Kids and Pets – Designing a Family-Friendly Family Room

Kids and pets live in a space with a different kind of vigor than adults. There is often free-spirited rambunctiousness, joie de verve, and of course messes. Whether it is thundering feet running through the house, wagging tails or tufts of shed fur, delicate surfaces and fragile accessories just don’t make sense. Here are some tips and ideas to help you create a great space for a family friendly family room.

 Stain resistant fabrics

For upholstered seating, try leather which is durable and stain resistant. While accidental pet claws or rough toys can add scratches, on a good leather grade that becomes part of the patina. If leather isn’t your preference or is out of your price range, look for sofas and chairs with slip covers that are machine washable so you can wash away spills and stains. Microfiber is a popular family friendly fabric that has a soft feel, is stain resistant and durable. Avoid pet hair attracters like velvet and consider matching fabric or rug colors to your pet’s fur, this can help disguise the inevitable pet hair between cleaning days.

Most people choose medium to dark fabrics for sofas and chairs either in solids or patterns to hide stains. Designers recommend lightening up the space by adding light or bright colored solid and patterned accent pillows. These will brighten up the space and can be easily laundered when dirty, or swapped out to change the look.

Seating for all

Think about a sectional. If you have the right space for it, a sectional can offer a great place for families to pile into for family hang-out time or movie night. Additional, or alternatively add some different sized seating. If you don’t want to get some child sized chairs, add poofs or low ottomans that are kid height. Extra oversized throw pillows in different sizes, can be used around the room and can add comfort for parents who want to share time on the floor with their youngsters.

Indoor/outdoor rugs.

In extremely high traffic zone and busy rooms, families find that indoor/outdoor rugs are a great compromise offering style, softness and durability. Not only do they add a soft surface so everyone is comfy getting down on the floor to play together; they can really hold up to daily abuse and a multitude of spills and accidents. And to wash, it’s as easy as hosing it off outside. With the current popularity of indoor/outdoor rugs, they are available in a wide variety of sizes and patterns.

Play together

Don’t forget to design in a family game area … either around casual breakfast table, or family room coffee table. A popular option is a low, oversized coffee table that is big enough to play a game, build a puzzle or put together train tracks. If your children are still babies, look for rounded corners, or put bumpers on them for the first few years. 

Casual art

Art adds color and personality to a room. Rather than pricey gallery art, in casual living spaces families can opt for saving money with eclectic collections and groupings less expensive art pieces. These can be found at furniture stores, home decorating outlets or even thrift and consignment shops. Don’t hesitate to add some of your children’s own art to the collection – frame some of their favorites or pick up some blank canvas at the craft store and let them create. If you prefer a different look, create a grouping of family photos.

Storage, storage, storage

When you have kids, there seems to be no end to their stuff. Ottomans, benches, storage tables, and accent cabinets all offer opportunities for storage. Having plenty of places to put things away can keep the room livable for both kids and adults.

Resilient lamps and accessories

Look for lamps that can withstand a tip-over or two. Rooms actively used for family life and family play can sometimes feel like a freight train is coming through. Things occasionally get shaking, knocked around and can tip and fall off of jolted table tops. Look for light weight lamps with stable bases and lamp shades of fabric or plastic that can handle a fall. Steer clear of delicate lamps or vases and other accessories that are fragile and can’t handle the action.

Go for lived-in look

Consider surfaces with distressed or antiqued finishes on tables and accents. These already have some nicks and chips so that any new dings won’t be as noticeable.

Leave some floor space

Don’t overfill your room with furniture, leave some floor space to not just to make it easier to stretch out and get around. Kids need a space to let their minds create while their bodies move. Extra floor space can encourage movement, active play, dancing and even putting on shows.

In the end, designing a room around kids and pets can give you license to have a little fun and not take decorating too seriously. Create a personalized room where every member of the family feels comfortable and welcome so that you can enjoy creating lasting family memories together.