight-lined rugs, accents, and art help to balance all the curves.

Kid-safe window treatments.
 Curtain and blind cords are one of the biggest home dangers for children, so choose window coverings that don't have this feature. Honeycomb-style shades, tab-top draperies, cordless Roman shades, and shutters all work well and are versatile enough to blend with nearly any décor style.

  • If you like family-friendly style, you may also like Rustic and Shabby chic style. Click to explore!

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