Tired of mess, clutter and toys? Our top tips for creating an organised family home
You don't HAVE to go all Marie Kondo on your life.
Making your home the perfect place to raise your family is not about perfection or even being uber-minimal with belongings. It is more about creating a space that works for your and your family.
Somewhere you can all relax. Somewhere that is easy to keep organised and that have tons of clever storage – because kids come with a lot of stuff.
You need room for toys and room for play and room for dinners and family time – and also, space for adults to be able to feel just like adults again once the kids go to bed at night. Sounds like a lot to fit into one little home?
If you are ready to embark on family life, or just looking to make your home and everyday life even more family-friendly, here are nice great design ideas to embrace now:
1. Neutral Nurseries
Look, we know it can be exciting to go all out for your baby's nursery, but opting to go very gender specific when it comes to colour and decor might not be the best decision. Especially if you don't want to have to redecorate again too quickly, whether because your toddler decides she no longer likes pink AT ALL, or because you are going to be using the same nursery for baby #2 – who might quite possibly not be the same sex as baby #1...
Instead, opt for lovely neutral shades of grey, white or cream on larger things like walls and nursery furniture, and instead use accessories like art, toys and soft furnishings to inject a bit of (gender-specific) colour if you so wish. These are after all a lot easier (and cheaper) to replace.
2. Get Smart With Storage
When it comes to family living, you can never have enough storage in your home. Trust us. And much as babies really know how to fill up a space (you know, with all the bouncers and buggies and high chairs and stuff), just wait till you reach the stage where Santa is bringing one Barbie Malibu Mansion bigger than the next every year, and your hallway has become an obstacle course of school bags and scooters and skateboard helmets...
Beat the clutter with some clever storage solutions. If the budget allows it, built-in solutions are amazing, but even if you are only renting or on a tighter budget these days, there are plenty of great flexible storage solutions for toys, clothes and other bits out there.
The easy-to-customize Trofast storage combination from Ikea is perfect for children's rooms, and we are currently loving the gorgeous seagrass baskets popping up everywhere, perfect for keeping magazines, hats and gloves, Lego – you name it – tidy and out of sight.
3. Invest In Clever Children's Furniture
If there is one thing you will discover upon becoming a parent, it is just how quickly children grow. One minute they are immobile and tiny, the next they are racing around at lighting speed, flinging themselves off furniture and growing bigger in front of your very eyes.
What this means, of course, is that they outgrow things extremely quickly. And while there is little you can do about them needing the next size up in clothes, when it comes to other purchases, you can really make your money go further by buying children's furniture that will grow with your children.
When it comes to high chairs, few purchases will ever beat the iconic Stokke Tripp Trapp chair, which has won countless prices for great design and will last your child from newborn up until adulthood. (We have two of these at our dining table at home, and they are frequently used by all of us, including myself and my husband).
4. Wipeable Surfaces Are A Godsend
Living with children means dealing with a lot of sticky situations – and even stickier fingers. One thing that will make life easier is opting for surfaces that are easy to wipe clean. Trust me.
5. Ditch The Carpet For An Area Rug
Yes, carpets look and feel lovely and snug underfoot, and they are, of course, but they are also notoriously hard to clean, especially if you want to limit or avoid the use of really harsh chemicals in your home too.
Opt instead for a lovely area rug, and when they get grungy, ship them off to the cleaners or simply replace inexpensive ones. Jute, seagrass and sisal add texture and are incredibly durable, making them great for heavily-trafficked areas.
For a softer touch, try an all-wool or wool-blend rug, which will wear well and resist stains.
6. Make Room For The Kids
This one might seem a little obvious, as most kids will have their own rooms and the common areas are used by all, but know this: Kids, especially young once, will gravitate towards where you adults are, and will want to play or read or watch TV near their parents.
What this means, it that you should always make sure everywhere in your home is family-friendly and child-appropriate. A great idea can be to keep furnishings on the spare side while your brood is young to preserve space for play. Make sure you have enough storage to keep toys both handy, but also easy to tidy away.
Other ideas: If your family likes games, set up a game table and chairs in a corner of the family room, or opt for a large coffee table that everyone can gather around on game night. For reading, a "love seat" or big armchair makes the perfect place to enjoy this together and opt for display-style bookshelves where kids can easily locate the books they want to read.
7. Open Plan Makes Everything Easier
If you are house-hunting or about to do a renovation, you might find yourself in a position where you get to be involved in how the layout of your house should be.
If so, many will argue that open plan living is perfect when you have young children in the house, as you can get on with things like cooking or cleaning or laundry, and still be able to keep an eye on what the kids are up to over by the sofa, or in the garden. Open plan living, which refers to there being few, if any, internal walls breaking up communal areas like kitchen, living room and dining room, encourages a more sociable way of living and is increasingly popular with families everywhere.
If you miss having a more "defined" area, you can get clever and create "zones" using furniture, colour or even rugs.
8. Opt For Blinds Over Curtains
Long drapes that pool elegantly on the floor? Yeah, they do look super-chic, but they are also a tripping hazard, a hide-and-seek spot, and an "I wonder what will happen if I tug on this?" experiment waiting to happen, mamas.
Instead, opt for simple, (and wipeable!) wooden blinds or even roman shades — those made with natural reeds, such as bamboo, look great, keep nosy eyes from peeping in and can be secured out of reach during the day. Win/win.
9. Make It Easier For Kids To Do Things By Themselves
As your children grow, most of us parents' lives would be made far easier if the kids would actually be able to do a whole lot of tasks by themselves, without requiring our help for every little thing. And, believe it or not, children do get enjoyment from being able to do something all by themselves, such as finding an item of clothing, hang up their school bags and fetch their own glass of milk or bowl of cereal.
You can make this easier for all of you by making sure things are easy and accessible for kids. Put up hooks for coats and bags that are the perfect height for them to reach, store children's cups and plates somewhere low down in your kitchen presses, organize your fridge or pantry so that items your kids use frequently are easier to get a hold of and opt for plenty of easy-to-reach drawers in their rooms so that they can find what they are looking for without having to ask for help in doing so.