Monday, March 25, 2013

Tips for a Stylish & Kid-Friendly Space {Part 2}

If you missed Part I, find it HERE.

When you're working through furnishing a room, at some point you come to the decision of what to put on the floor.  If you're like me, thoughts of floor coverings such as rugs tend to go hand in hand with the reality of "floor coverings" of a different nature--you know, the popcorn from movie night that wasn't contained on the LARGE BEACH TOWEL with which you covered your sofa or the bits of broccoli that your two-year old so cleverly got rid of during dinner time.  I know I'm not alone in feeling like any effort at keeping the floor relatively clean is a vain one.  But here's the good news:  while our floors may not remain very clean during this season of life, I really don't believe that has to keep us from having pretty rugs underneath!

Seagrass on the floor and indoor/outdoor fabric on the chairs and ottoman make for a kid-safe zone. via

Believe it or not, I think young families have lots of options when it comes to rugs.  Natural rugs (often given the generic name "sisal" rugs) can be a great choice.  Seagrass is all over the design world, and for good reason--it offers a clean, neutral look, while bringing a good dose of texture to a space and at a really attractive price point.  I think it's a great choice for homes where little ones live because it's very forgiving.   It provides a hard surface that's not scratchy like sisal, but it cleans up very nicely.  Admittedly, it's not nearly as soft as some rugs, but you can always layer a smaller, softer rug over seagrass for the areas where little hands and knees may be traveling.

While you may not feel quite bold enough to go for the white couch when you have little kids, we can at least appreciate the pretty rug :)

We used a seagrass rug in the living room of our old house.  We lived with it bare, and we also enjoyed layering a cowhide rug over it at one point, and later an old wool oriental rug.

Please note, my old house (and my current house) are never this clean and orderly!  This photo was taken for our real estate listing :)
This is a bit more realistic!

I was trying out some new furniture (including layering this smaller rug over our seagrass)  literally days before our movers packed us up.  (typical)

***We also used a seagrass rug in our dining room, and here is where I will give my one caveat for seagrass.  If you have really little kids or maybe you are just real messy, your seagrass rug may not enjoy the longest life span when placed under the table at which your family eats multiple times a day. Water spills will dry clean, but otherwise, when spills are of the liquid type (particularly olive oil in our case), it's hard for even this workhorse of a rug to conceal the damage.

See that oil stain on the rug? :(  Again, cleanliness=real estate listing photo
Another great option that falls in the "natural fiber" category is jute.  Unlike seagrass, it tends to be thick and soft, and according to talented designer Lauren Liess, it can even "eat your dirt,"  which let's be honest, is maybe every mother's dream?  :)  Read more about Lauren's thoughts on natural fiber rugs HERE.

Designer Peter Dunham layered a cowhide over jute rugs from Ikea.  (This room makes me swoon.)

Jute/wool blend rug from Pottery Barn.  Held up pretty well and this little nugget was happy rolling around on it!
I wrote about my love of indoor/outdoor fabric HERE, so it's probably no surprise that I love indoor/outdoor rugs as well!  Most are made from a material called polypropylene and can be hosed down if needed.  What's more, many are pretty soft underfoot.

We used an indoor/outdoor rug in Wade's old bedroom, and it worked great.  It looked like a natural fiber rug, but it had the cleaning capabilities of an outdoor rug.  We all found it to be perfectly comfortable for sitting too.

Wade in his old bedroom enjoying piling toys upon his father who is buried underneath.  I share it because I think you can sort of make out the look of the rug? (and because doesn't this just make you smile? :) 

Of course, if you are looking for a bright, patterned indoor/outdoor rug there are lots of those available too.

Finally, this may come as a shock to some, but I think old oriental rugs are actually really kid-friendly.  They tend to be dark, which is a plus when it comes to hiding those things that didn't get cleaned up yet.  I personally love them when they're old and beat up.  I have one in our living room that literally has rips in it (and I adore it, will try to post pictures soon).  Take that, errant sippy cup!

As far as what to avoid, I think wall-to-wall carpeting is about the scariest thing to have when it comes to a reckless toddler!  Sure, it's soft underfoot, but a major spill or a really bad accident and you are stuck with a very unfortunate clean-up job that may or may not be successful.

Light colored wool rugs that have very little variation in their color also make me nervous.  We had a pretty wool rug in our bedroom in Richmond, and it didn't take long for it to show any and all dirt.  It was soft and pretty, but we would have been better off with say, a jute rug--a similar look, but the color variation from the natural fibers would have served us well for concealing purposes!

Anyone had any experiences with these types of rugs (good or bad!)?  I would love to hear what you think about choosing rugs when you have little ones.


  1. Hi Anne! We are in the process of decorating our house and I am really enjoying your new blog and all of your very interesting (and helpful!) posts. We have a 1.5 yr old so I'm quickly trying to learn about kid-friendly interiors. Thanks so much for sharing all of your great advice. Your home is beautiful (and very inspirational)! xo Devon (Pearce) Fahner

  2. your blog is seriously my fave design blog b/c you teach me so much!!!

  3. This is so awesome, Anne! I was actually just going to email you and ask about dining room rungs! Was thinking about a seagrass for under the dining table... but with a rustic wood table, wood chairs, wood bench and wood floors AND taupe walls, is something a little more colorful in order? And where's your favorite place to find cheap rugs in RVA?

    seriously girl - your blog is killing it. Keep it up! LOVE seeing you do you! xo

  4. Loving these posts on kid-friendly-yet-stylish decorating...keep 'em coming, Anne! We've/I've been quite overwhelmed at starting from scratch on putting together some sort of a home since we had little to no furniture stored while abroad (except some hand-me-downs and college pieces) and has some Craigslist successes, but also busts. You're inspiring me to keep trying! I'm so looking into the indoor/outdoor materials for furniture and floor coverings - my decorating-savvy Mom swears by them as well.

  5. Oh and amen on the oriental rug magic! We have an old one now in our living room that has been quite forgiving with red wine spills (husband), coffee (me) and sippy cup contents/dirt/pee/slobber (the littles)....