I hear it all the time. “We would love to re-do the living room but the kids are still little”.  Sticky fingers, cheesies, spilled drinks, and let’s be honest – red wine spills, don’t exactly conjure up visions of Norman Rockwell paintings. But we are here to tell you that you CAN have your cake and eat it too! Family friendly furniture exist and fabrics are better than they ever were before. Do I sound like a broken record? I just wrote about 5 upholstery facts to save you time and money…but there’s more to tell!

Did you know you can have kids and a lovely home?

Growing up, at my grandparents, where we held a lot of family gatherings there was a formal living room that children were not supposed to enter. Children were to be ‘seen and not heard’, after all. It was a formal living room that was always just perfect, awaiting an occasion for a family gathering. The one time I recall using it was to open Christmas presents. It was a formal space with a built-in shelves flanking a formal fireplace creating symmetry and balancing teh room the other end sat a grand piano.

I grew up, a little girl on the sidelines of my grandfather’s huge furniture business, but quickly learned that I loved to design and decorate homes. I also learned that rooms need to be where families gather frequently to create occasions, and memories, and they need to work for the people who use them, be functional, relaxing and livable. Don’t get me wrong here. Style does not have to be sacrificed. I’m here to tell you you can have your cake and eat it too!

The Myth

You think have to wait until the kids are grown up to update your furniture. Sticky finger, unexpected spills, dirt and grim are thought to be reasons to wait to buy “grown up furniture” until the kiddoes grown up.

The Truth

There is no reason why you can’t have a lovely living room or family room even when the kids are little. The best part? You won’t look back at your family photos later when the kids are grown, and grimace. That old, stained, worn out sofa will be remembered forever in your family photos. Rather than wish you had done it sooner, why not change it up right now and get your camera ready to take photos of the littles ones?

Choosing fabric for a new sofa or set of dining chairs can be a difficult task to narrow down all the lovely options until you know a bit more about them. Once you select a frame that will stand the test of time, the next decision is how to choose fabric. With a few pieces of key information you can narrow your choices down quite easily based on your needs.  Don’t leave home without this guide if you are shopping for a sofa or chairs!

Spill proof, hard-wearing, low maintenance, family friendly fabrics for the home really exist!

The beauty and practicality of performance fabrics has come a long way. Professional quality textiles are graded for abrasion resistance (suitable for high traffic areas), and yet beautiful enough for your home. They are also graded for stain resistance, cleanability (water or solvent based treatment recommendation), fire retardancy (required for commercial purposes). 

Crypton and Sunbrella were early leaders in the industry for these fabrics, but the technology has been adopted by many other manufacturers too.

The softness and texture of the residential Crypton fabrics has also come a long way. If you are familiar with the first generation of Sunbrella fabrics, you will recall they felt more like plastic than fabric and were really not comfortable for residential use. But no more! I can no longer tell by look or by touch. I have to read the technical information on the fabric label to know.

Just look at these beauties from Sunbrella…

flatlay of teal fabrics and decor pieces
stack of folded green fabrics

Things have gotten better

Many of the main fabric suppliers now have beautiful stain resistant fabric options.  Crypton being one, but Nanotech technology and other stain guard treatments like Fibreguard can be helpful to repel drink spills from youngsters and grown-ups alike (we know it happens). Some can be applied as after-market treatments and sprayed on bolts of fabric, or on completed furniture pieces, but the best results come from fabrics that are manufactured with stain resistance that is imbedded in the filaments before they are woven into fabric. Just ask about the technical specs on any fabric you are considering when you are selecting a piece of upholstered furniture. 

Here I am testing a red wine spill at a fabric fair – fearlessly!

Haha, did I fool you?

Don’t worry, here’s the real demo below…

Here’s a family room where we specified hard wearing fabrics and guess what? The frame broke down before the fabric showed any signs of wear. The owner bought a good frame that just needed a small repair and it looks like new again.

We get to see and handle all kinds of gorgeous in the showrooms when they have a trade fair. I can’t wait until we can get back to attending those again.

Our top strategies for family friendly furniture:

  1. Check for “soil and stain resistance” on the tag, or ask for a sample and test it at home
  2. Look for a texture or pattern that will hide dirt and stains. Smooth solid fabrics will show more than textured or patterned fabrics
  3. Choose “performance fabrics” when you buy new furniture
  4. If you’re still hesitant, consider removeable, washable slipcovers. While slipcovers are not necessarily less-expensive than reupholstering furniture, they can save money down the road if you pick machine-washable fabrics.
  5. If all else fails, pick options that are, well, the colour of dirt! Choose taupe, grey, mid-toned neutrals. They are a mainstay for sofas and sectionals in showrooms for a reason. They hide a multitude of sins.

Family friendly furniture exists. Then you need to decide what size of accent pillows are best for styling your sofa. People always ask so we’ve written a post for you!