I think at some point, we all promised ourselves that we would never be "that" mom with a room full of screaming, colorful plastic toys covering the house we worked so hard to decorate and loved to relax in. But, here we are! Our homes need to be safe, inviting and fun for the tiny humans in our lives. However, I have found a few ways to integrate the necessities rather than to completely give up the ship! Here are my favorite neutral but safe options to make home a happy place for everyone:
Soothing play mats: When designing our play corner, I knew the first thing I wanted to focus on was a neutral mat. I never wanted to restrict the types of toys Nell had... wooden toys are gorgeous to display (more on that later!) but have you ever hit your shin on one? Have you ever had a tiny wooden taxi thrown at your head? Those colorful plastic toys are just fine in my book. My theory was to start with a neutral base, and then the toys that were on top of it wouldn't be as overwhelming for me or her. Here is the exact one we have, and some others I had my eye on:
Beautiful baby gates: Gates were the next thing on our baby proofing arsenal. I wanted something SAFE, but that also flowed seamlessly with the woodwork in our house. We also have an old home, so we have awkwardly shaped doorways that made traditional gates difficult. I wanted something easy to open and close (for us!) and that wouldn't be an issue if it was left open and no trip hazards (cause I'm extra clumsy). Thankfully I have a dad with a construction background a penchant for agreeing to my puppy face, so he built us the perfect custom option.
There are tons of tutorials online, but if that's not in the cards for you here are my favorite aesthetically pleasing options:
Bonk-friendly coffee tables: The first thing everyone thinks of when baby proofing (besides outlets and corners) is a coffee table. We moved right around the time we needed to start baby proofing, so something round and sturdy was top of mind for me. I also loved a lot of "waterfall" options, and a few upholstered options caught my eye as well.
Decorative items: One of Nell's favorite things to do is to run her "circuit of destruction" through our coffee table, shelves and other various baskets at her eye level. And guess what? They're at her eye level for a reason. We are of the mindset that there should be a blend of things she can safely interact with, and some things that she knows aren't safe or to be careful with. She particularly loves a woven basket of wine corks she can toss, an un-breakable bowl of fake pears, and old magazines. I also have lots of gorgeous books on display, BUT they are all from the thrift shop (just remove the dust jacket and let their colorful spines shine!) so I don't think twice when they're roughed up by sticky hands. Another idea I thought of but haven't landed on yet is a pretty game to display. I love this acrylic tic tac toe and maybe a classic Backgammon board when she gets older and won't inhale all the pieces.
Additional items to consider:
Hearth cover- there are TONS of ideas out there to protect the fireplace, but we landed on this neutral tape system (in the color that matched our bricks) for the edges. Ultimately we plan to teach her that it's "hot" and to steer clear of it but not totally make it off limits.
Heavy duty velcro- This tape is invaluable for keeping little fingers out of the bottoms of picture frames and mirrors. Though the tops of all of ours are anchored, the mirror and frames in her room have this along the bottom for extra security.
Wall Nanny: If you're worried about the damage of pressure-mounted gates, these protect the walls and will be your saving grace.
Lovevery Toy Subscription: This company ships age-appropriate gorgeous toy kits right to your door along with guides on how to interact with your child as they grow. They are Montessori-based so everything has a purpose but is also simple and (in my mind!) aesthetically pleasing. It also helps me to have plenty of toys to rotate in and out so that the regulars don't become an eyesore or a bore.
Command hooks: We use these all the times to hang things above her reach, and especially to place sideways and corral cords like the monitor and other things within reach.
Water heater temperature: as babies start playing with the water or bath, it's important to know you can change the max temperature of your house's water so they can't scald themselves. Even a 30 second exposure to 130 degree water can cause burns, so keep in mind that the minimum it needs to be to kill bacteria is and anything above that should be with extreme caution!