Last week, I caught up with Dawn Bennett, a partner of Splice Design. This firm, which focuses on architecture, urban design, residential and interior design, was founded in 2010 and has offices in Atlanta and New York. Dawn was originally an architect, which was how she fell into interior design. As an architect, you needs to be concerned with what happens inside the space that you are designing. For example, does the room have storage and where will you charge the cell phones? Architects may be unable to delve into the interior design aspect of a home because of budget limitations – and so this is where Splice Design comes in. What Dawn is finding in the current economic market, is that many families that may have wanted to move to a bigger house, have chosen to stay in their existing space, renovate and use their existing space differently.
Here are some of her tips on how to maintain a chic family friendly home…
- 1. Use Neutral colors
As a mom herself, Dawn has become even more sympathetic to the needs of families with kids. In designing rooms, she prefers to use base neutral colors like tan, warm grays and wool skein and then accents such as orange (her favorite), turquish turquoise, magenta and citron green. She tends to stay away from primary colors like red, blue, and bright yellow.
- 2. Multipurpose your furniture
In designing children’s living spaces, Dawn is a huge fan of multitasking or multipurposing. For example, an IKEA stolmen system (which is a closet system) can initially be used as a desktop with a changing table on top just like in the photo below and then once the baby outgrows diapers, a desktop with drawers. For a school age child, it can be converted into a computer desk with book shelves. Now don’t you just love the guy/gal who came up with this piece of furniture? The system can also double up as a magazine book holder, or it can be used in an office or a closet….(l think this definitely makes for a great trivia question at your next games night. In the words of Toni Braxton, “how many ways I love you?” Each count would represent one of the ways it can be reconfigured.
The photo of the stolmen system below shows the vertical support poles (necessary), a narrow set of drawers, shelves (long and short), a clothes rod, and the shoe/magazine racks along the bottom. Some are installed on an angle and some are installed flat. You buy the support brackets that attach to the poles and space them according to the pieces and the layout you want. You can also buy the longer set of drawers if you would like the ‘changing table effect’.
Dawn also loves the storage stool or bench ottomans from Target – (for a shared living room) since the top comes off and you can store the toys underneath. Perfect!
- 3. Invest in a handful of quality pieces
Mix high end and low end stuff with a focus on a handful of good quality pieces. “Nobody wants to redo a house every five years!” For your high end pieces, pick items that are ‘neutral in color’ and ‘classic’. The rest of the living space can be modified as trends change with pillows, and rugs, for instance. Having a few good quality pieces allows you to ‘repurpose’ the items.
- 4. Low tile carpets are great for families with kids
I had never heard of these before this conversation, but low tile carpets are the in thing. You can put them together yourself, the tiles are 18 by 18, and can be cut, you can install borders and patterns, and this is key (drumroll), they clean like a breeze!). That is, you can spot clean them with a detergent. Have a very overactive and perhaps destructive child? No problem. Rather than having to totally replace a carpet, you can replace just the damaged tiles @ ($15-35) a piece. Dawn’s favorite company to buy low tile carpets from is Flor (www.flor.com)…a sample of which is displayed in the photo below.
- 5. Scale the size of the furniture to the size of the room
Dawn is NOT a fan of large sectional pieces in small rooms…..but an L-shaped sofa could work.
- Think broader than the nursery…
Babies are only little for such a short time…so when you are choosing wallpaper, rugs, and murals…think of themes that grow with the child. I love the gender and age neutral mural in the little toddler’s room below.
Dawn’s tips are really super….….perhaps, she can help all of us get our homes featured in the next architectural digest???
For more fabulous tips by Dawn, please check out her website….www.splice-design.com.