Kid-Friendly, Pet-Friendly Living Room Combines Style and Function

A lackluster Los Angeles living room is transformed into a durable, designer space packed with kid-and-pet-friendly touches.

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November 25, 2014

In Search of Kid-Friendly Sophistication

Prior to the makeover, this modestly-sized family room looked more like a college student's rental than the home of stylish, young parents. From the beige walls to the lack of a solid space plan, homeowners John and Kelly Greenway turned to a designer friend to reinvent the space as a colorful, casual place to unwind with son Cooper and rottweiler pup Bernie.

The Room Inspiration

Using the cool, coastal climate of Southern California as inspiration, the bland, beige room was transformed into a colorful, casual place to relax, watch TV and play games. To put the 15x18' space to good use, it was divided into two functional zones: a place to lounge and another area for playing games and casual dining.

Dual-Purpose Dining Space

The dining and game area is the first thing you see upon enterting this space. This works well for entertaining, since guests can walk right in and take a seat when joining the family for lunch or dinner.

Symmetrical Living Space

John and Kelly's twin sofas are arranged floating style in the center of the room flanking the fireplace. This adds symmetry while also creating a cozy, intimate feeling. It also allows for proper traffic flow around each of the sofas into the surrounding rooms.

Got Spills? Try Slipcovers

Since Cooper is prone to spills and stains and Bernie is still a rambunctious pup, fancy sofas were not an option for John and Kelly. Instead, the couple invested in a pair of classic sofas slipcovered with a handsome shade of navy blue linen. When juice spills or messy hands mark up the slipcover, a quick toss in the washer will have it looking like new.

Opposites Attract

For colorful contrast, accents of coral and orange were used throughout the space to add a bright pop against the dark navy blue.

Kid-Decorated Pillows

In order to ensure a strong kid-friendly vibe in the family room, throw pillows made from kids' art add color and pattern to the slipcovered sofas. To create these, the homeowners scanned art uploaded it to a digital printing house that prints the artwork onto canvas. The canvas was then delivered to a local seamstress, who sewed them into pillow covers stuffed with down inserts.

Greyhound Pillows

Bernie is considered part of the family. To work him into the design in a sophisticated manner, custom throw pillows made from a cotton fabric featuring navy, blue-grey and white greyhounds have a prominent place on the sofas.

Outdoor Rugs Bring Style Indoors

While soft underfoot surfaces are important for keeping kids and pets comfortable, area rugs placed in high traffic family rooms are likely to be covered with spills and messy accidents. Using indoor-outdoor rugs in high-traffic rooms adds both durability and style. Here, woven acrylic with a sisal look creates a costal vibe.

A Stylish Way to Hide the TV

For today's modern family, TVs in family rooms are almost always a must. To minimize the TV's presence, a shallow upper kitchen cabinet was updated to conceal it. When closed, the cabinet doubles as an architectural accent; however, once opened, the TV takes center stage. A corkboard inside the door can house Cooper's newest school artwork.

Stripes Add a Graphic Punch

John and Kelly's family room opens up onto various areas of the house including the formal dining room, entry, hallway and Cooper's nursery. To create uniformity in the chopped-up space, navy and white horizontal stripes were painted along all walls.

Don't Forget the Ceiling

Many homeowners leave ceilings white when updating rooms; however, ceilings offer another opportunity to play with color and pattern to pull a room's design together. To keep the cool, coastal vibe flowing throughout John and Kelly's family room, the ceiling was painted a soft, neutral shade of blue-grey in a flat finish.

No-Fuss Gallery Wall

High-priced art purchased from galleries seems impractical for use in spaces utilized by kids and pets. To add original art cost-effectively, pick up disparate vintage pieces from flea markets and thrift stores, then arrange them in groupings along the wall. Should a child knock art loose, any damage made to a frame or canvas will simply add to its vintage charm.

Hidden Storage Keeps Toys At Bay

From the moment he wakes up each morning, Cooper's toys immediately take over the family room. To keep them within arm's reach, yet concealed safely, a coffee table was made from a basic pine toy box updated with small strips of reclaimed pine flooring and tacks.

Double-Duty Seating

The coffee table serves double duty as extra seating thanks to a plywood lid upholstered with indoor-outdoor fabric in the room's accent color, coral. When it's time for Cooper and Bernie to play, the toy box ottoman can easily be moved out of the center of the room thanks to casters added along the bottom.

A Bed for Bernie

Although the slipcovered sofas can withstand Bernie jumping up onto and off of them, the space is tight when the entire family is gathered together. To give Bernie his own designated spot to sleep, John and Kelly commissioned a dog bed made from reclaimed shipping pallets.

Coordinating Cushion

To ensure a comfy surface for Bernie to rest his head, a custom cushion for the dog bed was made from indoor-outdoor fabric. In addition to being soft and comfortable, the acrylic fabric is also stain-resistant and coordinates with the room's navy palette.

Moveable Bed

Since space is at a premium in the family room, Bernie's dog bed is on casters, making it easy to wheel out, freeing up more open floor space for play time.

Chalkboard Tables Without the Mess

A touch of playfulness was added to the family room's furnishings with chalkboard cube end tables that flank each of the slipcovered sofas. Basic wood cube tables are painted with chalkboard paint, then covered with acrylic panels to keep designs sharp and furniture clean.

Easy-Change Artwork

In addition to being fun and playful, the chalkboard end tables also offer up a chance to change up looks. Here, white chalk and an architectural furniture sketch brings a more adult-like feel to the family room.

Thrift Store Finds

John and Kelly designated a spot for playing games and enjoying casual meals by furnishing it with vintage furniture found on Craigslist for $150. To put a custom spin on the chairs, the couple had them reupholstered with midcentury modern geometric fabric. While the wood of the table and chairs was in good condition, a coat of oil enhanced the rosewood grain.

Teflon-Coated Fabric

The fabric used on the vintage dining chairs was not kid-friendly, yet John and Kelly were determined to use it. At the advice of a designer friend, the fabric was treated with teflon at a local fabric treatment center before the chairs were upholstered. Teflon treatment averages $10 per yard, but it protects the fabric against inevitable mealtime spills.

Stylish Privacy

The main window of the family room looks out onto a popular Los Angeles street. To add privacy and also play up the white and navy color scheme, custom window treatments made from indoor-outdoor fabric featuring a coral pattern were installed floor-to-ceiling. Since the fabric is stain-resistant, it can stand up to Bernie's muddy paws and Cooper's sticky fingers.

Creative Storage Solutions

Space is at a premium in the family room. With a major lack of storage, John and Kelly had to get creative by adding space to store games and items for entertaining. By picking up a small wooden dresser at a flea market, then removing its central drawers with a reciprocating saw, three open shelves were created for housing board games and books. To give the dresser an updated look, its exterior was sprayed with glossy coral paint, while the interior was sprayed matte white.

Custom Hardware

One-of-a-kind hardware adds to this room's youthful-yet-sophisticated vibe.

Accident-Proof Lamps

John and Kelly are fans of midcentury modern style and wanted retro lamps above their game cabinet. To add midcentury appeal that's both kid-and-pet-friendly, they opted for a pair of 1960s space-age table lamps made of plastic and steel.

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