Living with kids is never easy, especially if you’re welcoming stepchildren into your bachelor pad or getting ready to welcome a new baby into your home. So many of us appreciate our homes, especially if we have lived in them for a while and really curated a style that’s all our own. For lovers of design, making a home “family-friendly” can be tough—the phrase alone has somehow acquired a scary ring to it. But it doesn’t have to.
Interior designers like Jennifer DeLonge (jenniferdelonge.com) are busy coming up with solutions to keep design lovers happy while making room for the family. A true tastemaker, DeLonge’s work, which also includes product and furniture design, has quickly become popular among celebrities as well as high-end boutiques looking to give their affluent clientele a modern solution.
“To me, modern family living means embracing your family’s environment and showcasing your true sense of style while creating a functional space at the same time,” she says. “Once children enter the picture, many couples start to feel that their style as individuals will slowly turn into too many trains, trucks and foam mats in the living room, but this doesn’t have to be! Finding creative ways to enjoy your space and keeping your home as an expression of yourself is doable with a little bit of creativity.”
With a devotion to textiles and furniture design from the 1920s through the 1970s, DeLonge is inspired everywhere she goes. “I take photos of door fronts, patterns on a museum floor or packaging that really grabs me—I take pictures of everything,” she says. “I tend not to look at them right away but then when I want inspiration, flipping through quickly I can edit on the spot and decide what I love and what I don’t.”
In addition to photographing her travels, DeLonge is always taking photos of her children, which is an important part of her design philosophy. As is evident in the gallery of work featured on DeLonge’s website, her cool, edgy, rocker-vibe aesthetic is definitely showcased, but so is the way she lovingly weaves in pieces and accessories that show off the heart of any family—the children.
“One of my favorite ways to incorporate children into the design of a home is to mix their artwork in right alongside your favorite modern works of art,” she says. “You will quickly curate a beautiful wall that not only looks of the moment, but has very special meaning to it as well.”
Along with her decorative ideas, DeLonge has a few functional tricks as well. Can’t part with your beloved carved wood coffee table? Use it as the family play table rather than buying a bulky plastic one decorated with the latest cartoon characters. “Incorporate stools, poufs or floor mats around the table to create a place to entertain the little ones, which is not only a perfect height, but also allows you to keep a piece you love.”
Also, she suggests using unconventional ideas for storage like a vintage trunk to give a room an eclectic look, but also serves as a hiding place for that growing collection of toys. “Having a hinged trunk nearby makes it so easy to quickly hide it all when you want to,” she says.
Consistently thinking about form, function and style is what drew DeLonge to create the new Henry Daybed. This comfy transitional piece not only comes in a funky zig-zag pattern, but it’s also a piece that can grow with the family.
“I love it in a nursery for late nights, and then later it can be great as a twin bed,” she explains. “The kids love this piece in a living room too, because it’s comfortable and they feel like they can lounge around on it more than on a conventional sofa. And I love it because you can throw a few beautiful pillows on it in contrasting patterns and you have instant chic!”
Of course, when it comes to decorating around kids, there are a few steadfast rules to keep in mind. DeLonge recommends paying attention to the materials you choose. For example, stone tables at a child’s level or fabrics that don’t wear so well, such as silks, are not the best choices. However, there are so many beautiful materials that can withstand wear-and-tear—part of the fun is exploring your options!
Finally, one of her best tips is to not give children too many restrictions on the rooms they are allowed to wander into. “Restricting them from certain rooms in the house,” she says, “always tempts them to want to go in there more.”