By Edilka Anderson
It’s sometimes hard to imagine cool, chic and clutter- free design inhabiting the same space as a couple of rambunctious children. Add in a pet or two and paraphernalia such as diaper bags, toys, bicycles and mounds of laundry and you’ve got your house and your hands full.
But who says you can’t still have a comfortable, elegant family home when a designer can help you create a low- maintenance, kid- and teen-friendly space that you’ll all love? And there’s nothing wrong with teaching your children to live with and respect nice things. After all, isn’t that part of the growing-up process too?
There’s no need for a show home, but with the right finishes and some pragmatic design advice, your home can be both tasteful and practical. Consider functional elements such as well-planned layouts and clever use of storage, and give a nod to wipeable, stain-resistant fabrics. Wool carpets are more naturally stain-resistant than other materials, while printed linen fabrics are durable and create a relaxed feel.
Start in neutral
Start each room with a neutral base (use washable paint) and bring in colour with smaller accents and accessories that can be changed when they become soiled or tired. Avoid themed rooms as they will be dated by the time the tween years arrive. Instead, stay practical, flexible and fun by framing some of your children’s own artwork, hanging bright curtains or adding decorative pillows.
Nothing beats snuggling down for the evening on a big comfy sofa for a movie night—popcorn, pets and all. The more the merrier. But skip the white or cream versions of sofas and chairs and stick to darker designs and cotton- blend upholstered fabrics that are easy to clean. Plastic chairs come in handy, or go for washable chair covers.
Built-in or freestanding bookcases with easy-to-hideaway baskets in a variety of colours, shapes and sizes will help keep toys and child-related paraphernalia organized. Opt for lots of storage in cubbies, toy bins and deep-drawer dressers, and choose adjustable-height clothing rods and hooks for a growing family.
Find spaces throughout the house that feel light, fun and relaxing. Create a corner reading nook with an oversized chair, or build in a window seat with lots of colourful, multi-texture pillows for the entire family to enjoy together. Involve your kids in your inspiration. Great homes need to look lived in and loved.