Ever thought your home would look that much better without the kids? It may take a bit of extra planning and creative thinking, but there are some great ways to build an elegant home that also caters to kids' needs. Here are 8 ways to get started right now: 1. Pair formal shapes with tough fabrics. Tailored furniture shapes feel fancier than loose, overstuffed pieces, so your space will instantly feel more pulled together. The trick is having them covered with hardworking fabrics: Neutral or dark colors, tough natural materials like linen and burlap, and stain-repellant fabrics will all hold up well against shoes, crayons and food spills.

2. Know that leather upholstery is a kid-friendly choice. That sleek leather sofa or armchair you had your eye on is actually one of the easiest materials to care for. Spills wipe right up, and a little wear and tear only makes it look better. Light-colored leather may stain more easily, and very delicate leather can get scratched up, but otherwise there is not much to worry about.

3. Take advantage of the new indoor-outdoor rugs. Many of these new rugs are made from recycled plastics and can withstand spills with ease but look just like the real deal. Save yourself a lot of hassle by using these virtually indestructible rugs in areas that get a lot of use or are likely spill zones: the kitchen, dining room, entryway and playroom.

4. Use walls and high spaces. Fragile vases and delicate table lamps may be out when you have young kids in the house, but you only need to look up to find your new design playground. Bold, deep wall color; fancy sconces and chandeliers; artwork; wall-mounted sculpture and any other wall decor pieces you can lay your hands on are fair game.

5. Natural can be better. Wicker and rattan can take a beating and still look great. To get that simple French country look (that's also resistant to spills), seek out sturdy pieces in wicker, rattan or sea grass, along with wood, tile and washable natural fibers like linen and cotton.

6. Bring outdoor fabrics in. The range of patterns and colors available for outdoor fabrics has expanded tremendously in recent years, making these sturdy fabrics much more appealing to use indoors. Try them on dining chairs, cushions in a breakfast nook or even on a sofa.

7. Choose grown-up pieces for little ones' spaces. When it comes to designing a nursery or young child's room, veer away from furniture aimed specifically at kids. Real, grown-up furniture and lighting are perfectly appropriate in a child's space and will last far longer than something with a cutesy motif. Add the fun and whimsy with art and accessories instead.

8. Set the stage for a stylish future with wallpaper, lighting and more. Just as with the furniture, it makes sense to decorate the shell of your child's room in a way that will still feel appropriate a few years down the road. Gender-neutral color schemes and prints tend to have the most staying power whether you have a boy or a girl. You can always tilt the decor in a different direction with your choice of bedding, nightlight, hamper and other accessories.

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