Designing a Home for the Modern, Active Family

From the allure of the front door, to the beauty of the foyer that welcomes family and friends, to the comfort of the rooms where life unfolds – this is your story. Fox + Chenko shares 12 tips to make your home a place you love and love living in.

Jen and Tonia Say…

Whether starting with a blank slate in a new home or updating an existing space, you should approach your design with ingenuity and the goal of creating spaces that are as spectacular as they are functional. The results should reflect your personal style, while staying within a realistic budget.

Finding your style

A great place to start is by looking at inspirational photos and articles online – Casaza is a great site to explore, Instagram, and magazines. Determine a look that best reflects you and your family’s lifestyle.


Make a list of all of the items you think you’ll need to live within the space. Take a family room— it’s safe to say that you’ll need a sofa, a coffee table, a media cabinet, an easy chair, one or two end tables, and an area rug. Those are the basics. Then consider what activities your family will engage in here. Maybe you enjoy a weekly family game night and would like a game table, or you’d like a small desk to sit at with a laptop. Add these items to your list. Finally, consider all of those accessories that will make the room feel complete such as table and floor lamps, decorative pillows, cozy throws, striking wall art and mirrors, stylish yet functional trays, and scented candles.

Once you have your list, shop Casaza to get a sense for the general price for each of these types of items. Use this information to set your furnishings budget.

Design Considerations

One of the most important considerations when designing a room is how to arrange all of the furnishings into the space. A common mistake that homeowners make is to spread their furniture around the perimeter of the room. Instead, draw a simple floor plan to scale on graph paper with each box representing 1/2 foot. Measure the overall space and be sure to include the locations and sizes of windows, door openings, and the fireplace, if you’re lucky to have one. Make scaled paper pieces of furniture and arrange them on the plan to create clear zones for all the various family activities. Layer your furnishings; a narrow console table can back a sofa or an easy chair can be placed in front of a shelving unit. Size an area rug generously; it should anchor all of the seating in a conversation zone or come in a pleasing distance from the wall to expose a bit of your flooring. In a dining space the area rug should be sized so that the dining chairs don’t catch when pulled away from the table. Keep the size of the furnishings proportionate to the area and allow for egress and traffic patterns. After all, you want to be able to get into the beautiful new space you’re designing!

Small Spaces

Table and chair and storage cabinet with art on top
Designed by Fox + Chenko Interiors | Like this look? Get inspired by their room.

Small spaces can present a particular challenge, whether it’s your first apartment, cozy starter home, or even a room that just seems impossibly snug. Select furnishings that multi-task for several purposes. For example, in a living space a coffee table with drawers can provide enclosed storage for smaller items or a lower open shelf can offer a surface for books, magazines, or games. A cocktail ottoman with enclosed storage is a great place to stash items, as well as bedding for a smart sleeper sofa that can pull out for the occasional overnight guest.

Use your walls! A tall piece of furniture can provide open storage for more decorative items or enclosed storage for necessities that we like to hide away. Wall-mounted shelving is also a fine option to maximize height in your space. Lastly, keep your furnishings appropriately sized to the space.

Large Spaces

Large spaces may offer plenty of room but can feel cavernous. Humanize the space by creating multiple activity zones to fully utilize your square footage, while varying the height and scale of the furnishings to anchor your room and provide interest. For example, an area for TV viewing could be arranged with a tall media center and a generously proportioned sectional sofa with floor pillows around a cocktail table. Another zone might be purely social for engaging in conversation or reading, furnished with four high back club chairs radiating around a circular ottoman.

High Performance

Performance products are kid, family, and pet-friendly. Don’t wait to for the kids to be grown before you properly design your space! A huge range of new materials and products with high-performance qualities are available for use in virtually every room of your home.These new performance products take the worry out of losing the design investment you’ve made.


For living and dining spaces, select from an array of durable performance fabrics available in gorgeous patterns, prints and colors. You don’t need to sacrifice style or look.

Wall Covering

Textured vinyl and heavy-duty wall covering can be wiped clean from water splashes or sticky fingerprints. They’re the perfect way to add personality to a bath, glamour to a dining room, or set an inviting tone in a foyer. These wall coverings come in an array of patterns and textures and can even mimic the look of leather, cork, or natural materials such as grasscloth.

TV with storage cabinet and weights and treadmill
Designed by Fox + Chenko Interiors | Like this look? Get inspired by their room.

Rugs & Flooring

Indoor/outdoor rugs offer superior stain repellency (think pets or dining rooms), are easy to maintain, and ultraviolet resistant.

Durable luxury vinyl flooring offers a realistic interpretation of real wood and is durable in a playroom or lower level. Porcelain tile can closely mimic natural marble, stone, or wood and is easy-care in kitchens, baths, and other areas.

Table Tops and Counter Tops

Quartz, a composite material of crushed quartz stone and resin, features many colors and patterns and is almost indestructible for kitchen and bathroom countertops. Composites, cement, stone, and synthetic textural interpretations of shagreen (stingray), raffia, and linen are resilient for furnishings or tabletop surfaces.


Lighting should be an integral part of your design plan. Studies show that proper lighting has therapeutic benefits that positively affect our mood, performance, and mental health. Floor and table lamps, wall-mounted sconces, and decorative ceiling lights are often inadequate on their own but when combined with dimmable recessed lights will provide excellent and flexible overall lighting in your room. Use LED (light-emitting diode) light bulbs that last longer and burn cooler than incandescent bulbs.

Final Thoughts

Have fun, don’t be afraid to trust your instincts, and enjoy this next chapter of your family’s story in your home!

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