Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Style with Kids Part 3: Hard Surfaces

So the last part of my style with kids series will be hard surfaces.  We know storage is essential to keeping your decor and not your kids toys the focus.  And we know that durable, wipeable and/or washable fabrics will help keep your soft surfaces looking great.  So the last piece of the puzle is all the hard surfaces.  This includes things like coffee and side tables, dining tables, chairs, shelving, floors and walls.

When you have kids, and I speak from experience, all that glossy dark wood vaneer fairly quickly starts looking not so hot.  Every smudge shows against that shine. Every speck of dust you don't have time to get to anymore stands out against the dark wood, and every dropped cup or toy takes a gouge out of that vaneer leaving a glaring light coloured scratch.  Don't get me wrong, I still love some of my pieces, but it definitely developes a "patina" haha.  So if you can't handle that look you may want to look at some other options.

Source: artrss.net via Kirsten on Pinterest

Wood is still an absolutely perfect choice.  It's durable and beautiful!  If you don't want to notice the scratches and smudges as much, go for something in a mid tone.  I also recommend when investing in a piece you love and want to keep for years, if possible to get solid wood.  Vaneered surfaces get scratched (or even chunks taken out) and you can't really repair it in most cases.  With solid wood you have the option of sanding it down and restaining it when the children have grown up a bit.

I love some of the rustic wood furniture that's available now.  It looks amazing but the best part is, all the dings your kids put in it just adds to the rustic look!  How great is that,  furniture that looks better the more you wreck it!

I've developed a soft spot for these log side tables that are everywhere.  I may try to DIY one!

What could be better than plastic for kids?   These are just a few of the many, many plastic chairs avialable these days.  You can get them in so many shapes and colors.  They would be a great splash of color in a breakfast nook!  Just wipe 'em down!  Awesome!  You can also get dining tables, coffee tables and side tables.   Lucite is a great choice if you want the clear look of glass without as much of the worry of your toddler falling into it.

I really like painted furniture.  It's very cost effective (you can get great solid wood furniture second hand for pennies) and put a coat of paint on it pretty quickly.  And if it gets scratched up do some touch ups or even repaint it in a couple of hours some afternoon during nap time.


Such a fun way to add color to your decor too!  When you get tired of it, put another coat on!

I'm personally a huge fan of real hardwood flooring.  It's durable (think about houses that are a hundred years old with their original floors) and looks fantastic.  If it's looking tired 15 years down the road you can get it refinished and it will look brand new again.  It can be a bit pricey to install though.  Laminate is another great option (pictured above)  that can be very durable and can be found for very inexpensive.  With both wood and especially laminate, be careful you don't let liquids sit on them, it can damage the surface.  With laminate if it seeps into the cracks it can actually cause swelling, so don't let that spilled juice sit there overnight.

Cork is a really neat option that's become quite popular.  It's very soft, warm and moisture resistant.  It's also a natural product so less worries about things like off gassing that can happen with some vinyl flooring or even from the glues in some laminates.  Great for areas like the kitchen where you might want to avoid harder options like stone or tile that could be hard on babies knees or heads (ouch!)

So these are a few ideas that are out there.  Most of the things I recommended were based on personal experience or things I've noticed or talked about with friend and family with kids.  My best recommendation when you have kids or are thinking about having kids in the foreseable future is to talk to friends and family with kids and listen to what they found worked and what they regretted.  Don't run out and redo your house just because you're having kids but when you are ready to make a purchase or put in some new floors take those things into consideration.  I like to say there's a "trifecta of decorating".  Looks, cost and durability.   Before you have kids you mostly base your desicions on whether on not you like the look of something and possibly it it's in the budget.  After you have kids, most people have to take them all into consideration. 

Hope this helped a few people make some decisions and see that they can have nice stuff and kids, haha

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Style With Kids Part 2: Fabrics

A difficult choice to make when you have kids is what fabrics to use around your home.  With all those milk cups, sticky fingers and dirty toes around you don't want to invest in a great sofa or upholstered chair to have it ruined shortly after.  You can make rules against food in the livingroom or standing on the furniture but accidents always happen. While you want to be able to keep your style, you also want everyone to be able to enjoy your home, kids included.  Plus it's nice to be able to have popcorn on the couch for family movie night ;)!    So if you can have fabrics around your house that you don't have to stress over and it still looks great, all the better!

The obvious choice for a super durable sofa is leather.  No worries about anything getting on it because it just wipes up.  If you invest in good quality, it can be something that lasts a lifetime.  There are some really beautiful leather couches out there at fairly reasonable prices but they do tend to set you back more than a typical upholstered piece.  And some people just don't like the look or feel of leather (myself not included, I don't know if I could go back to upholstered).

A not as obvious choice is white slipcovers.  What????  Ya white slipcovers.  When they get filthy you just take them off, throw them in the wash with some bleach and apparently they come out bright and beautiful.  Many families with children swear by them and they do look fabulous in a cottage or beach style home.  My only reservation about that is I'd be constantly taking them off, washing and putting them back on.  Seems like more work than I'd like to put in personally.  But they are gorgeous and a great option for those who aren't afraid of the work.

If you don't want to have to wash as frequently but still like the washable option, a dark patterned cover like this one from ikea would be a great choice.

Source: ikea.com via Kirsten on Pinterest

Pattern is a great trick for hiding dirt.  These are a couple of fabrics that fit that bill.  Perfect for cushions or even an occasional chair.


Source: fabric.com via Kirsten on Pinterest

Source: fabric.com via Kirsten on Pinterest

Indoor/outdoor fabrics are becoming a really popular choice.  Very durable and stain resistant they're amazing for dining chair seats!

Source: fabric.com via Kirsten on Pinterest

Source: fabric.com via Kirsten on Pinterest

I can imagine either of those on chairs like these!



Source: rugsusa.com via Kirsten on Pinterest
Indoor outdoor is a perfect choice for rugs too!  I love both these!  The giraffe is fun and the color in the next one would really add a nice pop to a room.

Source: rugsusa.com via Kirsten on Pinterest

Vinyl can be used for stool cushions or banquet seats in the kitchen.

So as you can see there are plenty of options out there, so you don't have to stress the next time the kids ask for a popsicle!

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Style with Kids Part 1: Storage

I think one of the most important ways to keep your style with kids in the house, is storage!  How is storage stylish?  Storage will not only keep your decor the focus (instead of the piles of toys everywhere) but can also add to the look of your decor itself.

I loved this book as a kid!  It totally appealed to my Type A tendencies.  At the end they had their closet stacked full of labeled boxes of toys and puzzles.

 When the kids have gone to bed or we have company over for a visit there is nothing less enjoyable for me than staring at a floor full of toys.  During the day they can drag out the toys and play all they like in the middle of the floor but in the evening before bathtime we do an end of day clean up.  All the toys go back where they belong and the house looks tidy and like an adult space not a toys 'r us. Really we do several clean ups throughout the day (usually before we eat) so it doesn't become a monumental task at the end of the day.

The easiest way to keep that up is if you have places to put everything.  Most of my kids toys belong in their rooms but I did make sure there is storage in the livingroom for some of the toys, puzzles and books they use a lot.  That way it's quick and easy to put them away. 


Source: houzz.com via Kirsten on Pinterest

I love this wall length set of drawers.  So much storage!  Who know's what's in there?  Coloring books, stuffed toys, puzzles?  And the room looks so clean and neat because they have a spot to put everything!
I repurposed a dresser as my tv console.  It has enough drawers to hold most of our movies and lots of toys so the kids can just grab what they want and throw it back in when they're done.  I love it because when the drawers are closed it's clean and neat and you'd never know it's crammed full of stuff.  You can often pick up a good quality dresser or console for not a lot on craigslist, swap n' shop or from a second hand store. 

There are some other great double duty furniture options out there.  Ottomans you can open up are fantastic and the soft corners are another bonus for kids!  Double duty  storage pieces are a must when space is an issue.  They are items you would have anyways, why not be able to throw your kids stuff in them too.

Cubes are also available for smaller spaces and if they are sturdy enough they can be pulled around the coffee table on games night for extra seating.

Toy boxes don't have to be covered in teddy bears and footballs.  You'd never know these were filled with toys when tucked nicely under the tv console.


Source: google.ca via Kirsten on Pinterest

Add some texture with this huge woven ottoman.

Source: houzz.com via Kirsten on Pinterest

Built ins are a fantastic storage options if you have the space and money to put them in.  Look at all those doors to hide stuff behind!

I love the closed storage on the bottom for the kids and open shelving on top for displaying breakables you don't want within reach of little fingers.

Most of these options are for your living room or family room but built ins or consoles could also be used in the dining room if that's where you had room.   
If you've already added some of these and still don't have enough storage in the "shared" areas of the house, you can still make it easy to clean up.

I love these toy boxes on wheels!  I actually requested these as Christmas gifts for my kids this year.  They can wheel out their box, unload it, play, load it back up and wheel back to their room at the end of the day. 

Having a place to put things  and making clean up easy for kids (and less of a fight for you) will help keep your decor the focus and the space more enjoyable for everyone!

Style with Kids Series: Introduction

I decided to do a little series on if it's possible for kids and a nicely decorated home to coexist. Lot's of parents believe when you have kids your house becomes a McDonald's playplace and you might as well get used to it.  Many parents don't want to invest any money in their home to have it wrecked immediatly. I myself find that I've put off some projects (such as refinishing my hardwood floors). I think there is no point investing that money only to have a huge scratch the next day from a toy being dragged across it.  But at the same time I think, "I don't want to live in a house with a bunch of stuff we don't like for years on end.  Your home should be a place you love and feel comfortable in, right?"  So how do you get that balance? 

When kids are young they tend to get sticky fingers and mouths on things, milk cups tip over, dirty feet jump on the couch, and even the dreaded leaky diaper on the rug, eeww!  I have definitely been there.  However I think there are still ways to have a nice home that is child friendly!

This happens to be a playroom, don't worry, I don't plan to tell you to make your house a stylish toy land.  But I do think it is adorable, kid friendly, and still quite stylish!  I'd be happy to spend time in that playroom!  Even though it's great, I wouldn't want to live in it all the time. 
Many parents think once they have kids they have to have every toy out in the livingroom for them to play with at all times. Or that they need to live with that hand me down stained couch forever because who want to go buy a new couch for the kids to spill all over.   But when the kids are in bed at night do they really feel happy and themselves surrounded in toys and books and sippy cups?  Can they relax and unwind on the stained frumpy couch?  To a degree that is life with kids but I think there needs to be a balance so everyone can be happy!
There are piles of options out there now for us parents that don't want to sacrifice our style to live in a home that still works for our children.  So stay tuned for Part 1: Storage!

Sunday, 16 September 2012

Classic Bathroom

I was recently reading one of my favorite blogs House Tweaking and she was featuring a house tour of a charming Victorian shotgun cottage in New Orleans.  I completely loved the entire tour but especially loved the bathrooms.  It really made me wish I could redo my own bathroom!  It's original to the 50's, with minty green and black glass tile on all the walls and the ceiling.  While super practical (and I do know mint green is in) it is really showing it's age and could use an appointment with a good demo crew.  Someday...sigh.
So anyways, I frequently think about what I would want in my dream bathroom and these ones had a lot of my personal list.  I want something that once I have invested several thousands of dollars in doing, will stand the test of time and can be easily reaccessorised.

It's charming and classic, but still feel modern and clean.  A perfect balance!  I love these floor tiles!  And I would most likely replace my current pedestal (despite it's wonderful cracks) with something very similar to this.  I love it's clean lines!  High white baseboards and an adorable medicine cabinet round out the more permanent elements of the room.  The industrial lighting, soft wall color, modern art and other decorative accents could so easily be changed out for not a lot of money as trends change.  Those are the things that help keep the modern feel in the classic room.  Isn't that the perfect table for that area.  So pretty!

They continued the floor tile, a similar pedestal sink and grey and white color scheme in the master bath.  They added beadboard for some architectural interest which I really like.  I think I would do the same thing with some white subway tile for my bathroom.  I love the shaving mirrors mounted beside the medicine cabinets too!  My grandma and grandpa had one in their bathroom when I was a kid and I still love them.

The master is also the laundry room (wouldn't that be handy!) and as you can see at this angle they have some great subway tile in the shower!  I love the cottagy feel but with a few simple changes it could go a totally different direction.  Change the cafe style curtains for more modern roller shades or add some great interest with beautiful fabric romans.  Take the baskets out from above the washer and dryer and add some industrial metal bins, glass containers, or whatever.  The point is the difficult and expensive to change elements are classic and neutral! You could do a complete makeover of the room in a day or two for a very minimal budget, if you wanted a change down the road. The epitome of perfect bathroom for me!  I can't see wanting to make many changes to these beauties anytime soon though!

Friday, 14 September 2012

Yellow, Black and White Nursery

When one of my best friends expressed she would like some help with her nursery last year,  I of course was really excited. This was my first project out of my own home and it would be such a special project too!  They had painted the room yellow when they moved in and she really want to work with what was already in there for colors and trim, etc., as well as the white nursery set they already owned. I wanted to keep the budget as low as possible since there was an upcoming mat leave, which I know first hand can be a challenge financially.  So it was actually beneficial to the budget that she was happy to work with a lot of the existing elements. The other challenge was daddy really doesn't like the overly frilly, pink, or girly look.  So we wanted it to be feminine but not over the top.  We pretty quickly  decided black and white accents were what we wanted to work with.  I thought it best to keep the colours simple, since it's a pretty cozy size.

This was the moodboard I made for her.  While I didn't end up using every element on the board it gave us a really great jumping off point and we tweaked things as we went.  We saved a lot of money by ordering fabric and making our own curtains, bedding, cushions, and change pad cover. Mommy painted a lovely rocker her mom had bought her at a yard sale.  I also DIY'd the artwork to save a few dollars.  The 'button N canvas' was a little gift I added after the beautiful little lady arrived!  I'm very pleased with the results, especially for the budget I wanted to work with!  Sorry they are a little dark but that's perfect for a napping baby!

I feel very honored that I got to help put together beautiful baby N's room!  

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Accessible Design

I really believe that a beautiful room can be achieved at nearly any price point with a little shopping around and creativity! To prove that, here is a living room board that includes all the main pieces plus a few accessories that comes in at a mere total of $1475!

Living room


Couch - $700, Chair - $150, Rug - $289, Coffee table - $50, Side table - $115,
 Lamp - $50, Starburst mirror - $76, Cushions - $45 = Total $1475
Might even be enough left over to do another room?!


Monday, 10 September 2012

Gold and Skinny Jeans

Like everything else in design, metal finishes go in and out of style.  Back in the 90's bright yellow gold fixtures, knobs and furnishing were all the rage {along with that gorgeous golden oak ;)}.

 Well I'm happy to tell you, if you haven't already heard, that gold is back!  Some people will cringe at that thought.  Probably the same reaction I had when I heard skinny jeans were coming back.  I remember picturing the "mom jeans". The ones with tapered legs, light wash and super high waists.  I also remember telling my mom I would not be following that trend.  She laughed at me and said, "Yes, you will!  Everything old comes back just a little different and everyone learns to love it."  And she was right.  I wear my skinnies regularily.  And I know the same will be true of gold finishes.  When most people hear gold they picture the kitchen above.  However, that might change when they see the 'new' gold!


I love this grey and white kitchen from House and Home!  The mix of stainless steal with gold pulls and chandeliers feels totally current!  The gold and wood shelves really warm up the room and add interest.  Done a little different than the first kitchen, hey? ;)

I'd have no problem putting this Kohler beauty in my bathroom!

Source: houzz.com via Kirsten on Pinterest

This simple tripod lamp would look great with modern or traditional decor.

Source: houzz.com via Kirsten on Pinterest

And these warm hued starburst mirrors have been used everywhere from above the mantle to above the headboard. 
A little different than the gold of the 90's.   I'm sure someday we'll cringe at the thought of gold again.  But in the meantime, I'd be happy to have any of these in my house!