Style a kid-friendly family room

  • By Melissa Rayworth Associated Press
  • Tuesday, August 20, 2013 6:13pm
  • Life

In many homes, the “family room” is decorated with just one purpose: to withstand the impact of juice-spilling, game-playing, cookie-eating, crayon-wielding children.

How can you create a stylish, sophisticated family room where grown-ups will want to spend time, while still keeping the space kid-friendly?

Three design experts — Brian Patrick Flynn of and Flynnside Out Productions; Betsy Burnham of Burnham Design; and Jon Call of Mr. Call Designs — offer some advice:

Strong fabrics

“There are so many outdoor fabrics, so many amazing vinyls” that are durable and easy to clean, but also look good, Burnham said.

She recommends Holly Hunt fabrics treated with Nano-Tex, which resists spills and stains without changing the fabric’s texture.

Indoor/outdoor rugs are another great option now that they’re being made with materials soft to the touch.

When choosing slipcovers, “washed linen is great since it’s meant to look worn-in and super casual,” Flynn said.

Neat sofas

Call recommends skipping sofas that have three or four seat cushions and several more cushions across the back.

“You’ll constantly be finding the cushions out of place or on the floor,” he said.

Pick a sofa with one large seat cushion and no separate cushions along the back.

Multi-use tables

Burnham suggests using a side table that’s also a stool, or a coffee table that’s also a bench or an ottoman.

Kids can use an ottoman as a surface for games, while adult party guests can use it as seating.

“Metal tops can withstand heavy wear and tear, while weathered wood is intended to look worn,” Flynn said.

Extra storage

Have a place for everything, Burnham said, so toys and other kid-related items can be put away easily at the end of the day.

She recommends a wall of built-in cabinets with doors, so kids’ clutter can be easily stashed, at hand but out of sight.

For additional storage, Flynn said, replace coffee tables with “upholstered storage ottomans complete with safety locking mechanisms, which prevent little ones from getting inside of them to hide, and also protecting any little fingers from hinges.”

Bold colors

In a high-traffic family room, Call suggests sticking with deeper colors rather than whites or pale shades.

Flynn agrees: “The one color I use more than any other in family-centric spaces is navy blue,” he said, because it can appeal to the whole family.

“Red is another high-energy hue which works great in family rooms,” Flynn said.

Playful decor

“Work children and playfulness into the design of a family room’s aesthetic,” Flynn said.

On the walls, he likes to use “pop art or original photography of toys, especially vintage toys, or black-and-white candid photography of the family blown up to an enormous scale” to personalize the room.


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