The Best Materials for a Luxurious, Family-Friendly Home in Charlotte | Louver Shop of Charlotte
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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 noticed yourself thinking these words before? It’s a frequent phrase tossed around amongst homeowners, and if you’re a parent, it may be that you’ve muttered the words yourself as you spotted another Picasso-inspired Sharpie masterpiece on the 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 dispel this myth forever!

As the principal at Susan Hill Design Group, I can tell you with full objectivity and extensive experience: you really can have nice things. In fact, the right nice things will both look good and withstand concerned toddlers, athletic teens, shedding pets, and a cluttered spouse all at once. Here’s what I propose…


1. Quartz for Countertops

Quartz is a very sturdy, man-made surface that is a great option for countertops in a busy kitchen. What does quartz offer?

  • Compared to 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 high-class and retains its sheen for many, many years.
  • It seems like 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 not an issue. Simply wipe it off with soapy water, and there's no etching or staining like you’d face with marble.

Above: When this family of five called us about creating an interior design for their modern-style, new build in Charlotte, we understood that multiuse, family-friendly areas and sturdy materials were a top priority. Quartz was the right choice for their kitchen. The space is light, breezy, and great for meal prep, homework help, family life, and fast cleanup. Style isn’t jeopardized at all, am I right?

Pro Tip: When choosing 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 normally reserved for outdoor use only. Now, we incorporate performance fabrics in lots of ways and in rooms you’d never have thought of. The very qualities that make it great outside — durability, stain resistance, fade resistance, and water resistance — are really practical to keep indoors too!

Which kind of items can be generated in performance fabrics?

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

Where do we love to incorporate performance fabrics?

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

The cherry on top? Today, there are lots of different varieties of fibers being used to make 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 plush and soft to the hand but clean up easily. I’ll bet you would never realize it if you were standing on a PET rug!


Above: Performance fabric was our best pick when redesigning 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 topped with a resilient, 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 good investment! A home brimming with activity will swiftly affect your walls: sticky fingerprints, scuffs from dropped shoes and bags, splattered 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 nonstop re-touching?

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

  • 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 possible choices.

Above: You might be impressed to find out that this relaxing office space is nestled away in a busy household. For the built-ins, I chose 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 traditional drapery, but for families with young children, I usually gravitate towards cordless window treatments that won’t present 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 easier to clean than fabric curtains. And, you can make quick and painless adjustments to keep them out of the way of little hands. They also come in a range of color, construction, and finishing options so that sacrificing style is never an issue!


Above: In this trendy, family-friendly home, we helped design the black-framed windows to draw the outdoors in. As a child’s space, we decided on “barely there” roller shades for privacy, simple cleaning, and a clean final look that complements 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 really easy to maintain. Site-finished requires that the wood is shipped 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 technique hardwood floors have been installed for hundreds and hundreds of years! Here’s why I love 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 opportunity to customize them in multiple ways.

On the other hand, tile is your “BFF” (best flooring friend) for any wet space, such as mudrooms, laundry rooms, and bathrooms. Tile cleans up easily, stands up to stains, and is solid and sturdy. Just make sure to select a non-slip, non-skid material by checking the “wet coefficient” — this will keep it safe for everyone, regardless of age!


Above: When pets are an indispensable part of the family, hardwood floors are the top 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 goes with life's flow! When researching your new home, renovation, or refresh, think about the stage you are in now and how your needs might change 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, work for your family, and are built to survive. If you aren’t looking for a full solution, just pieces here and there, consult the professionals in their respective fields: window treatment pros (like Louver Shop of Charlotte), 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.