Michelle Farnsworth
Milbradt children create new art to hang on the crib spring behind them. (Megan Milbradt)

This ruler is a fun and functional art piece. (Megan Milbradt)

The Milbradt living space is designed for comfort and durability. (Megan Milbradt)

Clever storage is integrated into the Milbradt home decor. (Megan Milbradt)

Remember growing up, when your grandma had the sofa covered in plastic? You would constantly have to peel yourself from the furniture.

"Don't eat or drink anything in the living room!" was a common directive. And you didn't dare.

Thankfully those days are in the past, and creating a home that is functional, comfortable and stylish can be accomplished with a little thought and effort.

"Don't sacrifice design for children," said Jean Holwagner, interior designer and owner of J. Marie Design, Inc. in Bismarck. "If you introduce children to beautiful, well-decorated spaces, they learn to respect them."

Considerations of lifestyle and how her family spends time played a key role in Megan Milbradt's new home design and construction. The mother of two young children with a busy photography business, Every Day Art Photography, in her home (and role as Be Magazine photographer), Milbradt had to consider all the options.

"From the time we walk in the door at the end of the day, we all go straight to the large center island in our kitchen," Milbradt said.

Holwagner emphasizes the importance of planning your physical space around what you do as a family.

"In the kitchen, all the decisions are made. All the homework is done," said Holwagner. "We create that space to be a comfort space. It goes to the soul, to the stomach and to the heart."

Adding color to the home is key to reflecting personality, charm and tying all the components together.

"Adding color, pattern and texture is important when raising a family," said Holwagner. "It hides things; keeps it looking beautiful longer. And color is happy. Texture is happy. Incorporate these into your life and it makes for a more important space to live in."

Milbradt followed these same guidelines by using a variety of rustic wood and metals when choosing flooring, furniture and finishes. Instead of buying an expensive area rug to bring in color and texture and make a living space comfy, Milbradt came up with a great idea.

"We had a piece of carpet serged and turned into a rug. It worked out perfectly," said Milbradt.

What about all of those toys, bits of plastic, piles of books and stuff and junk? Where do you place them? Add a playroom to your home? Is it necessary?

"Kids by nature want to be in the hub of the house," said Holwagner. "It's a waste of space and probably not great for resale."

Milbradt did not add a playroom to her new home. In keeping with her minimalist mindset, she opted out and instead developed creative storage options for all the bits.

"If they don't play with it, they don't need it. If it cannot fit into their closet or the space we have for it, time to downsize," said Milbradt.

Mothers across America struggle with how to display children's artwork, or whether to display it at all in the home. It's a debate that designers and homeowners engage in to come to a middle ground.

For Milbradt, she didn't want her children's artwork to overcome the home but rather to enhance. She found an old crib spring to hang on a wall in the kitchen. In this way she created a rotating art gallery.

"My kids love coming home with new works of art to pin up there," Milbradt said.

Picking out furniture can be a grueling process. Which sofa will stand the test of stains, family gatherings and lounging pets? Should you spend your savings or use Granny's old plastic remedy?

"People have a tendency to buy the cheapest piece of furniture because they think it's going to get ruined. But really you should think the opposite way and purchase the higher quality," said Holwagner.

Waiting to invest in quality furniture is exactly what Milbradt and her family decided was best.

"It meant we had to go without until we could find exactly what we wanted," said Milbradt.

Mudrooms used to be a feature relegated to the family farm. After a hard day in the field a farmer could shed clothing and the accompanying dirt and grime so as not to track it throughout the home. Nowadays mudrooms have become commonplace and a family necessity. In new home construction, the mudroom contains a space system of cubbies or lockers to organize everyday goods and belongings.

"Most homes should incorporate some form of a mudroom," Holwagner said.

Another change in planning a family home that never used to play a role is technology. As a society our lives are centered around televisions, computers and cell phones. Extra-long phone cords that can stretch down the hallway to reach the privacy of the bathroom are no longer necessary.

"Charging stations that are centrally located in one space are important to consider," Holwagner said.

But perhaps the number one priority of creating a family home is surrounding yourself with love and comfort.

"I only want things in my home that have personal meaning, value and purpose," Milbradt said.

The most valuable advice to live by.

Michelle Farnsworth loves travel, writing, photography, daily devotions, gardening, making jewelry and finding old treasures. Her greatest accomplishment is her two sons, who bring life, love and laughter to her each day.