7 Tips on How to Childproof Your Living Space Without Sacrificing Design

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By Michele Koh Morollo / Published by Dwell
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 gets 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.

Cover photo by Sean Fennessy

7 Tips on How to Childproof Your Living Space Without Sacrificing Design - Photo 1 of 9 -

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.  

7 Tips on How to Childproof Your Living Space Without Sacrificing Design - Photo 2 of 9 - Sitting on the Recycled Blanket Rug by Tejo Remy and Rene VeenHuizen, Chris digs through his records looking for something to play on the new Brionvega RR226 by Achille Castiglioni.

Sitting on the Recycled Blanket Rug by Tejo Remy and Rene VeenHuizen, Chris digs through his records looking for something to play on the new Brionvega RR226 by Achille Castiglioni.

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.

7 Tips on How to Childproof Your Living Space Without Sacrificing Design - Photo 3 of 9 - Keeping the home cozy in winter is as easy as snuggling up near the Rais stove or the fluffy pooch.

Keeping the home cozy in winter is as easy as snuggling up near the Rais stove or the fluffy pooch.

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. Vitra’s Panton Chair is an iconic and colorful seating option that won’t hurt too much if your child bumps into it. You can pair the adult size with the child's version, called the Panton Junior Chair

Panton Junior Chair by Vitra
Panton Junior Chair by Vitra
The iconic form and bright colors of the Panton Chair has always been favored by children. Now, it's available in a size they can appreciate as well. The Vitra Panton Junior Chair by Verner Panton is a proportionately (25%) smaller version of the original, made out of a single piece of dyed polypropylene.
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Declutter 

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.

7 Tips on How to Childproof Your Living Space Without Sacrificing Design - Photo 4 of 9 -

Stabilize Furniture

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.  

7 Tips on How to Childproof Your Living Space Without Sacrificing Design - Photo 5 of 9 - The main living room is an open-plan space with an integrated kitchen and dining area. The table, made by Taylor and shrouded in Marimekko, is outfitted with blue Tripp Trapp adjustable children's chairs by Stokke; the striped rug is from Ikea.

The main living room is an open-plan space with an integrated kitchen and dining area. The table, made by Taylor and shrouded in Marimekko, is outfitted with blue Tripp Trapp adjustable children's chairs by Stokke; the striped rug is from Ikea.

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 KidCo Universal Outlet Covers that feature clever sliding panels. Make sure your fireplace is covered. If your'e really worried when they first start walking around, you can install heat-resistant baby gates until you're more comfortable—an example is the BabyDan Flex Configuration System. Make sure fire stoking apparatuses are out of the child’s reach. 

7 Tips on How to Childproof Your Living Space Without Sacrificing Design - Photo 6 of 9 - Jennifer and Mattias Segerholt renovated a five-bedroom, 2,400-square-foot post-and-beam house in Portland, Oregon. Though the house's features were a complete mess upon purchase, its form was perfectly preserved, including the covered fireplace. 

Jennifer and Mattias Segerholt renovated a five-bedroom, 2,400-square-foot post-and-beam house in Portland, Oregon. Though the house's features were a complete mess upon purchase, its form was perfectly preserved, including the covered fireplace. 

7 Tips on How to Childproof Your Living Space Without Sacrificing Design - Photo 7 of 9 - KidCo Universal Outlet Covers

KidCo Universal Outlet Covers

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 Sunbrella 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.

7 Tips on How to Childproof Your Living Space Without Sacrificing Design - Photo 8 of 9 - Dolce sits on a vintage 1950s couch he found at a thrift store in Asbury Park, New Jersey. Dolce and Burnham had the couch and the Donghia armchair recovered in a stain-resistant Sunbrella fabric by Andrew Grossman Upholstery. The Flokati rug was picked up at a thrift store in Florida. Hanging on the wall behind Dolce is a piece of art by British painter Tom Hammick.

Dolce sits on a vintage 1950s couch he found at a thrift store in Asbury Park, New Jersey. Dolce and Burnham had the couch and the Donghia armchair recovered in a stain-resistant Sunbrella fabric by Andrew Grossman Upholstery. The Flokati rug was picked up at a thrift store in Florida. Hanging on the wall behind Dolce is a piece of art by British painter Tom Hammick.

7 Tips on How to Childproof Your Living Space Without Sacrificing Design - Photo 9 of 9 - FLOR tiles are designed to be impervious to moisture, and spills and stains won’t seep through the carpet. 

FLOR tiles are designed to be impervious to moisture, and spills and stains won’t seep through the carpet.