About six months ago I finally decided that enough was enough. I had put together an office I quite liked (after a lot of trial and error), yet found that I was continuously hauling myself and all of my work gear up to the kitchen table on a very frequent basis. And I would leave it there and we were always shifting it around for our family meals. The main reason that I preferred to sit upstairs? I was drawn to the windows just as a moth is to a flame! I love bright spaces and being able to gauge time by what is happening outside... When I would work down in my office, my mornings and nights blended. There were even days when I didn't even see daylight. It wasn't good for me, yet I would fight it because I finally got my office done in a way that I liked and I felt like I should just be content with that. There is that always-too-hard on myself thing again...
Over time, the boys were using their playroom less and less for building big toy cities, and more and more for hanging out with friends, watching movies and playing video games. Of course, that applies more to our oldest two, but the youngest always tries to keep up with his big brothers. They are currently 14, 11 and 9, and as much as I personally fight it, they are growing up.
With them in school all day, their playroom wasn't seeing a lot of action during the week. Yet there I was, working from home full time in a cave. I initially picked the larger side of the basement for their playroom because a) it was larger for their imaginations and b) I liked that I could keep an eye on them from the family room and our master bedroom. So as long as I can still give them enough surface area for their favorite activities, they are old enough that I don't need to be watching them 100% of the time while they play and craft.
At dinner one night I decided to check in with the boys and ask them their thoughts on trading spaces. They were so much more excited than I thought they would be; it must have been the mention of a mini-fridge and a spot for making popcorn. Now that I had them on my side I could let go of that mama guilt; I just had to learn to let go of my personal guilt.
The day I did, I stayed up all night moving everything out of the playroom into piles in my office, and all of my office piles into the playroom. And that is how things have sat for the last five-six months.
I can't begin to wrap my head around how fast that six months has gone. I was intentionally on a DIY break for quite a few reasons; it has given us more time to enjoy the home we have worked so hard on, we have been re-building our home project budget, and most importantly, focusing our attention on our family and relationships. It has been so good for me and my rebuilding process to take that time off from major house updates, but knowing that the kids will be home from school for summer break, I am feeling a fresh fire inside of me. And I kind of like it!
My office still needs a whole lot of work, and I think I am finally ready to say goodbye to the birch tree stencil, but the kids come first! And really, that window has made such a difference in my days, that I really don't notice my piles and unpacked bins.
I am going to preface the next part of this post, the room ideas and our plans, with the fact that I don't believe the boy's new space to be lacking in its current state... As you can see, we are really trying to re-use as much as possible from our previous setup, and they have been getting along just fine this past few months. In fact, the only thing I took with me is my craft cart... everything else stayed and has worked OK for putting away all of the boy's belongings. But I also want to be sure that it not only functions well for crafting, board gaming, puzzling and playing with Legos for hours, but it also is a cool place for my
So let's dive in!
The first thing I did was look at inspiration spaces with the boys, and save a bunch of images to my computer. I took note of the things they pointed out, everything from lighting to furniture pieces to textiles and finishes. It is funny that the boys typically don't care about these details (or at least they don't act like they do), but with this space they are all pretty excited. Which of course, I totally love. There were a couple of things that I already had in mind for the attached family room, like a floor to ceiling wall treatment, but there were elements that I wanted them to take part in deciding. Yet, after talking about if for the past few weeks/months, there are still so many things we probably won't know the answer to until we really start diving in.
What we do know is that the space has to:
- Remain relevant as our boys continue to grow - I hope that the area can be simple, timeless and cool for any age.
- Function for both the youngest and the oldest - Although the oldest isn't into toys, his youngest brother still plays with them. The room still has to store the toys he decides to keep, but it would be nice if they weren't all out on display at all times.
- Become a space they all want to spend time in, either together, or with their pals - It has to offer a place to sit and play games (table), eat snacks (do boys ever stop eating around the clock?) and also a view of the TV in the family room.
- Provide them a place to remain creative through arts and crafts - Storage for all of their supplies, as well as a surface that can handle craft messes, are both important.
- Remain Lego friendly - They don't play with too many other toys, but Legos will probably continue to be a hit around here up until they all move out. I will forever be stepping on those pesky little pieces...
And some additional details regarding each item...
Relocate Frames: The frames are still hanging from when my table/desk was turned and I added some personal photographs to my office. If the bench stays (more on that in a minute), the frames will have to be re-filled and relocated. Even if they end up moving, the space will continue to have photographs and artwork when all is said and done.
Panel Walls: Our lower level has two ceiling heights, which equates to two different wall heights throughout. 8 ft walls where there is no ducting (the front half of the house), and 7 ft walls where the plumbing and venting runs through the ceiling (the back half of the house). The new boy's area, my new office and our master bedroom, all have the 8 ft walls, while the family room, bathroom and dressing room all have 7 ft walls. And no windows in the family room or boy's new area either. So for awhile now, we have wanted to do floor to ceiling moulding in white, to really open up all of the spaces and hopefully make the ceilings feel taller. We just haven't landed on exactly what type of moulding we want to add. Here are three styles we have it narrowed down to.
|( style one | style two | style three )|
- Style one - Moulding only on the lower half, or even 3/4 of the way up, and then just painting the upper half to match.
- Style two - Straight floor to ceiling board and batten.
- Style three - Floor to ceiling board and batten with a few additional panels and cove moulding details.
Install/DIY Light Fixture: As we were looking at rooms, my youngest said that the lights with arms and eyes were the coolest! And after thinking about it, I am guessing that having multiple bulbs would be much better than only two, as the space can feel pretty dark. I haven't found the perfect fixture yet, they are either too big or too expensive. So maybe we will try to make one ourselves? Here are the styles the boys have liked best so far.
|( one | two | three | four )|
Install Nook Storage: The first thing I noticed when I really started looking closely at the space, is that it felt really unbalanced. With the built-in cabinets in the back hugging the corner (to leave room for the under-the-stairs closet door to open), and the shorter shelves on the stair wall, the two seem to compete.
The plans are to close off the door for under-the-stairs and patch it in with wall, which would allow us to fill that nook on the back wall and ultimately eliminate the two tall Expedit bookshelves on the right.
|( option 1 | option 2 | option 3 )|
We want to explore a few options for that nook, expanding on the cabinets and counter already in place.
- Option 1: Install a pantry cabinet that matches the existing cabinets. We would then outfit the interior with toys, art supplies and games.
- Option 2: Build a true nook and install floating wood shelves, adding decorative baskets for toys, books and media storage.
- Option 3: Build in a small closet and update a set of bi-fold doors like we did to our coat closet.
We all like the idea and look of the wood open shelves, however, the goal is to conceal the toy clutter and the green baskets so I am not sure it will ultimately win first place.
Close off the Closet Door: The space under the stairs is primarily used by me for all of my home decor, gift wrap supplies and blog gear. We plan to close off the door on this side of the stairs, and create new access on my office side.
Transfer Toys & Conceal: We want to encourage the boys to play with their belongings in this space, and also in the adjoining family room. But to take the space up a notch and make it feel a bit more mature, it would be nice to conceal their current storage solutions a bit. First step would be to move the bulkier items to the back cabinet area, but that Lego organization just works too well. Rather than change it, I would love to make it look like a narrow piece of furniture. Maybe frame it out, add some doors and legs to give it a credenza look. It would also be another great place to bring in some wood tones to warm things up a bit.
|( credenza 1 | credenza 2 | credenza 3 | credenza 4 )|
Put Down an Area Rug: We still have the carpet tiles from the boy's playroom, all stacked nicely in a pile waiting to be put back down. But I thought it would be nice to warm things up, and maybe layer in a bit of color or drama on top of the tiles. Here are a few styles that we all thought could work:
|( one | two | three | four )|
Install Mini Fridge: We have three growing boys who love to snack, and that snacking is especially in full force when they have their friends over. The new void that was created in the back cabinets when I removed my craft cart, is just screaming for a small fridge to hold juice, water, apples, carrots, string cheese and yogurt. Not a bad setup, eh? I should have put one of these in when I worked in the space... Maybe mommy needs a wine fridge in her new office?
I also promised them a popcorn machine. Or a microwave. Haven't quite nailed that detail down yet...
Paint Table: Another not-so-sure yet idea is to update the table to a solid hue. I am worried the finish we initially used is a little off style-wise from the rest of the furniture in our home. But we don't want to lose the wood tone in general, so if the table is painted, then we would aim to bring those wood tones in through chairs, open shelving, picture frames and the credenza.
|( option 1 | option 2 | option 3 )|
The photos above are a few parings that caught our eye. The first is a white table with wooden bistro chairs. Our local Craigslist has a few of those chairs right now that I would love to scoop up in a heartbeat. Option two is to keep the table a wood tone and to pair it with industrial navy chairs. We temporarily added two from our patio and really like how they look in the space. The final image shows a bench, table and natural chairs which is another combo we are all smitten with.
Reupholster Bench: If we keep the bench, which is a nice and soft place to chill, the table has to run parallel with the laundry room and storage room wall. This does feel a little more unbalanced, but I know the kiddos have liked the bench for the past six months (and maybe the balance issue would be solved if we were to move it to the opposite side of the room). If it stays, it needs to be reupholstered due to the fact we couldn't wrap the fabric all the way around the base when we first upholstered it (we ran low on fabric and it was hidden by the previous nook it was customize for).
Updating the bench would give us a chance to redo the skirt (or nix it and redo the base) and maybe bring in a fun colored fabric instead. If we decide to get rid of the bench, we can turn the table to run parallel with the back counter, which does seem to flow a bit better, but would also mean that two people would always have their backs to the family room television. Either way, we need to add at least two chairs. Here are a few of the options we are considering.
|( one | two | three | four | five | six )|
And just when you thought this post should finally end, here are a few more final thoughts on the space.
With the walls going white, we are thinking about painting those back cabinets once they are updated to run wall-to-wall. A few color options we are considering are navy, light gray, keeping them white, and charcoal gray.
|( navy cabinets | light gray cabinets | white cabinets | charcoal gray cabinets )|
There is no sink in this area, however, we hope to update the nearby laundry room sink to be used for any dish rinsing/washing. Even without the sink, we still may consider adding some backsplash, just for a little extra texture and style.
If not tile, I would really love to add some wallpaper to the space. Either to line some open shelving or a closet, or to supplement the backsplash, or maybe even to add a wow moment on the ceiling?! Here are two I have had my eye on for months now, but I am still exploring a few alternatives as well:
|( buffalo check | otomi )|
And finally, I would love to DIY a game table topper; something like this would be loads of fun right?! And would maybe even score me some extra awesome-mom points with the boys!
Hi again, are you still there? Talk about months of brain dumping on you all, whew!
The school year finishes up in about eight weeks, so that doesn't give us a lot of time to try and get this space summer ready. #wecandoit The boys casted their personal votes on most of these ideas/options this week, but I would also love to hear all of your thoughts and votes as well! We are all so excited to see where this room ends up!