Dr Dulux tackles a common problem this week: How to design a space that's suitable for the whole family…
Q: How can I make our kitchen more family-friendly but not forgo style in the process? We have three kids aged five, eight and 11 and we're in need of a space that caters to all of us. Our kitchen is where we spend the most time so it needs to be really multifunctional. Help! Lauren, Cheshire.
A: There's a lot going on in the kitchen; from cooking and entertaining to homework and play time. Making sure your kitchen fulfils all your needs requires planning, but here are a few easy tricks to get the most out of your space without too much overhaul:
1. Chalk it up
Let little creatives run wild on chalkboard painted ares and save yourself clutter and endless mess. Try painting low areas that's accessible to tots such as under the breakfast bar with blackboard paint – as seen in this Belgian home (via the New York Times). Try painting smaller items to keep kids entertained at the table too, such as placemats and coasters.
Keep cupboards and ingredients in order so everyone knows what's what by painting mason jar lids with chalkboard paint too, and for your shopping lists, turn a wall or even your fridge into a giant notice board by giving it a chalkboard makeover.
2. Play station
Create a play 'zone' within your kitchen so you can keep an eye on mischief makers while you get things done. Make a wall with all your offspring's essential bits and bobs by using Ikea's Dignitet curtain rails to hang the latest masterpieces and pots with art materials, or you could stock a trolley or storage cart on wheels with toys and art materials so you can wheel it out of sight when the kids have (finally) gone to bed. Ikea's Raskog trolley (£49) is multi-tiered and comes in three colours so you can coordinate it with your kitchen.
3. Good plan
Keep forgetful teenagers and the rest of the family in check by making the kitchen your hub for organisation. Everyone will be able to keep abreast of school plays, birthdays, parents evenings and nights essential household info if it's all in one, highly visible place, so where better to host this central dashboard of usefulness than the kitchen?
There is an array of clever ways to do this out there – from cork tape (£25 per roll, Urban Outfitters), to peg boards (£28 (Notonthehighstreet.com) and hanging pockets for letters and bills Decorating Your Small Space.
4. Take a seat
Having flexible seating is a must-have in a family kitchen. There's bound to be an occasion every now and then when your kitchen will be overrun with excitable teens, toddlers and/or their parents. Stash away a few foldable or stackable chairs or stools for such occasions – Ikea's Terje folding chair (£11) will hide away in a cupboard or hang on a wall when not in use, and Habitat's Callum stackable dining chairs (£50) is a space-saving timeless design. Go one step further by personalising a stack of stools with paint, so they'll look just as good when they're not in action. These Frosta stool (£8) by Ikea have been brought to life with Electric Green and Atlantic Adventure.