Mistake No. 1 — and I fall prey to it, too — making design choices for the season and not for long term. It’s hard to imagine “your baby” getting older, but it happens. And no one, not your kid nor you, will want that cruddy changing table! The point is: childhood is brief, good furniture is forever. Eliza Dyson, a designer in New York, advises investing in well-made furniture for a child’s room. Good, classic pieces can get dinged and still hold their value. Dyson’s advice is to purchase a dresser that your kid could use in his first apartment someday if she or he chose to — the same holds true for furniture and accessories in the living, dining and family rooms. When possible, choose a well-made piece, even an antique, over disposable furniture — they’re always more resilient.
Absolutely! The key is to choose pieces that can’t be ruined by a spilled juice box or a messy art project. Designers Melissa Warner Rothblum of Massucco Warner Miller visited the topic in the June issue of House Beautiful and ticked off a few tips. First: Spend on items that are out of arm’s reach—think lighting. A decorative overhead is ideal. For function and high style, consider a “storage cabana” — a wall of shelving for kid stuff, files and more, concealed by a dramatic curtain of fabric. Decorative and effective. Finally, buy or upholster furniture in forgiving textiles, such as an indoor-outdoor from Sunbrella or the new washable leather from Edelman. The feel on both is extraordinary.
It used to be common for interior designers to use a durable, stain resistant outdoor fabric for upholstery in high-trafficked rooms, but there are now dozens of brands offering high performing fabrics especially for interiors. Both indoors and out, the “hand” or feel of the fabric has improved dramatically. You’ll find velvets, soft wovens and patterns that easily pass as traditional upholstery fabrics. Sunbrella and Crypton Home are two reliable brands offered at retail and those working through a designer have access to many more.
The solution lies in the palette, says my colleague, senior market editor Jennifer Condon. Choose a lead color and two supporting hues and shop for items within that range. “
The idea makes most of us cringe, but fostering imagination and creative autonomy is a good move for any age. Recently, California designer-social media star Justina Blakeney came up with a creative solution for this very predicament with her early elementary-age daughter, who was smitten with electric purple. Blakeney chose the most handsome version of the chosen hue and painted up to about chest-high, leaving the rest of the white wall to breathe. The kiddo only stands waist-high anyway, so, to her, it’s mostly purple, and to mom, it’s not a travesty.
Sophie Donelson is editor in chief of House Beautiful magazine.