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Ask a Designer: a family room for the whole family


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Have a place for everything, Burnham says, so toys and other kid-related items can be put away easily at the end of the day. She recommends a wall of built-in cabinets with doors, so kids’ clutter can be easily stashed, at hand but out of sight.

She also suggests creating storage space in the family room for a few fragile or valuable items that aren’t kid-friendly.

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"You can have a cashmere throw in the cabinet that you pull out for the adults," Burnham says. By storing these things in the room, you’re more likely to really use them, yet they’re protected from the kids’ play.

Flynn also recommends built-ins, and suggests "adding color and pattern to their back panels."

"I usually use large-scale patterned wallpaper," he says. Consider nautical styles: "They’re casual and fun, and they don’t take themselves too seriously."

For additional storage, Flynn says, replace coffee tables with "upholstered storage ottomans complete with safety locking mechanisms, which prevent little ones from getting inside of them to hide, and also protecting any little fingers from hinges." He suggests upholstering ottomans with indoor-outdoor fabrics so they’ll withstand spills and sticky fingers.

BOLD COLORS

In a high-traffic family room, Call suggests sticking with deeper colors rather than whites or pale shades.

Flynn agrees: "The one color I use more than any other in family-centric spaces is navy blue," he says, because it can appeal to the whole family. He recommends Seaworthy navy from Sherwin-Williams: "It has just the right amount of purple in it to make it bright instead of dark."

"Red is another high-energy hue which works great in family rooms," Flynn says, which works well with most other colors, especially black-brown, navy blue and charcoal.


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PLAYFUL DECOR

Don’t hide the fact that the room is being shared with kids, Flynn says.

"Embrace it. Work children and playfulness into the design of a family room’s aesthetic," he suggests.

On the walls, he likes to use "pop art or original photography of toys, especially vintage toys, or black-and-white candid photography of the family blown up to an enormous scale" to personalize the room.

"Kids and pets are a huge part of our lives. Since we love them more than the sofas and chairs they sit on, why not make them as much as part of a room’s decoration as its furnishings?" Flynn says.



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