Article Line Long1

Our Kid’s Attic Playroom -Update (and Mini-Reveal) + The Five Parenting Fails/Mistakes I Made

Welcome to the first post that Brian and I shot on our own since we’ve been social distancing up at the mountain house. But first, as you know, I love a disclaimer. A.) This isn’t finished – I have more plans and it’s not styled to camera or professionally shot, because B.) This is how we are living and frankly it’s good enough (but maybe I’ll feel motivated to do the projects I have in mind over the next couple months as we live up here. So stayed tuned for an eventual “full reveal”). In the meantime, if you want some tips from a real mom on playrooms, arts and crafts, as well as some parenting fails then keep reading. Thank you for sharing your time here – hopefully, it’s an escape right now.

Now let’s revisit the past. When we bought the house there was a pull-down ladder to this space, that the kids were obviously obsessed with.

The steep pull-down ladder (top left) that leads up to the attic was very dangerous because it was hard to pull down, could easily fall too fast on someone, and had sharp metal bits. Once up there, there were even more additional (read: dangerous) places to climb. The cubby (bottom left) was extremely treacherous as you could actually fall through the gap down to the second floor but the stationary ladder on the right is totally fine for ages 3 +(but we are likely still going to update it).

Back then, there was a window but that was the only source of natural light and it was not in the best shape, same with the wall-to-wall carpet. It was all at least 30 years old and could use a refresh.

Many of you already know and have seen this part, but once we realized how epic that space could be, we decided to lose the closet in the room and put in stairs instead of a ladder (we did consider a spiral staircase for a bit, not sure why we gave up that idea..)

So basically you enter the play attic through the kid’s room via those stairs, truly making it their own little suite. We will eventually put some sort of “pull out” closet where that little tree/stump vignette is, but for now they don’t need one.

Watch this video to see how it all flows (it’s so hard to show in photos)…

Here we are as of now. We really wanted this space to be theirs, where they would entertain themselves safely for hours without us (keep reading to see how that’s going). Once you get up there we have a few different zones – “arts and crafts,” a “grocery store”, “the costume zone” (NOT dress up, says Charlie), and “the hideaway”.

We’ve had that table and chair set up for 3 years (since we’ve been up here – yes almost THREE YEARS in July). They are getting too tall for it and bumping the storage bins underneath with their knees, but otherwise, it’s been great and it’s super affordable and cute.

They make a huge disgusting mess almost daily, but they do play for a long time up there by themselves – and that’s kinda the point of that place. It’s somewhere they can contain their messes (ha). We put an echo dot up there and they listen to soundtracks (Aladdin, Lion King, Little Mermaid, Frozen 1 and 2) and draw/color, or make robots, etc. We honestly can’t even hear them downstairs. But at this point, they are old enough that if one of them got hurt the other would come scream for us (when they were younger we had a baby monitor connected to the kitchen).

The peg art wall is awesome. I was skeptical at first, but it’s super easy to customize, and kinda genius. There’s so many ways to hold ANYTHING and it looks really cute, too. I wish I had done this so badly in LA (we attempted something fancier there before we knew how amazing this system is, read about that “fail” here).

Parenting Fail #1

A typical failing of mine is thinking my kids are ready for things they just aren’t. Things like “jewelry making,” “paper mache,” or all different types of painting alone, inside, on carpet. Yes, of course, they can do those things but mostly need help from us to not make the biggest mess, with mod podge all over the carpet and paint all over the walls. For instance, they love stamps so I bought a bunch of stamp pads and stamps and decanted them into the wall pockets (easy access!), just to find them later all dried up and ink all over the walls (I think this was a younger kid who was over playing, not ours, but still). It’s like I have a fantasy of them needing all these options but then they end up not knowing what to do with them.

Parenting Fail #2:

Oh has anyone made the “cute stack of board games and puzzles” fail? It’s an oldie but a goodie. Here’s how you do it, it’s super easy! You take a cute stack of games (Candyland, Monopoly, any puzzle really – the smaller pieces the better!) and style them into the perfect pyramid, then simply leave them in a room full of toddlers. Come back an hour later to every. Single. Small. Part taken out and mixed together. You can do it, too!!

Lesson learned.

But I didn’t know this at the time, so for the event my team went to all the craft stores and styled it with supplies that looked good, not knowing they would essentially just be dumped all over the ground, and our friends with small kids would put those pretty scandi wood beads in their mouths. While those art walls on Pinterest are fun to look at, definitely consider what your kids are ready for and what they really can play with independently from you – because that is the goal. Again, we wanted this space to be theirs, free to do what they want and again keeping it CONTAINED.

So we keep paints, puzzles, liquid glues, jewelry making supplies and board games downstairs in the family room cabinet where we can at least try to control how many we have out at a time (they are older now anyway, and actually want to play the games).

So what do our kids really want? Easy access to the following:

  1. Basic art paper – white paper, colorful construction paper, origami paper (shiny/metallic), tissue paper and they love post-its for whatever reason.
  2. Drawing supplies – markers, erasable colored pencils, and while we have crayons Birdie refuses to use them because according to her, she is “an artist like a growmup, and growmups don’t use crayons.” We’ve tried different types of watercolor markers or easy glide, but they really just like the thin cheap washable Crayola markers in bulk (they are finally great about putting caps on after years of “this is the last marker I’m going to buy you if you can’t take care of it” lecture).
  3. Tape – MY GOSH THEY LOVE TAPE. Why do kids love tape so much???? Now, you don’t have to buy cute washi tape like we did (although I think it was crazy affordable for like 30 colors on Amazon), because they are just as happy with blue painters tape or white masking tape. Just TAPE.
  4. Glue – Sticks, NOT liquid white glue. Sure, they can handle the liquid stuff, but if it gets clogged they’ll just take off the lid to try to use it and then knock it over, leave it on its side and then yes, it will spill all over your carpet but nobody will tell you for days until its too dried and crusty to get it off. True Story.
  5. Easy makers supplies: Pipe cleaners, popsicle sticks, string, scissors. If you look closely you’ll see stamps and embroidery string, but we don’t use those – they just sit there, FYI.

The kids have easy access with this system. They can take the cups of markers/pencils off and put on desk when they are coloring, then back when not in use. Once I honed in on what they actually use vs. what needed more parental help, it’s been really great.

I wanted to display their art in a cute easy way – with these clips (similar) that I think were 3 for $20 at Crate and Kids (but are sold out now) and this really cute rail. The paper roll on wood with leather straps is from Etsy and its SO ADORABLE, but my fantasy of the kids painting a collective mural on it has never happened. It’s been that same scribble and tic tac toe game for four months.

Now to the store. Santa got this for them the first Christmas we were up here and it’s still VERY popular.

What’s so special about it is the conveyer belt moves with a crank, but that’s not all – the “product” BEEPS when it gets scanned. It’s incredibly fun because it feels so real, so “adult.”

Parenting Fail #3 + #4

Kids like stuff that feels more real and adult-y and less beautiful. For instance, I could have bought them a really pretty scandi-inspired shopping cart, but when I showed it to them online they opted for the metal one because that’s what “growmups” use. They don’t want it to look like a TOY. Same with our pots, pans, and cooking utensils in our play kitchen in LA – they prefer the metal ones to the pretty painted gray and natural wood tones. They even like our cleaned out recycled cracker boxes and tuna cans for the store (truly, it looks like a real Albertsons cracker aisle at times).

I’m going to keep talking about this while I have you. It became a joke over Christmas when I thought I did a smart affordable hack by buying raw ornaments and decor – wood, papier mâché, or unfinished ceramics. So simple! So chic! I thought it would look all quiet and scandi, but super affordable since they were really just pre-finished supplies. But Birdie had different ideas and every time I looked around she was “decorating them” with pink and purple markers, gluing sparkles all over them, thinking of course that these were meant to be colored or painted (which they were, typically). She couldn’t get her mind around why you would want something light raw wood when it could be pink and purple!!! We were not aligned stylistically (but don’t worry, I just encouraged her beautiful decorating then hid the rest).

Oh, the skylights and that window – they make this room so dreamy. And yes the skylights blackout if we were to ever make this a bedroom (and open to let out air in the summer since the window is inoperable). As a reminder, we had to either do a really high window or this shape because of the two roof lines that create that V, and we LOVE the whimsy of the diamond-shaped window.

The carpet – I love this wall to wall carpet so much. It’s from Stark and I love that it has a simple pattern which makes it feel more high end and special, but not too contrast-y. As a reminder we put 1/2″ memory foam carpet pad underneath it, making it basically a padded room – it’s actually kinda bouncy and wonderful. I also only wear Uggs now, so life always feels bouncy.

Onto the other side of the room – where we have our large spinny mushrooms, obviously.

Those following closely (I love you, truly, thank you) you might remember me buying these mushrooms at the flea market almost 2 years ago. We had just bought the house and I didn’t know what they would be for, but I knew that I had to have these two CRAZY HEAVY spinny mushrooms for our cabin. They were just so unique. Please disregard the black eye-patch on the stool – this is organic content guys!

I go back and forth all the time on recovering them, but I’m just not sure what they would be. I think ideally they would be white, but that seems stupid in a kid’s space. So maybe just a brighter green? Or a green with tiny polka dots? OR since we brought red in with the store, maybe red with big white dots like toadstools???? Oh, SHOOT that would be so cute. I could patch on or quilt the white fabric circles so it looks really random and handmade. Lord knows I need another project right now (not being facetious – I have to stay busy to stay sane so yes, I NEED another physical project to do).

As of right now that painting is there mostly because it was an empty wall and I had an extra pretty painting, but I want to use that space for something they’ll use more – either vertical book pockets or just more wall space to display their art, not mine.

Parenting Fail #5:

Last one (for now). Give up your dreams of your kids hanging their cute costumes on hooks unless you run childhood like the military and they only have 2 perfectly curated costumes, each. We had six hooks at one point on that wall because indeed styled out hanging costumes would look really cute for a photo. But they could never get them to stay on hooks, and then it always looked SO MESSY because they have a lot of masks and shields and garbage, as they like to don “baby unicorn princess” and “ninja vet,” etc. They really just wanted to be able to shove them in their cubbies when they are done, which works way better. So the bottom three cubbies are just for costumes/imagination play.

Onto the area that I really do intend to finish – the secret headquarters/hideaway.

We have great intentions (and actually met with a local carpenter before everything went down) to move the ladder to the front, and either paint the ladder or build a new one that is lighter wood (more like the railing going up the stairs). Then we have thought seriously about knocking out the 1/2 wall up top (it’s not load-bearing) and installing those railings all the way across so you can see more. Yes, almost like a jail, but a really cute scandi-jail! I also think that little area above would be the perfect place to either paint or wallpaper something magical and special (likely dark as they really treat it like it’s a secret space). The wall behind those cubbies could have something more special going on too like some sort of paint, mural, wallpaper, or decals…

Oh, If you are eyeing that light wood safe, DO NOT. I got it on Etsy from a maker in Poland and while it’s awesome in theory, it came in 200 parts and took me about 4 hours to get it to the point it’s at now and I can’t get the door to stay on, (but the cranks do move – it’s meant to be actually functional which is so fun). I might try to fix it while we are up here because it’s so dope in theory.

So there’s where we are now with the play attic that gets more use than I could ever have dreamt. If you want to see a walk and talk – check out the video that Brian and I quickly made above (just wait for the ad to play). Like everyone, we are learning to do a lot less and care about perfection even less. This room will eventually be styled out with more ideal looks and shot like a magazine, but it’s a magical little space for us to escape during this time and make paper plate jellyfish, recycled robots, and write letters to grandparents.

Now I’d love to know your parenting fails. I know that a lot of mine have to do with me being a stylist and caring more about aesthetics than most people who are frankly more practical than I have been in the past. But surely someone can relate to having failed ideas for kids room, especially in our early parenting years… Do dish.


Never miss a single post and get a little something extra on Saturdays.

81 thoughts on “Our Kid’s Attic Playroom -Update (and Mini-Reveal) + The Five Parenting Fails/Mistakes I Made

  1. Oh man, no kidding on the tape! My son’s only a year and a half, not as big as your kids. But when I was using painter’s tape to tape off my board and batten to paint ( speaking of quarantine inspiring some home projects! ), he loved the “stickers”, aka little bits of painter’s tape he’d stick to the patio door. Even better, bc it won’t damage walls like real stickers. What age were your kids when you moved in? When did you feel like it was safe for them to be alone up there? Oh, gosh, that glue moment was a mini mom punch in gut. I once left a diet Pepsi which I thought was empty on q side table…which was readily poured out all over a chair cushion! Oops! Luckily, it was washable, so no harm done. But thank you for sharing things like this!! I’d never thought about some of these things! Good tips for future.

    1. haha. so we moved in here (post renovation) over a year ago (last christmas) and I think birdie was just turned 3 and we definitely left them alone up there then. I’d say of all our fails, we are not helicopter when they are together. I’d say when they were 2 and 4 we would let them play in the backyard without us (its gated and no bodies of water). Also yes, tape! we should be grateful that’s their obsession and not like glitter (its a DISASTER – you only have to bring it home once to make that mistake). xx

    2. When I got to college and was out buying some supplies for myself, I was SHOCKED at the price of tape at the drug store.

      All those years as a child, I had surmised that tape was some super valuable expensive item and that’s why it was so infrequently available at my house. New conclusion: my mom just got tired of keeping us in tape, and/or dealing with tape-related creations.

  2. Toy fail: looking forward to getting magna tiles and keeping them in a giant basket on the coffee table or something-you know just a nice basket of magnatiles all laying there prettily and randomly (is there a word for this?) like blocks, at the ready for kids but looking good too. Ha! I’m a moron. They clump together , and there’s nothing pretty about it –facepalm, duh! MAGNETS.

    1. haha. but magnatiles are THE BEST. We have them in the credenza in our family room and just as I read this I went and got them out for the kids and they are playing with them so thanks for the reminder 🙂

  3. Lol. This brings back memories. I had a very organized toy cabinet in our basement play area. And every time the kids had friends over, it was like the herd mentality would take over and they would wreak total havoc. I have never seen such messes in my life.

    So what did we do to stop this?

    Nothing. I just waited till the other kids left and mine went to bed and put it all away again. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯’ But then I’m one of those weirdos who likes organizing things, which helps when you have kids. My daughter would be playing with her Barbies and I would be sorting the Barbie clothes or organizing the shoes. 🙂

  4. I have a sort of embarrassing confession to make. I have never admitted this out loud. I have books all over my house, built in bookshelves in each room with library ladders. I even did my son’s room and play space with A 12’ high bookshelf as the focal point. It looked awesome. I have a large collection of children’s books all autographed. I basically want to live in a library so I loved it. Unfortunately, my son it turns out is profoundly dyslexic. Books are his kryptonite. I thought I was cultivating a reader. He loves stories but not books. He loves visual things (movies, videos, shorts). Overtime, I was able to gradually reduce and change the decor. I really appreciate (and learn everyday) that he sees the world so differently. We have lots of beautiful oversized art and photography books, and a growing collection of comics and Graphic novels. His new room has a library cart with favorites. His shelves are filled with history artifacts, his love. But overall, it was a HUGE assumption and a parent decorating fail, I think. In hindsight, I would keep it neutral and then follow your kids lead.

    1. I feel like thats more parenting wisdom than a fail. I would have NEVER thought of that either so the fact you even noticed that is amazing. xx

    2. My daughter is also visual, and while very smart, her brain woks much differently than mine or my husband’s. I want to encourage you to continue to find his strengths, and point out to him what he can do visually that many others can’t! (For example my daughter could look at a word in 1st grade, like invisible, that she had never seen before and spell it forward and backward – but still struggled with “is this a b or a d, mom?” It turns out that b and d are the same shape, and she could see them from all sides, so it was hard to distinguish.) So, play up how amazing his talents are! It sounds like you are already doing this, but i wanted to encourage you to keep it up. It pays off and works!

  5. I LOVE the idea of red polka dot toadstools. I think that’s a great project for right now!

    1. I’m excited. and I think i can find the fabric online from an etsy seller and feel good about that 🙂

      1. For tons of project inspiration check out Swedish children’s books by Elsa Beskow. I’m sure you’ve run across her work before.

      2. Try some Kaffe Fassett quilting fabric…comes in lots of colors, with the dots..

  6. I, too, can vouch for the Ikea peg board system. We have four kids and put these on one whole wall in each of their walk-in closets. For the girls, it’s perfect for scarves, purses, necklaces, caps/hats, hanging their outfits for the next day, etc, etc. One of our sons is a boy scout with tons of camping gear that is perfect for hanging — sleeping bag hung up (not supposed to be stored rolled up), backpack, ALL THE GEAR so it’s not thrown on the floor everywhere. They also each have one hook on these systems next to the door where they keep their towels from the bathroom. These have been one of the best ideas we did in their closets (along with the PAX system, also from IKEA). From one mom to another trying to have some kind of system in a chaotic house…

    1. I didn’t know that it could hold such big things. that’s awesome. Yah, its so cheap and easy and modular. xx

  7. So cute and fun! I can’t find the video :/ anyone else having the same problem or is it just me?

    1. It’s early in the post! About 3 photos down — it may be taking a sec to load 🙂

    2. You may have an adblocker like me (sorry Emily!), it didn’t show it to me either. Try it from a different browser or allow ads in this site.

    3. I had the same issue, and it was because my ad-blocker was turned on! turn it off and refresh and it should be there 🙂

  8. I feel like this room is calling for a tree mural… And we all know how you feel about those Emily! You could also do wood paneling in “hideout” (scandi, not 70’s) and then it could be like an indoor tree house! Even if it was later a guest room that could be a fun element. You could style the tree house with cool lanterns or do bistro lights on the ceiling, and fill it with giant pillows and cozy blankets.

    1. yes! the original idea was a soft gray and white tree mural and I even think we ordered it, but then we were spending so much time up there and we liked it simple because it did get so messy. I think there are two places we could do something special – the wall where the bins are and the secret hide out. and I love your idea about the wood paneling. yes like a tree house. so cute!

  9. I’m a preschool teacher and should know better but I made cute labels for all the art supply jars which my toddler peeled off and replaced with (of course) tape. Not even cute washi tape. Big blue painters tape.

  10. Love this! It’s a beautiful lived in space! Also young house love just blogged about their art room they created for their (older) kiddos. Love these creative spaces!

  11. About a week ago you included some fun bath toys in your stories and I meant to save the link. Can you repost? (They had cool chutes and tubes and were able to be “designed” in different ways with suction cups on back).

  12. AHHHH!!!!! I love this so much! It’s totally inspired me to redo our girls’ playroom before they’re too old to enjoy it. Thank you! One of my favorite posts ever.

  13. I love this carpet. Unfortunately, at over $15 psf, I can’t afford it. I would love recommendations on wall to wall carpet that are under $10 psf. I need to recharger my boys’ large, shares bedroom and it’s the only room in my house that has carpet. The rest of the house is hardwood. I never see any bloggers do a post on carpet. Thanks!

    1. Same! I love love love this carpet and I’ve been hoping to read a carpet roundup on the blog featuring all price points. I even considered the Stark carpet but have had a hard time finding it available to the general public.

      1. I really really want to do a wall to wall carpet roundup and resource guide because when I was shopping I had no idea where to start. Stark is really expensive (and lovely) but I learned a lot while shopping and I need to do more research and post about it.

        1. That would be great – we have a shoestring budget but I have great taste, lol, so thank goodness I have the time to search for good materials at like a $3-4/sq ft price point (i.e. DIY gut job bathroom reno being lined up for summer… I’ve got almost all materials lined up and the total will be under $2800. Still sourcing floor tile is all. My husband can do everything except finish carpentry, but is really grudging about spending anything more than Home Depot’s cheapest. He does not comprehend the idea of creating a look and a feel.)

  14. When our boys were very young we lived in a house with a designated playroom which I outfitted with shelving units and ALL THE THINGS. Every night after the boys were in bed, my husband and I would chat and unwind together while we sorted, reassembled, disassembled, and put everything back to order. While my husband vacuumed the rug, I often would create a little scene for the boys to wake up to…maybe the teddy bears at the table having a tea party. By the time they were your kids’ ages, I was tiring of this routine. The boys were into gnomes and trolls at the time and spent hours outside making traps. For a few nights running I cut a sprig of rosemary and placed it on their pillows at night. When they awoke, I spinned a yarn about sweet dreams and gnomes at work, etc. One morning there was a note! Evidently the gnomes had lost their (herb snipping) scissors and could not find them in the mess of toys on the ground. Could the boys PLEASE, carefully put everything away and if the scissors were found, leave them on the back step? Oh my goodness, the fur flew before breakfast and lo and behold a miniature pair of (dollhouse) scissors was unearthed. The boys spent the day writing notes, making miniature bouquets, and leaving it all on the step with the lost scissors. The gnomes continued with their impromptu visits and the boys needed only occasional reminders to leave the play room orderly for night visitors.

    1. OMG. this is genius. GENIUS. I suppose I have to get my kids to be into gnomes first – any tips on that? I think that Birdie believes in fairies, but charlie doesn’t because he thinks its for girls (ugh). But our house backs up to a forest so there is an opportunity. Like maybe we build a fort today for the gnomes and fairies to come? And then I start leaving notes/gifts?

      1. Woods are ideal as they are the natural habitat for gnomes and trolls. As you stroll, note any natural depressions or holes in trees or logs. Quietly suggest that these are areas gnomes enter the underground where they work mining gems and feeding the roots. How else did all these trees grow so big? If you order a few key things from a dollhouse supply (rope, bucket, ax, etc.) you’ll have fodder for imaginative play and interaction between the kids and their underground friends.

      2. Gnomes by Wil Huygen
        Loved this big book all about gnomes, their home building, their known range, their senses as compared to humans, etc. Second half is stories. It doesn’t really look like it’s for kids and that’s maybe why I always loved it. I remember thinking that it had so many details, diagrams, and stories that it must be real!

        1. YES to the book by Wil Huygen! My dad had it in his book shelf and it was my very favourite – I believed that Gnomes were real for yeaaaaars simply because it had so many details and I loved the pictures. I never met anyone else who knew of it – this made me so happy <3 (not the same Lisa ;))

          1. I’m ordering the book and you bet I already have some doll house stuff I can plant (or order more). this is going to be so fun. Gnomes and fairies are friends, right??? Surely.

          2. I read this gnome book as a child too! My 7 year old is newly into making fairy houses after finding a book about them at the library. All our libraries are closed and items are checked out indefinitely so she’s got lots of time to re-read and try new ideas ? I think fairy houses are slightly trendy right now so might be fun & easy to find a couple books and do them for Birdie at least!

          3. I read this gnome book as a child too! My 7 year old is newly into making fairy houses after finding a book about them at the library. All our libraries are closed and items are checked out indefinitely so she’s got lots of time to re-read and try new ideas 🙂 I think fairy houses are slightly trendy right now so might be fun & easy to find a couple books and do them for Birdie at least!

    2. If you can get them into woodland fairies, there are adorable fairy doors on Etsy that you can install in various places around your house and even in tree trunks around your house. Try googling fairy doors.

  15. Stark carpet Midland is the same carpet look for less. It is 100% polypropylene and cleans like a breeze! Much better for play areas with Children and pets. I have converted to all indoor/outdoor carpet in my house and could not be happier. Get many complements and people asking where I got my rugs. For your readers on a budget, Prestige carpet owns Stark and you can find many of the same carpet choices at a lower price point. They can also be made into area rugs.

    1. Oh that’s awesome. That carpet was really expensive even with the designer discount. Good to know. thank you!

  16. Overall it seems like a major parenting win to have created a room they love to play in together and without you! Take those bins out of the table so they don’t bump their knees and it will last you a little while longer. And omg yes – red with stitched on polkadots would make those mushrooms magical fairy toadstools!!

  17. First time reading your blog- I really like the fresh quality of the ‘not staged’ photos and your fails.
    I think it makes people feel more able to relate
    And it’s fun to try things- take a risk- change it up- keep it alive and moving forward! ❤️

    1. Welcome to the blog and thank you so much for reading and commenting. MUCH appreciated. xx

  18. You look contended.
    The kids look so BIG! I remember when they were squidgy little babies!
    You’re so, so lucky to have this place, especially at this time (and I know that you are immensely grateful, too).
    I like the realness of the photos. I’m enjoying the break from ‘perfect’.
    Mmwah! ?

    1. Don’t get me wrong, inspirational photos are AWESOME, but I agree it’s fun to see some real life rooms on the blog too! Thanks for reading 🙂

  19. I don’t know about fails. As a kid, I would have felt I was in heaven in your place. I do remember listening for hours to LPs with fairy tales- Jack in the Beanstalk, Rapunzel, etc. To me, real-life solutions are better than perfection.

    1. Yah, the ‘fails’ were that I was trying to make things “perfect” in different ways, not that I failed from being perfect 🙂 It’s a funny irony.

  20. Have a friend with 5 kids. Unfortunately, their house got robbed (no one home and no one hurt) when her kids were littles. When the police officers came to the scene, they felt so bad for my friend because the robbers had absolutely destroyed the toy room. She did not tell them that actually, they had not touched the room. It was exactly the way her kids had left it when they left the house. Still makes me laugh.

    1. OMG. that’s insane but so relatable. We say it all the time that it looks like we got robbed. Like why are all the cupboards and drawers open. WHY

  21. Love this! I recently discovered the IKEA pegboard system for my sewing room, and I love it. It would have been great to have that when my daughter was younger (now a teenager).

    Tape for the win! My daughter actually did a report on tape in third grade because she loved it so much. So functional and the creative possibilities seemed endless to her.

    Rubber bands were also popular when my daughter was young. She’d build contraptions with Gears, Gears, Gears, Tinker Toys, and rubber bands.

    We had more success with puzzles than others. My daughter would do them one at a time. She loved puzzles and had a lot of them. At 4 years old, she could sit for hours doing 250 piece puzzles (unusual). But I also babysat my nephew. When he came over, if I hadn’t put the puzzles out of reach, they ended up in a pile of mixed pieces. My sister was not happy when I initially tried giving my nephew puzzles as gifts, because of my daughter’s love of them.

    My daughter and nephew also played a lot of pretend with puppets and the play kitchen and food. I could see the that they store would have brought similar fun play.

  22. Ha! The space looks so fun. Thanks for sharing an “unfinished” (still looks beautiful to me) space… really enjoying these more casual posts during the WFH phase and they are a nice joyful break to my day 🙂

    1. So glad to hear it! We’re having a lot of fun doing them, too. Stay safe 🙂

  23. I would suggest making removable covers from a large circle of fabric, putting elastic in casing all around the edge. So the cover would fit over the top of a mushroom like a big shower cap.

  24. Parent “fails” aside (and they weren’t really fails), that CARPET makes up for any perceived fail. Anytime I see photos of it, it’s all I really see. -FABULOUS!!!!!

  25. My kids generate about 10x more art than I ever want to or even could display. Plus all the awkward 3D creations (thanks, tape!)

    I assume I’m not alone. What do you do with the rest? I try to stealthily review and throw it away weekly-ish, but a few missed weeks and it’s totally out of control.

  26. Just this morning I moved all our games from a high shelf into a storage ottoman in the living room – toddler opened it and every single card is out on the floor right now!

    What a dream space!!

  27. Red polka dot fabric would be very fairy tale (although all those fairy tale mushrooms are actually poisonous) but not an issue here. Love this room. It’s not the high end pinterest perfect playroom I was picturing from the early mood boards (I wanted fairy tale/ into the woods themes) but so much better for that. It’s real and it does what you wanted it to do.
    Pretty sure our dress up /costume stuff was all stuffed in a box too. My granddaughter still digs out her Chinese jacket (1/2 of costume for 2 yr olds) and wears it as a very short jacket even now at age 8.

  28. I designed and styled the heck out of my son’s first bedroom when he was 4-6 years old because I finally had enough energy to do so. I painted one whole wall black chalkboard paint and the others using paint from Target. It was so great… until he had friends over and they drew on said wall and had chalk dust (using “dustless” chalk) everywhere. We had to keep the windows open during a snowy DC day and didn’t realize how this might negatively affect some of our asthmatic kids and parent friends. Chalk pieces were everywhere, found months long after. It was a gorgeous mess, and a definite parent design “fail”.

  29. Our parenting fail was leaving screwdrivers in our son’s playroom. He removed all the door handles in one afternoon and then took his crib apart!!! Nothing like waking up on a sunny Saturday am to find your toddler (who is supposed to be in his crib) in your doorway, chiming “HI MOMMY!!!”

    1. WOW. That is very impressive. No way I would’ve figured out how to do that as a kid

  30. Just to add…we didn’t leave said screwdrivers as toys in his playroom; they were in there for a project and he decided they were the BEST toys!! After the door handle/crib debacle, we started buying appliances at Goodwill (toaster ovens, etc) for him to take apart and put back together. That kid is now a college grad engineer.

    1. We have a family friend who did the same thing for her mechanically minded twins! My engineer husband was kind of neglected growing up poor but yes basically took apart stuff and taught himself how to put it back together, all over the house.

  31. This was fun 🙂 I am totally ok with the more relaxed, less styled photos – they still look professional and I think we all like to see glimpses of “a day in the life” as well as understanding what the realities of life/work are right now. I’m totally noodling ideas for my girls’ shared room. Your space is way nook-ier than ours but we do have this weirdly laid out, raised closet that is not used for clothing, which they mostly use to play forts and stage shows in… I could do something super awesome there. I also want to switch to bunk beds soon so I have a free corner for a craft table/art/supplies wall – love the cheap pegboard system you shared! I do love your ideas for the ladder loft painted dark with scandi jail bars. Sounds like a good way to go and they are already using it that way.

  32. I’m just wondering how you get your kids to play in there without you. We have a playroom that is upstairs (away from the kitchen and family room) and my kids just don’t go play in there. They always want to be where we are. Maybe I just need to make it more attractive and easy to use like you’ve done. I love having my kids around but I also think it’s important that they learn to play independently.

  33. I always love all the honesty in your posts! I also have a hard time balancing what I want my kids’ spaces to look like with what spaces look like when kids actually use them! I made a cool display with magnets to hold my son’s art, but does he use it? No! He opts for scotch tape to litter (ok, ok, decorate) every square inch of his walls with his “masterpieces”. That’s on top of whatever his latest gigantic cardboard creation is taking up 25% of the usable floor space.

    As far as storage, tubs/baskets and ways to hide them have been the most workable solution for us. I try to organize them by category, but at the end of the day, things just get shoved into random tubs. As long as they’re put away behind closed doors, I don’t even care that much!

  34. Oh boy. Parenting fails. Buckle up…

    I was rendezvousing with a friend in Albuquerque (both of us with our kids…3 a piece, sans husbands) for a “fun” weekend getaway. Well, what we THOUGHT would be a fun get together with 6 kids, versus 2 adults.

    Shortly after my friend arrived, one of her daughters said her stomach was hurting and began vomiting.

    In desperation to help, I take her oldest and my 3 kids to target to get her some medicine, and get my kids going on some airborne…please, please, don’t catch the stomach bug. There are TWO types of airborne. One you dissolve in water. The other is a chewable tablet. I had recently discovered the chewable kind and grabbed every flavor they had in hopes of keeping the stomach bug at bay. We buy that immediately and continue our shopping for my friend and her kids. I pop a tablet in all the kids mouths, and in about 10 seconds, I have a circus of 4 children with a fountain of fizzy foam literally pouring from their mouths. My friend’s daughter spit hers out right away, and my kids were waiting for me to tell them to spit it out, which I could not because I was bent over my own knees laughing/trying not to pee my pants.

    Now my kids won’t take airborne and I can’t say I blame them.

  35. We put a nest cam in their playroom (which is far from the kitchen and family room area), and they also have Alexa there. The best thing about the Echo dot
    Is that you can turn it to an intercom. Just define the spaces of your home and say: “Alexa, drop in Playroom”, and we can talk to them, asked questions and settle small arguments. No need to shoot anymore, and we can eavesdrop.

  36. Red toadstools with white dots for your awesome vintage stumps would be amazing in that corner, combined with kid art on the wall!

  37. I love these parenting fails! I have a 1.5 year old and am learning so many fails so it’s appreciated (like why do they love the ugliest, loudest toys?) Would you do a post about toys etc that are beautiful and Pinterest-y that your kids actually enjoy?

  38. Yes, the tape! I’m still finding tape all over the house from the people who lived here previously…and we moved in almost 4 years ago. Then again it’s probably just from my kids now.

    I have an endless list of parenting fails, but one of the most memorable was when I forgot to make sure all the scissors had been put out of reach of the 5 year old. We woke up one day to her having cut her own hair (it was only an inch long in some places) her fuzzy pillow, and her sister’s American Girl doll’s hair. You live you learn, I guess.

  39. Red and white mushroom caps HAVE to happen. PLEASE!!!!!!

    Love this live- in but also really magical space.

Comments are closed.