If you have a casual living space that will be frequented by children there are several practical things you can do that will make life easier.
indoor/ outdoor fabric that I used on a sofa for clients last year in a casual living area
Upholstering sofas in one of the new indoor/ outdoor fabrics is a great way to go. Every single fabric range has extensive indoor/outdoor fabrics in them now thanks to the new fabric technologies, and they are completely stain proof, ranging from fairly inexpensive, to top of the range with fabric houses such as Pierre Frey. If you love a light coloured sofa, but have toddlers, then slipcover a sofa in one of the new fabrics (the fabrics feel completely normal and not plasticky) and you can easily throw it in the wash and watch any stain be it vegemite/ chocolate or mud without treatment simply disappear. I've also used indoor/ outdoor fabrics in rooms frequented by grandchildren, where the grandparents didn't want to have to be constantly asking the children to take their shoes off or sit carefully (and instead wanted to be the 'fun' grandparents). This makes the sofa easy to spot clean with a bit of soap and water. Upholstery that is not a solid plain fabric also works better to disguise dirt. I usually select a fabric with a bit of 'movement' in it so that general dinginess will be fairly disguised. Our own sofas are a very, very fine check in tonal greys, and this has disguised dirt very well without going the route of the full washable slipcover.
grandchild friendly surfaces for my client - leather upholstered armchairs, indoor/ outdoor fabric on the sofa.
If you eat at a dining table with your children (rather than serving them at the kitchen island) then a dining table that has a robust finish to the top is optimal while children are toddlers. Our dining table is already distressed and made from recycled wood. The children have variously scratched, drawn and gouged it, and you really can't tell as it works in with the surface. Stone is a good surface for this reason too, highly polished/ perfect timber is not. A dining table made with a 2pac factory sprayed painted top is definitely not a good idea. All the edges will chip and you'll have scratches all over it.
My dining table and chairs. The table is a recycled timber, the chairs have covers that can be removed and washed.
via Lauren Leiss
If you're putting in floorboards, a hardwood is better than a soft wood. Pine in high traffic areas (such as hallways or kitchens) will scratch and degrade over time when compared to a hardwood. In our hall we installed Spotted Gum floorboards over the existing old pine in the hallway, and it has held up well. Timber in general though will show scratches and dents more easily, even from high heeled shoes (not just children scootering inside), so alternatives to consider are tile, linoleum, vinyl, polished concrete, and carpet. Our choice of linoleum is fantastic, and I still am so happy we made the decision to install it. It takes a real knock from the kids, and cleans up brilliantly.
Regarding carpet, I know a lot of people like nylon now, and this is something that seems to me to have come from the project home/ developers market and spread through the carpet suppliers recommending it when retailing it to homeowners. Project home builders like nylon as it will meet their builders warranty and they are pretty much guaranteed that it won't change or stain until their warranty period is up. I never recommend it (unless it's for a commercial property) as it is, in the end, plastic. Wool carpet wears a lot better than nylon over a longer period of time. It feels more luxurious, and is a natural product. Stains will come out fairly easily (unless you want white carpet). For children who often lie on their carpet to play games, I just think it's far nicer that they're on a natural surface. But this is a personal preference. Obviously dark carpet is good for children for hiding stains and dirt, and that is what I chose for my own house. I knew that the long duration of our renovation and us living in the house for the duration meant that a light coloured carpet would look dreadful otherwise.
my youngest's bedroom - he wanted orange walls, this was our compromise
I think it's important to involve children in the design of their own spaces. To keep this simpler, I recommend asking them for a theme or colour that they like, then picking two things you're also happy to live with and then asking them to choose between those limited choices. Too much choice is overwhelming. I buy my children's bedroom lamps from cheaper places like Target, Bunnings, or Freedom furniture when on sale. Then I don't have to worry too much if one is knocked over.
Playrooms/ teenage retreats
Playroom via Pinterest
My children's playroom with blackboard wall
Ikea storage for toys in my kid's playroom - doors are essential
Avoid natural stone such as marble or limestone. This is because they are porous and will absorb stains and odours. There are good porcelain alternatives these days if you like the look of stone for tiles, and in bench tops the composite stones (such as caesarstone) are better options - even colourless soap will stain marble if left sitting on it for too long.
Tile behind toilets - Little (and many big) boys have bad aim.
via Channel nine's The Block - solid splashback rather than mirrored, but I don't recommend marble
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