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.
Art that Endures
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
Washable no-VOC paint options
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.
Be a Savvy Stylist
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!
Pet Place Mat
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.