'The Bunk Pod' by IO Kids Design in action

The Lust List

Available in an assortment of colours and sizes, these storage baskets (below) from French brand La Cerise Sur La Gateau are perfect for stockpiling wipes/nappies/creams etc.
From £28; nubie.co.uk

The Bunk Pod from IO Kids Design is a lesson in pretty and practical interiors, with the option of separating into two parts to create a regular low bed for younger children if they’re not quite ready for the full bunk-bed experience. Appealing to kids of all ages – from toddlers to teens – it is not only a force of inspiration for endless imaginative play, it has loads of storage room too, for ridding precious floorspace of nick-nacks, clothes, shoes, books and/or other junk.
Price start at £1850; iokidsdesign.co.uk

Possibly the perfect shelving system, this from Rose in April brings a ray of sunshine to your room while providing ample space for books, radio, lamp, and the rest.
£79; mollymeg.com

The Animals of Whittling Wood coat-hanger by sadly now-defunct brand All Lovely Stuff is perfect for shifting the debris of coats and hats upwards. Thankfully, there are still a couple of sellers on line serving up this fefined but playful design.
£29.95; zigzagandzebra.co.uk

With patterns including cats, dogs and, erm, cement blocks, each piece in the new cushion collection from Baines & Fricker is made from cotton stuffed with duck feather for extra loveliness. 45 x 45cm.
£45; bainesandfricker.net

Best used sparingly, across a wall or two, a statement wallpaper is a lovely addition to a kids’ room. Part of the Hinterland collection, this design from Mini Moderns brings a touch of the magical landscape of Dungeness indoors. Printed in the UK with water based ink on paper from sustained forests.
£50 per 52cm x 10m roll; minimoderns.com

How to Make it Work…

Sara Thompson, one half of the design team Thompson Clarke, lives in Holywood, N. Ireland, with her husband and three children. Her career path took her from art college straight to a busy auction house in Dublin where she learned about antiques and the fine-art trade, to a high end art gallery. Here are her tips for creating a home that is child-friendly without having to ditch the design. First, the Motherland team bring you their top pieces for a prettier family life.

The theory

Overall, child-friendly design needs to put the practical ahead of the fashionable. You can still have a light-hearted nod to fun and frivolous ideas, but make your life easy by thinking about how the design you like can combine with real life.

Contain the debris

If you have the space, a designated playroom is the best way of containing your children’s toys and clutter. It gives them a room they can call their own and be responsible for – but you can close the door on it at the end of the day, so you’re not forever tidying. Most of us live a bit further from this ideal. But whether you have the luxury of a whole room, or small designated spaces, the same word applies: storage. If storage is well thought through, it means that at the end of a messy day, everything can be quickly tidied away, and you have your adult-room back again.
When choosing storage, consider the ages of your children and their associated activities. Larger storage units for toys, instruments and sports equipment is essential, as these are the things that can really make a space look cluttered. Perhaps also think about giving them their own set of drawers for study, pens, pencils and school work – that way you know where to look in that urgent hunt for last night’s homework.

Soft touch

A comfy rug and lots of cushions (or a bean bag if there’s space) is a good way to demarcate a child-friendly space. Child friendly doesn’t have to mean childish: choose grown-up design that you like, so whether there’s a child making a den on it or not, you’ll feel happy with how it fits into your home.

The entrance

The entrance area in any house is often a dumping ground for coats, dirty boots and outdoor gear storage. It is very easy for this to become untidy and an eyesore if not thought through. Organise this area as best you can subject to the amount of space available and budget. If tight on space, a console table or dresser with an open bottom shelf is very handy for book bags and wellies. Using baskets to put all the hats and gloves in one place makes life easier, too. If you use the top of the console for more decorative things, it can really change the appearance of your space. There are lots of options on the market – try Orchid Furniture for beautiful oriental pieces that are also practical. Coat hooks at reachable heights are also also very practical and can be novelty fun – look in Anthropologie and Rocket St. George for versions with initials, or animal heads.

The kitchen

Kitchen design, for your own sanity, needs to be child-friendly. Save yourself multiple headaches by designating a shelf high up where your favourite china and precious items are on show, but out of reach for small hands. If you have a low cupboard to keep beakers and plastic plates, it means even the little ones can access them when they need to, which should make everyone happy. If you have a kitchen island or overhanging breakfast bar, avoid sharp edges by rounding them off with a chamfered edge [a 90 degree corner with a flat front edge].

The bedroom

When creating a child’s bedroom, try to design for the future. Young children grow up quickly and tire of anything too babyish, forcing you to redecorate sooner than hoped. Young girls often seem to go for pink, but try to avoid this being the dominant colour. It looks beautiful when paired with navy, duck egg, mint green and deeper neutrals. This way, you have a good base to the room, and the pink can be put into the accessories. Cushions, lamp-shades, bean bags or feature wallpaper can easily be swapped at little expense further down the line.
Curtains are the pricey part, so try to make them a little more neutral in colour, or grown up in pattern. For example, simple stripes from Designers Guild, vintage florals from Kate Forman, or duck-egg linens with girly bobbles and trims to aid the transition from princess – if that’s what you’re contending with! –  to young girl.
The same applies to boys. Using stripes, checks and plains works well, mixing up the pattern and texture but using combinations of two or three colours. Ralph Lauren’s new boy’s fabric book has a great range of these. They look good mixed with Designers Guild muddy washed linen bedding in denims, greys and blues.  Try the designer William Yeoward for a great range of stripes, too.

The furniture

Bunk beds, while perhaps not great for under six year olds, are great fun for the older child. They come in all formations: even if your child isn’t sharing, the versions with desks and storage underneath are good for small spaces. Grandparents may like to consider a dormitory with a range of single and pull-out beds ready to accommodate all combinations of visitors.

Bed trunks can be very attractive in a child’s bedroom. If you can source a reconditioned vintage one, it will really add character to the bedroom.  However, it doesn’t matter if you find one old or new: they look great personalised with stickers or wallpaper, or hand-painted. And – double bonus – they will store everything from Lego to dolls, or just extra bedding for sleepovers.

The lighting

Lighting – boring but important. If you go for reading lamps by their bed, opt for LED so they don’t overheat, or become too hot to touch. Also, if you’re redoing a bathroom, think about clever night-lights on either side of the loo. They switch on with movement sensors which, brilliantly, lead children to the loo in the middle of the night. No need to turn all the lights on, or fall around in the dark…


Overall, don’t be too precious with your interiors when you have children in tow. As much as you ask your children and their friends to be well behaved and respectful, accidents happen. It makes sense that what you buy needs to be what you like – but hardwearing and ready for abuse. Think about heavy-based lamps that aren’t easily knocked over, textured sofas in velvets or darker linens, with removable covers, and rugs that have depth in colour and texture so they can handle spillages. Most importantly: we need to relax more about our interiors and enjoy them for what they are.

The colour scheme

When considering kitchen colours, don’t go too light. This applies for all over your home, as light colours dirty easily. Wipeable hand-painted kitchen doors, or versions in a more modern gloss finish are practical for cleaning down.   Pure white is lovely and fresh – but avoid unless hand-prints are your aim! This doesn’t mean go dark: off-whites or greys can still be light in colour but hide more marks: Farrow & Ball, for instance, do this well in their Pavilion Gray, Purbeck Stone or Charleston Gray.
It’s a good idea to tuck kicker-boards under the units rather than on the outside edge. If you laminate them for a stainless steel effect, it gives a modern look, but also means they won’t damage so easily. In other words, when your kitchen becomes a scooter race-track, they don’t get dented or marked so quickly!

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