People who visit my home are often surprised that it feels so comfortable.
Maybe they’re expecting some kind of hard-edged design museum where you can’t touch anything or sit on the armchairs. However, with a nine-year-old child and three boisterous dogs, nothing could be further from the truth.
When I redesigned my current home, I had my family’s lifestyle firmly in mind. I knew from the outset my purpose was to create a home that would satisfy the needs of my family now and in the future. If you plan to or are already raising a family than your new home needs to reflect that and be a space every member of the household can easily live in.
In my home, family-friendly design includes removable furniture covers that can be unzipped and washed, leather furniture that can be easily cleaned with detergent and water and no rugs – they’re just too impractical when you have dogs.
Another key element in good family-friendly design is achieving a balance between flow and privacy. Households are increasingly multi-generational, with grandparents, parents, children and even children’s children all living together. While you want to achieve open-plan spaces that incorporate kitchens and dining and living rooms, you also need to have some zoning options to give each member of the household a sense of privacy. New homes often incorporate a room or rooms that can have multiple uses, whether it be utility, play, study or a second lounge zone.
Storage is also paramount in a good family home. Too often I see people get caught up in what storage solutions they think should be in their homes, rather than focusing on what is right for their lifestyles. Do you need a place for school bags and shoes, do you want to be able to easily hide away toys, how many people need to store personal items in the bathroom?
No matter what your purpose, it makes sense to design a home that is practical, comfortable and that inspires you each and every day. Think about your must haves and your must not haves and work within your space and budget parameters. In my home, kitchen space was limited, so I opted for a larger island bench, rather than a butler’s pantry, as I knew I would have multiple uses for a kitchen bench.
Your decisions will be influenced by the composition and life stages of the members of your household. Parents with small children like to be able to see and hear them and the positioning of rooms will be influenced by this. On the other hand, parents with teenagers will appreciate a parent’s or teenager’s retreat and living areas at different ends of the home.
With careful planning you can achieve a home design for your family that works and feels as good as it looks.