Anthropologie canopy bedLook at this black Forest Canopy Bed from Anthropologie. Gorgeous, isn’t it? I mean, it’s like a fantasy -- so ornate, so fabulous, such a great way to ensure dreams of sleeping in an enchanted forest.

Or so I would have thought two years ago. Now, I look at this thing and think, "Forget it. One of the kids will lose an eye on that branch at the foot of the bed. If they don’t get impaled first."

It’s not about finding it impractical. It’s that my very tastes have changed since having kids. I can’t see the beauty in things, because all I see is the danger, or the stains, or the frivolity of dropping five grand on something when that money should be going into a 529 plan.

Is it just me, or does having kids completely reboot your aesthetic -- and rob you of the ability to simply enjoy?

I checked around with fellow parents to see if they had undergone this style overhaul. For many, their preference for funky old stuff stopped being fun. "I loved my vintage red Mustang," says Susan. "But can you imagine breaking down on a hot day in that thing? And needless to say, it didn’t have the LATCH system for the twins’ carseats." What Susan thought would be a wrenching farewell felt more like don’t let the door hit you on the tailpipe on the way out. "I rode in it once after I had the kids and I couldn’t ditch it fast enough." She’s dolled up her minivan quite nicely, which is the upside of ironic detachment and a love of kitsch.

ReclinerLove this recliner ($329 at Overstock). Hate the doom it spells for curious baby fingers.
Others maintain that their taste isn’t dead -- it’s just in suspended animation for the time being. Lea and Judge have a spectacular Art Deco wet-bar, lovingly crafted by Judge’s grandfather, that used to hold a proud spot in the middle of their living room. It’s in the basement now. "It bummed me out," says Lea. "I know our house won’t be ours to decorate for years to come, and the first thought I have now, when I see some spectacular item of furniture, is, ‘Cute chair. Amelia would fall right off it.'" It’s hard to appreciate nice things for themselves, she says, but she knows it’s just for now, not forever.

Magazine rack
Let's play guillotine on the magazine rack! ($223 at Levitz)

Many said they had always preferred casual and comfortable surroundings, even before they had kids, so the switch wasn’t too tough on them. "I know some people view it as, 'Giving up my beautiful, white leather sofa represents the end of my freewheeling youth,' but the reality of it is, I was never much of a white-leather-sofa gal anyway," says my friend Darien.

Mirrored Chest
No longer pretty: All I can see are fingerprints ($685 at Levitz)

My mom agrees. She had her first child at 21, so the first home she decorated had to take my sister Sarah into account. By the time I rolled around, we lived in a house decorated almost entirely in earth-tones and complicated, stain-hiding carpets. By the time Emily was old enough to be trusted not to draw on the walls, grandkids were starting to show up. They made a few upgrades -- fresh wallpaper, the couch reupholstered in a slightly lighter earth-tone -- but her taste remains firmly in the "comfort first" mode.

So, okay. White sheets are a thing of the past; complicated coffee tables will have to wait and see if I can ever love them again. I guess tastes shift for any number of reasons, and convenience -- and kids' safety -- are valid ones.

Did you find your taste shifting when you had kids?


Images via Anthropologie, Overstock, Levitz