Form that Functions: Design Resources that Stand Up to Living

Wine and milk spills, kids, pets and life in general make for messy living.

Gone are the days when the living room and even dining room were reserved for special occasions. People want to enjoy every room in their home, realizing that precious interiors don’t make for rich living.

Luckily, there is a wealth of design resources—some new, some old—that marry beautiful design and unbeatable durability.

Reclaimed Wood

Reclaimed and old barn woods offer the perfect marriage of patina and performance. Having already withstood the test of time and ready to take on more, barn wood is being used in new and unexpected ways, from surfaces to seating. Likewise, vintage, weathered furniture is ideal for family living as it can endure heavy use and won’t show wear.

Susan Fredman of Fredman Design Group created lounge area seating from reclaimed barn wood for its style and durability. This room is a part of the 2014 Merchandise Mart DreamHome.


Get past the foundation. Concrete is showing its versatility and desirability in multiple executions, moving from the floor to counter, tabletop to seating. Moreover, poured concrete, once patinated, can surpass reclaimed wood floors for its low-maintenance yet high-aesthetic appeal.


Quartz is one of nature’s hardest minerals. It’s tougher than granite, and more resistant to cracks, chips, scratches and stains. Its high-gloss finish and naturally non-porous composition eliminate the need for sealant while reducing the potential for bacterial growth. Ideal for countertops, quartz works well for desks and tabletops as well.

Room & Board offers a quartz tabletop for its Portica End Table.


A poster child when it comes to functionality, a banquette offers kid-friendly, space-saving seating and storage. And when it comes to upholstery, indoor/outdoor fabrics, laminated fabrics or leathers/pleathers add a dash of pattern and color with easy cleaning.

Creative Upholstering

Skip the plastic cushion covers. Upholster in darkly hued corduroy, chenille or vintage leathers that only get better with age. Or upholster the frame with a beautiful fabric and use more durable fabric (think indoor/outdoor fabrics now offered in lush velvets, textural linens and a myriad of prints) for the seat and ottomans—a trick often used by designer Julia Buckingham Edelmann.

Use your prized luxury fabrics for accents like window treatments, pillows and seat backs. Or explore all the creative, eco-friendly options available today. Fredman Design Group has carried Alexandra Ferguson’s line for many years, which uses recycled water bottles to make plush, fun and functional pillows and accessories with sayings on them.

Hide and Leather

Natural hide, whether laid on the floor or as upholstery, is remarkably resistant to stains and works well in high-traffic, heavy use areas. But make sure to choose hides heavy enough to lay flat without curling edges. Likewise, leather is the ultimate in durability and endurance, with enhanced appearance as it ages and wears.

Brazilian hide rug from Room & Board

Indoor/Outdoor Furniture

With all the advances in weatherproof materials, combined with a wealth of comfortable, stylish furniture options, designers are starting to consider outdoor furniture for heavy-use living indoors.

Fredman Design Group uses products from its DEDON collection indoors as it offers sought-after durability with great style and plenty of customizations.