Image Credit: Elsa Young; Production: Nicola Stevenson and Latoyah Mei
It’s not uncommon to come across parents who claim, defeated, that they’ve been forced to put the style of their home on the back burner for the duration of their kids’ upbringing. But it doesn’t have to be that way, and freelance magazine writer Mila Proudfoot’s abode is proof of this.
Mila and her husband Chris live with their two daughters – two-and-a-half-year-old Luca and seven-month-old Frankie – and yes, they’re very proud of their home, which they’ve managed to keep stylish and elegant. Below she shares a few of her suggestions for achieving the same in your home despite having little ones running around.
1. one word: baskets
‘Sure, it’s the oldest trick in the book, but it really works. We use kikapu baskets, which are scattered liberally around the home to hide and store a multitude of paraphernalia. The one in the lounge is a vessel for a heap of Luca’s favourite toys, so they’re close by when she wants to play, and equally close when it’s time to pack away. We use smaller canvas versions from simplyhome.co.za on the kids’ tabletops to hide nappies, creams and wipes.’
2. compactum shmactum
‘Compactums are one of those baby items I’m strongly against. Apart from the fact that they’re bulky on the eye, the truth is, the compactum is a piece of furniture designed for short-term, niche use. Once your little one has outgrown nappies, you’ll be stuck with a chest of drawers with raised protective edging around the sides. I’ve opted for non-kiddie alternatives that can be used for an eternity, anywhere in my home. For Frankie, I use the beautiful pale wood Spati chest of drawers from weylandts.co.za and Luca’s room features a long, narrow antique oak table with plenty of room for a lamp and a goodie basket (a la tip 1).’
3. sugar soap
‘We keep a large tub of this wonder cleaner close at hand. We have white walls and naturally, grubby little hands and spills leave marks everywhere. Sugar soap gets rid of all of that.’
4. be real
‘I’m not a purist. It quickly became obvious that Luca was going to continue unpacking our floor-to-ceiling open-shelving unit on a daily basis. So I gave in and repacked a little, keeping immovable items at the bottom, together with stacks of magazines and a few of her own books. The few magazines that she had already damaged stay on the top of those piles to limit further damage.’
5. choose wisely
‘Just like anywhere else in the home, be as selective as possible about aesthetics. In recent years designers have created far less offensive versions of the essential kids items, so they don’t have to be padded or printed in garish colours or motifs. We’ve had great use from our Ikea Antilop High Chair (from nevadafurniture.co.za) which is plain white, completely wipeable, clean-lined and can be disassembled and stored when out of use.’
6. cupboard love
‘If you have the opportunity to install new cupboards, leave generous space at the bottom section for all the really large and awkward items (I’m talking doll’s prams, walkers, strollers, humidifiers, fans, etc.) you can’t hide elsewhere. Alternatively remove a bottom shelf in an old cupboard.’
7. tone it down
‘I opted for more grown-up colours and combinations for the girls’ rooms rather than going full-throttle with bright pink paint and Disney characters. Keep it paired back for a calmer but child-friendly look. I’ve used black, white and grey as a base with loads of natural texture and geometric motifs for interest.’
To see Mila Proudfoot’s house in all its glory, read our October 2016 issue.