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Family Home Decor Journal Kids

baby-proofing your stylish living room…

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Early last year, our home was featured on Emily Henderson's show, Secrets from a Stylist, on HGTV. (If you didn't get to see it, here's the full episode online and my recap of the entire process.) We loved how Emily designed our living room for the show.

When we filmed the episode back in November 2010, we weren't yet pregnant and therefore had no concerns about having a baby-proof living room. Fast-forward a year and change: We got pregnant, had a baby…and then this baby of ours became mobile. At first, I was in denial about having to change anything in our living room and thought we could just teach our baby not to touch anything. Um, yeah right…

Once Ruby started crawling, we needed to make some updates to ensure our living room was safe for her and give us a bit more peace of mind knowing that we could let her roam around without endangering her with some of our furniture and decor choices. So, Emily and I thought it would be fun to do a "Before & After" showing how she's updated our living room to be safe for Ruby while still retaining the style and attention to design we had pre-baby. For this series, we've partnered together with The Honest Company, to bring you three parts (one on each of our blogs), which will show you different aspects of what we did and provide tips on how to marry safety and style.

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We didn't have the budget to just go out and buy all new furniture. While we were okay with buying a couple new pieces that would last us through our next baby, almost everything else was about easy and creative solutions to make what we already had a little safer and more baby-proof…

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No. 01: The White Couch. I can count on my fingers and toes the number of people who said to me, "You're never going to be able to have a white couch with a kid!" Well, that's partly true. My friend Kelley does an amazing job of keeping her white couches spic-and-span (with a combo of a "no-eating-on-the-couch" rule and really amazing washable slipcovers). For us, the couch held up pretty well, but the bottom seat was taking a beating…and, let's face it, looking pretty gross after the early days of baby spit-up and leaky diapers. So Emily came up with a solution: Buy a beautiful piece of fabric and have it made into a fitted-sheet to slip over the bottom cushion for easy washing when needed.

No. 02: The Coffee Table. We had a babyproofer come and install plexiglass on our balcony and make other little safety improvements around the house, and one thing he said was that we had to get rid of our coffee table. Say what? We loved that coffee table. He said it's the No. 1 reason behind ER visits for children of that newly mobile age because coffee tables are just the right height that if toddlers trip and fall, they'll hit their heads on the edge. He also told us that foam corners protect littles one from the corners of furniture, but it's the edges and the hard wood that are really dangerous as well. We tried not having a coffee table at all for a couple months, but we missed having something to put our feet on that also grounded the space. 

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So Emily found these amazing giant poufs. They're like giant sweet buns…and clearly, Ruby loves them. Even though we miss having a real coffee table, we like having a softer ottoman instead of nothing at all because they've also been so helpful in helping Ruby to walk (and they're easy to wipe clean!).

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Emily also placed a long console behind our couch, which we use for drinks and other things that need to rest on a hard, flat surface. (I'll tell you more about the change in artwork at the very end of this post!)

(Sources: Wallpaper: Oh Joy for Hygge & West; Glass & Wood Side Table: vintage; Knitted Basket: Ferm Living; Striped Pillow: Dash & Albert; Silver Pillow: West Elm; Large Morrocan Poufs: special order from Room Service (call for info); Vintage Slipcover Fabric: Rose Bowl Flea Market (or similar non-vintage fabric) find sewed into a slipcover by Gypsy Palace; Gold & White Paper Bowl: Up in the Air Somewhere; White Sofa: Room & Board; Brass Dome Standing Lamp: vintage; Brass Arm Lamp: vintage from Rose Bowl; Globes: vintage; White Rubber Bowl: A+R; Brass & Wood Console: vintage, Gold Elephant: DIY'ed by Jenny Batt.)

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No 03: Decorative Objects. You know I love decorative objects, especially the ones Emily chose for us in the initial makeover. But we had to remove all the glass vases and any breakable objects that could poke an eye out, as well as things we simply didn't want in a Ruby's hands or mouth. So, Emily replaced some of the heavy or more fragile decor elements with things that were light, safe, and even playful. Lots of them were made with natural, safe materials like paper and wood. We also added a couple foam corners to the amazing vintage rocking chair in the corner. 

(Sources: Vintage Credenza: similar from Organic Modernism; Chrome Rocking Chair: Milo Baughman vintage from Rose Bowl; Love Pillow: originally from Urban Outfitters; Striped Throw: Serena & Lily; Chrome Midcentury Chair: vintage from Danish Modern; Navy Velvet Pillow: Ikea; Horse Throw: Loopy Mango; White Side Table: West Elm; Brass Deer: vintage from Rose Bowl; Standing Lamp: vintage from Rose Bowl; Gold Radio Globe: vintage from Pasadena Antique Center; Paper Globe: Canoe; Wooden Horse: Poketo.)

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No. 04 Blocking Off Areas. We had to switch out some of the decorative objects on this side table/trunk, but turning it in a different orientation, it prevents Ruby from getting behind the sofa and into the cords and wires attached to the lamps behind the couch.

(Sources: Wooden Mid-Century Chair: vintage off Ebay; Silver & Gold Trunk: vintage from Rose Bowl; Panda Pillow: Fauna.)

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No. 05: A Rug Pad. Because we have carpet, the rug we previously had didn't stay put very well, even with a normal rug pad underneath. But Emily found an amazing, thick rug pad made exactly for rugs on carpet, and the rug is so sturdy and still now. No more tripping and little feet getting stuck on the corners.

(Sources: Rug: Madeline Weinrib; Rug Pad: No Muv; Chandelier: Ikea; Geometric Paper Orbs: Poketo; White Side Table: vintage.)

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No. 06: The Bar Cart. I was so sad to see our bar cart go, but as soon as Ruby started crawling she was all over that thing. It pretty much had everything on it a baby shouldn't touchโ€”glass, metal, sharp corners, and booze. To take its place, Emily found this awesome cabinet which we can also use to house a mini-bar up top (it can't be opened unless you press the doors at the very top corners), with open shelving at the bottom. The storage area has been so great for allowing us to keep some of Ruby's toys out in the living room but also have a place to store them for quick clean-up.

(Sources: Cabinet: West Elm; Wooden House Frame: Ferm Living; Gold Canisters: Seletti; Gnome: Imm Living; Chrome Hand: vintage; Calendar Blocks: vintage; Striped baskets: Container Store; Gold Lion: DIY'ed by Jenny Batt. Also, we mounted these safety straps behind all tall and heavy furniture.)

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07: The Dining Table. While it's not technically part of the living room, we did have to switch out our vintage glass dining table for a more sturdy wood one. Not as glamorous as before, but much better for the future marker and crayons in her future-drawing-at-the-kitchen-table years.

(Sources: Dining Table: West Elm; Chairs: Eames; Planter Busts: Floral Art LA.)

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No. 08: New Artwork. While this is the one part of the makeover that has nothing to do with baby-proofing, the beauty of the gallery wall that Emily designed originally, is that it's meant to be swapped out as your mood and style changes. Emily wanted to unify the art a bit more with all-white frames and some updated pieces that reflects how my style has changed a bit since the first makeover. So the new gallery wall is a mixture of original paintings, photographic prints, and a couple pieces from our previous gallery wall.

(Sources: Brooklyn Print by Jim Datz; Summer's End Print by Aeropagita; Polaroid Prints by Jen Gotch, "Static" and "Lucky 13"; Before Print by Leah Giberson; Female Portrait by Zoe Pawlak; Abstract Painting by Michelle Armas; ceramic hanging woman is vintage;Heart Print by Christopher David Ryan.)

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We love all the updates that Emily made because she listened to what we needed functionally but it still looks and feels like us. Baby-proofing does not mean you have to stick foam corners on everything or get rid of every single decorative object you have; it's about choosing things that won't hurt your baby and things that you'd feel okay with them handling should they get their cute little fingers on them. Had I known what I know now, I would have incorporated some of these tips and decorating elements into our space beforehand. So, hopefully some of these tips will come in handy for those of you with a baby or prepping for a baby in the near future!

For more fun tips and suggestions from Emily, check out her post right here (which is hilarious, by the way!). I've also put together a round-up of some more baby-safe, yet stylish, items over on Honest's blog and a Pinterest board of all items sourced.

P.S. The Honest Company has kindly offered a discount to all Oh Joy readers on their wonderful and eco-friendly baby and household products (they have the cutest diapers!). Simply enter JOY10OFF40 at checkout. Only first-time buyers can redeem the coupon for $10 off a minimum purchase of $40. The coupon is limited to one user/account and can only be put toward one purchase/transaction. It expires 11/21/12 at 11:59 PST.

(Brought to you by Oh Joy + Emily Henderson + The Honest Company. Before photos by Laure Joliet, After photos, details, and photos of Ruby by Bonnie Tsang.)

91 comments

  1. Beautiful! How fun that you get to enjoy Ruby in your home, without sacrificing any of your sweet style. I love the blue, white, blush pink and metal look you have going on.

  2. love! thank you for sharing so many detailed photos and stylish alternatives. I absolutely love your style. Seems like there’s a lot of opinions that life pre-baby is never going to exist again once someone decides to have children but it’s so encouraging (and relieving!) to see a young mom enjoying work, style and family.

  3. This is so well done! Thank you for this post. I have a 6mo old baby and will be needing to redo my living space in a few months. Also, I saw this episode of you on Secrets of a Stylist a long time ago, but didn’t realize that it was Joy from Oh Joy until just now! This makes me like you even more! You have such a darling personality. It is fun to see you on TV!

  4. Your house is ridiculously amazing!!!
    I wish I had more money and time to decorate… we are moving in a few years to a new home, maybe I’ll do better w/ that home. We have a 22 month old and a newborn. I haven’t baby proofed very much, we watch him (the older one) like a hawk – we do have gates and such (townhome).
    Where are all of the annoying baby toys? Or maybe you put them away for photos ๐Ÿ™‚
    Kudos to you!
    -Tara
    http://madmaxandfamily.blogspot.com
    http://blog.chron.com/madabouttown/

  5. This is really wonderful, beautiful space both before and after baby! I loved #3, I found that having a baby forced me to pare down all of my accessories it ended up being a great way to de-clutter.

  6. Great tips! My daughter just turned 1 and our living room is basically like one big DANGER ZONE with open shelving, low furniture, etc. You definitely gave me some direction on how to approach the dreaded baby-proofing.

  7. Joy, this is exactly what I needed to read as Madison (whom you held at Anthropologie Fashion Island) is ALL OVER the place. I’ve been trying to avoid turning our main living area into an obvious “a baby lives here” space but haven’t quite figured out the best way to go about it. So thank you for the inspiration!
    P.S. Have an awesome time in Austin! My alma mater is there.

  8. What a wonderful solution for your couch! I have a toddler and a white couch and it is really starting to show… I think I may have to investigate some slipcover solutions…
    And Ruby is looking so big,
    Liz

  9. Joy, I hope you just put your coffee table in storage cause it’s AWESOME. My daughter is now almost 2 1/2, and we felt okay about bringing back our pointy modern hard wood coffee table when she was about 2. When she was just starting to toddle around, we had an soft ottoman that opened up for storage (we kept electronics and other baby un-friendly things in there), and it also has a tray that fits across it for coffee cups. The shelf along the back of the couch is a GREAT idea. I like the little baby touches, like that wooden horse toy. Your home is lovely before and after!

  10. Hi Tara,
    Thank you!
    Ruby has toys in her room as well, especially the bigger ones. We keep two bins full of toys out in the living room and everything else is in her room ๐Ÿ˜‰
    Joy

  11. This blog post is great! Three of my favs, Joy, Emily and the Honest Company. I, too, have to start baby-proofing for my soon-to-be-mobile 6 month old. I was afraid you would say the coffee table had to go. Thanks for the tips. I guess I’ll be poofin’ it soon.

  12. Wow. I loved your living room before, but I almost love it even more. I love the heavier white theme with the artwork, and the slight color change that the navy/dark blue adds. Go Emily! Go Joy! Go Bonnie! (And, Ruby, of course. Go, go, go Ruby! ๐Ÿ™‚

  13. Great post and interior design style! Ruby is so precious and those poufs are the perfect solution for her and your living space. Putting the console table behind the sofa like that is great idea as well. May I ask where that white, hexagon table is from in the living room? I’m in love with it!

  14. Hi Joy! Ruby is so adorable. And I love your living room so much, and have taken several tips from it for my own space. Still looking for a Milo Baughman rocker…
    We have a 3 and 5 year old, so are just starting to come out of the super destructive phase. If I may, a couple of observations: the glass dining table would be a better bet longterm. Your wooden table will likely get scratched up, full of marker, and water stained. I’m hoping that glass table is in storage somewhere, because they are so easy to clean.
    Also, when she has friends over in the future, fingers and toes could get caught under that Baughman rocking chair I love so much. Might be better for the bedroom if that’s an option. Or you could send it to me. ๐Ÿ™‚

  15. I love this post and the subtle changes that have made it that much more comfortable for a little one! Style still looks amazing and totally agree – you can have a white couch and keep it nice with kids (we had one for my son’s first four years and it has remained WHITE! lol!)

  16. Great for safety for itty bitty kids but it’s still going to get trashed when kids are 2-4 years old. My two boys make it hard to have any kind of decorated space. That paper globe would be torn up in a heartbeat, the blanket would be torn off the couch and the couch would be jumped on with dirty feet. Or they’d move to the couch with a banana while I wasn’t looking. Sigh. I miss having pretty things.

  17. Great to see that you can stay stylish AND safe! So I watch a lot of HGTV, and I just realized that I had seen that episode on TV way before I started reading your blog.

  18. love all the before and after pics, of course. the simple changes here and there add up to be quite a few! expecting my first so appreciating the tips!

  19. I parted with a looong and gorgeous vintage coffee table from the Rose Bowl when our son got mobile too. A small price to pay for their safety, but I loved it so… I love your makeover and it really does give great ideas on making your space safe but keeping it cool too. especially obsessed with the poufs & slipcover idea (I too have a white couch). thanks for the tips!

  20. Joy, this post is so helpful! I really love your style. Can you share the dimensions of the custom made moroccan poufs? The ones I’ve found for sale online seem to be much smaller. Thanks!

  21. I am so in love with your living room. I wish mine looked like that. Instead with having 2 boys, mine is more of a play room then anything, I tell myself once they are older, I’ll be able to have nice things. But for now, it is what it is.

  22. what babyproofing company did you have come in initially? we live in your hood and need the gates/plexi/etc business to happen soon for our 6mo old! thanks!

  23. What a wonderful post! I am also a huge fan of Emily’s show and I remember this living room being one of my favorites. I don’t have children yet but always wondered how you maintain a stylish, yet practical home with children. Often times my friends forego the look/style of their home because they have kids now, I am glad to see Emily help you maintain the integrity of the style while making it safe for baby.
    Thanks so much for the before and after!
    ps- Read your book Blog Inc. Thanks for the tips!

  24. I really enjoyed this post. Those little changes within the space really make such a difference. Watching the video helps me think about ways to decorate my future home and make it cozy!

  25. Might I say that I prefer this look to the previous one you had? I love the softer edges and the contrast of the dark blue. I can’t even tell that this was accomplished for the purpose of baby-proofing!

  26. I think this is beautifully baby proofed. Not so much toddler proofed. The coffee table books within reach would be colored on, ripped, and bent out of shape in my home. They would have to be moved out of reach. Those were in several locations. I saw that if a kid climbs on your couch, the convenient sofa table behind it appears safe, but would also provide a nice surface to climb onto- making all the previously safe artwork on the wall not as safe. Any of the paper decorations would be shot fairly quickly with a toddler.
    The chest on the side of the couch makes a nice place to easily climb up on- because it’s too low- and that globe would get tipped over and broken quite quickly.
    The nice water-drop vessel behind the couch would be likely broken or ruined because it looks fragile… and all the not too small golden objects in the room, would not stay perfectly put in place with kids. They may not be swallowable, which is safe, but they will still scratch and make a mess when used as a blunt object.
    I like the room, and it is more safe than most for kids- but I know MY 3 daughters would still have fun with this room- We’ve moved all our pretty things up higher- above chest level- in shelves and on wall space up higher…
    And as far as the coffee table, that surprises me- we’ve been good with ours so far- but I probably just jinxed myself.
    Styling by Emily is ALWAYS beautiful, and this room is no disappointment. I always wonder what she would do for a real kid-friendly room. Now I know.

  27. Thanks so much for these excellent before and after shots. Beautiful, modern updates here. It’s very much a family home.
    Is the West Elm bar cabinet attached to the wall? That *might* be a tipping hazard because of its height.
    We have lots of art on the walls and didn’t remove it once our son became mobile. We simply taught him that paintings aren’t to be chewed or drawn on. He had his own chalkboard wall and lots of paper for his own art work.

  28. How easy is the rug with a small kid? I two toddler boys and wondering if this rug works well with small kids. Thanks!

  29. Yes, I was wondering about the console behind the sofa as well. A lot of kids tend to climb on the back of the sofas, and inevitably fall over the other side if they are not against the wall…and the console doesn’t go all the way across. My kids also shook my floor lamp, and it eventually broke. My Jonathan Adler table lamp has fallen over a few times, but hasn’t broken (yet). We are opting not to have a coffee table right now. My kids are older, so more for the climbing on top and jumping off reason. Several preschool classmates have had broken arms due to furniture jumping or accidental falling off of high furniture (like beds). Glad to hear you have the cabinet strapped to the wall. My son pulled out drawers to our heavy double width dresser in order to climb to the top….it tipped over, but thankfully didn’t crush him as it landed on the bed – lesson scarily learned. It wasn’t a particularly high piece of furniture and I didn’t think it was climbable or worth climbing for that matter.
    (PS: My kids aren’t animals in a house and I have rules….)

  30. I love your living room! Very cozy and baby-proof indeed. Right now my baby is turning two and we don’t put much furnishings in the living room because my daughter has the tendency to touch and hold whatever she can reach with her tiny hands.

  31. I love the pictures , we had to go though something similar( although not as posh as yours) when my daughter was a baby , you dont realise just how many things that you have to change when there is a little one in the house

  32. Hi! beautiful pictures. I need to update my living room now with a wild boy running around the house ๐Ÿ™‚
    could you tell me where you got the blue white polka dot pillow?

  33. I would LOVE to see more updates as Ruby grows! My son is 3. As someone mentioned above, most of the stuff in your living room would be fair game to him, especially that table behind the sofa! And while he hasn’t taken to climbing bookshelves (like your bar cabinet) he’d have brought the step ladder to that the second I wasn’t looking! I feel defeated and have given up on “style” for the next 15 years (more things were broken in my house growing up when I was a teen than when I was a toddler) =P

  34. Hi, Joy–Just curious about the sofa slipcover/fitted sheet (which is an awesome idea, btw): is it upholstery fabric or regular quilting weight? And is it two pieces or just one? (It almost looks like a blue bottom piece covered by the beautifully patterned one on top.)
    I’ve been trolling for fabrics to do this exact thing, and I would really appreciate knowing what weight fabric it is.
    Thanks!

  35. The poufs have worked out great! We dont really let her eat in that room except for non-messy snacks. And any time it as gotten food or anything on it, I just use a wipe to wipe it down and its as good as new.
    Best!
    Joy

  36. Hi, Joy–Just curious about the sofa slipcover/fitted sheet: is it upholstery fabric or regular quilting weight? And is it two pieces or just one?
    Thanks!

  37. Great job! Although in the last pic, Ruby looks like she is holding something she might be able to poke her eye out!

  38. Wow! I really like this post. Itโ€™s looking like a dream. I also want to try this decorating style for my living room. Thanks for sharing such a beautiful blog with us.

  39. Heyy!!
    Itโ€™s a nice share ..
    You really have a knack to change something ordinary into outstanding! Very beautiful indeed!!
    thank you so much for the share

  40. Baby proofing help please looking for product?
    we are moving soon we have central heat and air but it comes out threw the floor and there are going to be 4 vents not huge ones but there small and square but harley hurts himself all the time and I was wondering if anyone knows how to baby proof them covering them is not a option seeing as that is where we get our air

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