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Decorating with Kids & Pets: Do You Have to Sacrifice Beauty?

One of the most frequent questions I get is whether you can create a beautiful home if you have kids and pets. There is this resigned idea that with kids and pets, you need to sacrifice beauty 

Not so. 

In fact, using wisely strategic interior design, you can have it all and indulge in livable luxury, whatever that means to you from beauty, style, feel-good-factor, to wow-factor. You do not have to deny yourself. 

Before diving in, let’s assemble on one page on one important pet-point.

On a scale of 1-10, with 1 being “My pet is an angel” to 10 being “I have the Tasmanian Devil Nutjob”, I’m going to assume your pet is at least a 5 ½ or lower.

If your pet is the TD-Nutjob, I’m sorry to say your best bet is a dirt floor and steel furniture.

This article will work for you assuming your pet is in the “normal range” of non-chewing, non-clawing, non-marking (peeing and pooping).

And I know your kids, no matter their ages are doing none of those things, great parent that you are! Xo.

Here Some Key Rules & Hacks to Interior Design with Pets and Kids.

Rule #1: It’s all about the Materials.

When I say materials, I don’t mean fabric. I mean the material something is made of: cloth, stone, wood, metal, tile, vinyl etc.

Choose the right materials for the right application and you will be golden. Read on.

Rule #2: It’s all about the Fabrics & the Fibers.

Fabric is woven from yarn and yarn is made from fiber. Example. The fabric weave might be a velvet, but the fiber it is made of might be a cotton, or nylon or silk. 

The “heavy use” needs of durability and easy clean-ability can be supported by diving into the world of Crypton fabrics as well as indoor-outdoor fabrics. Both are used by hotels and cruise ships to give perspective.  

Indoor- outdoor fabrics are man-made fibers and durable woven weaves built to take a beating, to repel stains and to forgive a spill if cleaned up logically (blotted) and swiftly (handled now versus later.)

Crypton is a trademarked treatment applied to woven fabric for the same end use purposes. 

Fibers and fabrics to avoid with kids and pets: 

*Silk, which hates water. 

*Linen on furnishings, which will absorb water, but it is fine for certain window treatments.

*Fabric with low durability ratings. 

Yes, fabric is abrasion tested to discover a ranking for end use from drapery only, to light use to medium use, to heavy to use.

Note: Educate yourself here if DIY-ing or dealing with well-meaning furniture stores. We have had clients come to us with costly trashed-yet-new furniture due to wrong fabric and fiber. Ie: Silk content fabric was put on custom kitchen chairs in a home with children and a special needs child. 

Rule #3; It’s all about the Flooring

Consider your budget and tolerance.

Wood is a great choice if you don’t mind the patina of scratches over time, which some people don’t. 

Luxury Vinyl Plank is a good choice if pet accidents or water spills are an issue from time to time. Some people dislike the look and sound.

Porcelain tile is durable and forgiving, though hard on a toddler fall and noisy. 

Commercial grade carpet is a good choice for playrooms, especially tiled carpet. Purchase extra carpet tiles so if a stain can’t be taken out, pull up the affected squares and pop in new ones. 

Wool is a great choice in carpet and area rugs because the lanolin in the fiber makes it more naturally liquid and stain repellant. This gives you more reaction time on a spill than a cotton woven area rug. Cotton will slurp up a stain right into its fiber.

Nylon is lower cost than wool, and less stain repellant, carpet mills correct by applying treatments with various trademarked names for “stain resistant”.

Flooring to Avoid:

*Silk content. 

*Looped pile carpet for pets that occasionally chew, scratch or have longer nails.  One pulled loop will quickly cause a long pulled “run,” like stockings. 

*Soft woods like pine

*Marble which gets slippery and doesn’t like acidic liquid.

Rule #4: It’s all about the Color and Color Placement

With pets and kids, being wise about color is strategic logic. 

If you dream about the white and creamy interiors on Instagram, save those for your private spaces like the master bed and bath or home office. 

In family spaces indulge your love of a lighter color palettes by throwing depth on the area rug to hide tracked in dirt, mid tones in your upholstery, going lighter with the right fabrics discussed earlier only if you feel you kids and pets can handle these. 

Either way, you can always lighten up your palette on walls, drapey, lighting, accessories and even some of your wood furnishings can go light – if that’s your vibe. Add striking large crown molding, interesting ceiling details to drive your light-bright craving. 

Rule #5: “Coordinate” with your Pet

Got a white dog? Avoid deep navy on the floor if you don’t want to see white fur all the time. But if you have a black cat? Navy rug…sold! 

Remember: when designing beauty you can live in, it’s always a matter of catering to cravings, respecting the budget and using the wisest interior design strategy to get there. 

About Donna Hoffman: A multi-award-winning Bucks County based designer, Donna heads her design company specializing in new construction, renovation, whole home and full room design to deliver  livable luxury to discerning clients.  Seen in Forbes, Real Simple,  TV and radio, Donna is one of the nation's design thought leaders  and also founded, TheInteriorDesignAdvocate.com which provides  on-line courses for DIY’ers.  

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