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Home design with kids in mind

Some houses just seem to be gathering spots for kids. They are the homes that are always full, where kids and teens simply feel comfortable. Guess what? Creating an environment friendly for kids that’s still comfortable for adults is easier than you might think.

With a 1-year-old and 3-year-old in the house, Sarah O’Dell, an interior designer and owner of Dwell Chic, has made a few changes to her home to make sure that it is child-friendly.

“When we first had kids, we really wanted to make sure that our home would be a comfortable place for them,” she said. “We didn’t want to have a home that just looked good. We wanted to live in our home.”

She said one of the keys to this is to concentrate on furniture’s function and durability. She recommends using a fabric called Crypton.

“Almost every line offers it,” she said. “It is the most stain-resistant fabric on the market. Kids can draw on it, spill on it and it comes off.”

The fabric also resists odor and bacteria, a definite plus when you have kids in the house. She also swears by Vectra spray to protect carpets and rugs from spills and damage.

“I spray my rugs, including outdoor rugs every six months,” she said.

O’Dell also suggests avoiding wood or using glass over wood when choosing tables.

“You don’t want side tables that can be ruined by forgetting to use a coaster,” she said. “Acrylic, marble or granite will give a more modern look and are hard for kids to mess up.”

Of course, for little ones, tables with rounded edges are a must.

When designing kids bedrooms, Amanda Harrison, owner of ATH Interiors, reminds parents to keep sleep overs in mind.

“I encourage sets of twin beds or trundle beds,” she said. “Day beds are also a great option because they can function as additional seating, as well as offer an extra bed.”

One of the biggest draws for kids though, is a space of their own. When kids are little, a place to store toys away from the main living room is important. Cabinets with bins that close can keep toys out of the way so that there is more space to play. As kids get older, some space of their own for entertaining friends is important.

“The most popular homes for teenagers are those that offer comfort, entertainment and seclusion,” said Harrison. “If space allows, create a playroom with plenty of seating — a sectional sofa, comfortable upholstered chairs and bean bags.”

O’Dell suggests using an ottoman in place of a coffee table for extra seating.

Kristin Welborn, a Spartanburg mom of three, often finds her basement full of teenagers. The space was prepared for teen fun, she said. A ping pong table, gaming system and televisions provide ample entertainment, but the Welborn’s open door policy for their children’s friends is the biggest draw.

“The kids’ friends know that they are welcome anytime,” Welborn said. “It is a safe place for them to come and hang out.”

A houseful of kids sometimes means that the house is not perfectly clean.

“There are times it looks like a boys college dorm,” she said. “About once per month, I make them clean.”

Fun outdoor spaces are also a big draw for kids of all ages.

“A fire pit with comfortable chairs, a porch with rocking chairs and a porch swing offer another space with ample seating and serve as another entertaining area,” Harrison said.

Spartanburg mom Clare Ford has found this to be true.

“My boys have enjoyed bonfires and camping out in hammocks,” she said.

A pool provides an additional option for entertaining.

Welborn’s kids have also enjoyed having a basketball goal in the driveway.

When thinking about entertaining kids and teens, don’t forget to provide lots of snacks.

“Feed them and they will come,” Ford said. “We always have ice cream in the freezer and a make-yourself-at-home policy to the fridge and pantry.”

A make-yourself-at-home policy may be the biggest draw for kids.

“I would say the biggest key to having kids hang out is to just invite them and enjoy all of the fun that they provide,” Ford said.