Marielle Parrish shares how she has managed to create a chic, family-friendly oasis for her loved ones! Read on for her tried-and-true tips and mama advice.
When moving into my house three years ago, my son (who was two at the time) randomly dubbed it “The Happy House” and it stuck. At the time, our house was completely empty, tiny and the only thing we had going for us was a fresh coat of white paint. Going forward while designing our home, I have always tried to keep that feeling present. I wanted to create a space that represents my personal style, while maintaining a kid-friendly vibe. Read on for a handful of the things that have worked for us as we craft a home that suits our bustling family!
1. Finding your center:
These days, so much of our life is consumed by outside influences and screen time. Create a space in your house where the family can come together and reconnect without screens—to read a book, talk and play a game together. This can be around the kitchen table or, if you have a little extra space, a living room. Having a kid-friendly coffee table (i.e. no sharp corners) in the center creates a perfect spot to gather around with some floor pillows or poufs. By limiting the screens in this room and the toys, you’ll always be able to keep a clean room for when you want to have adults over, too.
There are so many beautiful children’s books you can swap out for your traditional coffee table books. Having them out in the open instead of tucked away in a bookshelf will encourage your kids to open that book up more often on their own, too. It will also help add pops of color to your space.
2. Kids will be kids:
The fact of the matter is that kids are messy little creatures. No matter what boundaries or rules we set as parents, there’s bound to be a spill or mess at some point (because rules are meant to be broken, right?). When buying big furniture items, try to keep this in mind. Luckily, these days there are so many stylish kid-friendly fabric options out there! Here are just a few:
- Washable slip-covers (big bonus if they are white because you can bleach them!)
- Performance fabrics (in literally every texture—tweed, velvet, suede, woven, etc.)
- Sunbrella (this is an outdoor fabric that is wipeable!)
- Printed (better to hide that inevitable juice spill)
I also love to throw a unique blanket or piece of vintage fabric over the back of the couch to protect it from wear and tear. With little kids you can’t expect everything to look perfect 100 percent of the time. You can, however, set yourself up for success and make it easier when it is time to clean up for guests. Here are a few ideas:
- Paint your home with colors that are easy to touch up and clean (here’s looking at you, sticky handprints)
- Washable pillow covers
- Keep breakables and sentimental pieces up high
- Find living room pieces with lots of storage (i.e. drawers, cabinets)
- Try to keep big toys in one area (keyword: try)
3. Maintain your sanity:
There are so many great storage solutions out there, but baskets are a mom’s (or dad’s) best friend. You can use a basket to hide just about anything—a stash of LEGOs, a catch-all by the front door, mail and school papers, art supplies, laundry. Really, you can store anything you can think of in baskets! Having a place to store everything will not only help you keep your sanity, but it will also help your kids clean up! If they are situated in a common area of your house, throw a folded blanket over it to hide the mess when guests are over.
If your child is young and anything like mine, they want to follow you from room to room. Having a little something to entertain them while you’re trying to get something done is always nice. By adding a chalkboard to your laundry room or kitchen you will keep them entertained and happy. You can also use a chalkboard to write a family bucket list, chores lists or favorite family quote.
4. Trigger happy memories:
Chances are good that if you have a young child in school they are bringing home a lot of artwork that they are so proud of! Pick a couple of your favorite pieces (who can resist their child’s first self portrait?) and frame it for the wall. Not only will it make your child feel so good to know you love their work, but it will also add a pop of color to your walls. Another idea for rotating your child’s artwork is to create a gallery wall. This can be inexpensive and there are so many alternative ideas out there:
- Binder clips
- Strings and clothes pins
- Magnet board/bulletin board
For the rest, find a spot to store the artwork flowing in that is out of the way (i.e. a drawer or an under-the-bed Tupperware). At the end of the year, you can make a scrapbook together.
Obviously, to keep your house from looking like a giant preschool art project, you’ll want to keep some “grown-up” art on the walls, too. Go for something unique, instead of a mass-produced piece. Have you recently gone on a vacation with your family? Blow up a picture and frame it. Every time your family walks past it they will remember how much fun you all had together.
Another favorite of mine is to get hand-me-downs from family. Do you have a favorite painting from your childhood cabin or a set of antlers from your grandparent’s house? Re-frame it in a modern frame and share the story behind it with your kids.
These days, so much of our life is consumed by outside influences and screen time. Create a space in your house where the family can come together and reconnect without screens—to read a book, talk and play a game together.
5. Treasure hunting:
Everyone loves a good treasure hunt. Flea markets, vintage shops and estate sales are all great places to find pieces to add to your home for less, while including your kids in the process. You will be amazed by some of the cool pieces your kids will find that you will love, too. The great thing about older furniture pieces is that they generally have more character and can easily be customized with a coat of (nontoxic) paint. They also create a unique, relaxed, well-lived vibe in your home.