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Family Friendly Design

First published August 29, 2016

Domino Magazine posted a feature today about family friendly design that they asked me to be a part of. The deadline was tight and in a pinch, my lovely design assistant Phoebe was able to run over and grab these delicious shots of my cuties playing in our home. I was honored as always to be tapped by Domino, and tickled pink to have these outtakes to share. Head on over to their site for a detailed read about how 7 different designing moms approach making their interiors kid friendly. 

WHERE DO YOU START WHEN DESIGNING A SPACE YOU KNOW CHILDREN WILL SPEND A LOT OF TIME IN? I start with the floor and work up. Since I know the children will spend a lot of time on the floor, I make sure the floor is both natural (wood, jute, wool), soft (when layered with a rug), and will handle spills and accidents well (whether that means easily wiped up or a good pattern that will camouflage stains). Once I have the floor/rug picked out, I work my way up and have the furnishings not only exhibit the same qualities, but also coordinate well with that main design element.

HOW DOES DESIGNING A “KID-FRIENDLY” SPACE IMPACT OR CHANGE YOUR DESIGN PROCESS? The style won’t suffer, but the material and color choices will be different. Fabrics that are either wipeable (leather or plastic) or easily washed (denim, dhurries, cotton, and linen) and colors that will hide grubby fingers (light greys, blues, and browns) will dominate the scheme. Furniture should be flexible and easily moved out of the way to open up the play space, as well as avoiding sharp corners.

HOW DO YOU FIND A BALANCE BETWEEN MAKING A BEAUTIFULLY DESIGNED HOME THAT ALSO WORKS FOR YOUNG, POTENTIALLY MESSY CHILDREN? I see that even very young children can be taught to be respectful of the things that are important to you. People don’t have to buy ugly cheap things now with the goal of swapping them out 10 years from now when their children are older. They can buy beautifully made pieces that they love, enjoy them in the present time, and let their kids know to be mindful of their interiors. You would be surprised with how children can take ownership of their home’s interior design.

HOW DO YOU MAKE A SPACE KID-FRIENDLY? I have a few tricks to make a space feel fully decorated without sacrificing high end pieces. The first thing I do is mix in vintage furniture since these will already have a few marks and scuffs on them from age. If a few more are added from being in a family home it’s no big deal and no one gets upset or even notices. Vintage pieces add loads of personality to a room and are usually cost effective compared to buying brand new. Second is filling a space with plants. They add color, texture, and sculptural form without the hefty price tag of actual objects of art and it’s nice for kids to have a daily connection with living things. Last is using fiber art on walls. Children will be attracted to art and want to touch it. Fiber art like macrame wall hangings are a safe way to add texture and color to your blank walls without fear of what happens to it when kids reach for it or get rambunctious in playing.

WHAT DOES THE DESCRIPTOR “KID-FRIENDLY” ACTUALLY MEAN TO YOU? Kid friendly to me means “not precious”, but who wants a precious house anyway?! Kid friendly is also dog friendly, or guest friendly. It suits many kid free people’s lifestyles.


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