The ABC's of Designing a Family-Focused Home

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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 that you want to spend time in? Let’s go through the ABC’s 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 bullet-proof, but there are plenty of other out-of-reach areas to introduce pizazz into your home. Lighting fixtures like the one shown below 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-proof. Artwork is another fabulous detail that you shouldn’t have to compromise on. Just hang your favorite original piece above your bed or a console where it’s less likely to be touched. This custom piece was painted by artist Kelly Johnston. 

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‘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!

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Every home should have at least one comfortable place you can retreat to at the end of the day. A deep sectional or a cozy window seat are both great. Add lots of pillows and a basket with heaps of cozy blankets on the end, and you have all the ingredients for relaxation. If your TV room is not near the kitchen, consider adding a mini fridge and microwave like the wet bar shown above; every movie night needs popcorn and cold drinks.

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‘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. The fabric shown on the window seat above is an indoor outdoor fabric, so if the kids jump up with their shoes on - no problem! Just wash it off!

Another often-overlooked area when it comes to durability are your walls. The walls in 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. If your budget is tight, consider using higher end, scuff proof paint in high traffic areas like mudrooms and kids bedrooms.

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‘E’ is for EASY to CLEAN:

Just like you want walls that can be cleaned 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 Scotchgard off-the-shelf pieces yourself. 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. The carpet below was achieved by using four different colorways of the same striped carpet tile pattern. *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.

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‘F’ is for FUN:

Don’t be afraid of color! Prints and patterns are better at hiding every day 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. The 8 year old's bedroom below can be transformed into a more mature teen space by replacing the purple trunk with a tufted bench and adding some more grown up bedding when she gets older. Easy peasy!

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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 requires yearly maintenance. If you love the look, there are a number of great marble look-a-likes available in quartz which is maintenance free - like the countertop shown below which is Brittanica by Cambria. 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.

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With pets or kids, avoid wall-to-wall carpet if possible. If you’re a die-hard carpet fan, lean towards 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 are able to keep your home looking beautiful without having to spend your precious family time worrying.

*Originally published in Michigan Home and Lifestyle Magazine Spring 2018