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A home for the kids, by the kids

  • Ideas & Inspiration
Jul 05, 2024
Buddy stairs for kids by Gosh – Beautiful Homes

Obstacle courses, forts, and tents inside the house! Design and décor choices change a lot when you have kids at home. Two sets of parents share their tips and tools on how to create a family home that works for children and the entire family 

There was a time when children were to be seen and not heard. But gone are the days of children being relegated to the nursery or being allowed in select spaces within a home. It’s not something that fits in with modern living and parenting.


Kids need room to have fun, unleash their creativity, and learn how to be independent and self-sufficient. But we also understand that maintaining a balance for both parents and kids is important.


We asked parents who have created kid-friendly homes for their tips. First, Theresa Joseph, a mother of three who has taken a “child-first” approach and designed her home around the rhythms of her kids; and second, Gayatri Vijayan and Karthik Srinivasan, an architect-designer duo behind children’s furniture brand gosh!


Designing your Home Around your Kids for Work and Play: Theresa Joseph, mom of three in Kochi

Kid-friendly homes are built to unleash the childrens’ creativity, enhance their functionality, and teach them how to be self-sufficient as well as independent.

Beautiful Homes: So, Theresa, how many of you occupy this space?

Theresa Joseph: I live here with my three energetic boys aged 10, 8, and 6. My older son goes to boarding school and visits during the holidays. We moved into this apartment when my kids were young. I had two kids back-to-back, so for me, it was always function over form. I wanted a functional and practical space as opposed to a beautiful one. And the pandemic only reinforced that.

Theresa Joseph and her three kids – Beautiful Homes

Theresa Joseph with her 3 boys.

BH: How did you manage your space during COVID?

TJ: During COVID, all the kids were under 6. We literally couldn’t step out of the apartment. So, accessibility was key for me, like keeping toys and books where they could reach them and keeping loose items like keys and remotes at a higher level. Indoor play is necessary any time of year, so the fewer bulky furniture pieces you have, the better. Even before COVID, we used to spend a lot of time playing and reading on the floor since the kids were so young.


BH: What should parents look for in furniture when there are kids around the house?

TJ: This is very important when it comes to allowing kids to play, especially imaginative play. Kids will want to move things around. If they can use furniture to engage in pretend play, it’s so much better than staying glued to an iPad! My younger kids make obstacle courses, forts, and tents inside the house. My advice would be to get sturdy furniture that’s durable and to avoid glass surfaces. You can also invest in nice-looking outdoor/balcony furniture for your living room since it can handle wear and tear.


BH: What about storage? Is there a dedicated space for their toys and books?

TJ: Yes. I have designated spaces, but multiple designated spaces, so that the kids have easy access to their stuff and things stay neat. They have stacks of books near their bed and the living room. And there’s a separate space for toys. It’s important to have all their clothes in a single space though. 

Theresa Joseph's home – Beautiful Homes

Theresa’s moves furniture around to encourage indoor play.

Multifunctional space ideas – Beautiful Homes

The walls are adorned with artwork by the kids and serve as a canvas for their scribbles.

BH: What is your approach to maintaining cleanliness, especially on the walls, as smaller kids are tempted to scribble?

TJ: My kids started doing graffiti on my walls a long time ago. And every parent’s first instinct is to take an eraser or sponge and wipe it off. But you’ll realise it’s not something you can keep doing! I’m a graphic designer, so doodling and sketching is part of my job. And I do a lot of painting and free-form art with the kids. So, when they started drawing and writing on the walls, I just let it flow. The walls are their canvas, a place where they can express themselves. Instead of wallpaper, I have their graffiti and drawings taped to my walls.


BH: How can you make the kitchen a kid-friendly space, especially with growing kids who may be constantly hungry? In terms of minimising your involvement in getting them stuff. 

TJ: I try to keep the kitchen a happy and healthy zone. We actually eat in the kitchen and have a counter with seating. We talk about what we are eating and how each food impacts our health. To make sure they can eat when they want, cutlery and crockery are in lower drawers. I’ve ensured all the cupboards are accessible and stocked with healthy things like nuts and fruit. Not to say I don’t keep sweets or junk in the house. I do, but I keep it in steel dabbas that are used for grains and sabzi, so I know they’ll never look there!

Sturdy furniture for kids – Beautiful Homes

Theresa’s home has a centre table that has been made to handle rigorous play.

BH: What is your top tip to ensure kids are both self-sufficient and happy in their home?

TJ: For me, home is where you just let loose. Sit wherever you want, eat when you want, no one is judging you. Even for kids, it should be a place where they can unwind and not feel restricted. There are basic rules, like, don’t destroy things intentionally. But if an accident happens, it’s not the end of the world. You can repair things, you can push your sofa back to where it was, you can paint over your walls. Aesthetics are subjective and shouldn’t matter as much as having happy, well-adjusted kids who are expressing themselves and have the freedom to play! 


Designing Functional Furniture and Spaces for Kids: Gayatri Vijayan and Karthik Srinivasan parents of two in Bengaluru


Beautiful Homes: Architects, designers, and parents; you also have a children’s furniture line inspired by your daughter Akira. How did it start?

Gayatri Vijayan: At our brand gosh! we craft furniture that is designed for kids and evolves with them. It started during the COVID lockdown. Karthik has always been interested in woodwork and decided to make a bookshelf for Akira. Kids’ books can be large and unwieldy and regular bookshelves don’t cater to that. So, we started with a bookshelf and built more pieces, all of which hinged on the idea of kids and play. After the bookshelf, we built the Cocoon art desk, the Gridly play desk, the Wheelie art stool and started posting the images to our Instagram account. One thing led to another, we were featured in a magazine, and then things really picked up!

BH: What is something you feel brands miss out when creating furniture for kids?

Karthik Srinivasan: It’s the level of detailing. They tend to build furniture that’s small and leave it at that. But there are a lot of practical problems that need solving, and that has become a differentiator at gosh! For example, kids will make a mess when they are painting. We create cupholders in our desks to contain spills. We also have an art trolley with wheels that can be moved around so kids aren’t restricted to one room.

Gayatri Vijayan and Karthik Srinivasan of Gosh – Beautiful Homes

Gayatri Vijayan and Karthik Srinivasan, founders of gosh!

BH: What are your tips to design a space that evolves with your child?

GV: It’s hard for a parent to predict how a child will grow, so look at investing in furniture that grows with the child. An art station can be used till adulthood if there’s room to adjust the height of the chair or stool, for example. You can also buy products that can have “extras” added on—this can be done with shelves, cupboards and even beds.


It’s also important to keep things neutral, so you can add embellishments when kids’ tastes change over time. Keep the furniture neutral and add colour and whimsy with fabric, cushions, wallpaper, and pinboards. Accessorising gives kids agency to create, add personality, and express themselves.


BH: If you live in a small space, how you can optimise the design for kids?

KS: One, customise furniture to the space. Second, look at optimising wall and floor space. Think: things that can be folded, smaller ledges, compact moveable pieces, loft beds, Murphy desks. It also makes sense to buy pieces that are adaptable and can morph into something else. An art station can be turned into a desk. Look for things that serve multiple functions. 

Study table for kids by Gosh – Beautiful Homes

The Big Little Artists Table comes with a slot to endlessly pull out paper and spacious storage coves.

Storage cart for kids by Gosh – Beautiful Homes

The Wheelie from gosh! an artists table that moves with your child.

BH: What is your top tip to create a kid-friendly space that works for both you and your child?

GV: We feel that once you become parents the idea of an exclusive kids space doesn’t really exist. We all inhabit the same home; it’s nice to have spaces that flow into each other for unstructured play, reading, and work/study. Don’t design a space thinking that it will only serve one purpose. It needs to be flexible. Let your home and space evolve with your child and based on how it’s used.

Gayatri and Karthik’s home – Beautiful Homes
The Wheelie in action.
Buddy stairs for kids by Gosh – Beautiful Homes
The Buddy, a kid-friendly step stool.
Kids playing box by Gosh – Beautiful Homes
The Gridly, designed for multi-sensory play.
Cocoon table for kids by Gosh – Beautiful Homes
The Cocoon table from gosh!

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