If you have infants or toddlers in your home—or are about to have a baby—consider childproofing your living space to reduce the risk of accidents or laborious cleanups.
Exposed electrical outlets, fireplaces, and tables with sharp corners can be hazardous for infants and toddlers, so keep that in mind when you're first getting started. Anyone with kids knows that feeding and playtime always get messy, so it’s a good idea to opt for easy-to-clean materials and fabrics when decorating your living room. But remember, you don't have to throw your design preferences out the window. Though you may have to make some small sacrifices, you can still make your home a safe place for your children without sacrificing design.
Consider Softer Floors
Babies will fall—often. So, soft flooring materials or rugs can help cushion a fall and prevent injury. When choosing a floor, consider darker colors, which can help make stains less obvious. If you don't want to part with your wood or concrete floors, consider a soft, thick, and textured rug, like the Recycled Blanket Rug that covers the living room floor of Lara and Chris Deam's home in Mill Valley, California—which they share with their two kids (see below). If needed, place a nonslip rug pad underneath it to prevent the kids from sliding around on it. Design Within Reach offers a padded version that's available in seven different sizes.
Think About Materials More Than Ever
Materials such as glass and metal are hard and can cause serious injury in the event of an accident. Items with lead or toxic paints can also be harmful. So, make sure you're conscious of these factors and know what your furnishings are made of and where they're coming from.
Beware of Sharp Corners
Since sharp corners of coffee tables and chairs can be dangerous, choose furniture with rounded corners and edges. An ottoman is a good alternative for a coffee table in the living room.
Objects and trinkets from your last vacation certainly add character to your living room, but when you have children running around or teething tots looking to chew on something or swallow anything, such items can pose a threat of tripping, choking, or cuts. When living with young children, clear away all clutter on the floor, tables, and anywhere where a child can access.
When buying new furniture, give it a good shake to ensure that it's stable and won't topple over easily. Little ones are forever pulling and pushing objects, so make sure there are no tables, shelves, or chairs that are wobbly and might fall on your child.
Pay Close Attention to Electricity and Fire
Exposed electrical outlets and power strips can be potential risks, as your child can get electrocuted if he or she sticks a metal object inside one of the holes. Avoid this by making sure that power strips and cords are hidden, or use clever sliding panels. Make sure your fireplace is covered. If you're really worried when they first start walking around, you can install heat-resistant baby gates until you're more comfortable. Make sure fire stoking apparatuses are out of the child’s reach.
Make Sure Everything is Easy to Clean
Feeding babies and having toddlers returning home with muddy hands will inevitably leave their mark on your living room. It’s, therefore, a good idea to avoid high-maintenance fabrics like silk, linen, or suede. Instead, choose carpets, wall coverings, flooring, and upholstery fabrics that are stain-resistant. Many people have chosen to cover their living room furniture in outdoor fabrics because of their hardiness, durability, and easy-to-clean characteristics (see below for an example). FLOR also sells carpet tiles that can be customized and pieced together. They're bright, colorful, and impervious to stains and moisture.