Most people think the presence of children in the home means you have to furnish it in early orange crate to withstand the wear and tear of little feet and the disarray caused by grubby little hands. This is not really the case. When children are considered, your decorating skills need only a few minor adjustments and your home can still be worthy of a spread in Better Homes and Gardens. Many people are not familiar with the techniques of child proofing as you decorate.
Most often their knowledge of decorating begins and ends with the pages in the magazines found in the doctor’s waiting room. You just know those interior decorators aren’t even acquainted with those little energetic beings we call children. Child -proof decorating is a term I coined when I found myself the mother of mobile, drooling, destructive little beings that none the less I loved dearly and had no intention of replacing just to improve the décor in my home. I gave my alternatives some serious thought and decided there had to be a way to make my home attractive without the furnishings providing a constant hazard to my children and my peace of mind.
I think my efforts are successful and are worth sharing with you. Grab a cup of coffee and while your children are napping let’s talk child-proofing for the decorator 101. First you need to look at the furnishings you already have. Just how safe are they for someone who might stand all of two foot six inches tall and has a curiosity factor as large as all outdoors. Do they have sharp corners that can make a fall a seriously dangerous thing, do they feature glass panels or high gloss wood surfaces that will break or show every ding and scratch?
Remember your goal is to up the safety factor while you increase your peace of mind. Materials that are more durable and need minimal care like iron or stone rate more than a second glance when replacement furnishings are considered. Remember it is easier to herd cats than to stay ahead of the destructive factor of a healthy child and you do not want to spend every waking hour supervising their play. Child-proofing doesn’t have to be an orientation into early ugly. It only needs to be clean and safe.
A quick coat of paint, non-toxic of course, does wonders to brighten up your place and will let you scrub the cookie drool from a teething child off the woodwork without worrying about lead toxicity. Articles can be found in a number of interior decorating magazines describing the many non-toxic choices for paint on the market today. A little research is called for here. You can quickly add more color and comfort by choosing bright accent pillows and patterned rugs. Anything sporting small beads, threads, buttons or other parts that a curious child can break off and put in their mouth should of course be avoided. Look at it all from a child’s point of view when deciding what could provide a choking hazard.
Children are natural explorers and it is up to the parent to police the room ahead of time eliminating anything that can fall into the category of a dangerous temptation. As soon as they get control of their legs, children want to climb. That means entertainment centers, shelves, and statues need to be secured so they cannot tip over if they attract the curiosity of a climber. Try to keep table surfaces free of objects that can be pulled onto the floor. Replace bulky table lamps with track lighting or swags anchored to the ceiling. You will still get all the light you need and you will eliminate the possibility of a head injury caused by a falling lamp. The cord from a table lamp is too great a temptation to expect any child to resist.
Another economical and safe lighting choice would be installation of a lighted ceiling fan. This will increase air circulation in the home, helping to eliminate a cold layer of air at the floor level in the winter, and provide plenty of illumination without adding to the hazard level. Reduce the visibility of stains on the furniture from spilled food and drinks by choosing patterned slipcovers for your furnishings. When an accident happens it will take only moments to strip the cover off and replace it with a clean one while you wash the soiled item.
Rips or snags in the material on the couch or that favorite chair cease to be a visible problem and you will have less stress in your life. For the time being, when the children are little, valuables or breakable knickknacks need to be stored out of sight and out of mind. As they get older children will become more careful and more trustworthy. Then you can reintroduce these items for display. In the meantime, you will save a lot of yelling and tears by elimination of the temptation in the first place.
A quick trip to your neighborhood hardware store will provide your choice of chain covers or cable covers to prevent children from playing with the wires connected to lamps, computers or entertainment centers. These covers make your room seem neat and tidy while preventing your child from pulling on them or chewing on them. Remember safety is your mantra here and the average toddler has no concept of what is safe to touch or chew and what is not. Finally finish up your decorating redo by selecting either one large area rug or several small ones to place in the areas of highest foot traffic.
Area rugs prevent the inevitable spills and wear and tear from permanently harming the hardwood flooring or the more expensive carpeting underneath. Little feet can produce a lot of damage but an area rug can be easily cleaned or replaced at a minimum expense and preserve the beauty of the floors in your home. This will provide you with minimum stress and a happier home in the end.