30 Tips for Creating a Family-Friendly Living Room

A living room designed with kids and pets in mind doesn't have to be short on style. Check out these spaces that are functional, fabulous and family-friendly.

Keep in mind: Price and stock could change after publish date, and we may make money from these links.
April 27, 2020

Photo By: Tessa Neustadt

Photo By: The Land of Nod

Photo By: Brian Patrick Flynn

Photo By: John Woodcock Photography

Photo By: Alison Kandler

Photo By: Hometrack ©Scripps Networks, LLC

Photo By: Photography by David A. Land; Styling by Frances Bailey and Karin Lidbeck-Brent

Photo By: Amity Worrel

Photo By: John Bessler

Photo By: Donna Dotan

Photo By: Bronwyn Poole

©Imagen de Llolker, Moment, Getty Images

Photo By: Axis Mundi Design

Photo By: Stephen Allen Photography

Photo By: Douglas Young Photography

Photo By: Brian Patrick Flynn

Photo By: Meghan Bob

Photo By: Jane Beiles

Photo By: Jared Kuzia Photography

Photo By: Aubrey Pick

Photo By: Ryan Garvin

Photo By: Scott Amundson Photography

Photo By: Ryan Garvin

Photo By: Jared Kuzia Photography

Photo By: Julie Soefer Photography

Photo By: John Woodcock Photography

Photo By: Jared Kuzia Photography

Don't Forget the Rocker

A rocker is a must-have piece of furniture for kiddos. Not only is it great for lulling little ones to sleep, but it's also the quintessential reading spot. Luckily, rockers come in all shapes, sizes and styles, so find one that fits right into your design. Also, with kids, you spend a lot of time on the floor, so consider having comfortable throw pillows around for lounging.

Select the Right Fabrics

Neutral furniture is a smart choice for the base of any living room. Layer on throw pillows in a variety of textures and colors, and you've created a stylish space for the whole family. Look for fabrics that are nubby or woven, as they're more likely to hide stains and smudges than smooth, flat upholstery.

Make Furniture Work for You

Look for pieces that double as storage. For instance, this round coffee table features a flat top for playtime, along with a handy deep drawer for stowing away toys. Quick clean up options are a must for maintaining a clutter-free and stylish living room.

Give Pets Their Own Space

Designer Brian Patrick Flynn converted a drum-style side table into a cozy hideaway for dogs or cats. Want to make your own? Hit thrift stores to find a side table that's large enough for your pet to be able to stand up and turn around. Remove the doors and add padding and upholstery fabric to the table's interior. Finally, add a cushy pillow for lounging.

See More Photos: 30 Tips for Creating a Family-Friendly Living Room

Invest in Leather

Leather is a durable material that will stand up to years of wear and tear from kids and pets. It's easy to wipe down and keep clean, and will maintain its good looks over time. If you're worried about scratches marring the finish, look for a distressed leather, where scratches will blend right in.

Match Upholstery Fabric to Their Fur

Okay, this may sound a little extreme, but for any pet parent who has spent time cleaning black pet fur off a white sofa, or white pet fur off a black sofa, this tip is a sanity saver.

Add Your Own Style

Creating a family-friendly room doesn't mean you can't include your favorite design elements. Mix in high-end pieces; just make sure they're made of durable materials. Here, beautiful abstract artwork creates a gallery wall that's flanked by gilded tree branch sconces. An Eames lounge chair is paired with a comfortable tufted sofa, graphic area rug and a bookcase that provides open and hidden storage for the family.

Create a Cheery Space

Happy, cheerful colors evoke a fun, kid-friendly atmosphere. In her own home, designer and mom Alison Kandler paired a navy sofa with wicker furniture and a distressed coffee table. The brightly striped area rug and candy-colored pink and floral pillows help tie all the hues together. The family space serves multiple functions: a place for kids to create art and play, a home office and a spot to relax as a family.

Round It Out

With little ones running around, soft corners are a must. Designer Liz Dickson grounds the room with a shag area rug, then pairs wide-seat armchairs with a soft, padded ottoman.

Remember: It Can All Be Washed

Fear putting white sofas in the family room? Fear no more! The solution is slipcovers (and maybe a few extra throws that can easily be washed). The best thing about choosing white or neutral upholstery for your furniture is that you can easily change the style of your room with accessories.

See More Photos: Kid-Friendly Home Decorating

Include Surfaces for Play

Incorporate flat surfaces, like the striped ottoman and leather bench, in your living room as a kid-level play surface. The built-in bookshelves have closed cabinets below, hiding the reach of little hands, while the open shelving above allows parents to display their favorite pictures, accessories and books.

Unleash Your Creativity

Whimsical design brings childlike wonder to a living room and makes kids (and guests) feel right at home. Painted blue birds decorate the walls and ceiling in this bright space. The pretty blue is carried throughout the room in the curtains and tufted pouf.

Make Spaces Multifunctional

Make the most of the space you have. Here, designer Claire Paquin incorporates a mudroom in this open living room. Keep the space tidy with hooks for coats, baskets for out-of-sight storage and shelves for shoes.

Bring On the Color

Great visuals transform this living room into a creative experience for the whole family. The bold hues of the custom-designed area rug reflect the colors in the abstract artwork. Sliding paned glass doors lead out to the pool, but keep kid safety in mind. The pool is surrounded by clear glass panels that fence it off from the patio area.

Spend a Little to Save a Lot

A scratching post is a must for a home with cats. Scratching is necessary for them to stretch and to leave paw scent marks. So, save your sofa by placing a scratching post in the living room. Hang a few of your kitty's favorite toys from the top to encourage exercise.

Sink In and Relax

This extra-deep, cozy sectional is the perfect spot for the entire family to pile on. Natural light pours in from the floor-to-ceiling windows taking advantage of the urban setting. Low, streamlined bookcases and coffee tables are ideal for stowing books and magazines, while a cushy gray area rug grounds the room for all-around comfort.

Keep it Open

Open-concept living spaces are increasingly popular — both for entertaining and because they make it much easier to keep an eye on the kids.

Think Low

In this eclectic living room, designer Betty Wasserman uses low furniture to make the space more welcoming for even the smallest family members. The round coffee table and cushy area rug ensure the floor is a comfy spot for watching TV and eating popcorn while jelly bean-shaped stools add another fun kid-sized seating option.

Display Kids' Artwork

Bring a personal touch to your living room with pillows showcasing your child's artwork. Here, the homeowners scanned the artwork, uploaded it to a digital printing company, then had their little one's masterpiece printed onto canvas and stitched into pillows.

Roll Out the Right Rug

With kiddos and furbabies running, crawling, playing and rolling all over your floor, your living space needs a durable and easy-to-clean rug. Opt for wool or natural fibers since they're durable and don't stain as easily. Another option is to look for an indoor/outdoor rug. Not only do they come in almost any pattern you can imagine, but since they're designed to withstand the wind, rain and sun, they'll also be able to hold up to your rugrats.

Make It Playful

Kids provide you with ample opportunity to have a little fun with your furnishings. Install a hanging chair or swing in your living space for an out-of-the-box spot to sit while they're hanging out with the grown-ups.

Sitting in the Window

Take full advantage of a window seat. Cats and dogs will love having an extra sunny spot to soak up the rays. Likewise, a window bench gives kids a place to see the world beyond, curl up with you for story time or turn it into a play surface for racing cars or tea parties.

See More Photos: 20 Cozy Reading Nooks

Embrace Pattern

Having a mix of fabrics and prints adds a decidedly playful note to your living space. Additionally, busy patterns help disguise spots and stains.

Don't Be Too Precious

When it comes to decorating with kids and pets, you don't have to sacrifice style, but do consider how you'll feel if something gets dinged, torn or ruined. Create a home made for living with pieces that can stand up to dirty feet and a layer of fur, and that won't make your heart break if they need to be replaced.

Make Room for Play

Kids can squeeze play into the tiniest of spaces, but if you have the room, leave an open area where they can spread out to make believe with stuffed animals, play a board game or work on their latest art creation. If your living room is on the petite side, incorporate an ottoman or coffee table that can easily slide out of the way to create an activity-ready space.

Opt for Soft Seating

Bring in poufs, ottomans and floor cushions for kids and pets to lounge on a comfy spot. Cozy, modular seating delivers a laidback aesthetic that feels ready for a family and friend hangout. This contemporary living room also incorporates nesting coffee tables that can be separated to triple the tabletop space.

Go With a Neutral Palette

As with most living spaces, starting with a neutral color scheme allows you to customize your space as your tastes and needs change. Easily add in the trendy color of the moment or your daughter's favorite floral print, then switch them out when you're ready for something new. Additionally, a limited palette gives the room a more serene atmosphere — a welcomed respite from the chaos of family life.

Clear Clutter With Baskets

Have handy baskets tucked under your console table, coffee table or on your bookshelves to corral the clutter of toys, stuffed animals and games. And they make clean-up time a cinch. Set a five-minute timer before bedtime and ask everyone — young and old — to run around and throw as many items in the baskets as they can before heading off to put on pjs.

Use Books as Art

Blue and white striped walls set a stylish yet playful backdrop for this children's room. A gray armchair with orange and gray throw pillows provides a cozy reading spot on the colorful graphic rug. Floating bookshelves create a bright book display, while a gallery wall above adds character.

Paint for Success

Your color palette is wide open when it comes to painting the walls of your living space, but make sure to select an eggshell, satin or gloss finish. They are ideal for high traffic areas, since they're easy to wipe down and clean off all those little fingerprints.

Shop This Look