The question on deck is this: can formal decorating still be family friendly? It’s a comment/lament I hear from families so often – that they can’t have anything nice because their kids (or pets) will destroy things. Okay, so first – and not to be too obnoxious about it – but kids don’t need to actually jump up and down on the nice furniture. I recall my parent’s having rules about the kind of behavior that was acceptable in which room. In other words, the living room was for entertaining in nice clothes and we weren’t allowed to sit on the furniture in our play clothes (much less jump on the furniture). And our dog was never allowed on the living room furniture. And you know what? My parent’s had that furniture for 40+ years. I still have their Hickory Chair settee which has been reupholstered once, about 20 years ago.
Anyway, the good news is that technology has come a long way and there are so many wonderful and durable fabrics on the market that even mishaps are nothing to worry about. And this is not to only blame the kiddies and the pets. We adults are known to slosh a martini or red wine around at times as well – amirite?
For this South End Boston townhouse project I worked on a few years ago, my clients wanted a truly formal a luxurious living room. But they also had an 18 month old baby and they wanted it to double as a work space and as a place for over night guests to sleep since they didn’t have a guest bedroom. Smaller city dwellings need spaces that pull double duty.
The main furniture pieces – the sofa from Baker Furniture and the arm chairs from Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams were upholstered in durable fabrics that were comfy to the touch, wouldn’t show wear and tear and were cleanable. The sofa was upholstered in a fine nubby chenille and the chairs in a cleanable velvet. Now, in the spirit of full disclosure – the client’s did forgo a cocktail table while their daughter was still a toddler.
And the table below, situated in the bay window space, actually had a glass top which we removed for the photos. It made this the perfect work space for when my clients needed to work from home.
From Atlanta designers Heather Dewberry and Will Huff, we have these gorgeous formal family friendly spaces that were featured in Traditional Home. (Click over for images)
From the article: “While the chaises were custom-made to fit Jeff’s 6-foot-1-inch frame, “the kids have totally claimed them,” Andee says. Fortunately, the designers covered them with a durable chenille basket-weave fabric. “This is a high-traffic room, so we made sure fabrics would perform.” A center coffee table/ottoman wears easy-care Ultrasuede. “You can spill anything on it and wipe it off,” Dewberry says.”
“Durable fabrics such as Ultrasuede cover furniture to withstand traffic from the swimming pool just outside this terrace-level rec room.”
All of the fabric houses today have durable high-performance fabric lines for family friendly decorating. Some are indoor/outdoor, some are still better indoors, but can hold up to a lot of use and abuse. Gone are the days when Sunbrella Cabana stripes were all you could get!
I’m currently working on a project for some lovely clients who are doing a total gut-reno of an older home in a suburb outside of Boston. They are looking for high-style that’s also highly durable.
This image above is a rendering I did for their floating banquette seat for their dining room which we’ll be upholstering in a faux leather that looks and feels like the real thing.
In the kitchen, we’ll be making a custom French Mattress style bench seat cushion using this luscious blue fabric from Perennials Fabrics that will stand up to any spills that may occur.
In the tv sitting room, there will be a brown velvet sofa and possibly this fun upholstered bench below that my clients ordered from Ballard Designs. I’ve pulled together an assortment of durable fabrics from Kravet and Lee Jofa to use on a love seat that will also be in the room. Comfy seating, that can withstand feet up and doggy cuddling is very important!
In one of the bedrooms, we will be reupholstering a comfy lounge chair. Below is an assortment of fabrics to choose from. The color palette has been inspired by a Cloisonné lamp that my client owns in a gorgeous teal blue color. Such wonderful and chic choices, no?
And finally, an assortment of high performance brown velvets for a headboard. What’s amazing is that there are is so much choice in color and texture in these durable fabrics!
So, as you see, if you have a hankering for a more formal living space or for luxe fabrics in special places, don’t let the prospect of kids, pets or too many cocktails worry you!
Formal family friendly fabrics (I love a good alliteration, don’t you?) are so accessibly and come in a nearly infinite choice of colors, textures and styles – there is truly something for everyone! Many of these fabrics described here are available to-the-trade only, but please be in touch if you would like any information!
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