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Emily Henderson

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by Emily Henderson
I Design You Decide Kids Play Attic Opener

Well, it’s come to this: the final “I Design, YOU Decide” of the mountain house, play attic edition. In case you are like “what is she talking about,” here’s a reminder—we renovated a mountain house and brought you into the process of this house by, well, designing each room TWICE and then letting you decide which design we execute (a poll we couldn’t rig). It was fun if not hilariously stressful because Brian and I had to like both plans equally BEFORE we presented to you. Also, if you are wondering when you’ll see the house fully shot, check newsstands in August as it’s going to be in the September issue of House Beautiful, shooting in two weeks (EEK). (And no, we are not selling this house, ever, ever, ever, unless we financially have to or leave Southern California).

Most of the rooms are finished (see the kitchen and kids bedroom posts) with the exception of the attic playroom. This room won’t be shot in two weeks, as we’ll likely work on it after the magazine shoot this summer.

Here’s what it looked like before renovation.

It was already finished, just not safe. The pull-down ladder was super dangerous and where I once wrote “cute cubby” was actually really dangerous, too. I fell from it once while trying to get Birdie down and hurt my leg REALLY bad because I was holding her and didn’t catch myself with my hands. This was the first time I got hurt while alone with two small kids and realized that this is why you have home phones to call 911. I didn’t need to but it could have been so much worse and it terrified me. So we took out the ladder, which allowed us to make the room more usable in many ways and instead put in stairs from the kids’ room.

As a reminder, this is the kids’ room downstairs. It has wall to wall carpet, folks and loving EVERY SINGLE FOOT STEP AND WRESTLE SESSION.

Back to iPhone shots upstairs…

2x2 Room Context

Here’s where we are now. It’s a cute little space with fresh carpet and clean walls. We put in a window and are about to put in two operable Velux skylights for air flow (the window couldn’t be operable because it was on a diagonal).

Where We Are Full Horizontal 01

It has not only this playspace but also a ladder to what we are calling the “clubhouse.”

Where We Are Diamond Window 01

That window (by Marvin) is magical and had to be a diamond due to the roofline, but we love it and the view out of it is all trees. It has a soffit bench that houses AC vents for the house, which could be a cute bench or more play space.

There is so much potential for fun up here, it could be such a magical space (though it kinda is already).

Where We Are Toward Toy Storage 01

There is more room behind that wall where the cubbies are so we could do a secret door and have an additional secret room. We are obviously VERY into secret rooms around here.

Where We Are To Small Door 01 Where We Are Nook 01

That’s the space, now let’s get your vote on which style we go for. But first some information on my kids:

We have a 3 and 5 year old who actually love playing together (I mean, they call each other best friends and I want to DIE with happiness). Most of their play up at this house is imaginative, so think lots of costumes, “get the bad guy,” hiding from parents, spy adventures, etc. So this room is to help foster that kind of imaginative play.

OPTION 1: Secret Spy Headquarters/Base

Emily Henderson Mountain Fixer I Design You Decide Kids Attic Mood Board Secret Spy Headquarters

Our kids love playing any sort of game that feels like a secret and involves an adventure so both plans would have elements of that. This option is more geared towards “spy/superhero” but could really be anything they imagine. We love the idea of a wall of gadgets with boxes that have locks. I already bought that wooden safe which I’ll incorporate into either design because it’s so stinking cute.

Finding inspiration of EITHER of these styles was rough and nothing really tells that story, but here are some images that we are kinda referencing:

Secret Entrace Inspo
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Headquarters Grid
image sources: top left | top right | bottom left | bottom right
Mission Control Side By Side
image sources: left | right

That mission control is so amazing and the wall of gadgets, of course, wouldn’t be saw blades; it’s just an inspiration for a sliding secret door that could house their binoculars, compass, masks, etc.

OPTION 2: Enchanted Forest

Emily Henderson Mountain Fixer I Design You Decide Kids Attic Mood Board Enchanted Forest

This theme is more nature-oriented, obviously but where you’d walk in and have it be a magical enchanted forest …via Scandinavia. We’d still do a clubhouse but it would be more treehouse inspired. I found those vintage mushroom stools at the flea market and they spin which is super fun.

Julie tried to find some inspiration shots for “enchanted forest themed room” and here’s what we found…

Forest Inspo
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It would be far less themed with say, trees and deer…that room CRACKS ME UP. But the trees would come in the form of a tree mural and the “stumps” would likely be the mushrooms stools I already have.

Treehouse Round Openings
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We love the idea of a rotating circle window and that tone of wood would obviously work in the house.

But we also could paint it white if it competes less with the carpet and wallpaper.

White Wood Inspo
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So it’s down to this: you choosing the theme of this room and entering to win the 5 days at this house with your friends/family (likely next spring or summer). Remember I’ll even pay $1k towards your travel, as you can tell I REALLY want you guys to enter and share and, frankly care as much as you have about this project. So many of you feel so invested and engaged and it means so very very very much to me. Thank you so much for watching, reading, voting, sharing and caring.

Now vote. It’s not a privilege, it’s a right. 🙂

OH and I haven’t shown either of these to Brian or the kids…I know they’ll like both, although I think the kids will lean towards headquarters just because it sounds so much cooler. But I promise to make it very very cool, fun, exciting regardless of what theme is chosen.

I Design, You Decide

Kid's Attic Play Space

Option 1: Spy HQ

Kids Attic Play Space

Option 2: Enchanted Forest

Kids Attic Play Space

(Vote by Friday, June 14th to have your voice heard.)
You did it!

Thank you for doing your daily design duty.
Your vote has my vote 🙂

Wait!

Now enter to win

A five-night stay at the cabin in 2019 or 2020 (with some blackout dates, of course, because our family uses it) with $1,000 towards travel expenses (if you live driving distance then it’s just fun money, or if you live internationally then we will cover up to $1,000 of your expenses. So, all the international readers please feel free to participate and enter as well). We’ll make it a dream trip! Including cocktails out on the lake with me.

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  1. Oof that’s a tough one! I’ve gone for the spy HQ because I feel as though even the enchanted forest idea is absolutely magical, kids would go totally nuts for the spy idea and you’d get more imaginative play and more time where they’re entertaining themselves in their own world. Plus your house is kind of already in the middle of a magical forest anyway with all that outdoor space and nature around you! Why pretend when you can be out in the real deal?

    1. This was precisely my reasoning for choosing Spy HQ as well!

      1. Why go with a singular theme? I would merge Ideas and put those little spies in the forest.

        1. I suspect most will think the same, ………..the spy headquarters set in a remote enchanted forest.
          You have already done the work, incorporate it and make it count.
          I believe children playrooms may be the one room that don’t need to get simplified and edited down. Looks like plenty of open spaces elsewhere.
          This is not there bedroom where understandably you have created more calm. This is a PLAY room, go for it, there are plenty of other great quiet places and nooks in your home for reading etc
          What a fun room!
          Thanks for sharing your ideas, this room will be amazing!

        2. I also want to combine both ideas! Couldn’t ‘Spy Headquarters’ be hidden inside a tree..?

          1. Spy Headquarters for sure! Looks like such a fun project ❤️

          2. LOVE this idea!

        3. If there was that option I would have picked it. Both are amazing. Also I am obsessed with that carpet.

      2. Spy HQ

    2. this is exactly what i thought too. spy room!

      1. OOH. ok i’m definitely down to combine ideas…. I guess the question becomes which wallpaper …. that treasure map is so fun (and we could put glow in the dark X-marks the spot all over it that they have to use a special light to see), but the forest is more calm and magical ….

        1. Mrs Maximum here:)
          Both wall papers!

          The gorgeous magical overall forest wall paper on the wall that you see when you enter with the diamond window. The trees will look great on that wall with real trees and sky coming in thru the window.
          Then you put that great forest paper on the 2 perpendicular walls (to make the most of those angles all the way to the highest point of the ceiling) making a tree canopy.

          So the majority will be calm and magical.

          Then you are right that map paper is fun, it goes on the last remaining wall, it becomes a feature, ties up downstairs to upstairs. Also with the 2 levels they will be able to get closer to it and it will be more intimate/usable (great idea the special glow). If you want to incorporate blackboard paint. Incorporate it into the map, in the lower county areas, so they can reach. Plus there is different chalk board colors besides black.
          Looking forward to seeing this room.
          You have got it! It won’t take long. Probably because you haven’t had “clients” that you get more on every level.

        2. What if Spy HQ was in a treehouse? Keep the treasure map wallpaper and the cool locks, the safe and the wooden periscope. Combine the slat wall hidden door with the pulley window (love the pulley system with a bucket on it that allows the kids to send notes and toys up or down through the window!). Then decorate with the mushroom stools and woodsy decor! Less “high-tech spy lab” more “no grown ups allowed tree fort”…

        3. A dollar store item…my kids always loved the glow-in-the-dark stars which we put on their ceilings. Kinda magical when lights are off

        4. If you build a treehouse, put the treasure map wallpaper inside that section, like the headquarters had the map displayed?

        5. Spy Fairies and Gnomes! Monster and Unicorn tracking! Evil Wizards with oppressive political and economic ideas requiring an active underground network to free magical creatures. So many story lines! Love the combo theme.

    3. I guess I’m definitive a minority of one here, but why not let the children decide what THEY want it to be by using their own creativity and imaginations?
      Complete the room – add the round porthole opening, cushion the “bench” change the ladder to something more safe and far less likely to result in broken limbs and just let them accumulate their own imaginative pieces to put in their ‘magical’ space.
      Possibly include them on flea market trips, thrift stores, etc and let them choose their own play pieces? Is this idea totally out of the realm? I think this would encourage and nurture their imaginations far more than having it all handed to them in your idea of finished form. Just a thought from a creative mom.

      1. Kind of love this perspective!

  2. If I look at your options I see that you put so much more effort in board #1, so for me you should clearly choose option #1.

    1. HA. you aren’t wrong. I have not been able to find ANY good inspiration for a spy Base/HQ so part of me wants to do it because i Know it would be so fun to actually design – and way more challenging than the enchanted forest.

  3. I chose the enchanted forest version of the playroom because, to me, it has more open-ended options for when they gt tired of playing spy. I love the spinning secret door idea, like the crazy spinning fireplace in an Abbot and Costello movie.
    Also, if they’re in the woods, it doesn’t mean they can just go out and play in the woods any old time.
    Then again, is that the wallpaper from Birdie’s bedroom in the last house? I LOVED that paper.
    (I chose first and then came up with the “why”, so…) GO ENCHANTED FOREST!

    1. Agree with this 100%. The spy idea is so cool but more limiting. The forest could inspire many different scenarios.

    2. I feel exactly the same way! The “enchanted forest” room is something that they can continue to enjoy when they get older since it will just be a pretty space, while the spy room will feel decidedly “kid” to pre-teens.

      1. when do you guys think that they’ll stop playing spy? I would think 8 and 10 but do you think earlier?

        1. i’m in my 50s and couldn’t wait to go to the Spy Museum in Washington, DC, so i don’t think there’s an expiration date on spy enthusiasm.

          1. Same! I vote spy 100% because I’m an adult and still into this s*** big time. I feel like if they get over “spy” in particular, you could turn it into more of a workshop/tinkering zone with tech stuff and mini kid carpentry and craft area.

          2. I am on this wagon. I feel like the forest theme might have more longevity. It sounds like your kids are both creative, so they may not need all the gadgets to come up with fun things to do in the space! 😊 So I voted for the enchanted forest because I felt like it was something that would stand the test of time, allows your kids to create the magic and fits the location of your home.

        2. My kid is nearly 8 and still plays spy with her best friend who is nearly 9, so…I think you’d be safe until at least then!

          (And that’s totally why I voted for the spy room!)

        3. @emily to answer the ? about when they might stop playing spy. My 12 year old son and 10 year old daughter were in the yard yesterday playing some kind of pretend, spy, mission, army explorer something-or-other while I was doing yard work and I had the thought, “Enjoy this. This is probably the last summer, MAYBE the last time ever, he’ll be doing this.” (My 14 y.o. is obviously over it already). Granted, we’ve made every reasonable effort to maintain their childlikeness & allow them to stay young for as long as possible.

          I voted spy — I LOVE forest/nature — but spy is an unexpected mix-up from the setting of the house. 🙂 And even if they don’t PLAY spy as teens, I guarantee they’ll have fun being in the space b/c it’ll bring up fun memories.

        4. Really depends on the kid, but yes, they’ll easily enjoy spying until they’re 10 and could be even later. My hesitation is that when you devote an entire space to a spying theme, it gets boring to them. A box of “spy gear” they can pull out and play with (and then put away and forget about for a while) might be more fun…

        5. I played spy much later- probably 12. Also, I didn’t have many things, we made them up! Clipboards, any kind of printed forms, index cards, sunglasses…

        6. I think when they stop playing spy you might be in the mood for a redesign of a room or two anyway, right? Not like their bedroom in this house will stay completely static as they get into pre-teen ages. I’d say have fun and design what you want to now that you think they’ll play with and if in five-seven years you have to flip some stuff, then do it! Just maybe go easy on the more “permanent” fixtures (or give some thought to the wallpaper longevity, but the rest can be rotated as they age.

        7. My girls, who are 11 and 14, would still be down to play in spy headquarters! (Although they would roll their eyes at me if *I* suggested it. ;-))

      2. I agree! It’ll be perfect for bad weather days. The forest seems so much more versatile, too: Robin Hood, camping, pioneer… I would 100% enjoy hanging out and reading there as an adult. The spy theme would feel young to me.

        1. Hi Emily! You can never know when they’ll stop playing spy (or any other specific game they like to play). It could be next week! … But the thing is that that theme is not as open-ended as “anything you can do in a forest”. Open-ended is *always* the best choice for longevity and truly imaginative play. (Using a play phone to make a pretend phone call isn’t nearly as imaginative as building a phone out of cardboard and using that for your phone call… and then turning that cardboard into a fairy house… and then into a boat for a pretend voyage across the ocean… and then into swords and lances… and then into a drill etc.) My kids (12, 10, 6 (and BFFs)) go through all sorts of stages with the types of games they like to play. Sometimes they go back to old games; sometimes they don’t. But what is consistent is that they can make anything (and I mean anything!) between Lego, cardboard, blocks and fabric scraps.

          1. PS. In case it’s helpful, I have two mantras when it comes to purchases for kids: “skills before tools” and “ingredients, not props.”

          2. I love those mantras!! What a great perspective on encouraging creativity!!

      3. Interesting, I was going to say the opposite. I think they’d outgrow the enchanted forest theme before the spy. My daughter outgrew her My Little Pony, etc. in 5th- 6th grade, however my 11 th grade son still loves and works on Legos.

      4. I agree—the spy idea is too specific for longevity.

    3. Exactly what I think—leave it all more open to their imaginations! Plus then it may keep their interest longer.

    4. I am on this wagon. I feel like the forest theme might have more longevity. It sounds like your kids are both creative, so they may not need all the gadgets to come up with fun things to do in the space! 😊 So I voted for the enchanted forest because I felt like it was something that would stand the test of time, allows your kids to create the magic and fits the location of your home.

  4. Man its 50 50! This is by far the hardest one!

  5. Good morning!
    Thanks for the giveaway. I choose the spy option too because I think it ages better – they only get bigger and older. Sigh…
    And, yes, the magical woodland is just outside that magical window. 🙂
    Have a great Mountain Monday!

  6. I chose spy hq based on the cabin already being in an enchanted forest, they have that outside. Options are key for kids.

  7. Voted for forest because my kids (5, 3, 1) would like it more. So, selfish reasons, I guess? I feel like the spy stuff could just be a phase, whereas the forest theme could be a backdrop for all sorts of pretend play (forest, magic, safari, camping, picnic…). My favorite pretend game that my own kids play is “Christmas” where they bag up all their toys and drag them in a sack to a different location then “open” them. Very fun.

  8. I love the idea of option 2, being in the trees and embracing nature, but I think they will have more fun with option 1. more things to touch and encourage creativity.

    1. I like both ideas, but I love design of the forest and feel that it will age better. Kids of a wider spread of ages will be able to utilize the space. Love the idea of secret walls and doors. I also might sneak in that steel and wood ladder in either version because it’s awesome! Good luck! Love the mountain home!

  9. I chose spy theme because it may have more staying power as the kids grow. They have an adorable treehouse back in LA and lots of real enchanted forest just outdoors, so the spy haven is a different lane and also seems to have lots of potential for interactive concepts.

  10. For sure the Spy theme! Even though I’m sure they would love the enchanted forest, based on how you’re describing them they may get most play time with the Spy! Too fun!! CAN’T WAIT TO SEE IT! And, can’t wait for August HB!! You and your team work SO hard. So happy for you to have this mountain house as a respite. What a gift!

  11. For play I would have chosen the Spy Headquarters, but for the build I chose Enchanted Forest! That spinning circle door is amazing, the secret door, the wide wood ladder, CAN YOU COMBINE THEM?? Like, allll the spy stuff, the spy wallpaper, too, but with the wood elements from Forest?

    1. YES!!!

  12. I think enchanted forrest. It’d be my personal choice bc I find it much prettier, but also goes with the feel of the house and the surrounding area, so it’s a complete (magical) package for the kids! Also, when they tire of spies, you could always revamp the whole thing, of course, but the e.f. theme is much more flexible for when they get a bit older. They are both super adorable tho, very excited to see how it turns out!!!

    ps. don’t know if someone has mentioned this already, but the pics aren’t showing to me on chrome, I had to click on them to see the inspos.

  13. You should definitely have a secret door and room! Our friends moved in to a house with a secret little play room in the basement and the kids all LOVE it!

    1. I could not figure out how to vote! So I am voting here, I would do the spy room. They are only little for so long! Those are my best memories playing spy club with my brothers.

  14. option 1 spa headquarters for sure!

  15. Love both of these options – I chose enchanted forest mostly because of the wallpaper and I like that theme better visually. That being said I really think either one will be fantastic. Can’t wait to see how it all turns out.

  16. HQ for inside but is there a yard to build a version of the enchanted forest?

  17. I voted for the forest theme because it seems more open to imagination and flexible play options and is more cohesive with the bedroom below. The spy headquarters sounds like something the kids may want to build themselves (or participate in building) when they’re keen for games along that line. If most of their play is already spy/gadget themed, then now may be the time.
    Both look fun and I can’t wait to see what you decide.

  18. If I had to pick one, it would be forest because it allows for many different imaginative scenarios. BUT I think you can do both. My suggestion is to turn the “secret” room into the spy room with the gadgets, spy phone, etc. because those look SO much fun. Best of both worlds!

    1. Yes, this!

    2. Love this idea! Forest room with secret spy area.

  19. They are both so beautiful, but I have to go with the spy room. It is so unique and my kids would go nuts for it! I’m seriously considering turning my loft into a spy headquarters now. Thanks for in inspiration and chance to stay in such a gorgeous home!

  20. I think you can go with Enchanted Forest and still incorporate “spy” elements. “Spies in the Forest” 😉 Magnifying glasses, footprints, hidden stuffed animals, etc. Forest just seems a prettier theme and has a lot more longevity and flexibility. Good luck!!

  21. This might be an incredibly dumb question but how do I cast my vote? I can only clicks on the images and then it just shows me a scroll of all of the images on the page!

  22. I think the Spy HQ is the way to go. Since the Mountain House has a general feel of a treehouse/nature setting, I think the Spy theme would give the kids a new twist to their play time. I can’t wait to see it complete!

  23. I think it’s great to have the spy theme because the forest theme is right outside, so they can have the best of both worlds! However, whatever you choose, it will be the best! (I feel certain that you could have an empty room theme and still make it fun! 🙃)

  24. Enchanted forest!

  25. Enchanted forest & for inspiration check out the Gros Morne National Park headquarters in New Foundland, Canada. My kids played for hours in the forest room on a rainy day!

  26. while I would choose the forest, I asked my Little’s and they said DEFINITELY the Spy HQ 🤷‍♀️. Whatever you do will be fabulous and I can’t wait to see it! And we are totally ready to come stay for 5 days 😄.

  27. Your home is already set in a magical enchanted forest so I say number 1!

  28. Love both options but the Spy theme feels more original and fun! Although the enchanted forest does continue the outdoor/camping theme of the attached kids room which speaks to me in terms of continuity.

  29. If you go with the spy think I love the idea of having a false bookcase as a door!

  30. Too theme-ey for me. I would combine the two in some way.

  31. The best “spy/detective years are yet to come. My best friend and I played like that until we were 11 or 12. Definitely that one!

  32. I vote the Spy design. Very cool idea!

  33. Voting option isn’t showing up for me but I vote for the spy headquarters. They have the real enchanted forest outside so they might not want it inside too. What a magic home for your family to make a lifetime of memories! Thanks for taking us along this journey.

    1. Hmm weird. You don’t see both of the side by side designs with the “vote” button underneath each at the botton of the post? Are you viewing on mobile or desktop?

      1. I saw the same thing on an older version of Firefox, but the vote button showed up in Chrome. I was on desktop for both.

    2. Wait — there are actual buttons to hit to vote? Did not see those. I thought just commenting would be the “vote.” I’ll take another look.

  34. I’m going with spy but love the mushroom stools too and hope you keep them and use them somewhere else, they are really great!

    1. I do love all that you’ve sourced for the spy room and I’d use some of those fun props… in the super secret spy cubby room because hey it’s secret.
      I’d then go with enchanted forest for the main room. A forest room has unlimited possibilities, it’s soothing, pretty, not scary to nervous kids, and it lets the Kids imagination roam towards any of their own stories. From the spy cubby they can plot to find the bad garden gnome that took the fairies or they could leave pretty white rocks for the princess, or pirate to find the trail back to the mushroom or pine tree. They could figure out how to help the leprechaun find his pot and fill it with lost gold coins… hidden around the forest. Or there’s tea parties and picnics in the indoor woods with flashlights/ lanterns. Haha I’m into it!

  35. Forest! Spy while fun is about solving crime (fighting bad) something your kids will have years ahead of them to deal with. The forest idea is magical and fantastical something special that we tend to lose as adults.

    1. I agree with this comment. And when I think of my older son (now almost 11) his imagination was extraordinary from ages 4 – 8. and then continued some through age 10. I think the spy theme would have been a little abstract and adult for him at the height of his imaginary play. He could create magic for hours from his head just in our living room or a wooded area outside. It is true the spy theme would age well but with all your projects and resources that should not be an issue for you.

      You could incorporate some spy elements in the forest now … then adjust later as needed. Let your kids really create their own imaginary play without having too much of a theme.

  36. I voted HQ…more “things” to keep them occupied and in a few years when they grow out of that kind of stuff you can redesign it to be more of a hangout/chill space. Take advantage of the play stuff if it’s going to blow their minds, they’ll be grown soon enough. Speaking from experience. 😭

  37. Wow! Such a hard decision! I suppose it would be something that the kids should choose. Although, I do think that my child brain would choose that super cool spy room, even though my adult brain would love the relaxing woodland room.

  38. Spy HQ!! The kids room already has a camp/forrest feel to it, and I imagine they’ll play outside a ton anyways, so the Spy HQ feels like a better overall alternative and one that they can age with! My kids are 5 and 7 and they would likely already have outgrown the forrest room.

  39. They are both amazing! I personally (as an adult) like the enchanted forest option better and think it’s more consistent with the rest of the house, but kid me LOVES the spy room. And, the forest is readily available from the house any time. Kid me won this round 🙂

  40. I think Option 1 would invoke more creativity. The forest is nice but takes away from the real thing outside.

  41. My thought is don’t make a “this is where we play spy” room.

  42. Woah…. you know what’s weird…. I woke up on this sunny Monday morning and my first thought was, is Em Henderson still doing this mountain house contest?!? Why did I randomly think about that? Then I checked my email and read your post. Obvi, I really want to win and I’m so glad you did a post about it today because I’ve been very concerned, ha! Love love love the enchanted forest, more on the scandi side, mountain house-y, and magical!

  43. I love the enchanted forest!!!

  44. Enchanted forest!!! Keep the woodsy them going all the way!!

  45. I loved the Spy Room! A great way to challenge their imaginations. (As if they needed a challenge!)

    1. If I had to pick one it would be the spy room! But agree with incorporating both together.

  46. I love both ideas! But, I know when my kids were little they would have had endless fun with the Spy HQ. So, for a lot more joy at your Mountain House that’s my vote.

  47. I vote for the spy headquarters, largely because you already have a forest outside, so doing an indoor one seems kind of redundant.

    But with the spy headquarters, I would say make it less specifically “spy”. When I was a kid I found a wooden board and I stuck a lightswitch on it, and various other things that could be switches and buttons. And the great thing about it was it could be used for anything – a PI bugging station, a spaceship navigation panel, a zoo control panel, a panel to open the doors to the superhero lair, whatever. I think whatever you do, the elements should be something that the kids themselves give a function to. So rather than “Mission Control” it could just be a general control panel. And rather than a board where you write the mission, just a general board that they can decide afresh each time what to write on it. Your kids are young and it may be all spies now, but in even six months it could be Jurassic Park or Space Station or whatever.

    Also, you currently have almost exclusively blue. I think whatever you do you should bring in all other other colours, and no more blue. It’s such a great idea, dying to see what you do with it.

    1. I agree with this!!!

    2. Love this!

  48. I vote spy theme! For some inspiration, look up the Safe House restaurant in Milwaukee or Chicago. It’s all spy-themed with a password to get in and plenty of spy command decor.

  49. I really, REALLY think that making this space into something as specific as a “mission control center” is a huge missed opportunity for open ended creative play. I taught preschool for 7 years before staying home with my own children, and I can tell you that the dramatic play areas the children enjoyed the most were always the ones that they helped set up and contribute to- and they changed often. It’s a well intentioned adult impulse to super design a themed play space, but I think it’s a mistake.

    1. Totally agree!! Kids can make a “mission control” of their own out of a cereal box and toilet paper rolls (or whatever they have on hand), but making one for them, and having that be the theme of the playroom is just too limiting.

    2. I agree, my own creative impulse loves designing a themed play space, but my kids love being able to redesign things based on their own creativity. Mine are 7 and 9 and we’ve started having conversations about the toys they purchase with their allowance. They’ve realized that Magnatiles, Legos, and Star Wars action figures are things they play with more often because of their flexibility. It was interesting to watch them realize that they are drawn to things that only do 1-2 play scenarios before they are bored and whatever it is sits in a bin. I would go open ended and watch them play spy in the enchanted forest, then pirates, then animal trainers, then. . .then.

      1. I agree and since I don’t have kids, all the rest of my argument sounds very judgey but…. this just feels very limiting.
        -Long time reader, sometimes purchaser, and big time fan of EH.

    3. In early childhood education and parent of two (middle schoolers now, sigh); totally agree with this.

    4. I really really agree with you Carly!

  50. Well this is exciting! And barrels of fun!

    I love both the options so much, but I would make this a neutral space. Paint, wallpaper, general decor would all be theme and gender neutral for my preference. I would provide dress up bin, spy bin, nature bin, etc. Probably not all at the same time though. That way this space can grow with your children’s interests and ages right up to teenagers. The possibilities are endless and should not be limited to themes. IMHO.

  51. I chose magical forest because it feels more in tune with the rest of the house. You can bring things into the room to stimulate play and imaginations.

  52. Ughhh this is so hard, because they are both so fun! So I’m going to need to talk it out in this comment before I can vote. I initially was thinking forest because uh hello mountain house. I always wanted an outdoor tree house fort growing up and this plays in to that. But the mountain house already has fun forest surrounding it, and you have your wooden play castle fort at home. So then spy theme is super fun and more unexpected and less on theme, but still in a good way. I’m even picturing something with like a black light message that glows under a black light lamp or something. I don’t have kids so I’m not sure which theme will “grow up” better with them. Ahhh I think I am going to vote enchanted forest but I don’t think you can lose either way!

  53. Enchanted forest, no question.

    A. It’s a “mountain house.” B. You already have a rock climbing wall. C. You have a “clubhouse”…i.e. “treehouse.”

    At this point, go with it. You are already like 1/3 the way there, no?

  54. I love the spy headquarters, but voted for the enchanted forest. My thought process is this- the enchanted forest fits the rest of the house so much better, playing off the views through the windows and those future skylights. It will also last so much longer as the kids and their friends grow. Spy headquarters has a definite expiration date, where as the enchanted forest could last well into their teen years with minimal tweaks.

  55. My girls (now 10 and 12) were obsessed with playing “spy” not too long ago, and a room like this would capture even my “getting too cool” 12 year old! I vote spies all the way; I think cousins and friends would also love it.

  56. You have a real enchanted forest right outside the door… I feel that the draw of the fantasy indoor one would be severely reduced by this fact! Besides, the spy theme seems more in line with what they are already doing and it would enrich and deepen that play 🙂

  57. Spy Kids all the way!!! Have the kids watched any of the Spy kids movies yet?

  58. I’m 30 and I want a Spy HQ now. That is so crazy fun. Really either idea is going to be amazing.

  59. They have an actual enchanted forest outside— I vote spy command center!!

    The only thing I warn against is that kids do grow up FAST. And their interests will change. I wouldn’t do too much that has only one way to play with it…
    Have you read Simplicity Parenting? I think you would totally love it.

  60. If I could vote for the combo, I would. The gadgets are super fun for a while, but then they (at least my kids) get tired of them. Maybe that would be different for your people since they wouldn’t have access to them every day. Both inspirations are amazing!

  61. Speaking of Velux, was the winner chosen yet? I’m still waiting for my phone call!

  62. Yes! Spy HQ for sure. I like the “design-ness” of the enchanted forest better, but for kids, I know my 5yo would LOVE a spy HQ. Way better for playing. Also, I think I’d skip the “lock / gadget” wall. It would be such a PIA to put together and I feel like your kids are already on the older end of enjoying that. Aren’t they usually for kiddos around 18-24months?? Unless you’re thinking about more kids down the road, or younger cousins. Just seems silly to make something they won’t play with for long…

  63. I vote for the woodland theme but without the wallpaper. Maybe some cutest removable decals? I think the spy one, while super cool, would get old. However! If you choose the soy idea, you should go to the International Spy Museum in Washington, DC for ideas. It is an AMAZING and very interactive museum

  64. I would go with the forest simply because it’s more versatile and will lends itself to a wider range of imagination games the the headquarters likely will. You can absolutely be spies or superheroes in the forest, for example, but I don’t think you’d pretend to be deer (or fairies or raccoons or whatever) in spy headquarters. Maximum versatility is a good goal for any fixed elements in imaginative play.

  65. What about incorporating the best of both? Like “forest treasure hunt” – the secret cubbies seem so fun but the woods and nature part of it seems more appropriate for the cabin and more open ended. You could hide things in a tree trunk or under rocks and make all the gadgets from
    More natural Elements? Like a kid Survivor.

    1. Love the enchanted forest! Also agree w many before me. It could easily be Spy Games in the forest. Lots of fun things happen in an enchanted forest!! It looks like everyone will have WAY too much FUN!

  66. I love both plans but I think there is more longevity in the spy idea. It can morph as they get older and keep them interested for years to come.

  67. The spy room seems so intriguing and fun.

  68. Ha! In the last picture the sign is in Dutch and reads (literally translated): “uninhabitable declared house” 🙂

    My personal vote is with the spy theme yet as this is a mountain house I think the enchanted forest fits maybe better.

  69. Hi Emily! Please use both options!!! Make the space your woodlands play space with a tiny spy headquarter behind the secret door. It will be tiny (like in Meet The Parents) and the kids will loooove squeezing in there). Please, please, please!!!!!

  70. FOREST!!! Kids will get bored with the spy/adventure gadgets in about five days, and as they grow older (sorry, but they grow older) the spy theme will be almost embarrassing. Stick with a classic, there’s nothing stopping kids from “spying” in a forest!!!

  71. Spy HQ! Because, how fun is that, but also, the real forest outdoors outside is hard to compete with, and it sounds like they will have lots of time to explore nature and be outside when you get away 🙂

  72. Spy headquarters would be a dream room for many kids. Your house is already set in an enchanted forest and the spy headquarters gives them another option. Plus your kids won’t always be 3 and 5 and the headquarters seems like a room they can continue to grow into for many more years. It’s beautifully designed to “fit” into the overall design of the house and provides hours of imaginative play.

  73. I love the kids’ room so much and think this attic is going to so fun!

    I think enchanted forest is significantly more open-ended than spy headquarters. Open-ended *always* equals better imaginative play. Think cardboard box vs. play kitchen. Lego vs. remote-controlled car. Play silks vs. princess costume. Less adult-designed props and more “ingredients”. Always. 🙂

  74. I haven’t read others’ comments yet but my take is that the spy headquarters does sound cooler BUT it is a lot more specific and I think it will therefore be less “evergreen” (forgive the awful unintended wordplay there ugh!) and the kids will get bored with it. The forest theme invites all kinds of games – it’s just an imaginative setting for any kind of imaginary play scenario, spy games or otherwise. You could have themed play boxes instead that are more specific.

  75. Spy for sure!

  76. I think for the kids the secret/spy headquarters is the way to go. Although, personally, I’m leaving more towards the enchanted forest. Just purely because it goes with the theme. But this is for the kids 💛 love both designs!

  77. Oh this is hard one! I like elements of both, but I think the enchanted forest goes more with the house. I also love that you already have those mushroom stools. Can you incorporate a little spy into the enchanted forest? I also like the chalkboard wall and secret room idea. Sorry but you have to do both! Haha 🙂

  78. Ohhh….love both ideas! I do think the spy idea could last into the early teens with a few tweeks. How about eliminating a few of the more childish things and introducing secret codes, walkie-talkies, weird ‘signal’ lighting, invisible inks, simple changeable lettered signs…. Codes, of course, connect to basic math ideas and history (heiroglyphics look like a code to me). Those simple, electric, two or three line signs with black changeable letters are available at discount warehouses and garage sales. Walkie-talkies could be ‘complicated’ by a ‘dead space’ or two in the areas (via metal thingies hidden in the walls/ceilings). Costumes and disguises need to be introduced at some point….

    Can I play?
    Pam

  79. I think you can definitely go enchanted forest on the outer part of the room and make the nook a secret spy place. The wooden slats would look great from both sides with both themes and you absolutely NEED to use those mushroom stools!

  80. I KNOW my son would have picked the spy headquarters when he was younger. And you seem sure your kids would too. So it got my vote. But my grown-up eyes would like to see the magical forest room. Could we have a magical forest room that the kids have to navigate their way through to find the secret spy headquarters in the clubhouse? (Want my cake and eat it too!) lol

  81. Oh boy. I didn’t read the comments before I left mine. Thought I was real clever suggesting a combo. LOL

  82. I think both themes are a win/win whichever is chosen. When I first started reading this post, it took me back to the days when I read The Magic Treehouse stories to my own kids and how much adventure play they had in the backyard with those stories. My first reaction was “why not do a combination of the two and double the adventure(s)?” Looking forward to seeing which one you choose.

  83. I’m going with spy HQ because Franklin’s Secret Club is in high bedtime rotation right now with my boys and I just envision your kids writing secret notes in milk in this room. Also because I thought I would be an FBI agent as a kid thanks to Harriet, Carmen, Nancy and Scully and I’m gonna live out ALL of those dreams if we happen to win the trip 😂😉.

  84. I like the secret spy one best—going with my gut sense.

  85. I vote for the spy theme because I love the balance between vintage and modern. It’s such a fun, creative idea you don’t see in a lot of homes. It would also be a huge hit with their friends or guests of all ages!

  86. I have kids with the exact same age apart as your two, yet three years older. I’d say it’ll come down to how often you want to re-vamp the room as they grow. I would absolutely have chosen the forest theme three years ago, yet today with an 8 year old boy and 6 year old girl (who both love rough and tumble play and are best friends still), I would absolutely go with the spy theme. They’d love it, and it’ll age better and grow into new fun spaces.

  87. I also like the idea of combining the two themes! Otherwise my vote would be with the forest!

  88. Is there an option that doesn’t include that blue carpet? Does anyone else not like that carpet? It’s so distracting and loud.

  89. I am in the SPY corner too! It’s so versatile and you can modify it easily with other “spy gadgets” when the kids get older. There are always the mystery crimes that need to be solved too and the possibilities are endless. The forest theme is kind of redundant when you’re out in the woods and mountain anyways.

  90. The enchanted forest feels more timeless and more apt to grow (pun unintended ;-)) with your kiddos, so that one gets my vote!

    And just because you mentioned wanting a tree mural.. would love for you to check out my watercolor tree murals at Area Environments– https://www.areaenvironments.com/lesley-frenz/

  91. I chose secret mission headquarters because, from what I’ve seen, they have a “secret forest” right outside so that would give them options AND the one inspiration picture reminded me of their playhouse at your primary residence AND I feel like the secret headquarters may grow with them a little better? Love the little mushroom stools though…

  92. Spy HQ! Enchanted forest sound lovely on the decor/style side, but a lot less fun for the kids, with less to actually DO in there. Besides, the bedroom down below already embraces the forest/camping theme. Why not change it up for the upstairs! Spy HQ, 100%.

  93. Enchanted forest, please! It will be so magical and tie in nicely to the camping theme you have in the other play space.

    You could also include some spy elements like hidden gadgets in tree holes / secret compartments.

    Either way, I’m sure you and your team will do an amazing job. Thanks for sharing!!

  94. Love both ideas! But I voted treehouse because I think it has more longevity and is more open-ended for imaginative play. But I really like the secret room and chalkboard wall elements of spy room, and think those could have a place in treehouse too! Lucky kiddos, either way you go 🙂

  95. Either idea is great. I’m voting for the spy headquarters, tho (though the forest idea is terrific for the mushroom stools alone). But I *love* secret rooms, too. But maaaaan, if you could incorporate that rotating circle window that is pure awesomeness somehow into li’l Henderson HQ, that would be everything. It sounds like I’m voting for both, and I’m not. The spy room wins with me — tho only slightly, and with reluctance because of the circle window and mushroom stools (perhaps those can be double-use…something to fit into a spy theme? I mean, not even 007 had toadstool equipment…).

  96. The forest is prettier? But just plain kid fun? The spy HQ all the way!

  97. Man, I sort of want to see you do both! I picked spy headquarters though because I think the woodland theme is executed right outside your door 🙂

    1. That’s what I was thinking! They’ve got the forest right there already….

  98. Don’t go too themey…kids can change on a dime. My two kids are now 9 and 7. My little girl no longer cares about “boy” stuff and loves princesses. They are still close and still play together, but definitely have their own “interests.”

  99. I had to ask the expert. I showed both the plans to my six year old son who is a huge nature lover, and wants nothing more in life than a treehouse. Against what I had assumed, he answered without hesitation that he would choose the spy theme.

  100. I love the idea of combining the two!! I say do the forest wallpaper in the area with the skylights and the spy paper in the nook up the ladder or in the hidden area below it.

  101. TREE HOUSE. Here’s the deal: no matter what theme you choose, the kids are gonna engage in imaginative play. So the tree house can (and will!) just as easily double as a fortress, castle or spy hole (teacher here, totally in agreement with a previous comment about open-ended play environments.) I think incorporating a “cabinet of curiosities” or a “treasure chest” or “magic wardrobe” full of neat accoutrements (wallpaper the inside with maps, include a spy glass, clipboards, old phone, picnic basket etc) will scratch that spy itch that they have just fine. It’s the adults want a theme, or even a combined theme. So instead of putting a label on it, why not introduce the kids to the finished space and ask them what each element is “for” when they are in it playing?
    I think a swing is fab, a ladder is great, stools are wonderful and anything else more “theme-y” can be introduced by you quite easily in a lo-fi way, no real need for gimmicks like a hand scanner station (I looked at that and immediately thought of doing it with taped outline and hand-drawn elements). I mean yeah, spies are COOL. And we all loved playing at it. But I’d say 99.9 percent of my spy games occurred in the woods, creeping round the neighborhood bushes, or in our tree fort! The one other thought I have (which I am sure you have had as well) is try other woodland wallpapers out…cole & sons woods & stars, woodland toile by sanderson, piedmont by hygge & west… or for a less literal but equally cool approach (I would LOVE to see you work with this one – askov finlayson’s wood) or even pattern people’s forest floor. Home depot has a neat scandi vibe/kinda creepy offering: Stag Lindberg’s melodi folk (by Brewster), Hoppet Green Folk also by Brewster is kinda scandi too. There is one more I am blanking on but used to be totally obsessed with (I’m now an art teacher but I used to be a surface pattern designer!) Oh, and if you did the spy route symbols by mitchell black would be neat – it looks like runes! (Sorry to get so lengthy, I love thinking about patterns!) If I can recall that one other really lovely woodland one I’ll post a much shorter update! xo

  102. Totally going for the spy HQ. I have 6 year old boy/ girl twins and they totally love pretending to arrange secret seven style spy school meetings together and will do for a few years to come. This theme is more durable for all ages abd gebders than the adorable but less longevical woodland theme for sure. X

  103. I love reading your posts and drooling over all of the designs, but it’s becoming nearly impossible recently with all of the advertisements popping up and blocking content and videos trying to load themselves. Maybe related to that is the how slow the page loads and scrolls. It took several page reloads prompted by Safari because the webpage “was using significant memory”. I always get an alert saying that significant energy is being used by the webpage and my computer suggests I close it because it is slowing down my Mac. Does this happen to anyone else?? Even typing in this comment box there is a delay from when I type to when it shows up on the screen. I don’t want to give up my EHD habit but it’s so frustrating with the ads EVERYWHERE and most of the time I spend on the site is just waiting for text and photos to load. Is there a fix? Am I totally crazy??

  104. Spy is cool, though some of the options seem like they would grow out of pretty quickly (such as the gadget board – we have something similar, and once they could manipulate and it didn’t do different things, they moved on).

    A blend is wonderful. Enchanted forest with a secret world of surprises . . . spies beyond the same version we see all the time?

    Can’t wait to see!

  105. I vote spy as they already have an actual enchanted forest outside their doorstep!

  106. Aye! Soooo cool. Those kids are going to be so happy playing up there. I love them both but went for spy headquarters because it seems so much more unique. So excited to see the finished home!!

  107. One acronym. STEM.

    Science Technology Engineering and Math.

    Unless you’re forest theme includes Lincoln logs and lumberjack saws, go with hands on DIY space that encourages physical engagement with the world. Our planet’s future depends on this generation. Give them a place where these tools feel natural.

  108. Spy HQ! Think of the children!

  109. First off, that carpet color is MAGICAL!! I would probably never have the nerve to put down something so colorful but it totally makes the room!! That being said. I’m kinda struggling with this I Design You Decide. The spy design seems very boy-centric and the enchanted forest seems more like it would be for girls. Could you put in something that is more gender-neutral? Maybe have different zones for creative play, puzzles and drawing, dress up (stuff for both genders), playhouse with stuff in it with a stage for doing plays with their friends maybe? I worry that these themes will be very temporary as your kids grow bored of them and as they age and interests change.

  110. Man I love both! But I feel that the enchanted forest is what adults THINK kids would adore but realistically they’d just love something to DO! Sounds like your kids love to play together so more fun to play headquarters! When I was a kid I had a crazy Lily Tomlin style receptionist center with plugins, sounds & lights! We had fake phones, office pads, blackboards, etc. My sisters and I would fake call each other and pretend to be doing big business deals. But one of us would have to play secretary to patch thru those big calls! Lol!

  111. I’m digging the Enchanted Forest! You could tailor it as the kids get older. You could really make it very magical for them! So many ideas could fit in there. Adding a small treehouse would be amazing. Annnnd I know Emily is probably fawning over that tree wallpaper…😁

  112. I vote! Secret spy headquarters. My brother and I had a secret area in my great grandma’s attic that we had so much fun in. What a joy for your two.

  113. Spy headquarters all the way

  114. My vote is the spy headquarters because I know I would have loved that as a kid and my kids (5 and 2) would go crazy over it now. And I would also love the “it’s never been done before” challenge. And because if I were to win the visit, that’s what I’d want to come visit! 🙂
    But I’m also for the minimalist “leave it neutral and buy props so THEY can make it what they want for the day/week.”

  115. Spy HQ is so fun, especially the gadget wall and can still see the space being used for other imaginative play! Can’t wait to see how it turns out either way:)

  116. It definitely looks like you put more effort into the Spy Headquarters option so I think you should go with that. It would be awesome!

  117. Definitely the secret spy headquarters. It is such a unique theme with such fun possibilities! Can’t wait to see how you pull it off!

  118. 100% enchanted forest!!!! As a psychologist and a Waldorf education advocate, I can tell you that nature aligns with the soul, the body, and the mind. Children feel safe, calm, and contained around nature and natural elements that are in harmony with their own simple and important ways of viewing the earth, the ground, and themselves. Secondly, giving them an environment versus objects allows their minds and imaginations to go wild. And lastly and I think best of all, they will never grow bored of an enchanted forest. They will be teenagers sitting in the trees with their friends telling stories!

  119. Spy HQ !!! Love it! You live in the enchanted forest!! Lucky kids!!

  120. Forest/fairyland! It fits the surroundings and I always love bringing outdoors inside. Our local children’s museum has a camping themed room and the kids LOVE it. That one for sure

  121. I keep going back and forth, but I’m leaning toward the secret spy headquarters. As the kids get older, you can incorporate escape room type “missions”.

  122. Spy HQ all the way!! That large map mural is awesome! It makes me think of the Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego game. The spy room could be a top-secret station in Sweden for your kids to use as they “travel” around the world.
    Your kids already have a forest/camping themed room, a tree fort in the city, and I giant forest outside your door to explore and play in. It seems like too much to also have a forest play space and it feels like something you and others have done so much before. It seems so cool and different to do the spy theme – and it seems like it might be just a neat, life-giving project for you to just have fun with. As your kids get older, you could add in new spy activities that are more science and technology themed to help it grown with them.

    1. Two more thoughts. A dress up area for disguises would be very important for little spies. And, I’m not crazy about the blackboard wall – they can be messy with all the chalk dust and don’t erase well.

  123. Spy all the way! Can’t they just walk outside for Enchanted Forest?

  124. Spy headquarters! Though like others, I think the enchanted forest is lovely. But having kids around that age myself, I’m guessing they’ll be more into spy hq, create more imaginative scenarios, etc. Also, I somehow I feel like that theme goes better with the carpet. Am i wrong, or did you do a sort of forest theme in birdie’s room back in the day?

  125. Spy HQ’s. You’re privileged to have a REAL magical forest outside for them to explore and have adventures in!🌲

  126. I love the idea of a spy HQ! Not sure if anyone has mentioned it already, but this reminded me of a real life kids ‘spy’ room with hidden, custom elements https://www.nytimes.com/2008/06/12/garden/12puzzle.html

  127. A less creepy twin peaks where you blend the two!

  128. The spy theme is super cute & I DO love that treasure map wallpaper. But IMO it’s too specific and kids may tire not of the game but those particular props. Offer them secret rooms, mysterious portals and open ended objects that they can enroll to the spy game because they long for imaginative unscripted play.) Specific props can be too scripted after a while.) It may not be as coherent from an editorial design standpoint but a beautiful and open-ended environment is so much better and will hold up longer.

  129. SUCH a cool space; your kids (and their friends) will have such fond memories!

    The difference between the two designs is like reading a book vs. writing a book. They both elicit creativity, but the forest lets them direct the narrative. The forest is simpler and more open-ended, so it will allow for more versatility as they get older.

    If you do the spy room, I’d skip the lock boxes. They’re cool, but think about how much time the kids would actually engage with them. Lock boards are meant more for toddlers and young preschoolers, and I think the novelty will wear off quickly for older kids.

  130. My son and I picked the spy headquarters because of the way the space is. We both reminisced about our visit to the spy museum in Washington D.C. ( worth a trip if you have not been!) and pictured dark corners with flashing red lights and a push button for the secret door would be perfect.

  131. Do not have a theme.
    Of course you will though because it’s all about a magazine shoot and not about a child’s imagination
    When all the ideas and props come from your decorating, it’s not the child’s imagination, it’s yours.

  132. While I love a great nature theme- the spy stuff is just too cute! Spy HQ it is!

  133. I love the enchanted forest for its design, however I voted for the spy HQ because that is for the babes! Love anything that lets the imagination cut loose.

  134. Spy headquarters. I have twin boys who are 8, and they will still play spies – I think it would grow with them more. My kids are best friends too – it’s amazing. Can’t wait to follow the process and see the reveal!

  135. What Cece said.

  136. Put the spy HQ into the secret room, it’s located hidden in the forest.

  137. Spy! for a few reasons already mentioned…you have an enchanted forest in your back yard, spy hasn’t been done as much and I would love your take on it. I think spy is older…I have an 8 and 10 year old that are still into that.

  138. Love the quirky space for kids to play! A secret lair with treasure map paper etc. may read a little less theme-y than specifically spy?

  139. Honestly I want to be Emily’s kid! Between a castle/fort at home and the whole playroom spy kids /elves in the enchanted forest… I really need to be adopted. I’ve had all my shots and have a B.A so no college fund required … alas, I’m not blond but I’d be willing to bleach it.

  140. Spy HQ … you are already in or near a forest!

  141. We had a chalkboard wall in my son’s room, and even with the “no dust” chalk it was still very, very dusty. It might not be make or break for you (depending on how often you actually draw/erase/draw/erase) but it was for my son’s playmates who had breathing issues. I am glad I did it once so I no longer have to wonder or lust after it like I had been doing.

    I think the Spy HQ is much more challenging (funner!) to design, but I think the ramping up the playful in the Enchanted Forest would be much longer lasting.

    Your team rocks and your kids already have so much love around them, there are no bad choices here!

  142. Enchanted forest is already outside-go for the spy mission HQ.

  143. I feel like I could imagine or have seen other enchanted forests before, let’s go full on spy adventure. Finally! Something different for kids!

  144. Love both designs!!😃I am more drawn to the forest theme personally especially being the mountain house BUT considering my own Littles (9 &11) they would LOVE the secret spy headquarters so that was my vote… Thanks💞👍

  145. Like many other people I hope you can do both. I would love to see the tree wallpaper and the beautiful mushroom stools with spy gadgets.

  146. Secret spy headquarters!! Amazing!

  147. It sounds like you’re houses in the middle of a magical forest already outside. No need to do it inside also.

  148. Two comments from things I learned when renovating our house:
    1. Spiral staircase. Super cute, makes sense in theory but super not functional. Hard to get larger items up & down, hard for older adults & younger children. Our iron guy (duh) told us that he ends up removing 70% of all spiral stairs he puts in.
    2. Chalk walls. Also, super cute but super not functional, too dirty. All of the chalk dust has to go somewhere, namely in the air or on the floor below the chalk wall. Maybe it’s different with those new chalk markers?

  149. Definitely the Enchanted Forest – Although I liked playing Spy too when I was a kid. They can play spy in a forest setting! Plus, the forest setting lends itself to all kinds of other adventures. Just add in some books like Half Magic by Edger Eager, The Chronicals of Narnia by CS Lewis, and the Oz books by L. Frank Baum, etc…

  150. Both, of course, are incredible. Following EHD advice, I think spy hq doesn’t have the style longevity that enchanted forest does. Kids can play spy in the forest 😀

  151. Watch out for themes that are too specific. You are limiting the kind of play that can take place. So no “spy” and adult created Mission Control-like aspects. Shapes, movable pieces, interesting places to explore….and open ended options are best for kids.

  152. I was biased towards Enchanted Forest when the ideas were just words on the page, but the planning board for Spy theme won me over. I love that pulley system and gadget board so much. I have a five-year-old and I know she would never tire of a wall of boxes where little things could be secreted away. Also, maps are great for their complexity – the kids can keep discovering new details to feed their story telling. That said, I’m emotionally invested in those mushroom stools, so, if blending forest elements into the Spy theme is an option, I’m all for it!

  153. I went with enchanted forest because I felt like it was less prescriptive and the kids could be more flexible determining their own play instead of having it determined for them.

  154. In my next life, I wanna come back as one of Emily’s kids and get to live in that house!!! Spy headquarters all the way!!!

  155. I like the enchanted forest theme more aesthetically, but I think the spy headquarters is more fun, so that’s what I ultimately ended up choosing. I’m just imagining the hours of fun I would’ve had as a kiddo with a secret spy headquarters of my own…oh man! Plus, like others have said above – you already have the enchanted forest covered!

  156. Spy Room Pleeaaassee!!!!! When I was a kid I was obsessed with being a spy/detective (and being Sabrina the teenage witch) ;P

    When I was around 7 I got a spy kit with a fingerprint dusting kit and it was my favorite thing ever! (took it to show and tell of course)!

  157. I love both ideas. It seems as though your outside yard is an enchanted forest. So why not give them both, with a spy HQ inside.

  158. Love the simple and modern kids table and stools in this post – hopefully attainable?

  159. It has to be spy! You have done the forest theme in the bedroom and in Birdies old bedroom.. it is done! Time for something new!

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