Subscribe to UltimateMama Subscribe to UltimateMama's comments

Posts tagged ‘House Rules’

New York Family, March 2010 » Page 58

House Rules

How To Design A Family-Friendly Apartment That Doesn’t Sacrifice On Style

Can you have a home you love that suits your tastes and style while also accommodating your children and all their toys, gear, and messes? We think so, with a little thoughtful planning and care. To get you started, here are a few ideas from some design experts.

Design A Kid-Friendly Kitchen

In many households, the kitchen is the center of activity—making it even more essential that the room be family-friendly. Robert Dobbs, a certified kitchen and bathroom designer with Elgot, a design company based in Manhattan, says families looking to remodel their kitchen may want to consider “U-shaped kitchens, [because they] work well to keep kids on the opposite side of the island [and away from the cooking area].” Also, Dobbs says to be sure to “leave [ample] space between open oven or dishwasher doors and cabinets,” as this helps enable safe passageway through the kitchen. When it comes to flooring, solid wood or laminate floors are both resilient surfaces that make for easy clean-up, while cork is another good option because it makes standing for long periods of time easier on your feet—and on a baby’s crawling hands and knees. For people with small kitchens, Dobbs says internal storage options like pull-out pantries really maximize space.

Choose Sensible Carpeting

When choosing a carpet for your living room, comfort, maintenance, and aesthetics are all important factors that come into play. “From a health standpoint, wool, cotton, and silk are natural fiber options that are free of any harsh chemicals,” explains Angela Gruszka of ABC Carpet & Home. She recommends these rugs to families with young children or babies, and wool or sheepskin rugs to families with children a bit older, as these rugs are “extremely durable and easily cleanable.” Steven Forrey, sales manager at The Rug Company, agrees, favoring Tibetan wool rugs—particularly for families that are seeking minimal upkeep and maximum décor. Boasting incredibly high-quality wool, these rugs are stain resistant, durable, and natural. As a final precaution, go barefoot in carpeted areas. Leaving your shoes at the door will ultimately shorten your housecleaning by a considerable amount, saving you time and money when it comes to maintaining the space.

Pick Out The Right Couch

Above all, invest in durable seating. “A coffee table from Ikea is just as good as a table from any other place,” says Debbie Wiener, author of “Slob Proof! Real-Life Home Decorating Solutions.” “But you can always tell a bad sofa from a good one.” When shopping for a sofa, make sure it has a strong frame, a cushion with down and a thick fabric. “We almost always recommend slipcovered sofas,” offers Leigh Oshirak, director of marketing and public relations at Pottery Barn and a mother of two. Next time your child spills pasta sauce or apple juice, she suggests a simple way to cut down on cleaning time—and the bill: Simply unzip the slipcover and throw it into the washing machine. Jonathan Balthaser, manager of Rico, a Brooklyn-based furniture store, suggests an alternative. “Whenever parents come to our store, we always recommend leather or Ultrasuede as the upholstery,” he says. These materials boast durability and are easy to clean. Rest assured that any child-inflicted stains should not leave permanent damage.

Have A Thoughtfully Lit Home

Kimberly Oliver of Design Within Reach cautions parents to avoid floor lighting or unsteady table lamps that can be knocked over. Instead, select pieces with a heavy base that will remain in place. Or, says author Wiener, swap floor and table lamps for overhead lighting, which prevents broken lamps and stained shades, and gives your family more room to play. If you’re showcasing family pictures, track lighting is a great option, according to Fred Katz, owner of Lightforms Inc., because the lights spotlight select areas on the wall. Another fixture to consider is an immediate over-the-shoulder light for reading. This works well in situations where one of the kids wants to watch TV, but another prefers to read a book. The overhead light won’t illuminate the entire room, allowing your kids to stay engaged in the program—and on good terms with each other.

Invest In Furniture That Grows With Your Child When Danielle Hansmeyer, SVP of Restoration Hardware Baby & Child, was pregnant and looking to buy furniture for her nursery, she found that there was a “void in the market for good quality, sophisticated design at a reasonable price.” She returned from maternity leave with a slew of ideas, creating the store’s Baby & Child line, which recently launched. It features an assortment of convertible cribs, elegant bedding, bathroom accessories and more that Hansmeyer says are “subtle, but fun” and “seamless with the rest of your home.” Check out the cribs that convert into a toddler bed and “big kid bed,” and changing tables that transform into dressers in styles “that are pretty timeless.” As Hansmeyer notes, “Being able to buy something that will live with your child for 10 years” is worth the investment. G

—Reported by Kristen Duca, Jordana Jaffe, Darcy Newell, and Kate Willard

UltimateMama feels that you should be straightforward when you provide a list (verbal or written) of the rules of your house.  But, try not to be self-righteous. 


You may never give your one year old ice-cream but of course you may eat it from time to time.  Evaluate what is important to you and communicate it with any visitors or childcare providers.


One mother does not drink soda but has no problem buying it for her nanny who really enjoys it.  Of course it is off-limit to her child but she wants her nanny to feel comfortable in her home. 


Some house rules may include:



– read to the child and try to keep her engaged in all activities

– interact with the child

– sing songs to the child or play the music we provide (such as classical, holiday, or children’s music)

– talk to the child even if it is as simple as describing what you are doing (it helps to build her vocabulary)

– play with the child in a gentle manner (age-appropriate play may include tummy time on an activity mat, tea parties with dolls, working on puzzles, playing dress-up, or creating buildings with blocks)

– engage the child in art projects with the supplies we provide (crayons, finger painting, play dough, etc.)

– use proper manners (please, thank you) and teach our child to do so as well

– do not wear shoes inside the home (slippers are fine)

– always wash your hands before handling the child



– do not shake our child

– do not watch television when the child is awake

– do not use foul language

– do not shout or yell

– do not spank or hit our child (time outs or another agreed upon method can be used to reprimand the child for wrongdoings)

– do not talk constantly on the phone; please limit your phone usage for emergencies or calling us to check in

– do not wear super-strong perfume in our home (if your baby has allergies or sensitive skin)

– do not take the child swimming or near pools

– do not use blankets in our child’s crib (we prefer wearable options such as the Halo SleepSack or Blankeaze in a gender neutral color like yellow or green so you can use them for the next child or hand them down to a friend's child)



Also, if you do not use pacifiers for your child make this clear.