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10 tips for family-friendly renovating

renovating-carolyn battI’ve got friends who love renovating. They get excited about floor plans, colours, and the latest kitchen trends. For me, though, it spells stress – is this a change that will add value to the house or detract from it? Will that colour look good or date quickly? Should I go for what looks best or what is the most practical?

Ultimately, as a family with kids, many of our decisions have been influenced by practical issues (though I still hope the finished product will look good too!). If you’re planning a renovation and have children in the house, these are some of the things you might want to consider.

10 Family friendly renovating tips

1. Floorboards

If you’re putting in new floorboards, consider the hardness of the timber as well as the colour. Soft timber will scratch and get indented more easily than hard, while dark wood tends to show up the dirt more.

2. Bathroom basins

Top-mounted basins look very swish and hotel-like, but will your kids still be able to reach or will you end up with toothpaste running down the outside?

3. The bath

The position and type of the bath really depends on the age of your kids and/or the market you are trying to appeal to. Parents with young children may want the bath close to the kitchen/main living area, but if you have older kids there is less need for supervision. If you are installing a bath that will have a shower over the top, consider whether the base is broad and flat enough for safe showering.

4. Benchtops

Marble looks great, but can stain easily, so could prove a fraught investment. If your kids are prone to leaving a mess or making cupcake icing with food colouring, you might need to consider something more resistant to marks like some of the composite stones on the market.

5. Safety

Are windows made of safety glass and decks adequately fenced? If your children are old enough to use the microwave, toaster, and other appliances, can they reach these safely?

6. Storage

Have you provided sufficient storage for toys, books, and schoolbags? Is the storage easily accessible so the children can tidy up themselves (even if you have to resort to bribery!)?

7. Gas fireplace

If you are installing a gas fire place, the age of your children may be relevant when choosing between open-fronted and glass-fronted ones, although many open-fronted fires have optional safety screens.

8. Kitchen design

The kitchen is often thought of as the cook’s domain, but it is important the space is practical for the whole family. Is the fridge accessible so the kids can get a snack without getting under the feet of the chef? Are glasses/cups in a drawer or cupboard that children can reach? There’s nothing more annoying than having to drop everything every time a child wants a drink of water! Have you included a separate drawer of kids’ plastic-ware and containers?

9. Flexibility

Remember your kids won’t stay the age they are forever. Consider how your use of rooms may vary over the years and try to incorporate an element of flexibility (e.g. a playroom may later morph into a study area).

10. Mud room

How I would love one of these if we had space! A room to leave the dirty sports shoes, raincoats, and schoolbags out of sight. Unfortunately, sometimes there just isn’t enough room. But it’s nice to dream about.


Happy renovating!

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