tips, tricks & tuts: safety first-tips for designing safe kids spaces

Monday, November 10, 2014 4 Permalink 12

as an interior designer, safety considerations are always a part of my design process, but even more so when i am designing children’s spaces. whether it’s a bedroom, playroom, nursery or game/media room, these kid-centric spaces are the areas where kids will most likely be left unattended, since it’s “their space”. so this is all the more reason that we want to make sure that we are creating a safe environment.

this being said, i know that not everyone has it in their budget to hire an interior designer, so i wanted to share some of the most common safety solutions that i tend to recommend to my clients. this is by no means a definitive list, but these safety precautions will help augment those already in place in your home and take very little time or money to implement.

  • first we’ll start with one that we are hopefully already doing, but that often tends to get put off. anchor large, heavy, and tall furniture items like bookcases, dressers, armories which are prone to tipping and should be secured with nylon straps or other appropriate anchoring hardware. sometimes the weight of a furniture piece can sometime make us think that we don’t need to anchor it. but consider how quickly a furniture’s center of gravity can shift when drawers have been pulled out or emptied or a child is climbing around on it. so don’t let the apparent sturdiness of a piece deter you from anchoring it to the wall. you’ll have the peace of mind that everything will stay upright. ardi tv
  • tvs also fall into this category and need to be secured by either being properly mounted to the wall or secured with an anti-tipping strap. while TVs are not really recommended in children’s bedrooms, per se they can be found in kid spaces such as playrooms or games or family rooms where kids spend time and need to be secured. tip: make sure the strap anchors are metal. there are some on the market that are made with plastic anchor-points, avoid those.
  • there is a product that i really love for securing loose décor items and it gets great reviews. it’s called museum putty. it’s original design intent was for securing museum artifacts to avoid accidents and movement during earthquake and is also used by antique dealers. so you know it has a fighting chance to hold up against your mini earthquakes. ;) it very inexpensive and reusable. it a white putty, and you use about a pea size amount in a few spots and wait 30 minutes for it to set up. then when you are ready to remove the item, simply twist and reuse the putty again.ardi sconce
  • another option is using wall sconces instead table and floor lamps that can easy get knocked over. there are plenty of plugin options that don’t require an electrician and they’re very easy to install. there are good wall sconce options that start as low as $15, so in some cases it can cost you less for the sconce than a lamp and be a little more secure.
  • also, kids tend to like to pick up furniture and move it around their room. so if you have accent furniture in the room, like a side table by a rocking chair for example, consider using lightweight furniture that won’t cause your child to strain.
  • another way to avoid strain and fatigue is to think about the ergonomics of their furniture. it can be hard when they’re constantly growing but a good rule of thumb is that their limbs can rest at 90 degree angles. especially if you have a little artist or reader or other activity where they would be in a seated position for extended periods of time. use a footrest or stool, for example, if their feet can’t yet touch the floor.
  • in addition to the standard plug covers, i like these swivel outlet covers for outlets that i use frequently. if you use supplemental heating or cooling in their room or a humidifier, basically anything that goes in and out frequently these swivel covers can be a great option. then you don’t have to worry about misplacing the plug covers or forgetting to put them back in. these options are a little harder for kids to figure out compared to side to side sliding covers.ardi behind pillows
  • and for outlets that stay in use, these covers are a great option for keeping curious hands from getting hurt. they are even a bit a work for an adult to remove, so that is always a good sign, in my opinion. if you can, be strategic about which outlets you make use of, like near curtains or behind a rocking chair will minimize the bulky appearance (or behind pillows like in this reading nook). if you use outlets behind furniture, then you may not need these outlet covers at all.
  • my number one tip for items hung around bed areas is to please, please, please avoid shelves or ledges over cribs and beds. a child spends a lot of time in bed and the chances of items falling off of a shelf are pretty high. especially since little ones like to rearrange, stack, and add items to a shelf. don’t avoid shelves altogether, just utilize them in another part of the room.crib space 1
  • if you do hang items over the bed, consider moving the bed a few inches from the wall. that way if a wall hanging were to come loose and fall, it will go behind the bed and not on the child’s head. i also like to do this with cribs to make it harder for the little kiddies to reach the wall hangings when they are standing in their crib.
  • when using a garland, bunting, or sting style decoration, make sure it’s secure and high enough up so kids don’t get tangled up in it. across the top of the window or curtains is a great option or high on a wall as a part of a gallery arrangement.crib space 3a
  • also, gravitate towards softer, lighter items. use paper mâché letters, fabric and paper-based wall hanging and remove the glass from frames or replace it with a thin plastic or acrylic sheet. even a little washi tape detail can make a flat, two dimensional art grouping more interesting. if you’re not sure if what you want to hang is a good choice think “would i want this falling on me in the middle of the night.” is a pretty good litmus test. ;) you can even try the no sew diy fabric banner project that i created specifically with safety in mind.

so those are just a few of my safety tips to think about when you are putting together a child’s space.

do you have any kid or design related safety tips that you live by or products that you love? feel free to share in the comment section!

if you have any questions about anything discussed in this post, please let me know. always remember that safety doesn’t always have to sacrifice form in the name of function, either. if you take a thoughtful approach, then beauty and safety can always coexist. xo

interested in working together on your next design project? contact me at


  • Jonina
    November 11, 2014

    Inspiring ideas, Ashley! I’m going to try to implement a few.

    • ashley stephens
      November 11, 2014

      yay, joni! so glad that you found some of the tips helpful!xo

  • J
    March 2, 2015

    Some snazzy ideas! Very creative and good-looking blog!

    • ashley stephens
      March 16, 2015

      thank you so much for your kind comment!

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