Keeping It Chic While Raising a Family

Lindsay Espinoza of LULU DESIGNS shares her tips on creating a stylish (and functional) space!


As a mother of two busy boys under the age of 5, my reality is tripping over toys strewn about, eating while standing over high chairs instead of in my dining room chairs, and stepping in sticky floors – all as everyday occurrences. My lifestyle needs are continually changing to accommodate toddler schedules, nap time and play dates and so naturally, my home must too.

As an interior designer, my home grows with my family’s needs through each stepping stone and right of passage, sticky floors or not. Why not look chic and put together at all times?

Here are some helpful tips on how to make those crazy days and all-too-often long nights not wreak havoc on your home.

The “5-second rule”: When in doubt, throw it out… of your home, that is, and donate to a day care or school in the area. With budget cuts and the economy, teachers are so excited when I greet them with my Santa sacks of toys and grown-out clothes. It is literally “Christmas in August.”

It makes me feel good too when I brighten a single mom’s day by bringing her old clothes that my youngest has grown out of; I am so thrilled when a child starts playing with a toy that has been hanging around my house a little too long. I recommend cleaning out toys and clothes every 4 – 6 months or sooner depending on their growth rate. Don’t forget to tell your tax guy about your new seasonal donations!

“Put your toys away!” – Dedicate one particular room or space in the house where all of the toys and games reside. It makes clean up a breeze since they are all in the same vicinity. I live in a not-so-big house, so don’t have the luxury of a Play Room. Instead, I found a vintage steamer trunk, which hides all of the toys in one spot. Bungalow 5 makes a hip studded storage ottoman for those misshapen toys we are all wondering where to hide. No matter what your aesthetic, there are creative storage options out there for all (or I can think of something for you:

“Where are my keys?” – My house multi-tasks as much as I do, so it must have smart storage – meaning everything has its place. It should do the thinking for me. Choose storage that has open and closed components. This way it serves as organization, displays all of the priceless Mother’s and Father’s Day gifts for years to come and is inherent in the architecture. Be creative on where you put your storage; any blank wall is a perfect place to multi-task.

“Sofas are for sitting not standing.” With 529 plans and college tuition, 401K’s and coupon clipping, saving is foremost on each parents’ to-do list. There are times to save…but your sofa is not one of them. Plan on spending a little more on the items that get every day use and need to last ‘til they are off to college. I am all for saving on accessories and even artwork, but the old saying is true: you get what you pay for. A good sofa should last you 15 – 20 years. Make sure:

1.) It’s 8-way hand tied
2.) It’s made of kiln-dried hard wood such as alder or maple.
3.) It has the highest quality of foam.
4.) It’s upholstered in stain resistant and/or can be scotch guarded.

And the next money you’ll put into it, is for upholstery when you are sick of its color not because it broke. Pottery Barn doesn’t count as a high quality sofa manufacturer. LULU DESIGNS sells the 7’ sofa below in custom fabric for $1850.

“Cheese!” Pick 5 (odd numbers preferred) of your favorite pieces of art or photos in all shapes and sizes, and frame them. Not all of the frames have to match. Not all of the art has to match. Just pick what you like to look at and what makes you feel good. They can be black and white candid shots of the kids, or pictures you cut out of a cocktail table book, or from your old school textbooks. The point is to frame what you like to look at all day, every day. The more personal and meaningful to you, the more of a statement it will make on any wall. Ikea sells amazingly inexpensive museum gallery frames for $9.99.

“What’s you name?” Personalize your space. Subway art is a modern way to update an old tired pillow. Try stenciling your name on it and sticking it on the sofa or chair. It instantly updates the room and is the next conversation topic when entering the room. Michael’s has the stencils, brushes and paint. Do-it-yourself my way!



About Lindsay Espinoza, the interior designer/owner of LULU DESIGNS:
Lindsay is always here to help you with all of your interior design needs. She blogs weekly and is always interested in hearing what you want to read about. Check out my blog and comment today at Hourly consultations begin at $150 per hour.

LULU DESIGNS sculpts space that inspires. The firm believes that design is a human experience, and each space we create to evoke the exact emotion our client desires.
LULU DESIGNS is practical. Functionality, comfort, and budget are crucial elements of design, and the firm embraces the opportunity to excel in forming the perfect fit for each client.
Founded in 2003, LULU DESIGNS, a full-service design firm based in Costa Mesa, Calif., caters to the distinct needs of a wide array of markets, from high-end, residential custom homes to retail boutiques and commercial healthcare office space.