Interior designer and Directory Member Jennifer Barron shares her top ten tips for creating a family friendly home that is as beautiful as it is livable. Bring on the spills and sticky fingers!

Photography by Molly Culver

Family Friendly Design Tips
Chairs are upholstered in a light pink Perennials fabric so they are stain resistant.

As our children and their friends immediately run from the dinner table (with ketchup all over their fingers and faces) towards the living room, I watch our guests jump up as fast as they can yelling, “Stop! Don’t touch anything!” I quickly assure them that it’s okay- everything has seen it all and is 100 percent durable! The world of fabrics that exists today is amazing—with options for all types of lifestyles. Patterned, printed, embroidered and solid fabrics (as well as various types of carpets and wallpaper) have all become available in high durability, high performance material. As a result, it’s surprisingly easy to make a room as beautiful as if you were to use non-performance options.  

Family Friendly Design Tips
Bamboo chairs are upholstered in a green Perennials geometric to withstand food and drink stains.

When speaking with new clients and getting to know their needs and wants, more times than not, I am told that their home must be a “durable home” to fit their lifestyle—whether it be for kids, pets, or location of the house. With some of our favorite fabric lines now producing high performance options (Thibaut, Jasper, Perennials, Peter Dunham, Schumacher and many more—everything from glazed linens to velvets), it is very easy for me to promise a beautiful, yet user-friendly design.  

Family Friendly Design Tips
The light pink fabric on these bamboo chairs is laminated so they are wipeable.
Family Friendly Design Tips
The floral bar stool fabric has been laminated here as well.

MY TEN FAVORITE TIPS for creating those “live hard” spaces

1. High performance (sunbrella, crypton and Perennials) fabrics on all upholstery – including beds!  

2. Polypropylene is a great rug option for playrooms- Stark carpet offers numerous patterned and fun options for these high traffic spaces. 

3. Turkish rugs are great for more formal areas – made of 100 percent wool, these will always be easy to clean. They also have lots of color and pattern due to hand-knotting, which can hide spills! 

4. Layering – place non- durable fabrics in areas there you can remove them easily (throw pillows on a sofa).  

5. Avoid natural fiber rugs in eating areas – these are super hard to clean. 

6. Darker colors (if a non- performance option is the only option) will hide much more than lighter colors.  

7. Seal your wallpaper! If you are worried about hands touching wallpaper or water marks, you can put a protective coat on your wallpaper. We often do this in kids bathrooms and you can hardly tell a difference.  

8. Use eggshell paint- it is wipeable! 

9. Laminate fabrics – this is another technique we use often- much different from the 80s shiny lamination, this just adds a “waxy” protective finishing to the fabrics that can then be upholstered however you would like.

10. Invest in scotch guarding- it’s the extra level of protection to make sure everything is wipeable.

Family Friendly Design Tips
White lacquered chairs upholstered in lime green vinyl (vinyl looks exactly like leather and is much more durable)
Family Friendly Design Tips
Chairs are upholstered in a striped Perennials fabric so they are kid friendly in this family room.

As a designer, my goal is to make the space welcoming and beautiful, but more importantly, live-able. Nothing brings me more joy than to know my clients are using their spaces daily, while enjoying the overall aesthetic at the same time! 

Jennifer Barron

Jennifer Barron Interiors is based in Houston, Texas and believes her clients should be so in love with their home that they are excited every time they walk in their front door. Her mission is to make her clients’ visions reality and believes that in each space, there should be something meaningful to them.