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Be wise, don't compromise! Creating your perfect home even with toddlers and sticky fingers

What are the 5 things that are wrong with this image? P.S This little dude lives here!

Creating a family home should be fun, exciting and evokes pride. You want it to look good but it absolutely has to be functional for you and all the other big, medium size or little people that live there.



How many of the 5 highlighted bits of the picture made you think...







Well this little man is 2.5 years, has a little brother and that rug is still (relatively) cream! My advice is to choose things that you love because then when they are in your home you will still love them.


  1. Paint and wall finishings - it's more about finish than colour. Yes the walls are light pink and sticky fingers and chocolate will mark it but the paint is scrubbable and if often just a wipe removes any grubby marks. This colour is Dulux Blush Pink and I loved it then and still love it now. Often darker colours show up as many if not more marks so it really is important to do a tester and while that tester is up... put a little pickle on it.

  2. Choosing a sofa. Your sofa is the king of your family space - somewhere to lounge, drink tea (or wine), watch tv, create houses out of the cushions and to be comfortable. But in a family space, it needs to do more than that... Does it give you space underneath to push under play mats or to add additional toy storage? Is the fabric machine washable - can you tumble dry them? Does it come with the option of adding a stain guard? This sofa is from sofaworkshop.com and is regularly covered with milk and is the cushions provide the foundations of all good forts/dens/castles. We have had it about 5 years and this is it's second home. It also makes a really really comfortable nap spot.

  3. A cream rug... wait, it's cream. No really, it's super light. Again, choose what you love. It may be more sensible to choose a more durable material, with more pattern or a bit darker to be more forgiving to stains but this is your home and you need to love what you put in it. Again, make sure the rug is the right size for the space, does it add comfort or warmth if that is what you are after? Do you have vanish in the cupboard? I guess my advice here is that things wash and carpet cleaners are available to hire if you need to!

  4. Lighting - when the kids are in bed lighting can transform your family space into bright and kiddy to a more atmospheric relaxing glow for the evening. Tripods will sit and don't rock - try it with three fingers, even if you make one leg much shorter it still won't rock (next question - why aren't all school desks on tripods?). Lamps and other accessories are your way of adding style to a space that is made for all ages and stages.

  5. LIFE IS TOO SHORT NOT TO LOVE VELVET. Just do it. There is always going to be a reason not to buy velvet - I have velvet barstools in the kitchen. Do it. It's beautiful! Also, have a look at "clever velvet" which is stain resistant - this is becoming more widely available.

STORAGE - The biggest challenge of family life is mess and stuff. Mess and stuff, how many times have you sighed at it? Storage is your biggest friend here - find something that fits your space and looks good. Lots of designers (including me! Tiny plug) will create bespoke joinery perfect for your space but there is also an abundance of storage solutions available on the High Street. This cube is from IKEA and the baskets ensure all toys are hidden firmly from sight. They are also the Mary Poppins of storage boxes, I'm always amazed by how much fits in them. Placed here, the unit also acts as place to put a cuppa and is sturdy to withstand pulling and pushing of toy boxes.


PHOTO FINISHINGS - No family space is complete without photos and prints. Keep them looking good by having a consistent theme for the frames. Here I have used black with a white border so it has a simple but stylish finish. Your theme might be they are all different - choose something you love and go with it but the finishing touches will make the space personal to you and your family. Choose prints or images that you love and make you happy.


FLOORING - If you can, go vinyl. It's a craze for a reason. You can achieve lots of different looks (apart from carpet) so still get the style you love but with a material that is going to stand the test of time. The flooring in this room is actually luxury vinyl. We chose it because it is durable, soft, warm and easy to clean. It cost a bomb BUT looks as good as it did when it was laid down and has been ideal in terms of livability.