LCI Ten Tips for Kids + White Rooms

by Laura Casey Interiors on July 20, 2009

Last week I received this email from a reader: “I keep reading about designers picking sturdy, stain resistant fabric, but without more detail. In other words can I have a white room that is child proof? ” I feel that the best room is one that is great looking, but simultaneously meets your current lifestyle. This reader has a 3.5 year old boy and almost 2 year old girl? My bottom line answer to her is yes with conditions….Here is my top list of ten ways to have kids + white rooms.

1. Use a few pieces of white furniture (consoles, side tables, etc),  all in varying shades of white. This will give variety and depth to the space. White furniture is easy to clean and touch up if it gets scratched.

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2. Zippers and Scotch Gaurd on seat cushions. When I need fabrics pre-treated I send them to a company (Proseal Plus) who specializes in this before sending them on to my upholsterer. They also sell a special cleaner to be used on fabrics that have been treated. I tell you that this stuff works miracles. Zippers allow for cushions to come off easily and be spot cleaned or partially replaced.

3. Slipcovers are also a good way to get longevity out of a fabric. If there is a spill or damage to one part of it a seamstress or workroom can replace that section. Make sure to buy a few yards extra in case your fabric gets discontinued or runs out of stock. Slipcovers can be very fitted and tailored, using them does not mean you have to do the shabby chic look.

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4. Skirt around all white, this is where I fake it a little yet still achieving the look of all white. Some of the upholstery should be a khaki or neutral color that will wear a little better. The upholstery is going to get the dirtiest. You can always add white throw pillows on it as well.

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5. Durable fabrics to me mean a workhorse fabric. It can get pulled, jumped on, spilled on, and still last a long time. In order for a fabric to be considered really durable it has to pass the Wyzenbeek Test. The Association for Contract Textiles uses this guideline for heavy duty fabrics intended for general upholstery. Contract fabrics are stronger than residential upholstery fabrics and many companies make fabrics that are contract grade and still comfortable.

General Contract Upholstery
ASTM D4157-02 (ACT approved #10 Cotton Duck)
15,000 double rubs Wyzenbeek method

ASTM D4966-98 (12 KPa pressure)
20,000 cycles Martindale method

There are many residential grade upholstery fabrics that meet these standards. If you are shopping for fabric the information card about the fabric would say exceeds 15,000 double rubs (or something similar). I call it the tushie test. You can sit on the fabric 15,000 up and downs before it starts to fray. Strong Cottons, Linens, Twills and Velvets fall into this fabric category. This Robert Allen fabric (Chevalier) is a cotton and viscose blend. It has passed the Wyzenbeek test and comes in a bright white too but it is too hard to see here on the white background, so here it is in Pearl. Keeping the price of the fabric reasonable will also help to prevent a complete breakdown should #10 happen…

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6. Mix in light and dark wood. It may not be white, but I feel as though our senses need some differentiation.

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7. Be open in your rug choice- We have an Oriental rug in our LR and it hides every fleck of dirt that comes through there.  Rugs with white in them show dirt immediately and and sisals can be a good alternative but aren’t always as comfy on bare feet. I know I have posted this picture before but it is quite applicable. Mariette Himes Gomez achieves the look of a fresh and bright white room while still using an Oriental rug.

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8. Top White Paints: My favorites are BM (Benjamin Moore)- Super White, Cloud White, Linen White and China White. Use it in an Eggshell finish which is more easily cleanable than a flat paint. It is more expensive but for a very high performance, cleanable and durable paint ask for a BM Aura.

9. Colorful accessories also help to give some dimension to the room.

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10. A good and realistic attitude. Stuff gets dirty to begin with, with kids it gets dirtier and white shows it the most. But if you can and want to constantly keep children somewhat clean, no crayons, no shoes (if you can), no food or drinks (at least for the kids), no pets on the furniture and pre-treat your upholstery you can do it. Life happens and you should enjoy your home as much as possible.  If it is going to make life too hard on you and your family to have a white room right now, wait until your kids are older.

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It was good timing that I got this email. The talented writer and blogger Courtney Barnes (aka. Style Court) wrote a post called “Surfing Inside” about designer’s attitudes towards kids and their rooms last week. She was kind enough to ask for my opinion on what happens at our house. If you want to a bit more of a peek into what goes on at my house and some other of my favorite bloggers thoughts on the subject take a read through her great post click here. Thanks Courtney!

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Do you have a topic you want to know my opinion about? Send me an email….I am open to any and all reader requests. I would love to hear comments from everyone on this one and so would the one who asked! Even if you don’t have kids, I hope that these tips are helpful in creating a long lasting white room! Anyone have any other suggestions? Do you have an all white room and love it or regret it? Can you do it or do you want to?

Photo Credits: Domino Magazine (1,3) Shakin Style (2) Cottage Living (4) Robert Allen (5) Victoria Hagan (6) Mariette Himes Gomez (7) Phillipe Starck (8) Cartoon Stock (9) Courtney Barnes (10)

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{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

1 sunny goode July 20, 2009 at 6:36 am

I have really been enjoying your blog- you are doing a great job!
I particularly like todays post.
Keep up the good work. (and inspiration!)
All the Best
Sunny Goode

2 Annie London Tcherepnin July 20, 2009 at 6:54 am

The last picture (!) is definitely what happens at my house! My kids play transportation and one couch is the subway, another the bus and the chairs, a taxi. They run around and jump into each mode of transport “gotta get to the East Side!” That said, your post is enormously helpful to me; what wonderful suggestions you make! I am going to commit all ten to memory for future use! I have to say that I did the unthinkable with a white shag/flokati rug. It actually hasn’t been too bad (aside from the playdoh mixed in), although it is hard to vacuum. I’ve had it cleaned twice which did wonders for it. Overall though, I like it. Thank you!

3 velvet and linen July 20, 2009 at 7:59 am

Great post, Laura.
Full of helpful information on how to achieve
a practical white room of your dreams.
Another good way to go for fabric: outdoor fabric!
They have become some comfortable and so pretty that using them indoors (when kids, spilling etc… is an issue) has
become an great option.


4 Sarah's Fab Day July 20, 2009 at 8:34 am

Love your tips Laura! Eggshell-Check, Washable Crayons-Check, I’m a sucker I let them snack in the family room. Nothing crazy just crackers or pretzels but the crumbs, yuck. This was adorable, I loved it.

5 pve July 20, 2009 at 8:45 am

I love all white. There is something very soothing about it. Like having a bowl of fresh cream. I am in the midst of updating my sons room, and feeling like white, plus gray seems very fitting for teen studs. Love your posts as always and I enjoyed the post on Style Court.

6 style court July 20, 2009 at 8:58 am

Brilliant post Laura. It’s going to become required reading! So helpful across the board.

7 Bungalow Home July 20, 2009 at 1:22 pm

Thank you for sharing Proseal Plus with everyone. I have been on the hunt for a company that treats fabrics. I am contacting them today!

8 Jan Jessup July 20, 2009 at 1:44 pm

Dear Laura,
One of your other readers recommended indoor-outdoor fabrics–and I’m specifically going to suggest Sunbrella fabrics that are made of solution-dyed acrylic. Not only can they be washed with soap and water–they can even be washed with bleach! Calico Corners carries a variety of white and off-white textures that are great for upholstery, slipcovers, bedcovers–many have a softer hand designed for comfort. It’s nice to see ideas for kids’ rooms that are not centered around licensed cartoon characters!

9 Sarah Pribyl July 20, 2009 at 2:16 pm

What great suggestions, Laura! Excellent and helpful post!

10 Brillante July 20, 2009 at 10:37 pm

Great post with good sense and style at the same time. Kids, pets, guests…what will our life be without them? and we can still have “a white house” with your precious advice.

11 Karena July 20, 2009 at 11:50 pm

Terrific post Laura! I am thinking, thanks to Joni of doing slipcover on my dining chairs. Probably a creamy linen that is durable and washable!! :)

12 meg July 21, 2009 at 10:00 pm

This is a great post, Laura! I’m going to remember these tips. Have a wonderful vacation!

13 Jennifer February 27, 2010 at 12:57 pm

I just love your post and have gotten some great ideas! look forward to reading more post!

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