The Best Materials for a Luxurious, Family-Friendly Home in Albany | Louver Shop of South Georgia
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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 exclaiming these words before? It’s a frequent phrase tossed around among homeowners, and if you’re a parent, it may be that you’ve whispered the words yourself as you found another Picasso-inspired Sharpie work of genius on your living room wall.

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

As the principal at Susan Hill Design Group, I can tell you with total objectivity and extensive experience: you really can enjoy nice things. In fact, the right nice things will both look fantastic and endure inquisitive toddlers, outdoorsy teens, shedding pets, and a messy spouse all together. Here’s what I propose…


1. Quartz for Countertops

Quartz is a very durable, man-made surface that is a perfect solution for countertops in a hardworking kitchen. What does quartz offer?

  • Unlike granite, quartz will never need to be sealed and is comparatively maintenance-free.
  • Its heavy-duty strength rivals concrete and won’t chip or crack.
  • Quartz appears extravagant and holds its sheen for many, many years.
  • It appears like natural stone, with veining, swirls, and patterns similar to 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 a problem. Just wipe it away with soapy water, and there's no etching or staining like you’d face with marble.

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

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

2. Performance Fabrics for Upholstery

Many years ago, performance fabrics were generally reserved for outdoor use only. Now, we use performance fabrics in all sorts of ways and in rooms you’d never think of. The exact qualities that make it convenient outside — toughness, stain resistance, fade resistance, and water resistance — are just as practical to use indoors too!

What items can be made in performance fabrics?

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

Where do we love to feature performance fabrics?

  • In heavily used areas, like a dining area, entryway, mudroom, or living area
  • On decor where kids and pets gather
  • In any spaces with prolonged sun exposure (to prevent fading)

The cherry on top? Today, there are lots of different varieties of fibers being used to produce new, innovative fabrics that are environment-friendly. Recycled water bottles are being infused into fabrics and PET fibers are woven into rugs that feel sooo plush and soft to the hand but clean up no problem. I’ll wager you would never know it if you were standing on a PET rug!


Above: Performance fabric was our top pick when designing this family-friendly home. On the left, we dressed up this sunny spot with fade-resistant fabric that will keep the cushions in great shape. Right, a bench topped with a long-lasting, stain resistant cushion and throw pillows created an inviting area to tie shoes or pack a backpack to prep for the day.

3. Washable Paint for Walls

In my view, washable paint is a no-brainer! A home loaded with activity will swiftly impact your walls: smeared 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 behind. And who has time for constant re-touching?

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

  • 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 options.

Above: You could be amazed to find out that this relaxing office space is hidden away in a hectic household. For the built-ins, I chose this charcoal-tone satin paint with a peachy neutral on the wall. It looks soft and sophisticated, but you better believe that it’s scrubbable…just in case.

4. Cordless Coverings for Windows

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

All these choices provide privacy, light control, and are simpler to clean than fabric curtains. And, you can make quick and painless adjustments to keep them away from little hands. They also come in a variety of color, construction, and finishing options so that giving up style is never a concern!


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

5. Site-Finished Hardwoods & Tile for Flooring

I’ll share 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 specific 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 flexible and easy to maintain
  • They look and feel smoother than pre-finished floors
  • They can be refinished repeatedly, giving you the chance to personalize them in a variety of ways.

On the other hand, tile is your “BFF” (best flooring friend) when it comes to any wet space, including mudrooms, laundry rooms, and bathrooms. Tile cleans up with ease, withstands stains, and is hard and sturdy. Just take care to find a non-slip, non-skid option by looking at the “wet coefficient” — this will keep it safe for everyone, of every age!


Above: When pets are an essential part of the family, hardwood floors are the best choice for endurance, ease of use, customization, and maintenance. Site-finished floors are actually really forgiving, making them a quality 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 grow over time. Then, contact 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, perform for your family, and are built to survive. If you aren’t searching for a full solution, just pieces here and there, talk to the specialists in their respective fields: window treatment pros (like Louver Shop of South Georgia), 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.