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Creating a family space

Family homes need to be functional and adaptable as needs change – but they can be beautiful too. We ask the pros how it is done…

Think ‘family home’ and visions of a living room carpeted by a sea of toys, kitchen worktops splattered with food, and hallway walls perhaps featuring some artful crayon scribbles spring to mind. But getting the balance between beautiful interiors and comfortable family living is not only realistic, it’s a worthwhile investment to ensure your home is a space for all who live there.

ADULT ENTERTAINING SPACE

A family home isn’t fated to be dominated by children, and it’s essential that parents are able to separate the family space from the adult space, where they can unwind and entertain friends come evening time. While open-plan living is often the most sought-after trend for dividing up your home, Giles & Pike Architects advises thinking twice about this and considering the adults’ spaces when designing a family home.

“Lots of our clients now ask for open plan, but we try to look at creating some large, flowing multifunctional spaces mixed with a few more intimate rooms. A separate office, a ‘snug’ room or playroom can help give some sanity to life with children.” Lime Showrooms also considers adult rooms to be invaluable, citing loft conversions as possible escapes that can be a calming adult sanctuary.

THE BEDROOM

As one of the more private rooms in a family home, bedrooms are a blank canvas where family members can get creative and exhibit their personalities. Architects Giles & Pike notes that the bedroom is a great space for children’s imaginations to run wild: “We suggest to our clients to involve the children in the design so the room displays their individual personalities,” says Kirsty Heber-Smith. To avoid clutter, Giles & Pike also recommends freeing up floor space by creating zones where toys and books can be stored, and also suggest a hidden den in a child’s room: “allowing your kids to have their own personal space to escape also.” If you have the space and budget, a climbing wall is a great addition for energetic kids.

OUTDOOR SPACE

Gardens are treasured spaces where children can run around freely and parents can enjoy relaxing alfresco, so it’s crucial to get them right by creating a seamless flow through the house to the outdoors. Lime Showrooms suggests embracing outside space and using it as an extension of the property. “An outdoor kitchen can be created which follows through from the inside to the outside. Think about outdoor lighting – a chandelier with its mood lighting transforms the outdoors into something truly beautiful,” says Laura Chalke.

Giles & Pike Architects adds: “Family homes tend to work best if they are well connected to the outside — we like to create homes that allow children to come and go. This works well for your family pets too. We also try to make sure that parents can see where the children are from the house — even if it means changing the kitchen layout or adding a longer window somewhere.”

THE BATHROOM

Bathrooms are typically smaller rooms in the family home and sharing with others means you require a cunning design to get the balance between a durable room that withstands regular usage, and a space that acts as an oasis of calm.

The experts at Giles & Pike Architects advise minimalising clutter behind stylish storage that doesn’t sacrifice on style. “From the kids’ toys to teenage beauty products, every family member will have their own bathroom necessities. Bathroom cabinets have all the storage you need and also doubles as the bathroom mirror.”

For a family bathroom that strikes the balance between practical and indulgent, Lime Showrooms suggest statement tiles for the wow factor, as well as practical solutions like a soft-close toilet (who wants to hear lids slamming in the night?), thermostatic showers (which stay constant even when water is in use elsewhere in the house) and wall recesses for shampoos and toiletries for easy access. 

THE KITCHEN

Often considered the heart of a family home, the kitchen is a dynamic area where busy individuals become a unit through cooking, eating, and coming together at the end of the working day. Open-plan dining rooms and kitchens lend themselves to this kind of purpose. Giles & Pike adopt this flexible layout in their designs “to allow a greater social interaction that fits with a 21st-century family.” 

Lime Showrooms also suggests incorporating a dining area in these rooms, but acknowledges this can be tricky in restricted areas. “Space planning and natural light are key. Create an island with an over-hang, not only is this functional and practical, it will also save on space and in turn becomes a place to eat, chat, relax and socialise.”

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