Family-Friendly, Interior Design Considerations (And an Online, Home Design Giveaway From Curio Designs!)


Mamas, I’m so excited about this one!  The following article is a guest post from Allison Harlow (Lane’s sister – yay!).  Allison is an interior designer and the owner of Curio Design Studio. Curio Design Studio offers interior e-design for mamas on a budget!  For $85(!!), Allison will help choose paint color (OMG I needed her help – remember these walls?  Nightmare), address space layout, give you some DIY ideas of existing furniture and pull together a shopping list of suggested additional home decor trends.  Love this!

For those of you with more serious design needs, Allison also offers a few other affordable packages ($185 – $255).  Check out her portfolio here – I’m loving the sophisticated little girl’s room she put together.  The chalkboard table is gorgeous.

In addition to Allison’s savvy tips, she’s also offering one reader a Classic design package.  For the record, I am jealous.  You can find out how to enter at the end of Allison’s article, below.


In order to achieve a modern, polished, yet family friendly interior you should always start by considering the following four design principles:

1. Is it Functional?

  It doesn’t matter how gorgeous your living room is if it doesn’t fit the needs of your family. Address function first!  For families this means storage, storage, storage!

Shelves as Storage

If you aren’t lucky enough to have existing built-ins, try using pre-made Ikea shelving. Ikea shelves are relatively affordable and easily customizable.

One example of customization is to simply add bold wallpaper to the back of the shelf to create interest (here are my current faves when it comes to wall paper):

Bookshelves with wallpaper

Home Furniture Catalogs

Buckets or Bins as Storage

Using buckets or bins to contain toys or other items helps kids learn how to clean up after themselves, while providing some much-needed style. Try some of these:

BookStorageBinChalkboardstoragebins      Olivebuckstoragebin
 Etsy, CB2, Ballard Designs

2. Is it durable?

 Materials you put in your home should look great, yes, but also last through the daily wear and tear of family life and most importantly…be easily cleaned!

One product I highly suggest for families with lots of rug-rats are modular carpet tiles. One of my personal favorites, FLOR, comes in a vast array of colors that can coordinate with nearly any scheme. The huge bonus with these is the fact that they are modular, meaning you can create a custom designed rug for a fraction of the price (averaging around $13 per tile depending on design).  If (or more like when) something is spilled, or a tile is ruined, you can replace that single tile without replacing the entire rug.





3. Is it affordable?

When it comes to designing a space around a growing family, cost is sure to be a big factor. Your growing family comes along with the growing likelihood that there will be some kind of bodily fluid spilled…somewhere…nearly every day. Probably not the best time to invest in a $10,000 sofa.

Instead, try investing your cash in items that make replacement easy. When selecting a sofa, for example, choose one that comes with washable & replaceable cushion covers like the Willow Sofa from Crate and Barrel.

Crate & Barrel


If you can’t resist being drawn to the most expensive thing in the store — and I totally have this problem — then make it something small and impactful, and something that can be placed out of reach from the kiddies. I’m loving this collection of vases by Rosenthal called “Fast”.


Gretel Home


4. Is it safe?

We spend a lot of time in our homes, so you want to make sure it is the safest and healthiest environment possible. Furniture and materials that we bring into our space have the potential to release harmful off-gasses that remain from the manufacturing process. Try to select materials that advertise low or no VOC’s to help keep your home air quality in premium condition.  FLOR carpet tiles, for example, are spectacular in this regard. Besides the fact that they are outright amazing from a design-perspective, they are also made from recycled natural materials, and have some of the lowest VOC emissions in the residential industry.

Paint also has the potential to release a lot of VOC’s into our interior environment. Select products such as Benjamin Moore’s Natura Line, which provides a durable and washable finish with ZERO VOC’s emissions!

Some of my current color favorites from Benjamin Moore are below.  For examples of how to use these bold colors in interior spaces, see my blog article, For the Love of Color!

Screen Shot 2012-04-25 at 12.03.47 PM

These four design considerations create a basic guide for any family space you are designing, while leaving the look wide open to express the personality and style of your family.


To enter to win a customized Classic design package from Curio Design Studio…like the Curio Desgin Studio Facebook page, then leave a comment on the Ain’t No Mom Jeans facebook page telling us how you’d use this fabulous package!!

Thanks, Allison!!  So excited to see what you and one of our lucky readers come up with!



Allison Harlow is an Interior Designer and Owner of Curio Design Studio. She has experience with high-end residential and commercial design, as well as custom furniture design. She currently lives overseas and focuses on providing organized, professional online design services to clients on a global scale. Follow Curio Design Studio on their Facebook page  or blog.


  1. This would be so great! I need help updating my living room. We don’t have a family room so we need to make our living room both attractive enough to host guests but also comfortable to veg out and watch movies.
    We have a leather chair that is falling apart. I have been searching for a lovely & comfy chair to replace it and I am feeling super discouraged-help!

  2. My livingroom desperately needs help!
    We moved here almost a year ago, and it still looks so unfinished… I would love a bit of help with it!

  3. I live in a 1783 colonial with two kids and a dog. Can you say no storage and no room? How do I manage the clutter of my boys’ rooms while balancing our antique plaster walls (so no hanging or floating shelves or anything anchored to the walls) and the fact that we have no closets? Trying to tame the mass of toys has left me with a hodgepodge of solutions that a. looks messy even when clean, b. is hard for the boys to maintain, and c. is cheap & looks cheap. We need help!

  4. Love the idea of bold wall paper behind plain book shelves!
    I could use some help with decorating the room of baby #2. He is such a second child, already 18 months old and pretty much the only decorations are his sister’s artworks.

  5. What a great give away! Thank you for introducing us to Allison’s blog, website and services.
    We can use help with our living area. Our home is a small older home – it is quaint and has lots of character. However, the layout is odd with out a lot of wall space and we struggle with the furniture placement. I would love to finally have something that works and is a great representation of our home, our style and our family.
    So needless to say I would LOVE to win!!

  6. This is a fantastic give-away. With two boys under 2 and a pre-teen girl, our living room needs as much help as possible – between the size and the toys – we have no idea what to do with it!

  7. I’d love some help creating a functional, durable storage solution(I feel like we go through bins/baskets/etc so quickly) for our mod house. Our space is small, but we love it so we’re staying and we need to make the most of the space we have!

  8. Great idea for a giveaway! I actually used bold black and white floral wallpaper on the back of Ikea shelves and get compliments all the time. (And it was pretty easy to do.)
    I would love to win the giveaway! We are in escrow on our first home and the previous owner’s style was pretty different… let’s just say he had a portrait of Ronald Reagan hanging on the wall. We will have to do a lot of updating to shape the space to our taste, but don’t have a big budget to do it!

  9. Oh, where to start? I think I’d use the consultation on the office that my husband and I share. It can use a lot of help! Or maybe our family room, with our daughter’s play space. Or our bedroom. We moved recently and are facing some serious design-block in terms of making the spaces attractive and useful!

  10. I would love for someone to help me with our living room/dining room layout. It’s an odd shape, and it’s hard to figure out a plan!

  11. Perfect!! This is what we need for the room I’m currently sitting in. We just bought this house in September and it has an extra living room with a fireplace that I’d like to use as a sitting room/family room/office room sans TV! Everything needs to be designed from scratch, but as a mom of a one year old I just don’t have the time or inspiration and I don’t trust my own judgement anymore. I’ve been thinking about hiring a designer to tell me what to do and what to buy, this could be the perfect solution.

  12. We definitely need help in our living/dining room which is a collection of hand me down furniture at the moment!

  13. The disgusting thing regarding when anything pees on a cushion or mattress is that we can only clean the surface.
    The pee soaks down inside the mattress/chusion as well as you
    not get all of it out.. . As for removing the surface pee and its smell I totally suggest Sport
    Wash by Sno Seal. I purchase it in the sporting good
    section of WalMart. It’s a detergent developed for hunters as well as it removes scent from their clothing thus the animals don’t smell them. It works great on pet pee, too. I would definitely put a couple capfuls in a bucket of water as well as wash down the chair and the mattress. If we have a shop vac you can use it to suck many of the water out of the cushions.

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