by Info Guru Elizabeth Sobiski

Families with young children have different design needs than those who are empty-nesters or who haven’t had kids yet, particularly when it comes to the family room.

You can still have nice looking furnishings with children, contrary to many opinions. You just have to approach decorating differently. Here are ten tips for family rooms for families with little kids.

10. Decorate now.

It might seem smart to wait to decorate until the kids are older, especially since they tend to be hard on furniture. By including children in the process, there’s a better chance you can decorate now, rather than waiting for the kids to be older. If you have your options narrowed down to a couple of choices, showing the ideas to your children gives a feeling of ownership – and a better chance of protecting things rather than destroying them. It’s also a great chance for them to learn how to treat the furniture, flooring and walls to keep the room looking great for everyone.

9. Plan around your lifestyle

Plan around your lifestyle

Think about how you live in your family room now. Do the kids treat it like an obstacle course or push everything out of the way to play games or dance? Is it an area where snacks and sometimes meals are eaten? These are answers to know, as they will dictate the choices you make later. If food fights between siblings are common, be sure to have surfaces that are easy to clean!

8. Keep it simple

Keep it simple

Go for a casual living space that doesn’t need a lot of fussy maintenance. Instead of having a treasured tea cup collection on the walls, frame some of the kids’ artwork instead. Not only will you save dusting those tea cups, the kids will feel like the room belongs to them, too. The same is true for furniture. Choose family room pieces that handle wear and tear well and hide little finger prints.

7. Safeguard walls

Safeguard walls

There is no way to avoid it – walls take a beating, especially with kids. Sports shoes get tossed, hitting walls and baseboards. Empty vistas of drywall become the latest canvas for crayon or marker art. To combat this, use an easily cleaned paint in an eggshell, satin or semi-gloss finish. If the kids have a hard time staying away from walls, consider painting a section in chalkboard or whiteboard paint. This will give them a space where they can draw whatever they please, then erase it and begin again.

6. Window treatments

Window treatments

Sticky fingers can leave interesting marks on blinds and some draperies seem to beg to be climbed. For blinds, choose ones with wider slats that can be easily cleaned. For draperies, consider Roman shades made of bamboo or other natural reeds. That way, there is no fabric to show off those pesky grape jelly smears or get pulled off the wall.

5. The floors have it

The floors have it

Family rooms truly benefit from low-fuss flooring. Options such as hardwood, cork, laminate and linoleum all work well. Flooring makers have even come out with hardwood that is already distressed and has a non-skid finish, perfect for hiding normal wear and tear. Carpet might be great for little crawlers, but you might find yourself vacuuming or scrubbing stains very often.

4. Area Rugs

Area Rugs

These portable and easily replaceable rugs are perfect for almost all family rooms, whether you have wall-to-wall carpeting or bare floors. Grass mats made of sisal, jute or sea grass can be shaken out and flipped over if one side gets too messy. Also consider an indoor/outdoor rug. These come in some great styles and are extremely durable. Some rugs are patterned with roads and race tracks, keeping kids entertained for hours.

3. Storage


Clutter happens. There are toys, books, games and art supplies – and they all need a home or your family room will look like a war zone. Baskets are great for storage and they can be slipped into book cases or other shelving units to keep things tidy. This is also a great way to get the kids to help with clean up. Get them used to putting toys back in the baskets. Who knows? Maybe this concept of putting things away will spill over to their bedrooms too.

2. Preventing fabric disasters

Preventing fabric disasters

For upholstered furniture, look for fabrics that won’t show stains easily and that can be cleaned with mild detergent and water. Another idea is to treat furniture with a stain repellent. Some stores offer this service when you purchase your new sofas and chairs and there are do-it-yourself applications, too. To avoid tears and other disasters, look for pieces that have the cushions attached to the frame. This way, they can’t be wielded as a weapon and end up knocking over the bright red drink on the table.

1. Furniture


While it is tempting to get the least expensive furniture you can, it’s a better investment to get the highest affordable quality. For instance, a table made of kiln-dried solid wood, will last for years and years. The table you brought home and put together yourself will probably end up in a land fill somewhere in the next few years. You’ll end up spending the same or more replacing cheaper furniture over and over than by buying quality the first time. That said, your favorite cushy reading chair probably will be used as a springboard to the sofa or end table.

There are plenty of options when it comes to decorating a family room if your family has little ones running around. Use your imagination to come up with a design that is functional, friendly and easy to maintain.