Design tips for designing family apartments
We completed our two waterfront apartments in Autumn 2021 for a large family who live overseas. The apartments are primarily for family holidays and we were tasked with designing two schemes which had individually met the needs of our clients large family. When designing any space, home, or apartment we always take on a full brief from our clients so we can understand exactly how they want to use the space, what is important to them and what they want to achieve out of the finished product.
Designing with children in mind, plus a larger family, we wanted to ensure the apartments were functional, practical and comfortable plus delivering our clients the wow factor they asked for. Using a careful balance of muted tones, luxurious textured linens and subtle patterns we discuss more below about the client’s original brief and how we designed these two family apartments.
STORAGE IS KEY
Like most projects we undertake, storage is always essential. Even a property with loads of storage cupboards always needs more! One item which tends to take up a lot of space especially in holiday homes is suitcases. On the apartment projects we utilised the space beneath all the beds for storage. Every bed has a lift up mechanism revealing clever storage space under the mattress.
This way not only do you gain extra space, it is also hidden so you would never know it was there! We used our own choice of fabrics on the bed bases as well to tie in the bed bases with the rest of the scheme.
When designing a project, even with or without children and pets, we always like to use durable fabrics on the main pieces of furniture such as the sofas. We selected fabrics which can be used for severe domestic use so they can withstand the wear and tear of family life. Some fabrics can also be stain guarded or come with the manufactures own cleaning products.
Faux leather and vinyl’s are also great for dining areas as they are cleanable, wipeable and high performance. We used a vinyl on both dining areas of each apartment and the products available come in such a wide range of colour and texture you would never know it was a vinyl!
It can be tricky to include multiple pieces of furniture in small spaces. Especially when you are working in open plan living and dining rooms. On all our projects we always work through a variety of furniture layouts to discuss with our clients and rule out what does and doesn’t work for them.
Dining tables are sometimes not needed but for both these families they are essential. In one apartment there was a radiator placed right along one of the key walls by the dining table- moving it wasn’t an option, so we designed a bespoke dining bench which also acts as a radiator cover! You would never know the radiator existed.
We were also tasked with ensuring there was enough seating in each living area for the whole family plus guests. We reviewed multiple sofa options and in apartment 1 decided on a large L shaped sofa with a smaller armchair. The size and depth of both pieces were essential – the armchair was slim enough to push back out, so it didn’t interrupt the flow of the space and the sofa had just the right balance of proportions so as not to take up unnecessary room.
In apartment 2 as both bedrooms were being used by the adults and children there was no room for guests to stay over. One of the living room sofas doubles up as a sofa bed and the furniture around the sofa bed is light enough to move so it’s easy for when guests stay over.
We do love designing children’s bedrooms and in apartment 2 we loved the colours and theme of the twin bedroom for two young girls. The children were so excited when they saw the designs for their bedroom and by creating a special space just for them makes them feel included and involved.
Rather than using wallpaper we created a split wall using paint and injected a woodland pattern using a wall decal. We hung individual princess canopies over the beds bringing in an element of fun and adventure. We used terracotta tones and fun patterns on the bed cushions and all elements can be easily adapted as the children grow.
As we mentioned, the beds have lift up storage for all those toys that can be stored away!
In apartment 2 the children are quite young, so we wanted to steer away from solid furniture in the main living spaces. Instead of having a hard surface coffee table we opted for a softer upholstered ottoman finished in a soft faux suede. Not only is this a cushioned surface which is child friendly, it can also be dressed up with a tray and smaller accessories when children are not around.
We grouped the seating in both living rooms by using area rugs made from natural materials. Not only are they soft underfoot, but the wool also has thermal insulation keeping you warm in winter and cool in summer. As we were layering the rugs over beautiful light timber floors, not only do they protect the floor beneath, but they also are hypoallergenic and known to absorb sounds into the pile.
Outdoor space is more important than ever and both apartments are situated in the most picturesque location overlooking a beautiful lake and fields. Both balconies span the full length of the apartments and additional outdoor furniture was a key requirement. Being outdoors and connecting ourselves with nature and greenery does wonders for our health.
With the clients living abroad we used faux planting and trees in apartment 1 which meant no maintenance or worry about them needing watering. It is important to check with outdoor faux planting that the plants and trees are UV resistant which prevents them from fading and discolouring. The injection of the greenery creates a calm and relaxing atmosphere, you will notice we also placed a lot of faux trees inside the apartments – seeing greenery and nature help us to relax and connect with nature.
Outdoor seating often means seat cushions and back cushions which need storing somewhere over winter. A weatherproof blanket box is an ideal solution or a large furniture cover helps protect the cushions and furniture over the winter months.
‘Both apartments had their own individuality and design details, we used a soft base palette of muted earth tones and neutrals and layered texture and pattern on top. On these projects we both said how much we would love for these apartments to be our own! There are definitely furniture pieces you will see appearing in both our houses soon!’ – Emily
‘With the clients being abroad all our communication was over zoom, what’s app and emails so it was essential we portrayed our designs with clarity’