The ABCs of Designing a Family-Focused Home

WRITER | AUTUMN FUCHS, NCIDQ
PHOTOS l ASHLEY AVILA

 

Who among us hasn’t uttered the phrase, “This is why we can’t have nice things!” Whether your family consists of toddlers, teenagers, cats, dogs, or anything in between, your home sees its fair share of wear and tear! But having a family doesn’t mean you can’t have a well-styled home, too. So, how do you create comfortable, durable spaces in which you want to spend time? Let’s go through the ABCs of family-focused spaces:

‘A’ is for ATTRACTIVE: Just because a home is durable, doesn’t mean it can’t be beautiful, too! It’s important for surfaces like furniture and flooring to be bulletproof, but there are plenty of other out-of-reach areas to introduce pizzazz into your home. Lighting fixtures are a great way to create a focal point in a space, and unless your kids are prone to hanging from the chandeliers, they rarely have to be kid proofed. Artwork is another fabulous detail where compromise isn’t necessary. Just hang your favorite original piece above your bed or a console, where it’s less likely to be touched.

‘B’ is for BALANCE: The happiest homes are the homes that have a good sense of balance between kid spaces and adult spaces. Are you constantly clearing Legos off the dining room table or tripping over soccer balls in the kitchen? If the toys and clutter are closing in on you, try to allocate certain areas to be toy-free by designating other rooms as kid/play areas. Having an easy-to-clean room where your family can create, be messy, and play in a stress-free space not only preserves the adult areas of the home, it also makes cleaning that much simpler!

‘C’ is for COMFORTABLE: Every home should have at least one comfortable place you can retreat to at the end of the day. A deep sectional is a great piece of furniture for a family. Add lots of pillows and a basket with heaps of cozy blankets, and you have all the ingredients for the perfect movie night. If your TV room is not near the kitchen, consider adding a mini fridge and microwave; every movie night needs popcorn and cold drinks.

 ‘D’ is for DURABLE: Gone are the days of your grandma’s plastic sofa covers. Indoor-outdoor fabrics have improved leaps and bounds in recent years; soft, lightweight, and nearly indestructible – they’re the perfect solution for high-use upholstery. Another often-overlooked area when it comes to durability is your walls. The walls of your home take a beating, so it’s important to select the right paint. Products that are scuff- and scratch-proof, like Benjamin Moore’s Scuff-X, are a world apart from conventional paints. It’s also important to select the right sheen. Flat paint may be better at hiding imperfections, but eggshell is the more wipeable choice.

‘E’ is for EASY to CLEAN: Just as you want walls that clean easily, be sure to choose other design elements marked for easy cleaning. Aim for fabrics with either a W or WS cleaning code (often printed on the label), which means you can clean them with light soap and water. Materials such as leather, velvet, and synthetic woven fabrics are the most durable options for furniture, draperies, and pillows. Leather can be wiped clean with a damp paper towel and actually feels better over time. When ordering upholstery, you can typically request a stain-resistant finish or warranty, or you can protect off-the-shelf pieces yourself with a product such as Scotchguard™. When it comes to rugs, carpet tiles can be put together in a unique and fun pattern to create a one-of-a-kind piece. This is a perfect solution for under a dining room table. If it gets stained, you simply lift the soiled carpet tile and replace it with a new one. *DESIGNER TIP: Order an extra box of tiles when you place your original order to ensure it’s from the same dye lot and is available when needed.

‘F’ is for FUN: Don’t be afraid of color! Prints and patterns are better at hiding everyday wear, and color can create a fun, cheery space. Color doesn’t have to evoke a childlike atmosphere; it can be classy when mixed with neutrals and textures. When designing your children’s bedrooms, keep the main furniture pieces neutral and incorporate color with bedding and artwork. Sure, it should be a space that represents their personality, but it should also be something that they can easily grow into by switching out a few pieces.

JUST SAY NO:  Let’s be honest, with a busy family, there are some trends you should really “just say no” to. The Magnolia Farms epidemic has made linen and cotton upholstery increasingly popular. It may look nice, but natural fibers are more likely to pill, stain, and wrinkle. Marble countertops are another less-than-ideal design trend. Even though the right sealer can help with staining properties, marble is softer and more porous than granite and quartz, and it requires yearly maintenance. If you love the look, there are some great marble look-alikes available that are maintenance free. If you absolutely can’t live without real marble, I recommend using it in a powder room, where you don’t have to worry about shampoo dyes or spaghetti sauce. With pets or kids, avoid wall-to-wall carpet if possible. If you’re a die-hard carpet fan, lean toward a Scotchguard™- or Teflon™-coated carpet. For high-traffic areas, nylon carpet is going to wear well, be less likely to show traffic patterns, and maintain its color over time. Save the luxurious wool carpet for the master bedroom.

You deserve a home that’s extraordinary. Invest in the right design choices that will hold up and wear well throughout the years, and you’ll find that you can keep your home looking beautiful without having to spend your precious family time worrying.