‘House Cool’ After Kids?


 Having the passion and the drive to keep things looking 'cool' around the house after kids is a little bit of an obsession for my husband and me.  I guess I should define our thought of 'cool' – a modern, neat, functional interior that you enjoy and you're not tripping over toys (all the time) and can have the toys put away within a matter of minutes, if needed.  We strive for this and while wanting to give our son all the toys and space to play he can handle, we need to be able to sit back in the evening after he goes to bed and not stare at the Hot Wheels track and cars, books, blocks, drums – you get the idea.  Of course, it's up to us to actually get the stuff put away but away is a relative term meaning you have to have a place to put it that doesn't look out of place. 

Solution:  We designated the bottom drawer of a 'buffet' for all toys in the living room.  The toys that can't fit either go into the canvas bins in his room (that fit under the crib) or larger things make their way into the garage or his closet.  We don't have a big budget for new furniture or storage so using what you have is key.  This takes some purging of your own stuff to make room, but who doesn't need to purge once in awhile?  I use the word 'buffet' loosely because technically ours is a dresser, but a cool looking dresser similar to the blue one shown below from Ikea.

   Ikea Vinstra

It is extremely functional and inexpensive.  We've had ours for years and have used it in several ways.  Don't limit yourself to only the type of furniture you're looking for.  Sometimes you can find a very functional piece that's termed something else and is less expensive than what you thought it would be.

I'm a fan of Ikea – I think they have some great solutions for furniture and you don't have to spend a lot.  Of course, you get what you pay for but with toddler(s) running around, a $3,000 buffet doesn't seem to be the best option at this point.  Below are a couple of other buffets from Ikea that would work and look cool.  Below left is the Norrsten Cabinet, $399 and below right is the Torsby Sideboard, $299.

Ikea Norrsten Ikea Torsby

Another option, if you're looking for a longer term piece, is the beautiful wood buffet, called the Hudson from Room and Board. 

In a quest to always keep things looking 'cool and neat' in our house, I hope some of these ideas help you or at least inspire you to keep your own 'cool'.  🙂



  1. STS – Great post! I’m a die-hard Ikea fan, but their shipping costs are out-of-control (and they won’t be opening here for another…2 years?) Any other places carry cool, modern but cheap stuff?

  2. Ditto, love it STS! I’d also check Scandinavian Designs, Target and OverStock.com. All require assembly of most furniture, but if you’re on a tight budget, it’s worth it!

  3. M, those are all places I would suggest as well.
    S, unfortunately, Denver is really lacking an affordable, modern furniture store. There used to be BOVA Furniture on S. Colorado and was a good alternative to Scandinavian Designs, but it went out of business about 6 months ago. We actually bought our IKEA purchases while we lived in Seattle and had a store near us and we haven’t purchased from them since due to the shipping costs. We have searched quite extensively online to find good buys and I found that if you use a couple of key words like, ‘mid-century, 1950’s, atomic’ instead of more commonly used words, such as, ‘retro, modern, vintage’ you can find some more reasonably priced items. The more common key words get more views which = more $. Craigslist is also a great asset and even check out estate and garage sales on the weekends in the mid-century neighborhoods. There is Mod Livin’ here in Denver (on Colfax) that is a great modern store that carries mostly Designer items, but they have a good selection of ‘used’ mid-century furniture in the back of the store. Also, in the mid-level price range is West Elm and CB2. Both are good to check out to find decent pieces but stay away from ordering a ‘whole room’ look. We have a West Elm here in Denver (North Cherry Creek), but CB2 is you’d have to look online.
    Well, until sometime in the next couple of years when IKEA does actually open, we’ll be waiting and searching for other options that we have locally.

  4. Ooooooo…good suggestions M and STS! And thanks for the warning…I have a tendency to go with the “whole room” look. Tell me the next time you are over…I can take it. 🙂

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