What Do You Consider In Designing A Family Space? | A Q&A With Karina Plotko

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When we committed to raising our family in New York, it came with the not insignificant trade off of loads of separate spaces and storage room.  Living on one floor and congregating most often in one big room is a constant physical articulation of what Mother Untitled is all about - making choices, finding what has to give and allowing our identity and interests to exist alongside children.  So I loved hearing from Karina Plotko, an UES based designer and mother of three girls, whose passion point is creating sensible family spaces that respects everyone's needs while maintaining a chic, contemporary feel.  While I don't think I'm alone in being a sucker for Instagram friendly corners, Karina balances that out below with her practical, elegant approach to planning and living in spaces based on the real life family experience. 

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1. Creating spaces for families to thrive gives you energy - when you meet a new family client what are the key things you ask them and want to know before planning?

I spend a lot of time discussing how a family lives. Do they like to entertain? Cook or order in? Do the kids do homework in their rooms or in the dining room?  Do they read a lot or do arts and crafts? This allows me to plan for each part of their lives. If the family entertains, I’ll add a bar area, ottomans for extra seating for guests and nesting tables for cocktails. If a child is a big reader, I make sure there are enough bookshelves and a comfy reading area. The key is to have a spot for everything that the family needs no matter the size of their space.  I focus on the function and flow as much as the aesthetics. 

2. What are the biggest challenges families run into in maintaining adult environment? 

The number one challenge is too much stuff.  Before I start working with families, I ask that they seriously consider what they really want and use in their lives. People think that they need way more than they actually do, so once they actually start to go through their belongings, the thrift store bags start to pile up! Once they do their job, I can step in and do mine. I create areas so that everything can be put away and adults can live in a clutter-free environment. Everyone deserves that in their lives. 

3. In common living areas, do you lean toward creating separate spaces for kids and adults or spaces that work for both? 

From experience, I know that younger children always want to be around their parents.  Since we’ll miss that when they’re older, I don’t want to limit that time now. We can all share the space, but once the kids are off to bed and the grown-ups are having their own time (hopefully with some wine), all of the children’s toys should be put away. Which is why it’s so important to limit what you have and have a place for it all to be put away. I’m raising three children in NYC, so I know it’s possible! 

4. Kids things tend to overflow no matter how controlled you want to be with the chaos, how do you work with families to plan ahead for that? 

There are two keys to this: 

1.  Constant editing. 

2. Accepting that things won’t always be perfect. 

We don’t live in a magazine or Instagram post; it’s ok to embrace the chaos.  Just pick up where you left off when you can, and be kind to yourself. 

5. What are your favorite furniture lines or brands that work for kids and adults, both?  

If you can, it’s always great to do design a custom piece because it allows you to use every inch of space.  For kids' rooms, Land of Nod and CB2 have great modern pieces if you’re on a budget.  For higher end, Duc Duc from The New Traditionalist is fantastic. For living rooms, Mitchell Gold and and Bob Williams has classic furniture that you won't get tired of.  For a client who has some room in their budget to have something customized, I love working with Julian Chichester.  

No matter the budget or size of a space, home should always make you happy from the moment you walk through the door.   

What's your biggest challenge in maintaining a space that makes everyone in the family happy? Any tips? We'd love to hear! xo

Featured photo by huyen. on Unsplash