How to make your rooms work as family spaces

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  • Now that school's out, you might be rethinking your family spaces. Our decorating tips will help you to create a relaxed and practical home that's easy to live with, and which both parents and kids will love

    Think family spaces and your mind may conjure up a sea of toys, clutter-covered surfaces and childish colour palettes. But while lots of things change when you have kids – including the way you decorate – that doesn’t mean you can’t create tasteful schemes. Read on, and discover how to use a versatile mix of colour and pattern for a relaxed yet sophisticated look that everyone will love.

    Need somewhere for the kids to hang out? Read: Playroom ideas everyone will love

    Living room


    Image credit: Dominic Blackmore

    In a living room, go for surfaces that can stand up to hectic family life. A raw-wood table is ideal, as knocks and marks will add character to its appearance, rather than ruining it. Go for a super-comfy sofa that everyone in the family can squash onto.

    Simple footstools can act as overflow seating when the kids have got friends round. Add plenty of storage for games and books – baskets beside seating are great for tossing abandoned toys, newspapers and shoes 
into when you’re having a high-speed tidy-up. Give your scheme a modern, global look with a patterned blind in a bold, tribal print.

    Dining room


    Image credit: Dominic Blackmore

    Ditch dust-gathering open shelves in a dining room and display plates inside a more practical glazed unit instead. Contemporary dining chairs in bright shades are suitable for informal family meals, but will also look stylish enough for when you’re entertaining.

    Whether your decorating personality is classic or urban, a laid-back global look works anywhere. Take your scheme in a more rural direction by replacing the African prints with large-scale, bright, floral prints, or make in industrial by mixing in an area of exposed brick (or a brick-effect wallpaper to fake the look).

    Home office


    Image credit: Dominic Blackmore

    Opt for pared-back furniture that doesn’t feel ‘officey’ for a work area within a multipurpose kitchen, dining and living space. Using a large dining table as a desk will provide enough room for two people to work alongside each other. Keep a shared desk area organised by lining up a row of pots for each family member to keep their own pens and pencils in. Fix up wall-mounted task lighting in addition to a desk lamp to prevent strained eyes when working late.

    Grown up’s bedroom


    Image credits: Dominic Blackmore

    As kids see every floor in the house as a play area, lay soft rugs on bedroom floors and keep a trunk at the foot of the bed to throw discarded toys into for sorting out later. An upholstered headboard and a row of sumptuous cushions will make settling in for a bedtime story comfy.



    Image credit: Lizzie Orme

    This is one room where we’d ditch any strong colours for a more relaxing palette. Mum and Dad will enjoy the calming atmosphere when indulging in some precious me time, and cooler tones will soothe little ones as they start their bedtime routine.

    More inspiration: Family bathroom design ideas

    It’s useful to have a rack within arm’s reach of the bath, so it’s easy to grab a fresh towel to dry off soggy children before they drip all over the floor. Also place a laundry basket nearby so you can ditch dirty clothes in a hurry. A step stool doubles as somewhere to perch while you’re washing behind their ears, and the hand shower isn’t just good for rinsing hair – it’s a big help when you’re cleaning your tub.

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