If your home is feeling like a battleground after the school holidays, as you and your children fight for territory, it could be time for a new strategy.
Before you consider moving or resigning yourself to chaos until they’ve flown the nest – there is another answer: creating rooms that suit your need for stylish spaces as well as theirs for play areas.
“Children and decor aren’t generally regarded as a match made in heaven. Sticky fingers, the patter of tiny, muddy feet and an ever-growing collection of plastic toys can take their toll on rooms,” says Ashlyn Gibson, author of Creative Family Home; a blueprint for transforming a home that appeals equally to grown-ups and youngsters.
All that’s needed, she believes, is a little imagination, a dash of flair, and with your children’s help, a family home can be one that’s fun and which you’re proud to show off.
Ashlyn added: “It’s all about capturing their spirit of wonder, discovery and sense of fun, and giving them child-friendly spaces which encourage them to be imaginative.”
Key ingredients, she says, are practical layouts, easy-to-clean durable surfaces able to withstand the rough and tumble of family life, and ideally a neutral backdrop so that it’s easy to add vivid colour and pattern in everything from furnishings through to their toys.
Play & display
Children’s toys seem to have a life of their own, apparently cloning themselves over night so they constantly overflow storage boxes and invade every corner.
Make stumbling over them a distant memory by providing child-friendly storage.
“Portable storage, a box on castors or a vintage suitcase, is versatile and allows children to transport contents from room to room,” says Ashlyn.
Top tip: Have a clear-out of toys regularly but do it with your children – don’t rush them though, because choosing what to discard is all part of the process of growing up for the little ones.
Utilise ‘dead space’ for play zones, like an understairs cupboard. Use a fold-away dining table so the space doubles as an activity area, or designate a play corner.
Tip: Masking tape can be used on hard floors to create a hopscotch court or to mark out a treasure trail. My First Train Tape, £10.99, from Gift Oasis, can be used on walls and floors.
Think outside of the paint box and create areas throughout the home where youngsters can doodle and daub, urges Ashlyn.
“A desk where they can base themselves is essential. Sitting at it and conjuring up their own projects encourages them to develop powers of concentration.”
Tip: Frame their art work in perspex or clip-frames and create a gallery. Drawing on walls needn’t be a banned activity. Mark out a picture frame shape on a wall with masking tape and let them express themselves within it. Peel off tape once finished and the picture will have crisp edges and be a unique focal point.