Designing a home for family life can be challenging. The needs you will have when your children are babies or toddlers can be very different just a few years later. The decisions you made at that time may become regrettable after a short amount of time, so you need to consider how you will live as a family in five to ten years time.
Below are my tips for designing a home for your family, in a way that can adapt as your children grow, and your lifestyle changes.
PLAN YOUR PLAYROOM AS A FAMILY ROOM INSTEAD
When designing a playroom, consider it instead as a family room, designed to change with your family. Buy furniture for the long term that you love, with the mindset that you will be spending a lot of time in there! There are so many options to keep that furniture looking good –using stain repellant fabric, for example, or having loose covers.
Make sure your storage is flexible for your future needs. I love TV media units with shelves and storage cupboards incorporated underneath. These work whatever the age of your children. And remember that as your children grow older their toys start to be stored in their bedroom and your family room will be freed up from the plastic.
In time your children will spend more time upstairs in their bedrooms, so don’t neglect the storage upstairs.
CONSIDER OUTDOOR FABRIC IN YOUR FAMILY ROOM
This may seem like a strange suggestion! However, outdoor fabric has developed so much in the last few years and is a great option for areas liable to get dirty. I have recently discovered Perennials outdoor fabrics, which are so soft you would never know they were outdoor fabrics. They are so robust to even the strongest stains such as ketchup, sticky chocolate and blackcurrant juice etc. They can be cleaned with bleach detergents and simply rinsed. So clever! I wish these products had been available when my son was a baby!
Of course if you are buying a sofa these fabrics won’t be available as standard from a high street sofa supplier. What many people don’t know is that most of these companies are happy for you to supply your own fabric.
CHOOSE FLOORING WISELY
I love the feel of carpet but it can be impractical in downstairs areas, which are the main family areas. A really good option is to choose wood floors then have rugs to make the space feel welcoming and soft for any falls. My top choice for family homes would always be wool flat weave rugs, which are so robust and add wonderful character. I love rugs by Roger Oates – their bright colours and their flat textures means dirt doesn’t get caught between the fibres.
Sisal is one to avoid. Although it has great texture and looks wonderful in country homes it stains very easily just from one spill of a glass of water. However, there are alternatives now made of man made fibres, which look the same but are more repellant to stains.
PLAN YOUR KIDS BEDROOMS TO BE FLEXIBLE
A well thought out design is a tricky balancing act – between the fun elements when they are little through to something a teenager could still like!
Babies grow so fast, and it’s not long before the nursery makes way for a proper bed and grown up furniture. And by school age they will have very definite ideas about what they like, regardless of what you choose for them now!
Wallpaper is a good way to pick up on a theme, but doesn’t quite have longevity if you pick one from a children’s range. Instead of picking a wallpaper from a children’s range, I recently used a beautiful Cole and Son wallpaper for an 8 year old girl’s bedroom and co-ordinated with dusky pinks and sage greens. I would happily have this in a guest bedroom for adults and, more importantly, she loved it!
An alternative is to keep the walls neutral (but don’t go for a brilliant white) and update them with fun accessories and bright accents or fabrics. These are easy to swap out as your child grows up. Neutral walls can feel a little boring though, so adding texture is a great way to add interest. In this bedroom, tongue and groove walls keep the space from feeling flat.
Kids’ bedrooms are such as big topic area, I will be writing a longer article on this soon!
If you would like help designing your family home I would love to hear from you. Do contact me via my Contacts page. If you are planning to redesign other rooms in your home then I have also put together my top tips on designing modern country kitchens and guest bedrooms, as well as how to design a kid’s bedrooms.