I was once doing a design consult in a client's home when she brought me into her relatively polished master bedroom. She stared at the bedside tables discontentedly, sighed, and said "I need bigger lamps." I said, "Tell me a little bit about the way you use your bedside tables." She looked at me, puzzled, and responded. "I put books, reading glasses, prescriptions, the day's mail, my kids' school papers that need looking over... on it"
"Exactly," I said. "This is the way you live, and that's ok! But, if we put a larger lamp on your bedside table, you won't have room for all of the things that end up here by the time you crawl into bed. What you need is to take your lamp off of your bedside table, get one that goes on your wall, and free up space for all of your things!"
So, we did something like this:
My other favorite comes when clients ask me to help them pull together their living room. It never fails that more laid back clients cringe when they see coffee tables. "It's beautiful. But, my kids put their feet on our coffee table all the time, I know it wouldn't last." My response to this is always, "No problem! An upholstered ottoman will be a great look!" So, we might do something like this:
Design is meant to beautify the space you occupy in consideration of the way you live. There is nothing magical about redecorating your living room--if your kids put their feet on the coffee table now, they'll still want to, despite the pretty penny you spent on getting it to be just-so. So reconcile with the way you live! It can be beautiful and functional!