An interior designer’s tips for styling a home with kids

If you’re anything like us, your post-Christmas home may be looking a little like Rudolph vomited new toys over every inch of the floor. Heck, you’re probably reading this just to buy yourself five minutes’ break from wading through seas of soft toys and watching diggers playing in the fruit bowl for the millionth time.

Life with children is full of incredible moments and heart-bursting highs, but there are also plenty of challenging times, like texters scrawled on walls and smoothies dripping down the cracks of your couch. If you’ve ever felt the sting of Lego underfoot or the burn of craft supplies glued to your dining room table, then you’ll get it. 

We make a lot of sacrifices in motherhood, but does our interior style really have to be one of them? Interior designer, event stylist, author of Home and Keeping House, and co-founder of decor library Emma Blomfield thinks not. We chatted to the design pro to get her best tips for styling a home with kids.

Invest in durability

While the swoon-worthy snaps pasted across Emma’s portfolio may feel out of reach with your little tornadoes turning every room upside-down, she says that most of her clients do in fact have kids and it all comes down to considering durability, storage and style.

Striking a balance between style and practicality can be tricky to achieve, but Emma says selecting hardy investment pieces is key. “Know that items will get ruined or stained, so invest in things you can be realistic about, like leather sofas, slip-cover furniture you can wash and acrylic rugs that can be cleaned really easily.”

Set up secret storage

Emma’s number one tip for styling a home with kids is having plenty of storage options you can quickly swipe the toys and games out of sight when needed. “Buy multifunctional pieces that double as practical storage pieces, like coffee tables with lift-up lids or undershelves, TV units with closed door storage and bookcases to fill voids and nooks,” she says. “You can never have enough places to hide away kid stuff!”

She adds that baskets are also super handy for quick evening clean-ups. “Have a couple of baskets in the living spaces that help you coordinate the kid junk that accumulates during the day, then take them to the kids’ rooms or playroom to clean up.”

We’re loving these teak consoles and rattan buffets to hide away toys in your shared living zones, while a cute bedside table or bench seat with storage will keep the clutter at bay in bedrooms.

If you have spare space in your garage or cupboards, a few cheap boxes with lids are an excellent way to keep some of the kids’ toys and games out of sight while also giving the opportunity for toy rotation.

Avoid the kitsch themes

While you may be tempted to dive headfirst into your child’s current obsession for their bedroom decor, levelling up with a more ageless approach will not only save you from a redesign in a few years but also sync the kids’ areas in with the rest of the house.

“Most of my clients want their kids’ rooms to look like an extension of the rest of the house, with a bit more colour to make it fun for the kids,” explains Emma. “This means the bedding is relatively neutral, but we jazz up the bedhead, add some fun cushions, art and rugs.”

Establish designated zones

“Depending on the size of the house, where possible it’s best to try and contain the kid stuff to certain areas of the house,” she says. “They’ll of course bring their things to other rooms, but if it can start out in a dedicated zone like a playroom or bedroom there’s a possibility they might learn to keep their belongings in one place… One can hope anyway!”

If the kids can’t help but shadow you wherever you go while leaving a trail of toys in their wake, then a mobile system may work your family. IKEA has an awesome range of trolleys that can be filled with items your child has chosen to play with and then rolled back to their proper homes when they’re done. Try a simple craft trolley close to the kitchen as you cook dinner, or perhaps dolls with dress-up clothes when you’re sorting washing in the laundry.

Opt for stain-resistant fabric

Emma says that while parents often think that leather is their only option when it comes to family-proof sofas, there is a great range of stain-resistant fabric couches on the market so there is no need to compromise your personal style for function. Ensure cushion covers are also removable for easy washing.

Embrace a playful twist

While you may have more sticky fingerprints and mess in the house now that you have kids, having those adorable balls of energy buzzing around can also bring a sense of fun and warmth to your space. Incorporate some of their sparkle into your aesthetic to give it a playful twist.

Frame some of the kids’ cutest artworks, set up a giant gallery of your favourite family snaps or take candid shots of those gorgeous little faces and print off giant black-and-white portraits to hang on the walls.

Kids’ toys, furniture and decor can also bring pops of colour and liveliness to your interior style, so try incorporating a few select pieces into your shared areas. A miniature play kitchen right next to your kitchen or a teeny armchair next to your sofa is sure to charm visitors while also encouraging little ones to play in their own space. Macrame swings, plush animal rockers and machine washable play mats can also walk the line between style and function in your living area, and hanging planters can offer a mess-free alternative to potted plants.

Find more styling inspiration on Emma’s socials via Instagram and Facebook, or check out her book Home, which shares practical design advice for living with kids and pets. Image courtesy of Emma Blomfield.