Secrets of indestructible design
Do you have to sacrifice style when you have kids?
Scripps Howard News Service
Do you have to sacrifice style when you have kids? It's an age-old design question many parents ask — and my clients, Nicole and Trevor, are no exception. The young couple live in a charming house with their two small children, but when I met them they were up to their ears in diapers and teddy bears.
The couple spent a good deal of time in a large living/dining room that was disorganized and uninspiring, but they didn't know how to improve it. They longed for a stylish, adult space where they could relax and entertain, but also needed a place that could weather juice boxes and muddy sneakers.
Now, I know a thing or two about managing crayons, sticky, chocolate-pudding fingers — and the occasional baby-food spit-up. So, I happily called in my crew and geared up to give Nicole and Trevor a kid-proof space with a cool, industrial, ''grown-up" vibe.
The secret to this type of makeover centers on the principle of indestructible design — blending form and function in ways that ensure materials, fabrics and furnishings are durable and chic. With this in mind, I chose a variety of stylish, hardworking elements for the redesign. Things like raked wood, impenetrable stone and smudge-proof metal fit well with my design.
I began by painting much of the wall space a relaxing shade of cream, and putting up gorgeous brown cork wallpaper along one wall of the adjoining living and dining rooms.
The living area had a big nonfunctioning fireplace, but its brown stucco finish made it an eyesore. So, I painted it a beautiful shade of cream, put down some stone tiles and flanked it with new shelving units. I wanted to install a gas insert, but (due to venting issues) opted instead for a decorative look that features candles, a mirror insert and a tempered glass safety screen.
I got rid of the room's outmoded furniture and put in a three-piece sofa in a resilient, creamy-colored outdoor fabric. I also chose a beautiful brown armchair, a round wooden coffee table and a dent-proof vintage steel footlocker that will function as a side table.
I then upped the color ante with a beautiful Ikat patterned fabric that contains shades of blue, green, brown and cream. The material was used to make drapes for both rooms and it served as my jumping-off point for the accent colors in the space. I also put down a rugged, multicolored patchwork rug that can be trusted to hide all manner of kid spills.
In the dining room, I installed a long, durable white vinyl banquette along the cork-papered wall. This banquette will function as part of the seating for a new table that consists of reclaimed wood atop an indestructible steel base.
I chose cool white dining-room chairs and two funky high chairs that can later be converted into toddler chairs. When choosing furnishings for children, I look for durability. After all, design is an investment — and it has to grow with you.
I then lightened and brightened the rooms by putting up two industrial-inspired pendant lights above the dining-room table and two lamps on either side of the fireplace.
Lastly, I added a host of accessories — vases, artwork, accent pillows — and made sure the ''breakables" were well out of reach of curious little hands.
The verdict? Ignore the naysayers. I say you can have it all — kids AND style! By combining resilient yet fashionable fabrics, finishes and furnishings, Nicole and Trevor's space went from bland to beautiful and is now ready for splendid dinners, relaxing evenings — and a messy tyke or two.
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