Welcome to no man’s land, and yet a space that has SO MUCH potential. We’ve only had “hallways” at the top of stairs before, not landings that are almost as big as a room. It’s such a lovely, inviting, gracious space to “land” (in theory) before you head into one of the three bedrooms, the kid’s shared bathroom, or the laundry closet. It’s a pretty darn big space (with a new huge Velux skylight that did wonders) that has become the upstairs “drop zone”. And you all know what that means – she is MESSY, unorganized, and currently purposeless. Here is where we are in the house:
It’s big enough to have a lot of function, but we need to live in the house long enough to know what that function really is. Our kids are 7 and 9 and all parents know that interests and therefore functional needs change as fast as they age, really keeping us on our toes and requiring most things to be flexible and able to work in other places should they not work here. It’s a challenge but one I don’t want to rush solving (and yes, we are shooting the house in May so rush I will :))
Three Years Ago…
As you can see the landing had this 90s flooring (the bedrooms had bad carpet with no hardwood flooring underneath) and we decided early on that this is where we would “save” money. We’d paint the landing floor and stairs, add a harlequin pattern or stencil at some point, and not spend the money to re-floor the second floor at all. What we didn’t realize is that this floor was in bad shape, so instead of painting it they actually replaced it with affordable 2″ Douglas fir flooring (what was originally appropriate to the age of the house). This is great because we had a better product and we approved it quickly over the phone. But had we thought about it more we would have either A. Stained the new yet generic wood floor a wood tone, B. Painted the OG bad flooring without any prep work so you saw the cracks, etc which is a specific look that we like, or C. Put in more of our beautiful Zena flooring from downstairs. We originally made the decision to paint it because we hated this particular “before” wood flooring, not because we really wanted painted wood flooring if that makes any sense. Everything has a domino effect and those of you who have remodeled know that you make a decision, it affects other decisions. Something just always comes up and changes the other decision or the original decision, and yet you often don’t go back and rethink every decision along the way because you are overwhelmed with newer, more immediate decisions. So basically if we could go back in time with the knowledge that we had to replace the bad wood flooring we would have replaced it with wood that we loved, not wood just to then paint it. It’s all fine, honestly, and there are a ton of solutions for this space – but I just wanted to explain why it’s just a bright wood floor (as opposed to that more rustic painted patterned wood floor that we had originally planned on).
Everything you see today (besides the doors, trim work, light fixtures, and light switches) is up for grabs design-wise. But we needed time to live here to figure out what to do with it.
Below you can see what it looked like in progress – the original doors and the salvaged doors were both rehabbed to function perfectly for us.
The Landing Today (Well, Right Before Christmas)
Here is what is happening now. We have a bookshelf I got at a garage sale for $20, the IKEA pedestal table I’ve had forever, a cheap rug that I bought for our rental that I immediately regretted but never returned, and a white floor that is begging for its painted moment. So currently I’m stumped on how to design this space the best for our family and having a hard time prioritizing such an interim space when other spaces feel more immediate.
Well, What Do We Do In This Room Right Now?
Uh, I mostly clean it….and we fold laundry on the floor (because no one really folds laundry on their laundry counter, FYI). Here’s a fun fact about kids – they don’t like to play in their own messes (or others’ messes). Sure, if they make a mess they will play in it for the rest of that messy session, but then they’ll avoid that space or just find it “boring” – truly my least favorite response to their own disasters. Once you clean it up all of a sudden they are engaging with it again. I totally get it – I hate cooking in a messy kitchen regardless if I’m about to make a new mess. You don’t want to inherit an older mess, you want to focus on the new mess you can make. So if it’s clean they legit use the sewing machine and the new 3D printer they got for Christmas, but if it’s messy they are “SO BORED”.
Another fun fact that will make you rethink having children – some of their friends will do this monstrously baffling thing and take every single box/game/puzzle out of the bookshelf and dump it on the floor, one by one. Not all kids do this, (I hope to god my kids don’t do this at other people’s homes, but I fear they have) but I’ve seen it enough times. It’s a thing. Now to be fair, I know that other kids’ toys are these mysterious magical boxes and it feels like Christmas to the new kids. And TBH we leave them unattended for hours so we shouldn’t be so shocked when we come up and it looks like we’ve been robbed. But that gives you more context on what “purpose” this room has right now – a large shelf of temptation and future mess.
We are also in these in-between ages where they don’t love “toys” as much as they did but aren’t quite into the next stage yet (Birdie loves to do arts and crafts, Charlie likes to make things and play video games or play with nerf guns). So yes, there are so many boxes of NIB craft kits or board games that I’m unsure we’ll never really use again.
Sometimes I feel like I don’t engage with these problem spaces until I’m literally writing the blog post about it and seeing it with more objective, fresh eyes. Do I think this could be a sweet little reading area with a desk? Sure. But what we are really missing in this house is the room they can destroy with craft stuff. They both love to sew and make things, but we aren’t set up for it. We could put all the board games in one of their closets (to be taken out when committed to playing with them and then we could have a hutch or armoire that is cuter for all the craft supplies, a place to properly store the sewing machine and the 3D printer, and then wall space to display it all (or shelving for jars of supplies). But at the same time, they are 7 and 9 and will be 11 and 13 in no time. Will they even like to still craft/make things? Should I customize some desks and bookshelves for future homework? A YouTube studio for their future social media channels? (JK, y’all, JAY KAY).
To Craft Or Not To Craft?
We have two warring schools of thought in our house – mine is that if you curate an evergreen crafting/art area with organized supplies the kids will craft more on their own, without guidance or prompt. This is VERY, VERY TRUE. The amount of times we’ve been like, “I wonder what the kids are doing” and they are upstairs doing a huge craft together for hours is countless. But it becomes a disaster that we all have to help clean up, almost daily. The other school of thought is to keep the supplies in a box that we pull out when we want to have a more organized “crafting session,” thus putting the responsibility more on us (me) to have a “project” with the right supplies, and lead the project. But then afterward we pack it up and put it away. This is why the crafting attic was so wonderful at the mountain house – they would destroy it and we’d clean it together every couple of weeks, but didn’t have to look at the mess every time we came up the stairs…
If we were to do “the crafting landing” then I think a rectangle table would be better, positioned against the wall with a crafting board above it, and supplies along the back.
Or Should I Just Make This Pretty With A Chair/Ottoman, Bookshelf, A Pretty Rug, And Some Art?
I mean, I could do that in my sleep. So yes, part of me wants to paint a harlequin pattern on the floor (elongated diamond in blue and white), buy a simple oval or round jute or braided rug, get a dope chair and ottoman, and hang a gallery wall. It writes itself. But it’s just not as functional for our family and feels like a missed opportunity to check a box. That is unless I find space in either of their bedrooms or the guest room for my fantasy crafting/art studio bonanza…
And yes, we’ve also thought about making this a mini-den for them with a TV/video games and two bean bags which is still on the table, but kinda depresses me (we have just introduced video games and one of our children has taken QUITE the liking to them – if you know what I mean).
Are We Going To Paint The Walls? Install Wallpaper?
Unsure. I know this is so boring in photos, but trust me that in person the white provides negative space for your eye, especially when you have Birdie’s wallpaper and the pink guest room (and consider a pattern painted on the floor). I know we are going to paint the floors but not sure about the walls. Also, remember that it comes up from the stairs so you’d almost have to paint the walls along the stairs too which isn’t out of the question but you see the stairs prominently in the living room so it becomes a thing. Everything is a thing (I say this like 19 times a day). Nothing is just a choice without affecting other past choices or future choices. Everything. Is. A. Thing.
Now that I think about it maybe a DIY L-shaped desk with storage drawers + shelves for books/crafting supplies would have the most longevity for crafting now and homework later…
If I sound stressed by this space, I’m really not. I do know almost for a fact that if I don’t dedicate some thought to this space this year it could stay like this 6 years. So these kinds of posts always force me to think about these less important spaces, creating some forced forward momentum. So thanks for listening 🙂
*Photos by Kaitlin Green