Family versus Fashion & Function!

Giving your home a makeover features highly on the to do list but when you have children, even just choosing a new colour can become a challenge. You can however still create and maintain a stylish home without locking your offspring under the stairs à la Harry Potter. I’ve been speaking to the experts for their top tips, so rescue your Farrow & Ball colour chart from the changing bag as we take a tour of the family home.


“Normally the first room that is seen, it always looks and feels better if it is tidy and organised, rather than tripping over shoes and coats,” explains interior designer Doreen Smith. “Allocate space for shoe storage and a hanging area for coats and keys. As this is also the room which commonly has no natural light a large mirror help will reflect all available light and give the illusion of space. A tiled entrance is also easy to clean and maintain.


“It pays to design your kitchen with a growing family in mind,” says Julie Fleming, senior designer at Cameron Interiors. “Choose finishes that don’t show fingerprints and require polishing everyday to keep them looking good (stainless steel is out!). Tall stools at breakfast bars are best kept for adult company, but a worktop height overhang can double up as a breakfast bar and an extra worktop when your child gets a little older and wants to start baking with you. High sided drawers are great for storing Tupperware and handle-less designs reduce the amount of sharp corners for toddlers to run into, but are also practical and good looking.

Doreen continues: “Kitchen flooring can be child friendly and still look amazing. Use materials such as wood, Amtico, laminates or for something a bit warmer under foot, try Plusfloor which is exceptionally hard wearing and comfortable.

Claire McClory (Deputy Communication & Interior Design Manager) at IKEA Edinburgh advocates getting the kids involved in the kitchen: “If you have the space, create a future chef by using FAKTUM kitchen units to create a ‘mini-kitchen’, perfect for helping Mum or Dad with the dinner. Or, if space is at a premium then the BEKVAM step stool is useful for allowing kids to get things from cupboards themselves or help mum and dad at standard height kitchen units.”

“Finally, as the kitchen is the room which is most used for craft, painting and homework, wipe clean paint on the walls is a must,” says interior designer, Tracey Gill.


“Bathrooms can be costly whatever their size,” says Doreen. “It pays to take time to plan the look as you don’t want the room to date quickly. White always looks stunning and you could try a roll top bath or a contemporary free standing one to give the room the wow factor. The aim is to create a place in which the children can have fun, but also a place where you can relax in candlelight and unwind. Mix neutral tones with a splash of bright colour. Motifs on tiles that can be easily peeled away, striped wall paper or brightly coloured towels. Choose colour schemes that can be updated and changed as your children grow.

Living Room

“Storage is the key to creating a stylish home and if you don’t have a spare room to use as a play room then put smarter storage in your sitting room,” says Tracey. “Opt for stylish boxes, baskets and trunks and accessorise them to match the rest of the room. A wooden trunk can be co-ordinated by covering a foam template in a matching fabric or even simpler use scatter cushions to cover the top of it.”

Julie agrees: “Storage is the obvious answer but a must. The key is to have easily accessible storage which means toys can be cleared away quickly and DVDs/games consoles don’t take over the space. Silenia’s day furniture uses stylish designs that can hide gadgets but display accessories, in a selection of finishes including matt and gloss lacquers, woods and glass. All the units are designed to fit the space and requirements giving a unique and practical solution. It’s great to have the kids about, but lovely to be able to sit relax in a space that is clear of their clutter once they’ve gone to bed.”

Claire adds: “Make the space flexible by choosing coffee and side tables with castors so you can move the furniture out of the way to allow the kids to play with toys and train sets on a soft run in the living room. Nests of side tables are great for entertaining but they can also act as useful surfaces for colouring-in, snack time or playing with toys. And, don’t forget removable and washable sofa covers – handy for changing the look or hiding those spillages and marks!”

“Furniture colours and sofas don’t have to be dark as long as the surface can be wiped clean or it can be easily laundered,” Doreen continues. “The same applies to wallpaper. Wallpaper makes a room look and feel more sophisticated but with a young family it’s worth choosing a wipeable surface.”

IkeaChildren’s Rooms

“In children’s rooms bright coloured boxes look great and can be bought cheaply from large supermarkets and IKEA,” says Tracey. “Instead of having everything just thrown in, allocate boxes for specific activities. For example, I put all pens, crayons, pencils etc in one box, all craft equipment in another, games in another etc.  This way your children will get used to which box contains what and they will soon learn to put things away correctly! If you’re on a tight budget use plain fabrics for the curtains in bedrooms and play rooms, so that the scheme grows with them. It’s less expensive to change the decor than the soft furnishings.”

Clare agrees with the growing approach: “Our STUVA children’s storage system grows with your child. Start off small with drawers for clothes and toys and add taller units and hanging rails when your child wants to dress themselves.

“If you have the space and money, themes look great in children rooms,” Doreen adds. “Consider using a large wall mural or paint furniture to tie in with a specific colour scheme or character and add accessories like bean bags or a special chair.”

Master bedroom

“The antithesis of your child’s room, your bedroom should be a sanctuary!” says Clare. “In reality however, a large king-size or super king-size bed can come in useful on those mornings when the whole family wants to watch the TV or have breakfast in bed!”

So there you have it, there is no excuse for a home without style – just remember storage, washable and wipeable!

Cameron Interiors, Tel: 0131 556 2233/ 0141 334 9532.

Tracey Victoria Interiors, Tel: 0131 444 0285.

Doreen Smith Interiors, Tel: 0141 884 2319.

IKEA Edinburgh, Tel: 0845 355 2265.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *