How To Decorate Your Living Room with Kids in Mind: Family Friendly Decor

Jan 19, 2021 | By New Darlings

Montessori Living Room Shelf

Creating a Family Friendly Living Room (…because your kids live there too!)

Well, it only took us several years and a baby, but we finally found the best layout for this living room. If you’ve been following along for a while, you know this living room has seen many transformations. After traveling quite a bit, moving things around, living through a pandemic and working from home with a baby, it feels like this house finally feels like home and the living room has become such a comfortable space for our family of three. Designing a home with a kid in mind can be challenging, and although we renovated before Oliver came along, once he became more mobile, we knew we had to decorate with a toddler in mind. It always feels weird to us when people say, “you can’t even tell a kid lives there”. We love home decor and clean spaces, but (to us) it doesn’t feel right to not have the child represented in the home. Our little one is just as much human as we are, and this home is just as much his, so it’s only natural that our main living area has a place for him as well. 
family friendly living room decor

Creating an Open Living Room Layout So Kids Can Play

The living room (and dining room) are the heart of our home. We knew we wanted to open it up a bit. We originally had the couch in the middle of the living room to create a divide and create the illusion of a more formal entry. During the holiday season, we felt as though this was restricting Oliver a bit, so we moved the couch back in front of the window, and instantly the space was opened up. It gave Oliver more room to play and just created a better flow. We all had more fun. When we rotated the original rug we had, it didn’t frame the furniture properly so we swapped it out for a simple 8×8′ square white woven rug, which created a neutral anchor. I know what you’re thinking: “white rug? With kids?” We have a strict no shoes in our house rule, plus only food in the dining room, so it felt like a safe choice. The woven basket ottomans we’ve had forever and are easy for Ollie to move around, use to play with, climb up on chairs, etc. Plus, we use them to kick our feet up with a book during Ollie’s nap time. 
Montessori Living Room Shelf

Child Friendly Furniture 

Adding in furniture that is child friendly yet still appeals to your decor style can sometimes be challenging. We debated putting a sideboard/small media console under the tv after we moved it from the fireplace mantle, but it felt more appropriate to put a shelf for Oliver’s things, so he had a go-to place in the living room. CB2’s console shelf, was the perfect compromise. We love the mix of wood tones and low profile – perfect for Oliver’s height and minimal enough to house his toys and baskets, while still staying true to our aesthetic. 

Montessori Living Room Shelf

Shop Montessori Friendly Shelving Units: 

We previously had a round coffee table in the living room which was perfect for the small space and so child friendly with the round edges. Check out this one from our previous living room post, here. When we moved around the furniture it felt a bit small in scale and so we fell in love with this rectangular one. Ollie is past the stumbling phase and is a pretty confident runner, so having a more defined edge didn’t bother me. It’s also a great height for crafts and reading. 

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Montessori Living Room Shelf

Montessori Shelf in the Living Room: Creating a Space for Children’s Toys and Books

We follow the Montessori Method at home and plan to send Oliver to a Montessori school when the time comes. (More on that later.) One of the things we love most about Montessori is how children are involved in so many aspects of the home and practical life activities. Oliver helps us unload the dishwasher, do the laundry, and get out his bathtime essentials. Fostering independence is at the forefront of Montessori. Having a small shelf in the living room for Oliver’s materials, has given him the opportunity to engage in quiet time with books, take out his basket of trucks, or pull out some blocks for stacking with us. He also knows where everything goes when he’s finished playing. So when it’s bedtime, and Ollie is in dreamland, Rob and I can enjoy the space with everything tucked away. We debated getting a traditional media console to put here, and just using the cabinets for his items. For a minute we were tempted at the idea of being able to close the cabinets and not see the “kid things”, but that would defeat the purpose….having Oliver’s things out where he can see everything and have access to his things and encourages learning through play and responsibility. 
Create a family friendly living room

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19 comments on “How To Decorate Your Living Room with Kids in Mind: Family Friendly Decor”

  1. Love your new setup and how it includes Oliver. I’m sure you’ve researched schools in your area already but just thought I’d share some of our experiences because I do wish I would have done some things different. My second youngest went to an accredited Montissori school from ages 2-9. Most of the schools in our city are only Montessori “inspired” and more than a few are so loosely based on the philosophy that it’s a wonder how they are even allowed to have Montessori in the name. Because of that the few accredited schools In my area cost the same as a regular private school, have waiting lists, and are selective of the students they choose…. which means they attract very wealthy and often conservative families. I live in a very diverse city but all of our Montessori schools only had white children from wealthy and conservative backgrounds. My son would often get in trouble for having disagreements around Trump, environmental issues, or even class topics like on Columbus Day when he would speak up about how Columbus murder indigenous people. He’s 12 now and even though he still turned out great he is definitely more snooty and has an “I’m better than you” attitude that was prevalent in the kids at the school. I guess what I am getting at is the families at the school are just as important to consider as the school itself, especially in Montessori because it’s likely who Oliver starts school with is who he will be around the entire time he’s there. If I had a do over I would still have my son attend the school but Instead of doing sports, pottery, and music lessons through the school I would enroll him outside it for more diversity in his life and friends group. I would also be more selective around the friendships I am nurturing and really only set up play dates with other families that I know have similar values to help balance his influences. Hopefully these things aren’t issues in Phoenix but I just thought I’d share because often I find myself regretting not doing things differently.

    1. Thank you so much for this thoughtful response and for sharing your experience Amy. I really appreciate it and you brought up so many great points. I love the idea of adding some versatility to your child’s activities and not just keeping them school based. I’m sure other families will find you comment helpful too. Thank you! xo

  2. Love the baskets, the coffee table and the chair. Love that Oliver has a space in your space. What I really love is the b&w print of cacti on the wall. Where did you get it?

  3. I absolutely love everything you’ve done here and am drawing inspiration from this for our living room with our baby boy! Where are your curtains and roman shades from, and what color?? So fresh!

      1. Genius idea with that shelf under the TV for his toys instead of a “media console”… where did you hide the black box that goes with the frame tv?

  4. Love it! And your house is beautiful too.
    Love the white walls, bright but soft. What color are the walls and trim?

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