My client and her husband met me with a challenge for this before & after when I walked into their 13’x 25’ Living/Dining room early last year. During the introduction with one of her four young children (all boys no less!), she said, “This is Brittany. She is here to get rid of your soccer field.”
Her goals included: a cohesive & beautiful space fit for entertaining-but one that was realistic for even their youngest family members & guests. A living room that really lived & a dining table that could seat as many guests as possible (& oh yes, she had a budget, too).
Design considerations for the entire space: I kept the gold color on the walls as it was a cheerier backdrop than a beige or taupe and the color seemed to glow in the evening. The same fabric was used for drapery panels in both the living & dining rooms to unify the space. The color palette was inspired by the client’s favorite china pattern-the only item she knew she wanted in the space. The living room features no large coffee table on purpose- we left room for the boys to play on the floor or put together a puzzle. Instead side tables from Target (that way we could splurge on lamps with fantastic black shades) flank either end of the sofa and an ottoman on casters can pull up to any seat or accept a tray.
The rug is a soumak weave & design, reversible if it is to stain- and relatively low in pile height- perfect for matchbox cars to drive upon. Off the bat- I eliminated the thought of a rug underneath the dining room table for budget & for function-who wants to fuss with crumbs & stains on the carpet?
The elements of the family formal dining room took some time to get just right. My favorite piece in the room is a fire engine red painted china hutch. China & glassware are proudly displayed yet protected from paper planes with glass inset doors. I still smile when I think of my client’s email regarding the biggest splurge of the space- the extendable dining room table with a distressed finish:
“When friends with young children come for dinner, and their two-year-old bangs his fork on the table–tines downward, of course–I don’t want to cringe my way through the meal. We expect certain table behavior from our children, but they’re children (and boys to boot), and they don’t always (or even usually) sit primly through the whole meal. Pencil drawings with nothing under the paper may happen; hot-wheels races may happen; forks and spoons may be used as drumsticks… I want our home to be a gracious one, even for the youngest ones who live or visit here.”
The final touches included some personalization. My client’s husband photographed the boys in black & white- himself. I love how their faces surround the mirror- which looks just as curious as the boys. In another corner of the room is a large original artwork, an etching of boys in a tree house, entitled Summer Castlesby NC native Donald Sexauer. I like to think of this newly completed space-once their old soccer field- as their new castle- with hours of lovely play time spent together that the whole family enjoys.
What are your must-haves for a family friendly space?