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Creating a family room that works for everybody

In most households, the main-floor family room is expected to fulfill a variety of roles, from child-friendly play zone during daylight hours to adult-friendly lounging and entertaining area during evenings and weekends. Consequently, navigating the fine balance between a place where young kids can play independently and grown-ups will want to spend time in without feeling like they're visiting a Fisher-Price showroom can be more than a little challenging. As a strong believer that having children does not go hand in hand with abandoning style, I do feel it's possible to create rooms that are neither off limits to kids nor dull and utilitarian. The key: durable, multifunctional furniture and materials.

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THE LOOK Worried about finding a kid-friendly colour scheme? There is nothing more forgiving than one based on the colours of ... dirt. Be sure to choose an all-cotton upholstery fabric than you can pre-wash and -dry before installing. And go for seat cushions without piping, for easy cleaning.

Stacey Brandford for The Globe and Mail/stacey brandford The Globe and Mail

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KITCHEN CABINETS Instead of spending a small fortune on wall-to-wall cabinetry and bookshelves, install out-of-the-box kitchen cabinetry. Beyond the variety of sizes and finishes, you can customize your combination to suit your needs while also being able to conceal all your electrical components, cords and other junk.

Stacey Brandford for The Globe and Mail/stacey brandford The Globe and Mail

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ONE-OF-A-KIND COFFEE TABLES Try one of these for a focal point/activity surface that’s both tough and unique. Create a sturdy yet inexpensive base by attaching reclaimed balusters to plywood discs, then cap them with a round piece of honed marble, affixing it so it doesn’t move.

Stacey Brandford for The Globe and Mail/stacey brandford The Globe and Mail

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AFFORDABLE ARTWORK Here, inexpensive vintage animal prints found at an antique book dealer feature a variety of furry critters and create graphic impact on the wall. A long table surface also offers plenty of opportunity to accessorize with lamps, ceramics and collectibles well out of reach of small ones.

Stacey Brandford for The Globe and Mail/stacey brandford The Globe and Mail

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