The Best Materials for a Luxurious, Family-Friendly Home in Columbia | Louver Shop of Columbia
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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 frequent phrase thrown around among homeowners, and if you’re a parent, perhaps you’ve whispered the words yourself as you spotted another Picasso-inspired Sharpie work of genius on a living room wall.

Lots of families think that in order to welcome the messiness of life and all its changes, the appearance of their home has to languish. Today, I’m going to dispel this myth once and for all!

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


1. Quartz for Countertops

Quartz is a very durable, man-made surface that is a perfect choice for countertops in an industrious kitchen. What does quartz provide you?

  • Compared to granite, quartz doesn't need to be sealed and is comparatively maintenance-free.
  • Its heavy-duty strength is similar to concrete and won’t chip or fracture.
  • Quartz feels elegant and holds its sheen for a very long time.
  • It resembles natural stone, with veining, swirls, and patterns similar to marble or granite, and a variety of colors including browns, blacks, blues, reds, and creams.

Your kiddos’ spilled lemonade (or your spilled red wine…) is no problem. Simply wipe it away with soapy water, and there's no etching or staining like you’d experience with marble.

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

Pro Tip: When picking out 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

Back in the day, performance fabrics were typically reserved for outdoor use only. Now, we incorporate performance fabrics in all sorts of ways and in rooms you’d never consider. The exact qualities that make it convenient outside — toughness, stain resistance, fade resistance, and water resistance — are really 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 include performance fabrics?

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

The cherry on top? Today, there are countless different types of fibers being used to make new, innovative fabrics that are environment-friendly. Recycled water bottles are being blended 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 guess you would never know it if you were standing on a PET rug!


Above: Performance fabric was our number one 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 looking new for longer. Right, a bench capped with a durable, stain resistant cushion and throw pillows fashioned an inviting area to tie shoes or load up a backpack to prep for the day.

3. Washable Paint for Walls

Personally, washable paint is a no-brainer! A home loaded with activity will swiftly have an effect on 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 in place. And who has time for perpetual re-touching?

Strong, washable paint will clean off with a soapy scrub and noticeably extend the life and beauty of your painted walls. So, which do you go with?

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

Above: You might be pleased to know that this calming office space is tucked away in a hectic household. For the built-ins, I opted for 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 adore conventional drapery, but for families with young children, I often gravitate to cordless window treatments that won’t pose a risk for toddlers who like to investigate 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 away from little hands. They also come in a variety of color, construction, and finishing options so that giving up style is never a problem!


Above: In this modern, 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, fast cleaning, and a minimal look that matches 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 feel new, guess again. This is the technique 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 over and over again, giving you the freedom to personalize them in a variety of ways.

Alternatively, tile is your “BFF” (best flooring friend) in regards to any wet space, like mudrooms, laundry rooms, and bathrooms. Tile cleans up easily, resists stains, and is tough and resilient. Just take care to choose a non-slip, non-skid material by checking the “wet coefficient” — this will keep it safe for everyone, no matter the age!


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

Final Tip: Lean on the Experts

Now you understand, right? You can have refinement and a space that meets your life's needs! When researching your new home, renovation, or refresh, consider the stage you are in now and how your needs could grow over time. Then, contact 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, work for your family, and are built to survive. If you aren’t looking for a full solution, just pieces here and there, check with the professionals in their respective fields: window treatment pros (like Louver Shop of Columbia), your local countertop stone and paint suppliers, etc. There is no replacement 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.