Your beach house can be kid and pet friendly without being boring or cluttered. Our clients sometimes assume that all the character and refinements have to be stripped from their custom home design to reduce hazards or exposure to premature wear-and-tear from little hands, paws, and claws.
It couldn’t be farther from the truth.
Whether you’re building a seasonal Manhattan Beach getaway or a home your family will enjoy year round, there are some easy steps you can take to bring style and luxury into your living space, even with kids and pets in the picture.
10 Ways to Design a Kid and Pet Friendly Luxury Home
Whether you’re designing a home for kids, pets, or adults who are kids at heart, there are some choices you can make that deliver practicality, beauty, timeless style…and durability.
1. Easy to clean wall coverings
Kids and pets can be hard on your walls.
Your toddler sees every open space as a blank canvas for their sticky, messy hands and crayon creations. And your pets will think nothing of collapsing against a wall in your entryway after a good play at the beach.
- Designers only use flat paint on the ceiling. There’s a reason for that. It absorbs oil on contact and the stain will never go away. Worse yet, dust clings to the oil, making the stain an unsightly dirt trap. If a member of your family has allergies, this can be particularly unpleasant.
- Opt for satin or eggshell finish on your walls and make wiping up after your little mess-makers quick and easy.
2. Safe, Sustainable Flooring
- 100% natural fibers – like wool – are easier to clean than most synthetic carpets.
- Attractive, high performance synthetic options that are treated with eco-friendly stain protection are also great options. With more of us spending our time at home, having durable indoor and outdoor flooring that provides comfort under your bare feet is especially appealing.
- Steer clear of viscose and rayon rugs. They show wear quickly and hold onto stains forever.
- Opt for carpet tiles, rather than a single roll, in the high-traffic-kid-zones, like their playroom or your family room. If you end up with a stubborn stain that just won’t come out, you can simply pop out the stained tiles and replace them with new ones.
- If you really want a California coastal vibe, jute and sisal look the part, hide spills, and layer well. Before you write them off as too prickly for bare feet, remember that you can add an area rug that’s smaller, softer, and can be tossed in the laundry or replaced when it becomes frayed or stained.
3. Mosaic Versus Large-Format Tile
Few materials top porcelain tiles in the utilitarian rooms – laundry, bathrooms – because they’re easy to clean, durable, and come in every color and pattern you could imagine.
Consider going for a mosaic pattern in your bathrooms and especially your children’s bathrooms. It adds interest to space, but also gives better traction than large tiles, which, with a little moisture turns into a skating rink. Smaller tiles are much better for little feet straight from the bath.
4. Fabrics That Stand The Test Of Time
Forget your early impressions of monotone performance fabrics. We love using solution-dyed acrylic fabrics for custom-designed furniture in kid and pet-friendly homes.
There are thousands of options – and unlimited uses for these spill-and-stain-proof fabrics, including decorative and functional throw pillows and cushions for indoor and outdoor use.
Liquid beads on the surface, and the occasional stubborn stain that gets through the fabric can easily be mopped up with a diluted bleach solution.
5. Not Your Grandma’s Slipcover
This is another area of home decor that has seen a renaissance. Remember the frumpy, ill-fitting slipcover on your Grandma’s sofa—the kind that has to be readjusted every time someone sits on it?
You’ve probably been seated on furniture covered by a modern slipcover without even realizing it.
Slipcovers have become sleek, stylish, and versatile. And most of them are machine washable. We often suggest to our clients that they have two made for the higher-traffic furniture, so they can be cycled, just like the sheets on your bed.
6. Wipeable Leather
Faux leather has come a long way. We often recommend it for high traffic furniture like the barstools at your kitchen island. Our family often gathers around the island for our morning meal, and faux leather seats stand the wear and tear and are just as easy to clean, if not more so, than real leather or fabric.
They give the comfort, look, and feel of real leather, without the necessary conditioning.
If you’re looking for a specific color scheme, consider having your dining chairs and stools custom made. Choose stain-resistant, high-performance fabric for the inside of the seat and the high-maintenance fabric on seat backs and surfaces that aren’t exposed to spills.
7. Kid-Friendly Counters
There are marble people and non-marble people.
If you’re worried about stains and streaks, you are definitely a non-marble person. And with kids, those stains and streaks are inevitable.
Empty nesters love marble countertops, but if you’ve got a busy kitchen with little hands in the mix, try porcelain. It can be made to look like marble without all the maintenance.
8. Safety Matters
Your kid and pet-friendly beach house needs to be a safe environment. For all its beauty, life in Southern California is a life in an earthquake zone. If you’re new to the area, it can be an adjustment to making your home decor decisions.
- Avoid placing glass frames over your child or pet’s sleeping area and keep home decor like paintings, sculptures, or books away from change tables and other areas where your kids and pets spend the most time. There are some wonderful plastic, fabric, and paper art options that will bring color and personality to a room without creating a safety hazard.
- Be sure to anchor tall dressers and bookshelves securely to the wall with discreet furniture straps.
- Consider upholstered accessories – a fabric-covered ottoman instead of a sharp-edged coffee table. Curved edges to counters, dining room furniture, and occasional tables add a soft, pleasing aesthetic and remove opportunities for injury to little heads.
- Children and pets have been known to get tangled up in window dressings, blind and curtain cords, with tragic consequences. Consider automatic blinds, or find a way to secure cords up out of reach.
9. Design for Efficiency
Space is at a premium in South Bay, so don’t waste an inch of it.
Kids mean clutter. It’s unavoidable. Even if you live most of your days out on the beach, all those toys have to go somewhere at the end of the day. Make sure to make the most of the otherwise ‘dead’ space in your home.
- Hollow window seats in your front hall or playroom make great places to tuck away the clutter and also serve as a lounging spot if you throw on a couple of cushions covered in high-performance fabric.
- Built-in media consoles are convenient.
- Talk to your designer or architect about the pockets of space in your walls that can become discreet and useful storage pockets.
10. Design for peace and quiet
Your family is going to grow and change during your lifetime in this beach retreat. Tackle the noise with thoughtful additions to flooring and wall covering that will add style and sound suppression.
Wall to wall carpeting and the addition of lush, soft area rugs will provide comfort while dampening the living noises — from the rambunctious toddler who wakes up in the middle of the night to the teenager who blasts music.
Your Kid and Pet-friendly Luxury Home Can Be an Oasis
We also have kids and pets and messy adult humans in our lives.
Just like energy efficiency, you don’t have to sacrifice style for safety and functionality.
At White Sands, we’ve learned how to design and custom-build a beach house that suits all your perfectly imperfect family members, whether they’re kids or furbabies.
Our clients benefit from our personal experience (one kid-sized concussion later, all the furniture in my own living room is cushioned and rounded), and our client-honed expertise. We love our kids and our pets, and we think “home” should be comfortable and safe for everyone—but that doesn’t mean it has to look like a nursery school. You can see some of our other kid & pet-friendly projects by clicking here.
Visit us to find out more about our services. We look forward to building your family home in this paradise we call Southern California.
Thanks for reading,
Hawlie Ohe heads White Sands Interiors, and she and her husband are raising two boys along the South Bay coast. Hawlie brings the curiosity that fueled her first career, as a journalist, to her interior design approach: Who are you, who do want to be, and how can this space get you there? Great design makes you feel present and engaged, and Hawlie is here for it. Because she wants to help you be “here” (in this space, in this moment), too.