The Best Materials for a Luxurious, Family-Friendly Home in Spartanburg | Louver Shop of Western Carolina
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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 popular phrase tossed around amongst homeowners, and if you’re a parent, maybe you’ve murmured the words yourself as you discovered another Picasso-inspired Sharpie work of genius on your living room wall.

Some families think that in order to welcome the messiness of life and all its moving parts, 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 complete objectivity and extensive experience: you really can have nice things. In fact, the right nice things will both look fantastic and resist concerned toddlers, outdoorsy 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 solution for countertops in an industrious kitchen. What does quartz have going for it?

  • Compared to granite, quartz will never need to be sealed and is fairly maintenance-free.
  • Its heavy-duty strength matches concrete and won’t chip or fracture.
  • Quartz feels elegant and maintains its sheen for quite a while.
  • It resembles natural stone, with veining, swirls, and patterns like marble or granite, and an assortment 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 away 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 spaces and sturdy materials were the number one priority. Quartz was the right choice for their kitchen. The space is light, open, and ideal for meal prep, homework help, family living, and simple cleanup. Style isn’t compromised 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 highest quality material.

2. Performance Fabrics for Upholstery

Back in the day, performance fabrics were generally reserved for outdoor use only. Now, we need performance fabrics in lots of ways and in rooms you’d never consider. The exact 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 love to include performance fabrics?

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

The cherry on top? Today, there are many different varieties of fibers being used to create new, innovative fabrics that are environment-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 in a snap. 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 designing 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 topped with a resilient, stain resistant cushion and throw pillows delivered an inviting place to tie shoes or load up a backpack to prep for the day.

3. Washable Paint for Walls

Personally, washable paint is a good investment! A home brimming with activity will quickly affect your walls: sticky fingerprints, scuffs from dropped shoes and bags, spattered food 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 perpetual re-touching?

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

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

Above: You may be surprised to find out that this soothing office space is nestled away in a busy 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 love classic drapery, but for families with small children, I often gravitate towards cordless window treatments that won’t be a risk for toddlers who like to explore their surroundings. What do I prefer instead?

All these choices provide privacy, light control, and are simpler to clean than fabric curtains. And, you can make quick and easy adjustments to keep them away from little hands. They also come in a number of color, construction, and finishing options so that compromising 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 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 quite easy to maintain. Site-finished signifies 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 way hardwood floors have been installed for hundreds and hundreds of years! Here’s why I adore 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 freedom to modify them in many different ways.

On the other hand, tile is your “BFF” (best flooring friend) in regards to any wet space, such as mudrooms, laundry rooms, and bathrooms. Tile cleans up easily, withstands stains, and is solid and durable. Just remember to find a non-slip, non-skid flooring by looking at the “wet coefficient” — this will keep it safe for everyone, regardless of age!


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

Final Tip: Lean on the Experts

Now you believe it, right? You can have elegance and a space that rolls with life’s punches! When planning your new home, renovation, or refresh, think about the stage you are in now and how your needs might change over time. Then, contact the experts for help! Who should you call?

If you’re building or renovating, an interior designer is your greatest resource for designing a home — top to bottom — with materials that look good, perform for your family, and are built to last. If you aren’t searching for a full solution, just pieces here and there, talk to the professionals in their respective fields: window treatment pros (like Louver Shop of Western Carolina), 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.