Design 101: Kids and Decorating

Decorating done by the kids? Easy ways to stay ahead of them, and find some peace for yourself

“Decorate? I can barely find time to sleep. Who has time to decorate?” Interior designers hear clients say things like this every day.  This month’s column focuses on small things that can make a big difference.

Our home is constantly covered in toys. Is there a quick and easy way to get them put away? Like the old gag of shoving everything into a closet before company comes, you can “shove” everything into designated storage. We’re parents, we know the fantasy of getting the kids to put their things away by themselves is just that. In a family room, storage ottomans are a great option. In a playroom we like low cabinets with cubbies that are designed to hold cloth cube-shaped boxes. They come in a variety of colors and because they’re cloth, they hold more. In a room with a window seat or built in bench, we always suggest using the void created under the seat as storage. You can fit a ton of stuff in this modern-day toy box.

Pro Tip: Clear totes used in hidden areas are a great way to contain clutter as well as keep things easy to find. Stored under beds or in closets, clear totes allow you to see the contents without having to remove the container and sift through.

Our child is very hard on the walls. Is there anything that can be done about crayon and marker? We’re going to assume that “very hard on our walls” means that simple cleaning is not going to cut it.  With that in mind, it may be worth having the walls covered with a commercial grade vinyl wallcovering or repainting with something that will hold up better. A vinyl paper designed to withstand the rigors of a hotel hallway should stand a chance against your kids. If you decide to paint, select a paint that’s “scrubbable.” Typically, the higher the sheen level a paint has, the more durable and easier to clean it is. Another plus is that there are many options that tout one coat coverage as well. Store the remainder of the paint in a safe place and you can touch up as needed.

Pro Tip: Another option is to consider doing a wall or door in either dry erase or chalkboard paint.  Rather than struggling to eliminate the behavior in its entirety, channeling it toward an acceptable area may be a compromise everyone can live with.

My angels don’t limit their writing to the walls. What can I do when it travels to the furniture? There are many performance fabrics that can be cleaned using a variety of methods depending on the nature of the soiling. Rather than list them all I’m going to skip right to one of the best. Sta-Kleen by Kravet is an ultra-performance faux leather that’s completely cleanable. The fabric is beautiful and looks like the real deal and, as far as cleaning …you can wipe ball point pen off with a cloth.  Give us a call and we’ll order you a sample you can play with.

Pro Tip: There are two schools of thought on durability.  One option is to get something that will be very hard to damage and the other is to get something very easy to replace.  We prefer option two, but your mileage may vary.

Yaron Linett
About Yaron Linett 37 Articles
Yaron Linett is the principal designer of Formal Traditional, a full-service design firm located in Warrenton. To submit your interior design questions, drop him a note at or visit

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