6 Tips to Keep Your Home From Looking Like a Daycare Center!

Style maven Courtney Cachet is here to tell you: Don't wait until your kids go to college to decorate!
- Courtney Cachet, BettyConfidential.com

Unnamed Person: "These are the couches my husband had when I met him and until my boys get older, what's the use in getting new ones?"

Me: "Um, okay. Well, maybe there's a better way. Why don't I show you a few options that might look better, suit your family lifestyle and not break the bank?"

What I was really thinking: Honey, those scratch and dent and stained up microfiber horrors have probably seen more drunken boy/girl action than you and your hubby have seen since you popped out the last kid. They smell of rotten formula, dried spit and God knows what else. They probably cost him $50 from a frat brother ten years ago. They were ugly then and they're worse now. Are you kidding me? Not even an Etro pillow could help that nasty thing. Yuck. Didn't you just practically boil the binky that fell on the floor?

Make 2011 Your Sexiest Year Yet!

What's the deal with people waiting to decorate? I'm here to tell you, don't wait. There will always be an excuse if you're using the kids as your reason. I do not believe that once you have children you need to live in a home that looks like Chuck E. Cheese threw up on a Raymour & Flanigan. There are several ways you can have a home that is family friendly, stylish and dare I say, even sophisticated! And before you roll your eyes, this is something accessible to everyone. This is not something strictly available to a privileged few. Whether you are a busy working mother (Hi, that's me!) or a stay at home parent you can have a lovely home. Even the youngest little children will benefit from living in a home filled with beautiful things. I promise. You just need to be realistic.

1. Relax The Look
Maybe you adored the ultra neat and ultra modern and sleek lines in your single days. Yeah, buh bye! Sharp edges and chrome are elements that will likely add more stress to your life. Do you really want that? No need to forego your modern aesthetic. Just make it more relaxed. You can have simple lines, just less pristine and more comfortable. For example, instead of a glass coffee table add an upholstered ottoman with hidden storage. A few chic acrylic trays on top and you're stylin' and stress free!

I collect French porcelain pieces. They are expensive and lovely. Does it mean now that I have kids I need to dump my Sevres and start collecting Precious Moments? No way. I just cannot have them on the end table now unless I want to cry over the gazillion pieces I will inevitably find them one day while my laughing toddler looks on. Get it? Avoid the inevitable.

2. Go For Color And Texture
White living rooms. They conjure up images of The Delano Hotel and breezy hotel rooms in St. Barth's. And for the moment, that's where you'll probably experience them! Forget it. Go for bold color, patterns and multi textural looks. These items will be very forgiving when it comes to wear and tear, stains and they look great! You can go to Home Goods and pick up a stylish throw for under $20 and place it over the corner of your sofa. When your little ones are playing in the living room, throw it on the floor and let them sit on it. When it gets ruined, throw it out and buy a new one.

Paint your walls deep colors. Don't be afraid of browns, plums and deep grey hues. These all look great in living areas and match a lot of furniture styles. I have used all of these colors on TV makeovers and the results have always been fabulous and the homeowners are constantly surprised at how much they like it. Using paints with a satin finish are great for stain removal.

3. Splurge On The Big Stuff
Cheap furniture looks cheap and acts cheap! Let's be clear, I am all for finding a deal and have made a hobby out of repurposing furniture pieces. However, cheap furniture that you assemble at home with 47 screws and directions in Swedish is simply a temporary fix. You have to know that. It's fine for smaller pieces, but not for your couch, your bed or other important pieces. When buying those items, try and go for the best you can afford. You can even buy them used and reupholster them, refinish the wood, etc. It's ok to mix and match with high end and budget items. The key is knowing when to go for the good stuff and when to add the more disposable items.

Big Stuff = Spend
Accessories=Ok to go with lesser quality

4. Smart Storage Is a Must

Incorporating storage elements will ensure a tidy, stress free and attractive room! I am all about hidden storage. Otherwise, your room ends up looking like a nursery school playroom. Rainbow colored plastic storage bins are not appropriate for a living room. Instead, buy pretty baskets at places like Lowe's, Michael's and Target. They're inexpensive, look good and you can stick them in a corner. Recently, I was at Home Goods and found some croc embossed patent leather magazine bins that look great in my living room for small toys and a few books. $14.99, need I say more? Using things that are meant for other purposes can add a punch of unexpected style. Ottomans with lids and unused drawers in a chest are awesome for tucking away toys, too!

5. Hit The Floor!

There is no need to fashion your home like a rubber room once you have kids. So tacky, so stupid. Wood floors, ceramic tile, marble, whatever. Get over it. They're easier to clean, easier to maintain and you won't have all those microscopic creepy crawlers in your house. Adding area rugs provides comfort, style and non committal decor. Another big favorite of Cachet's are Flor Carpet tiles. Love, love, love! One stain, one tile, no problem. They come in a myriad of colors, textures and styles. And well priced!

6. The Safe and Stylish Home
You can have the hippest abode on the block, but if your most prized possessions aren't safe, who cares? I certainly don't and I'm sure you would agree. Luckily, the aesthetic has caught up with the need for a safe home. Here are some quick, easy ideas that look good and promote safety!

**Gates:They now come in wrought iron and stainless finishes. No longer just in white, they look cool, keep the kids away from the stairs/kitchen/whatever and most are around $100.

**Bolt down bookcases and tall pieces like chests. Kids climb. Even yours, honey. Steer away from the glass coffee table, please. Google it if you don't believe me.

**Childproof covers on every electrical outlet. I have them in clear, they look great and are like two bucks.

**If you have furniture near windows, make sure the windows have a safety lock feature.

**Draperies that graze the floor look great! Little Johnny doesn't look so hot when he trips over them and busts his chin open. Get hold-backs for your window treatments and PLEASE no blind cords. Why these things aren't outlawed yet is mind-boggling.

Style Expert & TV Personality Courtney Cachet is mother to Ford, 2 and Brooke, 4. Want to keep up with her? Hit her up on Facebook at Facebook.com/TheCourtneyCachetPage

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