A family-friendly home design looks different for everyone. Take your favourite TV shows for example; Grace and Frankie, Modern Family, The Brady Bunch, Shameless, and This is Us all illustrate vastly different family structures. Designing a family-friendly home goes beyond how many kids you have or how mobile you are. It’s about your lifestyle, location, life stage, and the home that suits you in the future too. Regardless of the size of your home, here’s how you can choose a home design that everyone in the family feels great in.

3 must-have home features for kids

Smart home design can make life easier for you, safer for your kids, and more fun for the whole family. 

1. Built-in safety measures

When you’re moving into a new home, take time to survey every room and imagine how it will be used. Some spaces might be only for parents; perhaps the master bedroom and master bathroom are no-go zones. But how can you design the rest of your home for safety and security? 

  • Plan the outdoor space with relevant fences and gates. Is there anything separating the front yard from the street? Sure, the kids are going to love the pool –– but is there a secure locked gate for times when you can’t have eyes on them? 
  • Think a few years ahead. Maybe your newborn isn’t crawling now, but when they start moving, what spaces might they get into? Are there rooms you can design specifically for their playtime? What about sharp edges, outlets, fireplaces, stovetops, and window proofing?
  • Think about your kids when you’re designing your kitchen; how high is the stove? Are the chairs convenient for children? Are there higher or locked cabinets for hazardous materials or medications?

2. A family centre for the home

Consider an intentional family centre in your home where everyone can gather comfortably. Whether you commit to a regular family dinner to talk about how school was that day, or a weekly game-night where everyone can joke about what a sore loser Dad is, make room for communal space in your home design. If you’re lucky enough to have a big living room, design a space that’s bright, well-lit, and appealing for everyone in the family. A family centre can be shaped around your family’s favourite pastimes; board games, puzzles, a weekly show you watch together, a game of soccer in the yard, or cooking together once a week.

 

Got a big TV? Make sure your television isn’t a distraction when it’s not being used. If you design your home with furniture facing the television, it’s might be hard to convince the kids to read together; so position your sofa or chairs in a way that a table with books, games, or educational toys is at the centre.

3. Storage solutions and multi-tasking spaces

Integrate storage solutions into your home design, from built in features to final design touches. Think of built-in closets with mirrored doors to add light and storage to a room, consider constructing a shed with extra storage, and choose furniture with built-in storage options. A room can go from kid-friendly chaos to a spot for evening cocktails for parents if you have a great system for tucking toys away. 

 

When you’re looking at a home, consider how some rooms might provide multiple storage options. The internet is an abundant source of home organization shows and storage tips, so do your research before you move into your new home and map out each room with potential uses and storage solutions. Each family and lifestyle is unique, so build your storage around your lifestyle; some families have more sporting equipment, some kids have an abundance of art supplies, and others might need a well-designed costume chest for home theatre productions.

 

  • How will you be storing toys, whether they’re in the yard or inside the house? Which are the main playrooms, and how will storage be integrated into these spaces?
  • What’s the best solution for art supplies, and which room has maximal space for creative minds to make a mess if they need to? 
  • Where will bikes, sporting equipment, and camping gear be stored? Does your new home have space that’s obviously meant for this purpose or is some renovation needed? 

How to plan your home design for seniors or elderly parents

Mobility becomes more of a challenge with age. So whether you’re planning to move in an elderly parent or looking to retire and enjoy old age in your new home yourself,  make your home senior-friendly with a bit of forethought. 

 

Here are some considerations for senior home design:

 

  • Mobility is key. Consider how stairways, narrow hallways, and raised platforms might impact someone who is injured, frail, or may be using a mobility device. Move around the house while imagining you have limited mobility. If you’re moving in a loved one who uses a wheelchair, measure the dimensions of the chair or borrow it for a ride around your home to mark spaces where you’ll need ramps, or where it might be hard for them to enter a room.
  • Think ahead. It’s great to live in the present, but think of the future too. Injuries and a decline in mobility are natural for aging bodies, so even if your 80-year-old mother can climb the stairs now, putting her bedroom on the second floor might be risky. Consider making choices for yourself or others that won’t require changes if life throws a curveball or two. How might a decline in eyesight or hearing impact how you move around your home? Being near a bathroom, on the ground floor, and having access to the yard are all great baseline considerations.
  • Integrate open communication. If you’re moving in a senior who’s used to their own home layout, they might be happier if they’re part of their new home’s design. Similarly, asking good questions means you don’t make decisions based on assumption. Before you give up the master bedroom, have a conversation; it might be that grandma is actually more comfortable in the guest room because there’s less of a draft. It’s also important to talk about how long they’ll be staying, to establish equal footing and boundaries as you begin to share your home, and put plans in place in case they need nursing support or full-time care.

How can I make my home teen-friendly?

Perhaps your beloved little girl has suddenly started wearing black eyeliner, performing mysterious dance routines on TikTok, and doesn’t seem to think you’re cool anymore. Family time with teens is important, and so is creating a space where they’ll want to hang out. Of course we all remember the feelings that being a teenager brings on; a need for personal space, a desire to define your own boundaries, and an ache to find your own place in the world. Keep all of this in mind when you’re trying to make your home a safe, appealing place for your teen. 

Tips for designing a home teens will like:

  • Create solutions that make everyone happy. Consider common conflicts when you’re designing a space. For example, do your kids love playing their instruments or music loudly? Install sound baffling in the garage and allot one night a week where they can have band practice. Think creatively for home design solutions that support their passions and maintain your sanity. 
  • Provide space for creativity and self-expression. Imagine living in a home where someone else controls how everything looks, without any space to put items or paint the walls in a colour you like! Self-expression is important for everyone, but especially for teens. Whether it’s a separate clubhouse, a giant bristol board where they can pin ideas and inspiration, or a whole bedroom, find a way to show your kids that this space is theirs too. You might not like the posters they put up, but give them a place to make their own and they’ll likely feel more like being home.
  • Involve your teens in the process of designing your home. Instead of guessing what your teen will like, ask them what matters to them at home. What do they like doing at home? Even if their answer is a sarcastic “I just want to be alone,” consider how you can help them establish a sense of privacy and security. Ask them what bothers them and what they love. If you’re moving into a new home, find a way to let them make a decision, even if it’s as simple as where the bed goes or what colour the curtains are; for both communal spaces and their own space.

How to maximize space for your family in a small home

Do you have a smaller space? You might be reading through these tips for a well-designed family home and feel limited if you live in an apartment or are buying a smaller home. As the cost of owning a home has gone up, single-family homes are more expensive than ever before. Not to worry! A well designed small space can perform just as well as a bigger home if you get creative.

 

  • Designate personal space. If you have kids who are sharing a room, design wisely so that everyone has their own corner and personal space. Consider hanging dividers or curtains between beds, or designated closets and moodboards where kids can hang photos that represent their interests and see all their own things in one place. If you’re living with a partner and you both work from home, consider a garage conversion for an extra office or choose a home that’s walking distance to coffee shops and libraries, in case you want to work outside of the home.
  • Use outdoor space intentionally. If you’ve got a yard, use it! You might have a small dining room, but put a long table outside under a simple wooden roof for big family dinners or entertaining guests. If your new home has a sunroom, consider insulating it to convert it from a summer-only space to a year-round spot for reading books while you watch the snow fall outside.
  • Buy furniture that multi-tasks just like you do. A front foyer can have a bench that doubles as shoe storage, a home office might have a desk that comes out of the wall, and a kitchen table might have fold out leaves. Similarly, your bed, coffee table, and couch can have extra storage. Watch YouTube videos on small home design for inspiration.

 

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