The Best Materials for a Luxurious, Family-Friendly Home in Boston | Louver Shop of Boston
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The Best Materials for a Luxurious, Family-Friendly Home

**This article is a guest post by Susan Hill, the principal of Susan Hill Design Group, and appears here and on her website. Enjoy!**

“This is why we can’t have nice things…” Have you ever noticed yourself saying these words before? It’s a common phrase cast around among homeowners, and if you’re a mother or father, it may be that you’ve murmured the words yourself as you found another Picasso-inspired Sharpie work of art on your living room wall.

Many families assume that in order to welcome the messiness of life and all its excitement, the appearance of their home has to languish. Today, I’m going to eliminate this myth once and for all!

As the principal at Susan Hill Design Group, I can tell you with total objectivity and extensive experience: you really can have nice things. In fact, the best nice things will both look good and resist concerned toddlers, outdoorsy teens, shedding pets, and a cluttered spouse all together. Here’s what I advise…


1. Quartz for Countertops

Quartz is a very sturdy, man-made surface that is a great option for countertops in a hardworking kitchen. What does quartz offer?

  • Compared to granite, quartz will never need to be sealed and is relatively maintenance-free.
  • Its heavy-duty strength matches concrete and won’t chip or crack.
  • Quartz looks elegant and maintains its sheen for quite a while.
  • It looks like natural stone, with veining, swirls, and patterns like marble or granite, and an assortment of colors ranging from browns, blacks, blues, reds, and creams.

Your kiddos’ spilled lemonade (or your spilled red wine…) is not an issue. Just wipe it clean with soapy water, and there's no etching or staining like you’d encounter with marble.

Above: When this family of five contacted us about designing their modern-style, new build in Charlotte, we recognized that multiuse, family-friendly spaces and resilient materials were a top priority. Quartz was the best choice for their kitchen. The space is light, open, and great for meal prep, homework help, family dinner, and simple cleanup. Style isn’t lost at all, am I right?

Pro Tip: When choosing your slab, try to stick with quartz that is manufactured in America or Europe for the highest quality material.

2. Performance Fabrics for Upholstery

Back in the day, performance fabrics were normally reserved for outdoor use only. Now, we use performance fabrics in lots of ways and in rooms you’d never consider. The very qualities that make it ideal outside — resilience, stain resistance, fade resistance, and water resistance — are really practical to have indoors too!

What items can be designed in performance fabrics?

  • Sofas
  • Chairs
  • Bar stools
  • Rugs
  • Window treatments
  • Even pillows!

Where do we love to incorporate performance fabrics?

  • In busy areas, such as a dining area, entryway, mudroom, or living area
  • On furnishings where kids and pets gather
  • In any spaces with extended sun exposure (to reduce fading)

The cherry on top? Today, there are many different forms of fibers being used to make new, innovative fabrics that are more sustainable. Recycled water bottles are being infused into fabrics and PET fibers are woven into rugs that feel sooo lush and soft to the hand but clean up easily. I’ll guess you would never know it if you were standing on a PET rug!


Above: Performance fabric was our number one pick when redesigning this family-friendly home. On the left, we spruced up this sunny spot with fade-resistant fabric that will keep the cushions looking new for longer. Right, a bench capped with a durable, stain resistant cushion and throw pillows delivered an inviting area to tie shoes or pack a backpack to prep for the day.

3. Washable Paint for Walls

Personally, washable paint is a good investment! A home brimming with activity will quickly impact your walls: messy fingerprints, scuffs from dropped shoes and bags, spattered food in the kitchen, a rainy-day game of chase through the halls, and a wet, full-body shake from Fido all leave their marks for posterity. And who has time for nonstop re-touching?

Strong, washable paint will come off with a soapy scrub and significantly extend the life and appearance of your painted walls. So, which should you pick?

  • Eggshell, satin, and semi-gloss are superb, wipeable surfaces.
  • If a matte finish is your favored look, there are more options becoming available as well. Ask your designer or paint professional about your favorite colors.

Above: You could be surprised to find out that this soothing office space is nestled away in a busy household. For the built-ins, I opted for this charcoal-tone satin paint with a peachy neutral on the wall. It seems soft and sumptuous, but you better believe that it’s scrubbable…just in case.

4. Cordless Coverings for Windows

I adore classic drapery, but for families with young children, I often gravitate toward cordless window treatments that won’t be a risk for toddlers who like to explore their surroundings. What do I prefer in its place?

All these options supply privacy, light control, and are easier to clean than fabric curtains. And, you can make quick and painless adjustments to keep them out of reach of little hands. They also come in a number of color, construction, and finishing options so that compromising style is never a problem!


Above: In this contemporary, family-friendly home, we helped design the black-framed windows to bring the outdoors in. As a child’s space, we decided on “barely there” roller shades for privacy, simple cleaning, and a minimal look that complements the architecture of the home.

5. Site-Finished Hardwoods & Tile for Flooring

I’ll offer up a little secret: site-finished hardwood floors, in any species of wood, are really easy to maintain. Site-finished requires that the wood is delivered to your home raw, from the mill, installed in your home, and then sanded and finished to your exact specifications.

If this seems new, guess again. This is the way hardwood floors have been installed for hundreds and hundreds of years! Here’s why I like it:

  • Site-finished floors are forgiving and easy to maintain
  • They look and feel smoother than pre-finished floors
  • They can be refinished again and again, giving you the freedom to modify them in multiple ways.

On the other hand, tile is your “BFF” (best flooring friend) in regards to any wet space, such as mudrooms, laundry rooms, and bathrooms. Tile cleans up with ease, stands up to stains, and is tough and durable. Just make sure to find a non-slip, non-skid option by finding the “wet coefficient” — this will keep it safe for everyone, no matter the age!


Above: When pets are an essential part of the family, hardwood floors are the top choice for durability, ease of use, customization, and maintenance. Site-finished floors are actually very forgiving, making them an ideal solution in a new build.

Final Tip: Lean on the Experts

Now you accept it, right? You can have sophistication and a space that goes with life's flow! When designing your new home, renovation, or refresh, think about the stage you are in now and how your needs could change over time. Then, get in touch with the experts for help! Who should you call?

If you’re building or renovating, an interior designer is your best resource for designing a home — top to bottom — with materials that look good, perform for your family, and are built to endure. If you aren’t hunting for a full solution, just pieces here and there, consult the experts in their respective fields: window treatment pros (like Louver Shop of Boston), your local countertop stone and paint suppliers, etc. There is no substitute for experience!

Until next time, I hope you get a little (or a lot) closer to a home with you at its heart.


Susan Hill is the owner and principal of Susan Hill Interior Design Group, where they believe in homes that support a family’s lifestyle and stand the test of time. For 20+ years, she and her team have served Charlotte, NC, and the surrounding areas with custom home design, construction management, and complete interior furnishings.