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Kid-Friendly Design: The Dining Room

June 11, 2015

So many things change when you become a parent. You trade in your two-door car for something more “practical” and go around the house installing cabinet locks, removing fragile items, and looking for those places that could pose a risk to a curious youngster. The family home certainly needs to be a safe haven, but that doesn’t mean you have to compromise your design preferences. The dining room, for example, is often the last room in the house to create the divide between the style you love and the practicality you need. You don’t have to sacrifice one for the other. Instead, follow some guidelines for adding kid-friendly design in the family dining room. First of all, recognize that kids see the dining room as a place to eat. Period. They don’t care about the quality of the furniture, the style of the lighting, or the art on the wall. They want to sit down, eat, and go. They won’t linger over a glass of milk after a nice dinner. They will put their feet on the rungs of your chairs, push back the chairs into whatever is behind them, and likely drop food and drinks on the floor. When you keep that in mind, you can easily address these challenges and still maintain your style preferences. Look for sturdy furniture that will withstand the kicking feet, the silverware banging on the table, and the chairs being tilted backward on two legs. Choose a table with a solid finish. Use placemats to reflect your style and a runner in the middle—maybe one or two sets for family meals, and something finer for guests and special occasions. If you want upholstered chairs, be sure the fabric is treated to resist dirt and stains. Place an outdoor rug on the floor to add color while also catching the inevitable spills. You can choose from a wide array of colors and designs, because people are using area rugs more frequently in their outdoor living spaces. Most outdoor rugs are easy care—just hose them down in the driveway! Turn your kid’s art into fine art. Frame a few of your favorite pieces and hang them on the dining room walls to add color and family-friendly style, along with the personal touch. If you want a hutch or buffet, place it far enough away from the dining room chairs so that the kids won’t bang into it when sitting down or getting up—which they rarely do with ease and grace. Install a dimmer switch for the lighting so that you can change the mood to fit the dining experience—bright enough for a family dinner or softer for romantic evenings when the kids are elsewhere. Your home’s dining room can blend function with flair—whether you’re serving up an epicurean delight or a plate of macaroni and cheese. Like any room in your house, it’s the people who make it a home, not the things surrounding them.

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