The Best Materials for a Luxurious, Family-Friendly Home in Austin | Louver Shop of Austin
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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 found yourself thinking these words before? It’s a common phrase tossed around amongst homeowners, and if you’re a mother or father, perhaps you’ve whispered the words yourself as you found another Picasso-inspired Sharpie masterpiece on the living room wall.

Lots of families assume that in order to accept the messiness of life and all its changes, the decor of their home has to languish. Today, I’m going to dismiss this myth once and for all!

As the principal at Susan Hill Design Group, I can tell you with full objectivity and years of experience: you really can enjoy nice things. In fact, the best nice things will both look fantastic and resist concerned toddlers, sporty teens, shedding pets, and a sloppy spouse all at the same time. Here’s what I propose…


1. Quartz for Countertops

Quartz is a very sturdy, man-made surface that is a perfect choice for countertops in a busy kitchen. What does quartz have going for it?

  • Compared to granite, quartz never needs to be sealed and is relatively maintenance-free.
  • Its heavy-duty strength matches concrete and won’t chip or break.
  • Quartz appears elegant and holds its sheen for quite a while.
  • It seems like natural stone, with veining, swirls, and patterns like marble or granite, and a variety of colors made up of browns, blacks, blues, reds, and creams.

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

Above: When this family of five called us about decorating their modern-style, new build in Charlotte, we knew that multiuse, family-friendly rooms and resilient materials were a top priority. Quartz was the right choice for their kitchen. The space is light, breezy, and perfect for meal prep, homework help, family living, and simple cleanup. Style isn’t lost at all, am I right?

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

2. Performance Fabrics for Upholstery

Not that long ago, performance fabrics were generally reserved for outdoor use only. Now, we incorporate performance fabrics in lots of ways and in rooms you’d never have thought of. The exact qualities that make it great outside — resilience, stain resistance, fade resistance, and water resistance — are just as practical to use indoors too!

What items can be generated in performance fabrics?

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

Where do we like to incorporate performance fabrics?

  • In high-traffic areas, including a dining area, entryway, mudroom, or living area
  • On furniture where kids and pets gather
  • In any spaces with heavy sun exposure (to minimize fading)

The cherry on top? Today, there are many different varieties of fibers being used to produce new, innovative fabrics that are more sustainable. Recycled water bottles are being mixed 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 realize it if you were standing on a PET rug!


Above: Performance fabric was our best pick when decorating 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 long-lasting, stain resistant cushion and throw pillows delivered an inviting area to tie shoes or organize a backpack to prep for the day.

3. Washable Paint for Walls

In my opinion, washable paint is a no-brainer! A home filled with activity will swiftly affect your walls: smeared fingerprints, scuffs from dropped shoes and bags, splattered 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 perpetual re-touching?

Tough, washable paint will come off with a soapy scrub and noticeably extend the life and beauty of your painted walls. So, which will you choose?

  • Eggshell, satin, and semi-gloss are great, wipeable surfaces.
  • If a matte finish is your cup of tea, there are more choices becoming available as well. Ask your designer or paint professional about your preferred colors.

Above: You could be pleased to learn that this soothing office space is tucked away in a bustling household. For the built-ins, I chose this charcoal-tone satin paint with a peachy neutral on the wall. It looks soft and sumptuous, but you better believe that it’s scrubbable…just in case.

4. Cordless Coverings for Windows

I love classic drapery, but for families with boisterous children, I typically gravitate towards cordless window treatments that won’t pose a risk for toddlers who like to explore their surroundings. What do I prefer instead?

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


Above: In this modern, family-friendly home, we helped design the black-framed windows to pull the outdoors in. As a child’s space, we selected “barely there” roller shades for privacy, fast cleaning, and a minimal look that suits 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 very easy to maintain. Site-finished means that the wood is transported to your home raw, from the mill, installed in your home, and then sanded and finished to your precise specifications.

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

  • Site-finished floors are versatile and easy to maintain
  • They look and feel smoother than pre-finished floors
  • They can be refinished over and over again, giving you the chance to modify them in a number of ways.

Conversely, tile is your “BFF” (best flooring friend) in regards to any wet space, including mudrooms, laundry rooms, and bathrooms. Tile cleans up well, withstands stains, and is hard and sturdy. Just take care to choose a non-slip, non-skid material by finding the “wet coefficient” — this will keep it safe for everyone, of every age!


Above: When pets are an indispensable part of the family, hardwood floors are the preferred choice for endurance, 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 meets your life's needs! When planning your new home, renovation, or refresh, think about the stage you are in now and how your needs will 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 top resource for designing a home — top to bottom — with materials that look good, function for your family, and are built to endure. If you aren’t hunting for a full solution, just pieces here and there, talk to the professionals in their respective fields: window treatment pros (like Louver Shop of Austin), your local countertop stone and paint suppliers, etc. There is no alternative 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.