9 Design Pros on the One Thing You Need for a Great Family Home
Building or renovating a family home? We asked nine designers to share the one feature that makes the biggest difference
Jessi Deakin, stylist and owner of Jessi Eve Interiors, says:
Storage is so important in a family home; a shortage can mean clutter, chaos and disorganisation as you navigate toys, school bags and books, sporting equipment and everything else that comes with family living.
Practical storage helps you to create organisational systems, so clutter doesn’t build up on surfaces and in the corners of rooms. It’s the key to maintaining some level of serenity in a family home.
A beautiful sideboard or cabinet can make for great storage in a dining or living area.
On the other end of the scale, you might invest in some bespoke joinery with a combination of enclosed storage and open shelving in your living area. Here, you might display all your favourite pieces while achieving a beautiful, seamless finish that complements the rest of your home.
Or you could upgrade to built-in wardrobes in the bedrooms. You can customise the internals to suit your family’s specific storage needs and make maximum use of space.
Heated towel rails
One tip that we can’t go past is to put heated towel rails in your bathrooms – hydronic [plumbed in to your central heating system] where possible. They are a bit more of an outlay initially than non-heated styles, but they offer so many benefits, particularly for family living.
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It also means your towels can be folded neatly and there will be less moisture and dampness in your bathroom. Your space will look sharp and smell fresh.
An added bonus is a toasty warm bathroom on those freezing cold mornings. A heated towel rail truly is a game changer.
Plan for the future
Keep in mind that children grow into full-size adults. When you’re planning a renovation or new-build with small children, consider how spaces will be used in years to come.
The number of homes I’ve been to with second-storey additions that have low ceilings, small rooms suited to single beds and minimal storage always surprises me.
When planning children’s rooms, aim for a 4m x 4m floor area to futureproof the room. And, if you can extend the budget, push the ceiling up from the minimum for a bit more head room.
A walk-in pantry
I believe a walk-in pantry is a great addition to a kitchen in a busy family home. With more of us having open-plan living areas, the kitchen is front and centre. A walk-in pantry helps to keep the main kitchen tidy – you can store all of your small appliances here and do food preparation when you’re entertaining.
Drawers to store food items are key; they keep everything neatly stored away and items are easy to access, particularly when you’re in a rush.
A walk-in pantry isn’t just about food storage these days – it’s a space to make drinks and snacks, and prepare dishes when we’re entertaining. For this reason, I always try to include [worktop] space to accommodate small appliances, such as the kettle and toaster, and to do food-preparation work.
Comfort is key in a family home – particularly when it comes to pieces such as sofas, where you’ll probably spend a lot of time over the years.
Everyone’s idea of comfort is different, so in my view, it’s worth going to the expense of having pieces custom-designed so they’re right for you. For example, you may want to have the sofas in your living area custom-made to suit your unique proportions and desired comfort level.
With a bespoke sofa, you can shorten the seat, alter the height of the legs, change the cushion fill and even dictate how the piece is upholstered, for example with feature piping or special detailing.
Wooden café-style chairs might look great, but they’re designed to keep you moving on and not for lingering. For family meals, I’d recommend upholstered styles with comfortable seating.
You might also enjoy How to Make Your Living Room Sociable.
Giulianna Del Popolo, interior designer and principal at GDP Interior Design, says:
Good lighting encompasses everything from orientation, windows, skylights and colour to artificial lighting. Light affects everything from the aesthetics, mood and functionality of a home to indoor temperature.
Just like the weather affects our mood, so does the amount and quality of light we receive in our living spaces. During the day, natural light can transform a room, depending on the orientation and window size. Likewise, a colder light can make you feel less cosy or even gloomy.
It isn’t always an option to have favourable orientation, so the best way to remedy gloomy spaces is to have considered light sources, whether that’s general ambient light, task lighting or mood lighting.
In conjunction with lighting, paint finishes and colour selections are key to accentuating the required light and mood of a room.
There’s so much to consider when it comes to lighting, so it’s best to consult an interior designer or lighting designer in order to get it right. This should ideally be done pre-build, at the same time as your plans are being put in place, to allow for all the necessary wiring to be roughed in, switch points to be considered, and light fittings and bulbs to be specified.
Your designer will be able to interpret your room orientation, window and skylight sizes to determine how much lighting you require in a room, the quality of light (warm or cool) and how you can add special effects fit for purpose.
The living room is one of the most important spaces within a family home – it tends to be where everyone gathers and a lot of different activities are performed, from watching films and socialising to quiet times. As such, it’s crucial to furnish the space appropriately.
Space planning is key. It helps you work out exactly what furniture you’ll need and which sizes and shapes will work best in the space. It surprises me how many times clients purchase a sofa or dining table that looked great in the showroom, only to find it’s way too big for their living room.
You want everyone in your family to feel calm, safe and uplifted in the space. When you’re creating the space plan, imagine the flow of air through the room as water. You need to create a slow, gentle flow that promotes calm. It might be a sofa with a curvy corner to balance square edges elsewhere or a round coffee table or ottoman to promote an easier flow around a living room.
We always encourage clients with families to surround themselves with the colours, pieces and features they love rather than slavishly following trends. This way, you’ll create a home that has personal meaning to you, which you’ll enjoy spending time in.
Zoned rooms and spaces that can be used for different purposes are an essential in a family home, providing opportunities for both togetherness and privacy.
Ideally, you want a mix of communal spaces where the family can come together and connect, and separate spaces or rooms away from the main family hub where individuals can retreat for privacy or to pursue their own activities, such as reading, relaxing or music practice.
The key with multi-functional rooms is that they can be closed off to create a true sense of privacy and quiet away from the busy or noisy parts of the home.
What’s your must-have for a smooth-running family home? Share your ideas in the Comments.