As some of you who follow me on Facebook and elsewhere may have already seen, I recently launched a brand new website, complete with a refreshed portfolio which reflects some of my most recent work. The latest addition to my online portfolio is my own living room, situated in what would have been the main parlor in my 1896 Georgian Revival home. I’m spotlighting it here because I want to share an important message that is at the core of my design philosophy – just because a space is FORMAL, doesn’t mean it cannot also be family- (and, yes, kid-) friendly.
Photo: Eric Roth
Since we are also fortunate enough to have a separate, more casual/relaxed space for play and TV watching, our living room is really used more for entertaining, quiet fireside conversations, reading, or for quick meetings with sales reps and other vendors I work with (it’s right off the main foyer). In other words, it is not a room designed for hardcore play and wild, unsupervised romps. But… it is also not a room that is “off limits” to children.
So what are some of the tricks I employed to make this space welcoming to all?
I mainly focused on the surfaces that would see the most use, and those that were potentially most vulnerable to obvious damage, rather than trying to create a “bulletproof” room (there is a time and place for that…this isn’t it…).
Photo: Eric Roth
- Single bench-style cushions on sofas allow “friendly” folks to cozy up together, with no one forced to tough it out on a “crack” (don’t you just hate that?)
- The coffee table has a mirrored top and a painted finish. What you can’t tell from the photograph is that the painted wood is lightly distressed – so if it gets a little more beat up, no biggie. As for the mirrored top, well, I decided I could deal with the dust and fingerprints since we don’t use the room every single day. It cleans up super-fast with Windex and a paper towel
- The large patterned sofa pillows (“Wolverhampton” from Thibaut) reinforce the color scheme for the room, and will hide a multitude of sins. I also chose this particular fabric because it features these irresistible hunting dogs, which I felt would not only lighten the mood, but delight children. The dog motif is repeated in a framed tapestry next to the window with the Roman shade, and on a vintage print (not pictured) on the other side of the room. We actually have dogs in most rooms in our house – we’re a bit obsessed 🙂
- The sofa fabric looks like linen canvas, but is actually a super hardy indoor-outdoor woven (100% acrylic) from Perennials. It has natural soil and stain resistance that is further bolstered by an additional finish that penetrates the fibers (not just coating the surface) and provides even more protection from “oops.” Which, by the way, is almost as likely by wine or coffee-toting adults as by rambunctious little ones! Note the color of this fabric – it’s really a light golden beige, but en masse, really reads as a creamy off-white. Any textile with the color of “dirt” in it is usually a smart choice 🙂
Photo: Eric Roth
- I added a couple of shapely wing chairs, which can be arranged to face each other, or moved into the main seating area, depending on how we’re using the room at any given time. The stripe pattern accentuates the curves, and will distract from any wear, tear, or stains that may materialize over time (the fabric has also been stain treated to help mitigate this)
- The red lacquered side table from Oomph is actually very durable, and also helps keep little hands and feet away from the radiator (which is, itself lovely and really part of the room’s design scheme)
- The brass urn lamp is OLD Restoration Hardware, and can be easily removed if we need to down the line (i.e. once the next arrival starts moving and shows us what kind of toddler he’s going to be 🙂 )
- The artwork on the wall is cut and framed fabric, hung in a tight grid pattern to, in essence “put it back together.” I fell in love with this fabric – before I realized how expensive it would be to do just about anything with. And I certainly didn’t want to live in sheer terror of anyone touching it. I bought the minimum amount and decided I’d figure out what to do with it later. Realizing later that I also needed to dress up this long, empty blue wall, I turned the fabric into a custom art installation that showcases the pattern – a Schumacher classic – that always belonged in this room (it even contains some identical motifs to the original carved mantel), but remains out of reach and totally protected behind UV-blocking glass
Well, that’s the nickel tour of our formal and family-friendly living room! If you’re struggling to create a stylish, well-designed space that will also meet the needs of your family’s lifestyle far into the future, please visit my new business website to learn more, or contact me with questions!