There's no doubt that the way you decorate a home changes when you have children. Suddenly, that sharp-corner coffee table has to go, delicate glass vases need to be displayed away from small hands, and furniture has to stand up to the rigors (read: spills and stains) of everyday life.
That doesn't mean family homes have to compromise on style. The properties on family-friendly rental site Kid & Coe are proof that form and function can work hand in hand. "We are really choosy when it comes to adding homes to the site," founder Zoie Kingsbery Coe tells MyDomaine. "They are all hand-picked because they are family-friendly, in a desirable location for family travel, and because they have a certain sense of style." We mined the site's 1000+ listings and other homes from around the world to discover the best family room design ideas. Here are 35 tips we learned along the way.
Keeping any home pristine is challenging, especially if you have kids. Fake a tidier space by styling furniture symmetrically to create a mirror effect. It'll always look considered and neat, no matter how many stray toys are on the floor.
Paint Brick Walls
Painting a room white is an easy way to instantly elevate it. Update your space by giving a red brick wall or pitched roof a coat of fresh white paint, and pull back the blinds to let the light reflect off the walls.
Clear Clutter With Easy Storage
Hide toys and clutter with dual-purpose storage solutions. Attractive baskets, storage benches, and hollow stools are just a few ideas. This massive woven ottoman provides plenty of hidden storage while doubling as a coffee table in this California family home.
An industrial design might be considered cold to some, but it's surprisingly kid-friendly. Polished concrete floors are easy to clean and look better with a few scuffs, while mix-and-match furniture can be easily updated as your sense of style changes.
Choose Durable Fabrics
The key to a family room that stands the test of time is choosing the right materials. Shoot for durable fabrics like leather, canvas, microfiber, or linen for furniture, and don't forget about the magic of slipcovers. Durable outdoor pillow covers are also a great idea if your throw pillows tend to take a beating.
Consider an Open-Plan Layout
Open-plan homes make it easy to keep an eye on young ones. Watch them play in the living room while you prep lunch or dinner in the kitchen. Not to mention, snacks are that much closer.
Shop Multipurpose Décor
Choose furniture that services more than one purpose. For example, versatile wood stools can be used around the dining table as extra seating or side tables by the sofa, while nesting tables can be separated and moved around for extra surface area.
Blend Indoor and Outdoor Spaces
This British home blends indoor and outdoor spaces with a huge glass accordion door that can be opened on warm days to let fresh air and natural light inside. Doubling your living space while soaking in some vitamin D? Yes please.
Take Advantage of Nooks
Take advantage of unique architecture, crannies, and corners by turning them into nooks for reading and hanging out in. The kids will love claiming it as their own and you can feel good about them curling up with a book.
Lighten Up Your Floorboards
White painted floorboards give this Georgian family home a fresh base. The light floorboards make the space feel larger and allow the owners to add color via built-ins and accents. Whitewashing will give a similar effect without losing the wood grain.
Hang a Chair
Suspend a chair from above for a modern take on the porch swing, like in this outdoor California living space. Kids and adults will be itching to take their turn. Just be sure everything is secure and installed correctly—it's best to let a professional handle this part.
Make a Fireplace the Focal Point
Trying to encourage more family time? Rather than style your living room around the television, focus on the fireplace. It'll be more inviting and subtly encourage social interaction, rather than staring at a screen.
Stock the Bar
Bars can be just as fun for children when you stock them with plenty of juice, soda, and any other of their favorite drinks. Your kids will love having a little fridge dedicated to just drinks right in the family room.
Choose a Calming Color Palette
The living room should feel like a retreat from the stress of the outside world and everyday life. Opt for soothing colors like dusty sage, which was one of the most popular colors on Pinterest in 2018.
Use Area Rugs to Protect Flooring
Protect neutral carpet from spills with a strategically positioned area rug. Patterned rugs like this large black-and-white stripe rug hide stains and can be replaced with time. Indoor/outdoor rugs and natural material rugs like jute and sisal are also great stain-resistant options.
Swap in an Ottoman
Instead of risking the sharp corners and hard surface of a traditional coffee table, opt for a cushy ottoman instead. Top with a tray or stack of books to create a flat surface, then easily move out of the way when needed.
Opt for a Statement Ceiling
Worried about investing in statement furniture when you still have young kids? Instead, focus on the ceiling. This home in Barcelona, Spain, has a stunning exposed brick roof that draws the gaze skyward.
Have a little fun with your family room design by incorporating whimsical yet stylish elements, like in this French family home. A few ideas to get you started: creative DIY light fixtures, bright patterned textiles, colorful furniture, and homemade art.
Choose Furniture with Curved Lines
Family-friendly furniture can be stylish, too. Opt for sofas and accent chairs with curved lines and in soft fabrics. Tables with rounded edges also reduce the number of sharp corners, like in this plush Brooklyn Heights family room.
Get Creative With Poufs
Poufs are another kid favorite—kind of like the modern-day beanbag chair, but much more aesthetically pleasing. They make an easy seat, footrest, or pillow in a pinch, plus they can be pushed out of the way when you need the floor space.
Choose Perspex Tables Over Glass
Safety is at the forefront of every parent's concerns for their kids, and having glass furniture around doesn't exactly calm the nerves. Clear perspex is a great alternative to glass. It's durable, doesn't scratch easily, and won't smash.
Build a Window Perch
If you don't have the right space for a proper nook, build one under your window for the perfect little perch for reading, drinking a glass of wine, or watching the rain. Leave it hollow inside for extra storage and pile with cushions and pillows on top to create the kids' new favorite spot to nap.
Style a Gallery Wall
The best family rooms reflect those who call the space home via sentimental objects and photographs. Give your room personality by styling an eclectic gallery wall with your favorite family photographs and artworks the kids have made.
Don't fight the mess—embrace it! Bumps, chips, and stains happen on furniture, especially on tables that double as craft tables. Incorporate pieces into your family room that can withstand the abuse and look even better with the character that comes from being well-loved.
Shop Midcentury Modern Furniture
Searching for well-designed furniture that's also child-appropriate isn't easy. Midcentury modern design is a great trend to incorporate at home as it usually features chairs and coffee tables in curved lines. Textured fabric like performance velvet is surprisingly hardy, too.
Secure Your Furniture
Even more important than what you put in your family room is how you secure those items to protect your loved ones. Triple test everything you place for falling, tripping, and tipping hazards and secure everything appropriately to the walls and floors.
Let Light In
Struggling to pinpoint why your family room doesn't feel quite right? Make the space a bit more inviting by replacing heavy drapes with sheer linen curtains or removing them altogether. Let the natural light stream in to instantly change the mood.
Pile Up the Pillows
Nothing says kid-friendly like a big pile of pillows. Outfit your couches, chairs, benches, and floors with throw pillows in all shapes and sizes to give a lounge-like feel, ideal for rainy afternoons and family movie nights. Swap out the covers seasonally or as often as you'd like to freshen up your decor.
Style a Mantelpiece and Shelves that Are Out of Reach
Nervous about styling a coffee table or console with precious items? Turn your attention to surfaces that are out of reach, like a mantelpiece or high shelves. The owners of this Parisian home chose to put breakables like vases and urns up high, and decorate low coffee tables with books and plants.
Dim the Lights
Set the mood any time of day with dimmable lamps and overhead lighting. Using dimmable fixtures and hardware, you can adjust the lights to full brightness when it's time to do homework or lower them to create the perfect ambiance for family game night.
Decorate with Greenery
Houseplants don't just enliven a space and purify the air—they're also a great way to teach your kids how to care for a living thing. Buy a plant and watering can for your little one and show them how to water it regularly and watch it grow.
We spied a genius dining table hack in the Cape Town home shown above: The owners have added discreet wheels to each leg so that it can be moved indoors or outdoors. It's an ideal trick for open-plan or vacation homes.
Cozy Up With Blankets
Encourage snuggling by keeping plenty of blankets close at hand. Throw them over the back of the sofa or pile in a basket for an effortless, chic look while you're not using them. Invest in a super cozy XL-sized blanket for the entire family for maximum cuddle factor.
Browse Thrift Stores
Thrift stores are a great place to find affordable pre-loved furniture and vintage steals. Bonus: you likely won't feel the need to protect pre-loved items as carefully and will be able to tell if they wear well with time.
Don't Forget the Fort
We know that your family room probably plays host to a great number of very important activities—hot lava games, couch jumping, and of course, fort building. Score a few brownie points investing in or DIYing a collapsible fort for your kids to set up on a whim—you might even save yourself from a mess in the long run.