The Best Materials for a Luxurious, Family-Friendly Home in North Orlando | Louver Shop of North Orlando
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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 saying these words before? It’s a common phrase tossed around between homeowners, and if you’re a mother or father, maybe you’ve muttered the words yourself as you discovered another Picasso-inspired Sharpie work of art on your living room wall.

Some families think that in order to welcome the messiness of life and all its moving parts, the appearance of their home has to languish. Today, I’m going to eliminate this myth permanently!

As the principal at Susan Hill Design Group, I can tell you with total objectivity and years of experience: you really can have nice things. In fact, the right nice things will both look fantastic and endure concerned toddlers, athletic teens, shedding pets, and a messy spouse all at once. Here’s what I suggest…


1. Quartz for Countertops

Quartz is a very durable, man-made surface that is a terrific option for countertops in a busy kitchen. What does quartz provide you?

  • As opposed to granite, quartz never needs to be sealed and is relatively maintenance-free.
  • Its heavy-duty strength matches concrete and won’t chip or fracture.
  • Quartz appears elegant and retains its sheen for many, many years.
  • It resembles natural stone, with veining, swirls, and patterns resembling 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. Simply wipe it off 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 creating an interior design for their modern-style, new build in Charlotte, we knew that multiuse, family-friendly areas and sturdy materials were the number one priority. Quartz was the perfect choice for their kitchen. The space is light, breezy, and ideal for meal prep, homework help, family dinner, and easy cleanup. Style isn’t compromised at all, am I right?

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

2. Performance Fabrics for Upholstery

Not that long ago, performance fabrics were usually reserved for outdoor use only. Now, we incorporate performance fabrics in all sorts of ways and in rooms you’d never have thought of. The same qualities that make it great outside — durability, stain resistance, fade resistance, and water resistance — are really practical to keep indoors too!

What items can be made in performance fabrics?

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

Where do we like to include performance fabrics?

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

The cherry on top? Today, there are lots of different forms of fibers being used to make new, innovative fabrics that are eco-friendly. 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 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 their best. Right, a bench capped with a long-lasting, stain resistant cushion and throw pillows fashioned 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 must-buy! A home filled with activity will swiftly have an effect on your walls: messy fingerprints, scuffs from dropped shoes and bags, food messes in the kitchen, a rainy-day game of chase in the halls, and a wet, full-body shake from Fido all leave their marks for posterity. And who has time for nonstop re-touching?

Robust, washable paint will come clean with a soapy scrub and significantly extend the life and aesthetic of your painted walls. So, which do you choose?

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

Above: You may be impressed to learn that this calming office space is tucked away in a bustling household. For the built-ins, I decided to go with 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 appreciate classic drapery, but for families with boisterous children, I typically gravitate to cordless window treatments that won’t pose a risk for toddlers who like to investigate their surroundings. What do I prefer as an alternative?

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


Above: In this contemporary, family-friendly home, we helped design the black-framed windows to draw the outdoors in. As a child’s space, we selected “barely there” roller shades for privacy, easy cleaning, and a clean final 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 requires that the wood is transported to your home raw, from the mill, installed in your home, and then sanded and finished to your exact specifications.

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

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

On the other hand, tile is your “BFF” (best flooring friend) regarding any wet space, like mudrooms, laundry rooms, and bathrooms. Tile cleans up with ease, stands up to stains, and is solid and resilient. Just remember to select a non-slip, non-skid flooring by finding the “wet coefficient” — this will keep it safe for everyone, of every age!


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

Final Tip: Lean on the Experts

Now you understand, right? You can have refinement and a space that rolls with life’s punches! When designing your new home, renovation, or refresh, look at the stage you are in now and how your needs might develop 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 last. If you aren’t searching for a full solution, just pieces here and there, consult the experts in their respective fields: window treatment pros (like Louver Shop of North Orlando), 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.