Style still possible when kids added to the mix
By AMY STUMPFL
For Brentwood Home Page
When it comes to interior design, too many homeowners think they have to sacrifice style for function. Parents especially seem prone to this dilemma, allowing children’s toys and clutter to overwhelm an otherwise welcoming space. But with a little guidance – and some high-performance fabrics – you can create an elegant home that is both durable and livable.
|Even 3-year-old Ben’s self-portrait, left, wasn’t too much for the Sunbrella fabric Amanda Burdge used to cover the Schwartz’s living room furniture. The sofa, above, is after the cleanup.|
“Often homeowners who have young children feel they can’t live in beautiful spaces – feeling that Fisher-Price, paper scraps, and crayons are it for the next 10 years,” says Amanda Burdge, owner of AB Home Interiors in Brentwood. “But it doesn’t have to be that way. It is possible to create a home that not only looks great, but can withstand a family lifestyle.”
Of course, every home is different, and Burdge readily acknowledges the changing needs of modern families.
“There’s definitely a difference between young children and older teens,” she says. “When I’m designing for new parents, it’s all about easy care and safety. I’m especially careful about sharp corners on coffee tables and things like that. For families with teens, durability is still important. Kids are hard on furniture – and it’s not just your kids, you have to be prepared for what their friends might do. I try to design for the worst-case scenario: ‘What’s going to happen when the kids spill juice all over this sofa?’”
Fortunately, Burdge says that today’s furniture industry has adapted to meet those specific challenges.
“I love the look of distressed furniture. A distressed piece looks fashionable, but it’s OK to put your feet up on it.”
Burdge also chooses durable fabrics, such as Sunbrella and other commercial-grade products.
“The technology in fabric is incredible these days. They’re soft and beautiful, they don’t feel like plastic, and you’re not going to get the pilling and fading that we used to see. They look great, but they still hold up to kids.”
Burdge points to the Schwartz family as the perfect case in point. With two young children, David and Liz Schwartz wanted a home that was functional but still looked “grown up.”
“We built our home about four years ago, and we worked with Amanda from the beginning,” Liz Schwartz says. “I had done my homework, but she had a lot of great ideas – especially when it came to certain fabrics and finishes. We’ve done it in phases, working from room to room to tailor everything to meet our needs.”
|“Often homeowners who have young children feel they can’t live in beautiful spaces … But it doesn’t have to be that way.”
For example, in the family room Schwartz selected a dark brown, commercial grade fabric for the sofa, along with an inexpensive ottoman. A low-maintenance flat-weave rug covers the hardwood floor, and the tables are made from reclaimed wood.
“The family room is great,” she says. “We have wall-to-wall cabinets, which makes clean-up easy. And the furniture has held up really well – even when my son got glue all over the couch, it came right out. During the day, they can jump on the ottoman. But when I want the room to look a little more grown up, I set a pretty little glass tray [on the ottoman], which looks great.
“It was important to me that everything be family-friendly,” she adds. “We have kids, and I want them to be able to enjoy their home and not constantly be worrying about something getting dirty or damaged.”
Schwartz cites the library as another success story. Situated at the front of the house, this gorgeous room – which sits directly across from the formal dining room – features a decidedly sophisticated palette, but with plenty of practical and even whimsical touches.
“I really wasn’t sure how it would all come together, but I trusted Amanda’s judgment, and she did an amazing job. We have these gorgeous peacock blues, along with stylish gold sconces. But then there’s a cowhide rug, which is really cool, and it’s very durable. There’s also a large multi-functional cabinet that includes a pull-out desk, plus tons of book shelves.
“It’s just beautiful. Sometimes, when I need a break, I just go sit in there for a while – it’s so pretty. And yet, it’s also the perfect place to snuggle with my kids and read a good book or play a game. It’s amazing what a difference good design can make. We love our home, and we use every room.”
And, of course, that is just what Burdge intended.
“A room that’s really customized to your family can be transformational,” she says. “Rather than waiting on beautiful decor until the kids were older, we have made this home fit the Schwartz lifestyle with beautiful fabrics and quality furniture that is durable, but suits the way they like to live. Most importantly, it has stood the test of time – and a 2 year old!”