A kidproof sofa is possible if you choose wisely. Select a model with dark-colored, machine-washable slipcovers. If slipcovers aren't an option, choose dark, spill-resistant upholstery, like microfiber or polyester (shown here, Martin 90" sofa, $1,870; mgbwhome.com). Cushions you can flip mean you can have a "good" side for guests and a "kid and pet" side for day-to-day use.
Opt for a low coffee table with a stain-resistant surface, like this powder-coated steel model (Strut square coffee table, $499; bludot.com) so kids can also use it as a place to craft. For a nearly indestructible option, go for a piece designed for outside use. (Psst! Outdoor furniture goes on clearance in late summer, so now's a good time to shop!)
Hardwood floors are a great choice for kids, but going completely rugless leaves no soft place for them to play -- or fall. The solution: modular carpet tiles (Heaven Sent, $14 each; flor.com), which are relatively inexpensive and durable. If a truly disastrous spill leaves a stain, you can replace the individual tile, not the whole rug.
Say yes to easy-to-clean fabrics like vinyl and leather look-alikes (faux leather pouf, $79; landofnod.com)
Protect walls from grubby hands: Paint the lower half with a medium or dark hue of semi- or high-gloss paint. The lustrous finishes are easier to clean than flat ones but can be overwhelmingly shiny covering a whole room. Use a light and matte paint above to temper the reflective surface below. Avoid easily marred wallpaper in kids' rooms -- decals are a better bet.
For kids' spaces, avoid hanging framed pictures that oculd get knocked down. Instead opt for art that adheres directly to the surface, like wall decals. Seasons Tree Decal, $54; wallcandyarts.com. Twitters Girly Favric decals, $45 for set; laylagrace.com
1. Benjamin Moore, Natura, Apple Green (2026-40)
2. Behr Premium Plus Self-Priming Zero VOC and Low Odor Interior Paint, Harbor (520f-5)
3. Vlaspar Ultra, Soft Duckling (3001-2A)
Create a stylish yet indestructible table covering by cutting a piece of oilcloth or coated cotton to fit your table. Scalloped edges add a pretty detail and kids' messes can be wiped clean easily with a damp sponge (Michael Miller Neo Dot Luna fabric, $10/yard; fabric.com).
When it comes to sturdy dinnerware, plastic plates aren't your only option. Corelle's tempered-glass dishes are nearly impossible to break (Gardent Sketch Bands, $30 for a 16-piece set; shopworldkitchen.com). Duralex's shatterproof Gigone tumblers ($22 for six; duralexusa.com) are a staple in French school cafeterias for their endurance. Bonus: These dishes and glasses are dishwasher- and microwave-safe.
Shabby Chic: Consider the "distressed" look for furnishings: Pieces like this table won't show the nicks and marks that kids put on furniture as readily as smooth finishes will.
Bright Idea: In high-traffic areas, opt for lamps that can survive a tumble, like this metal model (Checkmate base, $59, shade, $20; landofnod.com). Use self-adhesive Velcro strips to secure the base to the table (just don't stick them to precious antiques).
Strong Accents: Forget vases; style your space with kid-safe accessories like books or even toys. Tegu magnetic blocks, $12 to $300; tegu.com
Consider recovering your dining chairs' seats in a stylish, spill-resistant fabric. Solid-hued coated linen ($33 per yard; bandjfabrics.com) is treated with PVC so stains won't set, but it still looks sophisticated enough for adult dinner parties. (Kids aren't the only ones who spill; these linens will resist red wine too!)
Look for other kid-friendly fabrics: Outdoor fabrics They're designed to resist more wear and tear than most materials.
Microfiber: Feels like suede but can be machine-washed; look for these brand names when shopping: Ultrasuede and Sensuede
White-cotton canvas or denim: It may sound counterintuitive, but hardy white-cotton fabrics are actually a wise choice because they can be laundered in hot water with bleach if spilled on.
Leather: While leather must be dry-cleaned, the majority of spills can be quickly wiped up before stains set in.
Vinyl: There's a reason you'll find most restaurant booths upholstered in this synthetic alternative to leather -- it's nearly bulletproof!
Keep food and water spills off your floor with a wipes-clean pet-bowl place mat.
Originally published in the August 2013 issue of Parents magazine.