If your home is feeling like a battleground after the school holidays, as you and your children fight for territory, it could be time for a new strategy.
Before you consider moving or boarding schools - or simply resign yourself to chaos until they’ve flown the nest - there is another answer: creating rooms that suit your need for stylish spaces as well as theirs for play areas.
“Children and decor aren’t generally regarded as a match made in heaven. Sticky fingers, the patter of tiny, muddy feet and an ever-growing collection of plastic toys can take their toll on rooms,” says Ashlyn Gibson, author of Creative Family Home; a blueprint for transforming a home that appeals equally to grown-ups and youngsters.
All that’s needed, she believes, is a little imagination, a dash of flair, and with your children’s help, a family home can be one that’s fun and which you’re proud to show off.
“Bringing up children is an adventure and living with them should be fun,” she says. “It’s all about capturing their spirit of wonder, discovery and sense of fun, and giving them child-friendly spaces which encourage them to be imaginative. Spaces where you can all relax, and they can express their personalities.”
Key ingredients, she says, are practical layouts, easy-to-clean durable surfaces able to withstand the rough and tumble of family life, and ideally a neutral backdrop so that it’s easy to add vivid colour and pattern, which children love, in everything from fabrics and furnishings through to their toys, collections and artwork.
“With a bit of ingenuity you can showcase their possessions to great effect, and have a home that never looks stagnant or dull. A colourful, visually stimulating home is an inspiring place for everyone, young and old.”
Children’s toys seem to have a life of their own, apparently cloning themselves over night so they constantly overflow storage boxes and invade every corner. Make stumbling over them a distant memory by providing child-friendly storage.
“A home free of clutter will have a relaxed, calm vibe which the whole family will enjoy,” says Gibson.
“Portable storage, a box on castors or a vintage suitcase, is versatile and allows children to transport contents from room to room.”
Tip: Have a clear-out of toys regularly but do it with your children - don’t rush them, because choosing what to discard is all part of the process of growing up. Donate unwanted items to a charity shop or let them boost pocket money by selling at car boot sales.
Stylish solutions: A Tessera Swivel Storage Unit, £175.