One of the most common requests from clients to interior designers is the need for living spaces to be family friendly. Gone are the days of having separate seldom used ‘grown-up only’ rooms, today’s families often live in open plan and multifunctional areas where the demand on the room is high. Family living rooms need to be places to socialise, relax, entertain, whist also being play areas for children. Whilst we want to include the young within our living spaces we also don’t want it to look like some sort of primary coloured nursery. We want a happy medium, a well designed space that is aesthetically pleasing and meets the needs of all its occupants.
So here's how to achieve family friendly living spaces:
- Invest in well made furniture. If my two boys are anything to go by every piece of furniture has the potential to be a den/castle/spy cave. Sofas and chairs have to withstand a fair amount of battering so try to buy well made pieces that will last. Go for hardwearing upholstery fabrics that can hide a stain or two.
- Pattern fabrics are also good at camouflaging stains and fingerprints. The use of patterned fabrics on cushions, window fabrics and lampshades allows you to inject a sense of interest and personality at various points around the room whilst also being easy to change. Clean simple designs work well with any age and gender and this is huge consideration within my design making process. Fabric designs should work for everyone within the home which is why I use silhouettes found in the natural world that everyone can connect with.
- Use an outdoor rug indoors. They are much more hard wearing than natural fibre indoor rugs meaning they can withstand spills and all the mess that kids make (not to mention wine spillages). Hard floors are also much easier to clean and hide the dirt better than carpets.
- Create playing space. Children love to play with their toys on the floor so keep this in mind when planning your living area. We recently moved a large coffee out of our living room as it was taking up so much space and we are now finding that the room is being used far more than it ever was. There is more space for everyone now, not just for the kids to play in.
- Flexible furniture. I am a big fan of stools and pouffes in family friendly living spaces. Children love them, they can provide crucial extra seating for guests and can be footstools. and are super easy to tidy away or move to another room if needed. I also think it’s worth investing in a good quality sofa bed if. like us, you are short on spare bedrooms. Side tables are so handy too, for drinks, a place to colour and draw for children etc and easy to clear away.
- Decor. Don’t compromise and wait until the children are leaving home to decorate a room, everyone benefits from a well designed space that reflects the family. Choose eggshell paint that has a wipeable finish and can be touched up easily for walls. Keep any breakables out of reach and hang any art securely and you’ll still be able to have your treasures around you that you love. Sort through the children’s artwork, choose some extra special pieces that can popped in a frame. They’ll feel like an artist!