Creating special spaces for families

Enter kids into the equation when planning, midtown designer says

Interior designer Meghan Carter frequently comes across spaces that focus too much on aesthetics.

“They’re beautiful solutions but they’re not practical,” the midtown resident said from a coffee shop on Yonge Street at Roxborough Street. “I’m a practical-at-heart so I want to make sure that those two aspects are married.”

Carter, who launched Meghan Carter Design Inc. seven years ago, said intelligent design choices are especially important when creating a space for families.

“At the end of the day, if a house doesn’t work with the kids the house doesn’t work,” the International Academy of Design graduate said. “But I really don’t think that homes need to be totally taken over by children.”

To create attractive interiors with kid-friendly functionality, she offered several tips, starting with kids’ bedrooms. Carter opts for timeless over trendy designs.

“It’s expensive to update rooms that have been designed around a passing theme,” she said. “You can still put colour on the wall, but select a greyed-down version of the colour so that it isn’t too bright when the whole room is painted.”

Carter suggests selecting more mature fabrics for headboards and drapes, and using wallpaper to introduce personality into a room.

“Consider papering just one wall,” she said. “This allows you to make a bolder choice and update it at a relatively low cost in a few years.”

For those wanting a modern touch in the room, bedding is the way to go, since it’s fairly inexpensive to replace if the trend goes out of style. Wall decals are also a temporary way to easily change up the look of a room.

Instead of covering the fridge with children’s art projects, parents can showcase their kids’ creativity in different ways to add design touches to their home.

“I love integrating their creations throughout the home,” she said. “So pick your favourites, have them framed nicely and — voila! — you’ve got original art that’s close to your heart.”

Another way to make use of kids’ creations is to blow up a photo they took, get it printed on vinyl and wrap it on a piece of plywood to make a headboard.

“It does double duty as their first piece of original art when they leave for university and need something to hang on the wall in their own apartment,” she said.

Throughout the house, using practical fabrics, colours and other finishes that “hide sins” is another trick. Carter uses slipcovers to protect more elegant fabric on the dining chairs or bench seats for everyday use.

“When you invite friends over you can peel-and-reveal a whole other side to your room,” she said.

A commonly challenging area in a full house is the entryway.

“Entry areas can sometimes be small, lack a closet, have awkward door swings and are the first thing you see when you come home, so they set the tone for your interior,” she said.

For a functional entryway, Carter suggests getting a striking entry mat, which looks good, creates a waterproof barrier between the floor and people who come in, is stain resistant and is easy to clean.

For those planning on installing tiles in this area, she recommends using a darker grout.

“It’s going to get dirty so it’s a mistake to use light grout,” she said. “If the tiles are a light colour use a contrasting grout. The result is sophisticated as well as practical.”

Rather than selecting hook racks for coats and accessories, which are often spaced too closely together, Carter uses several single hooks, which are available in a myriad of styles and can be hung at varying heights so that everyone in the family can reach them.

“I’m very used to the issues that parents with young kids are dealing with in their home,” she said. “The struggle of wanting a beautiful space that feels like a place want to spend time in as an adult, but it’s got to work for their kids.”

Tips for the master bedroom

Interior designer Meghan Carter reminds parents not to neglect their own bedroom when putting their energy into creating unique spaces for their children.

“Life with kids means that they take centre stage,” she said. “But it’s important for mom and dad to have a space that they can retreat to and recharge in.”

To make the master bedroom a soothing place for parents to enjoy some kid-free time, Carter offered these tips:

• Paint the walls a colour you love.
• Treat yourself to nice bedding and add some throw pillows to give the space a finished look.
• Make sure you have side tables and good bedside lighting, even if you aren’t a reader. Decorative lighting also adds much-needed ambiance to every room.
• Steer clear of matching sets. Piecing together a bedroom, or any room, with a collection of pieces in different shapes, tones, textures and materials creates a more interesting and harmonious environment to unwind in.

About this article:

Posted: Sep 7 2014 1:36 pm
Filed in: Home
Edition: Toronto