Designing family-friendly spaces can be a challenge. Whether it is your children or your grandchildren, your home can take a beating if it isn’t properly outfitted for the heavy use. Thank goodness there are many tricks and strategies that will help you outfit your environment to be inviting for the smaller people while still looking good!
Durable Surfaces: Whether you have kids, pets or just an active lifestyle, it is always a good idea to use durable fabrics that allow you to clean up any messes. Indoor/outdoor fabrics made with solution dyed acrylic like Sunbrella or Outdura were originally developed to withstand the harsh outdoor sun and harsh chemicals of the summer environment, but today, they are often used by designers and smart homeowners to protect their interiors!
These fabrics often have the same feel as typical interior fabrics but allow for clean up when necessary with a bleach and water solution, so they are perfect for the occasional sippy cup incidents or sticky fingers. Ask your designer or local fabric store for some suggestions. Recovering chairs or upholstery with these great products will ensure that your home looks good no matter what life brings to it.
Indoor/outdoor carpets are also worth considering for a family’s most heavy-use spaces. These rugs can be hosed off if necessary, which is especially convenient if you have indoor pets.
Storage is Key: The key to a great family room is incorporating the best, most attractive storage solution you can afford. Let’s face it: Kids, especially young ones, have lot of stuff to corral. Using shelves, drawers, and baskets to contain and organize their treasures will make your life easier and allow for easy clean up when company comes to visit.
Whether your budget allows for custom cabinetry or you need to take the more economical approach with IKEA shelves or a flea market find with a fresh coat of paint, either way can be the perfect solution for the much-needed organization of chaos! Match the storage solution to the room décor, and don’t feel the pressure to go with a kid-like container. Remember, this is your space, too! Modern boxes in a sophisticated color palette work just as well as the cheap plastic bins, and they look great, too.
Color: Kids love color; they are drawn to it like moths to a flame. Paint is the most economical way to change the atmosphere of a room. Chalkboard paint applied to a wall surface or a well-placed door offers a creativity corner for children that will keep them entertained without relying on TV or technology.
Use playful colors on accent walls to embrace the youthful energy of the family environment. Using pops of colorful accessories and pillows is also a great way to update your neutral upholstery.
Art and accessories: For the creative kids, showcase their custom art pieces in a gallery style or try combining them with other family pictures to add colorful playfulness to your room. Perhaps the next summer activity could be an art day at your house, and the results can be showcased in a creative fashion. You could have a neighborhood art show displaying the resulting pieces.
To create a focal art wall, simply buy a variety of frames from any local art store or even TJ Maxx. The key is to coordinate the color or style of the frames. Then, simply fill them with a collection of meaningful photos, art or memorabilia, and hang them in a tight formation on a large wall. In one of my client’s homes, we were able to use this technique grouped around the wall-hung TV, which embraced it as an art piece and added a bit of camouflage to the often-used technology.
Create Activity Areas: Consider multi-use layouts for the ever-changing activities of your family. In the summer, the homework zone can become the perfect spot for drawing, playing music or a quiet reading space.
Many houses are now designed with open plans and large great rooms. This style is great for families because it allows parents or guardians the opportunity to keep an eye on the activities of their junior members.
If the open plan is not possible in your household, then it becomes even more important to design a child activity zone in the areas you spend the most time. For example, if you spend a lot of time in the kitchen, you can create an art area easily by painting a door that’s out of the traffic pattern with chalkboard paint to let your child draw as you cook.
I hope these suggestions will help you strategically design your home to fit your family’s lifestyle and enjoy more quality time with your children. Enjoy!