Toddlers and young children have a habit of finding all kinds of trouble to get into – so it’s important to minimise the risks if you’re renovating a home for your young family. Here are five home renovation tips for creating a child-friendly environment.
1. Consider an open-plan layout
When you have small children, the best way to keep them safe and out of trouble is to be able to keep an eye on them at all times. This is a really important consideration when you’re planning the layout of your home renovation.
An open-plan layout on the ground floor offers the best visibility. Combining the kitchen, dining and family living areas in one large space enables you to keep an eye on the kids at the same time as going about your own business. An open, airy space with plenty of natural light is far safer for the kids than separate small rooms with dark corners. It’s also easier to keep clean – and we all know how much mess young children can make!
2. Keep design features safe
A family home which will be lived in by young kids has to be more about practicality than aesthetics. Stairs without railings, mezzanines and indoor balconies may look great as design features, but they’re simply not safe for toddlers due to the risk of falling.
You should also avoid any expansive areas of glass, such as interior walls, doors and even shower screens – children have accidents with bikes and footballs, even indoors, and broken glass can be fatal.
3. Think plenty of storage space
Homes with kids get messy – that’s an unavoidable fact. But while some of the toys are bound to live on the floor, a family home needs a lot of storage space for a variety of practical reasons.
When your kids are very small, their storage needs are mainly all about toys. But remember they’re going to grow. If you intend to live in this house for the foreseeable future, one day they’ll be teenagers with ever-expanding wardrobes and all kinds of hobbies and fads. You need to allow for that by creating as much storage space in their bedrooms as possible.
You also need off-ground storage solutions, preferably lockable, in the kitchen and bathroom. Cleaning products, medicines, cosmetics and a wide variety of other regular household items need to be kept out of the reach of small children at all times, so it’s essential to include plenty of wall-mounted cabinetry in your renovation plans.
4. Restrict access to electrics
We all need electricity in our homes, but small children shouldn’t be allowed anywhere near it. One of the most important considerations when you’re renovating is to make sure as many electrical appliances as possible can be positioned out of the reach of the kids – even the TV and microwave. Smaller appliances should have their own inaccessible storage spaces for when they’re not in use.
However, the main dangers come from the wiring and outlets. It’s essential to create a sensible design for your electrics that minimises risk. Electrical sockets should be covered with sliding plates that screw into the wall, removing the temptation for your toddlers to touch them or stick anything into them. As many electrical cables as possible should be concealed within walls – the rest should be covered and attached to the wall, or folded and tied securely with cable ties.
5. Get the flooring right
One of the most important elements of your home to get right when you have small children is the flooring – it’s going to take some rough treatment over the next few years! Hard flooring is much more practical and hygienic than carpet, as it’s far easier to keep clean. However, many of the most popular hard flooring options, such as polished granite and porcelain, aren’t the safest for children – they’re slippery surfaces and they’re also extremely hard, presenting an injury risk every time your kids fall over.
Wood is a safer, warmer option, but it will scratch and chip with regular hard wear. Vinyl is probably the most practical choice – it’s a relatively soft surface while also being extremely durable! These days it’s available in highly authentic-looking wood and tile effects, so you don’t have to compromise on aesthetics.
If you really must have carpet, the most hardwearing option is a mix of wool and man-made fibre, preferably with a loop pile. Choose a pattern rather than a plain colour – it will hide the spillages better!
Finally, remember to keep your kids safe during the renovations, and enjoy creating a safe and beautiful home for them to grow up in.