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The Challenges Of Our Upstairs Landing (AKA Our Kids Garbage Storage Room/Play Space) + How To Design Long Term For Rapidly Growing Kids

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 We originally made the decision to paint it because we hated this particular “before” wood flooring, not because we really wanted painted wood flooring if that makes any sense.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


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142 thoughts on “The Challenges Of Our Upstairs Landing (AKA Our Kids Garbage Storage Room/Play Space) + How To Design Long Term For Rapidly Growing Kids

  1. So I’m not an expert in older kids (my oldest is a daughter just a day or two younger than Birdie) but my conclusion so far is that to encourage free play, the craft stuff has to be immediately at hand. Yes. that does mean endless sheets of paper everywhere, felt tips left out, etc. But from my experience if it’s tucked away in a box in a dresser, they won’t think to play with it unless you’re directing the play and encouraging them. Which is fine, but it doesn’t always spark creativity in the same way. So then I suppose the question becomes more ‘is this the right space for all the mess?’ I think at the top of the stairs would drive me a little mad… but equally our ‘playroom’ is the back half of our living room and I definitely have to face that daily, and it’s not the end of the world. Is it better to have a functional space that invites creativity… but that needs endless tidying? Or an inviting, cosy, pretty spot that is perhaps more decorative than functional? It’s so personal!

    1. I highly recommend following the flow and energy of how the space is already being used by the kids for hours of long uninterrupted play. – the people who spend the most time there. So for now an art/play/craft area with proper systematic closed storage. Hours in self directed creative projects are some of the most joyous and richest experiences anyone of any age could possibly have, and for children they can be formative. I mean the mazing luxury of having a groovy art space ?..I’d lean into encouraging that . A long low credenza for art supplies, closed wardrobe style storage for books and games , a sturdy stable work table , ( all easy to grab on CL) perhaps an oilcloth to protect the floor, easel. Yes it may feel messy when you come up the stairs but its’ a joyous creative place, and yeah the kids can learn to clean it. You could always grab a screen to screen it off if you hate seeing it. All that furniture can can serve for office/ homework later on.
      If the landing is just styled to look cute for a shoot, it can end up unused. And speaking from an experience a home that is styled for mom’s need for a cute showplace is so much less wonderful, than a home that reflects the joyous passions of all its inhabitants.

      1. …also once kids enter upper grades, they prefer the privacy of their own room with the door shut! You may not want cement glue on your children’s’ carpet. Additionally, you may be a parent who does not want computers in their children’s’ rooms, but rather in an open homework space.

        1. I think this depends on the kid. Mine (now tweens / teens) prefer to hang “near” us in the family room, kitchen, den & only go up to their rooms at night except when they have friends over. They like to be where the action is! We also don’t allow devices in the bedrooms so if they have homework, want to watch YouTube, text etc. they are in “public” spaces.

        2. Yes! So maybe desks etc out here but honestly, they’ll probably be in their beds/bedroom desk with their laptops. So for those older kids I think a comfy sofa to throw themselves on, to hang with their friends on (sometimes my daughter wanted to have friends upstairs but not in her room), to snuggle with parents on, will be really good in a few years. But then, they may have the other house to hang in my then.

      2. Everything Donna J said! If they have easy access to art supplies, they will use them, and you might even be surprised at how many years they enjoy a dedicated art space. I have a similar space in my basement that I’m hoping to turn into an art room for me and my very artistic daughter, so this project would be (selfishly) very inspiring for me. lol

      3. Yep, @Donna J knows what she’s talking about. This is an extension of the children’s space, & it is away from the “public” spaces downstairs. Let their interests define this play space.
        I am a parent, an artist, and an art teacher so here are a couple of practical bits:
        -don’t store supplies here that they can’t manage on their own (i.e. liquid paints, glitter, glue guns).
        -give each supplie it’s own storage spot such as a bucket of markers, bin for the scissors etc.
        -have as much out on shelves (can be a closed cabinet) and easy to spot as possible.
        -provide a small waste bin & small recycling bin in the space.
        All these things will allow open-ended exploration with the materials AND help them clean up. Because they ARE old enough to clean up their own space! Their friends should not be leaving from a play date until they help clean up. You wouldn’t want your kids playing at other’s homes and not tidying, right? Once in awhile you can go through and re-sort and organize to help keep them on track.
        I bet you all will love having this space through all it’s varying uses.

    2. I agree with this wholeheartedly.
      I think the compromise is to keep limited materials available ALL the time, like enough to fit on a one of those little rolling trays from Ikea/Target. Tape, paper, scissors, markers, pencils, a stapler + a bin for materials for up cycling…and then everything else out of sight unless they request it! So, no paints, or glitter, or pom poms or…whatever. PLUS find a very cute and large trash can and tools the kids (and Caitlin!) might like to use to help clean up at the end of the session.

      Do they actually prefer to use a table or craft on the floor? I almost picture NO furniture except a lovely fancy tall cabinet (for closed storage of all those games that get dumped out, put on the highest shelf 🙂 ), then an art tray that’s “out.” But a rectangular table with two stools (so, more like a work bench), could be great.

      I picture a very fanciful painted floor that doesn’t highlight the mess the way that white does, and would be the “piece” really, plus the fancy closed storage, that could grow with the family, and rid of the need for a rug (so also making it easier to clean up.

      Why am I so stoked on this space. My 3 and 6 year olds craft nonstop. It drives me bonkers to clean it up everyday, but it’s really amazing. This table was clean last night, and here’s what it looked like by the time we left for school this morning. It’s special times, isn’t it?

      1. Ah well, the picture didn’t come through. But let’s just say it’s covered in tape, paper, reused supplies, all the things. Love it, hate it, but ultimately love it.

  2. Designing your house for your family right now makes sense. You can always redesign it later when your needs change. I would go with the craft setup. But also, they can clean up the craft messes when they are finished. That doesn’t need to be your job. Just make it easy for them to put it all away. My kids wreck the house daily. They have to clean it all up before they can play video games. This is extremely motivating for them.

    That’s part of playing or making things, just like cleaning the kitchen up afterwards is part of cooking. If they clean up everyday, it’s so much easier than leaving it and having a huge cleanup project later.

    My kids friends do the dumping everything out thing as well. And then they all leave without helping clean up and we make the kids clean it up. They feel that this is unjust. But we tell them, hey, you could just ask your friends (nicely!) to help clean up before they go home. Or you could just accept that this is part of having people over.

    1. We sometimes suggest the friends help pick up before they leave. They don’t do a great job, but they almost always are willing to pitch in to clean up. (I think they get a kick out of practicing their “politeness skills”.

    2. I’m hoping the dumping out thing is a phase. Our kids (5 and 7) also have friends that do this and it drives me absolutely crazy. Some will help to clean up if we ask while others will actually refuse. I do tell my kids to not let their friends do it, but they only have so much control. I do find when it happens that I’ll usually assist with clean up since they haven’t made the whole mess. And I also hope that my kids aren’t those kids at other houses!

  3. Its such a lovely bright space, I can see why the kids love to play here! I love the idea of making use of some desks with good storage and maybe some pretty shelving above that can be both craft area and potentially convert to homework area not so far down the line without having to rethink the whole space. Excited to see where you go with this, we also used to have a landing that was large enough to be a room and always struggled to know what best purpose it could serve.

  4. This is where the much discussed antique blue hutch should go! Put it where you have the bookcase and let those kids shove their own creative little messes back in themselves, or no screen time! I like the functional table and chairs, and do what you want with the rest, I think some choice art, and some color/pattern on the floor will ground this space.

      1. Oh no. The hutch is too good and too clunky perhaps to use in a craft room. I still think it would look perfect in the dining space. Perhaps it needs pedestals and vases on both sides to soften up the profile coming in from the Living room.

    1. Totally agree! I was thinking as reading this, tall hutch/wardrobe with doors to close the mess away! Supplies can go in labeled bins inside so it’s easier to keep organized and kids can keep it that way (more or less) when putting stuff away. A gorgeous piece – like the blue hutch – can help make the space beautiful vs too busy looking while still allowing it to function as a fun creative space for the kids. Agree you might want to switch to a rectangular table for more workspace. Or, as others suggested, a long desk top along the wall where both kids can work at crafts now and maybe homework later.

  5. I think you should design it to do what it’s already doing (being a play/craft area) only do it better – with appropriate furniture and storage. If you use freestanding furniture, it can be easily changed to a different function later.
    Making a mess is not a problem if that mess is cleaned up, and a little incentivisation (gold stars or whatever you are already using for your own kids, cookies or some such for when visiting children are also playing there) might take care of that for you. The kids are definitely at an age now when they can learn that. Maybe involving them in the choice of storage furniture might get them a bit more invested in using it, too.
    If you do put a rug down, if you put it in the corner rather than centred, that could be the “play” area and you could (ahem, try to) get the kids to keep all the play/craft stuff in that area so there is always a clear walkway, no matter how messy the play/craft area is. A strong pattern on the rug might visually absorb some of the inevitable clutter, too.
    Cece’s comment above about children being more creative when they are self-directed is a good insight and something your kids already seem to be very good at, so that seems like something to be encouraged on an ongoing basis.

    1. I found that kids will gravitate towards a rug when playing, so the idea of keeping a clear pathway around the rug is a good one. You can also tell them explicitly that the rug is for playing on. We also used labeled “dump bins” for easy cleanup, although that doesn’t solve the sorting of several puzzles dumped together after having friends over. In that case, the kids would have to help me assemble all the puzzles before putting the pieces back in their appropriate box. It’s time consuming, yes, but a learning experience that hopefully gives them pause in the future when they or their friends want to pull everything out. They do learn, eventually 🙂

      1. My eldest got a hello kitty set of 4 puzzles as a gift once. On the back of the pieces was a cute stamp – a different one for each puzzle so it was easy to sort after play time. The same thing can be done with any puzzle you own and if you don’t want to buy a bunch of stamps, you can use a marker and the alphabet to give each puzzle it’s own symbol.

  6. Put an armoire/linen closet where the bookshelf is. The bigger the people the more stuff. You won’t regret more storage!

  7. However you design the space, remember what Dawn Madden the Minimal Mom says:: things have to be just as easy to put away as to leave out, otherwise everything is cluttered and messy. Make sure your storage systems aren’t too difficult, multi-step, or crowded. Good luck!

  8. Desks / craft table and bookshelves seem like a great idea for their immediate needs and the long haul. Bring on the painted, pattern floor. This will no doubt be beautiful and functional in no time. Thanks for sharing your “messy” with the world.

  9. I’d design custom, built-in shelving for the long wall next to where you have the table and move the table as far towards the other side of the rug as you can without infringing on your walking path. The shelving would be some combination of open shelves and cabinets, with two fold down desks for doing homework or sewing, which look like cabinetry when closed. The shelves would hold the craft supplies, sewing machine, etc. – maybe games up higher than a younger kid can reach. As they get older, the craft table could be replaced with two comfortable chairs, and the craft supplies and games replaced by whatever they’re into at that time. To make sure you have enough room for future furniture, I wouldn’t make the shelves too deep. I’d aim for a look that will work in the future when you may not want any other furniture in there at all. 

    1. I like this idea except for the fold down desk surfaces. Just get a good table that fits the space (long and narrow). Creative work is harder to do when facing a wall/hemmed in by cabinets on either side. You need a sense of light and space.

  10. The skylight does a great job here, a great welcoming effect. 
    My first thought was that these beautiful laundry closet doors need a cute curtain to hide the clutter in the dark and give a hint of the subject purpose (laundry/linen).
    The use of this landing will change like you said. Just embrace it and adjust it accordingly. My idea: style it out with your inventory for the shoot. Afterwards keep on with modifying to your kids´ changing needs.

    1. Yes, sweet white curtains on the inside. Made of vintage, old table cloths, embroidery (with holes?), etc

  11. I vote craft space with lots of storage! I have kids similar in age, very into crafting and legos. I would love a dedicated area for this instead of our dining room table….plus since yours is upstairs in the kids space, it would likely be ok to leave the mess when you aren’t in the mood to help clean it up. A craft space can always pull double duty for homework area later too. Looking forward to seeing what you end up with!

    1. Agree with everything in this comment! Also recommend storage with doors/drawers/uniform tubs that close so you can quickly hide clutter/mess when you want visual calmness but don’t want to work too hard 🙂

  12. A crafting space would be amazing!! And actually, a long rectangular one would transition well to homework space for bigger kids.

    You’re right that storage is key, and I personally would want to be able to hide messy art supplies during play dates. I’m fine with my kids doing big paint projects and such because they know where/how to clean their brushes how to store supplies. Other kids? Nope!

  13. I can confirm that my kids’ friends also did that “monstrously baffling thing” and proceeded to dump out every single box they found in our toy closet and make a gigantic mess in the basement play area. It happened all the time and I never understood it either. But it was literally EVERY. SINGLE. BOX! And of course I would be left to reorganize everything. When I made the kids clean up, the stuff got put away with no rhyme or reason and I would end up straightening out the mess anyway.

    I guess it’s fun to make a mess in someone else’s house when you know the parent can’t yell at you? Lol.

    1. Which is why I Do. NOT like play dates at my house. My kids don’t do that at their friends’ houses!

  14. Can’t you set up a craft room that the kids can destroy in the guest house? Why not have the mess over there? You could call it their “office.” And then I’d use this landing for a reading/library/cozy/peaceful space.

  15. Why not make it a craft space now- how about bringing in the blue hutch that you bought for the dining room/office as well a a bigger table, this area could also be a homework area. Then later, when your kids are teens, it can be restyled as a hang-out space with a TV and comfy chair or small sofa. If they start playing video games, you will want that area to be as far from you as possible, especially with your noise issues. So, style now, and then style again alter, which seems like an obvious solution for someone who, lets be honest here, has to consider making a living off of designing and bluing for the home.

    1. As one whose children are in their 30s, I endorse this suggestion. Keep it a self-directed crafting space for now. Mess is mess, it’s life, and get them to “help” with cleanup so they have an incentive not to trash the place. As they get older, if they are social people, they will really like to have a flexible space with a table and chairs. They can make stuff there, do homework, play with whatever new technologies get invented this decade, have lunch with a friend, do homework with a friend, whisper to a friend. The two key parameters would be a) storage components (could be built-in, could be vintage) and b) surface space (here I’d recommend a big rectangular table for the most flexibility, vs. separate desks etc.) Leave room for growth and inspiration–and a little mess.

      1. And get two decent sized baskets, one for each of them to store projects in process or drawings/art they have completed. Clean up will be much easier if you all can just toss the projects into a designated space. I also have found this useful bc then you can occasionally go through it and recycle the things they haven’t ever gotten back to or put away to keep the ones you want to save longterm. I did this sorting process every 3-6 months when my kids were little. Enough time had gone by that I could be reasonably sure they wouldn’t miss what I tossed. And it gave me some distance to be able to better discern what was actually worth keeping for the long term.

  16. Such a great space to have! I love a diamond pattern on a painted floor! A cozy soft rug to sit on if wanted! A couple of ottomans, bean bags etc for reading. That being said, as your littles get older they will have more and more homework and a dedicated homework space is a wonderful luxury to have in a home. This means two desks or one long rectangular one and some cabinet storage at minimum. The space can also function as a craft and art space, now and later. I don’t believe it has to always be perfectly kept; however if you make it accessable and simple for them to put things away this is a great life skill to learn at a young age. Wallpaper might take a beating unless it is placed high such as above board and batten etc. I might use something neutral like grasscloth and frame some of their art on it.

  17. Embrace the crafting (but put limits in place to contain the mess)! What we have found most useful for containing crafting mess is a two-part system. We have the organized supply storage that it up high for adults to reach. I tap into it to refill the kids’ art cart – instead of the full 500 rubber bands that will make an insane mess, they get 20 at a time. Same goes for construction paper, tape, markers, etc. We find that they use ALL the supplies that are available (either to craft with or to make a mess with), so the key is to limit what’s available at any one time. They know they can ask us to get more from the supply cupboard but they rarely do – I like how they actually get to be more creative and resourceful when their supplies are limited. An armoire or hutch that has closed storage above and open below seems like a versatile piece that will do that job and be useful for many things down the road. We do like having a cart because it creates a natural limit to what can be out at a time – plus, sometimes it goes to a specific kid’s room or to the main floor for specific projects.

  18. my comment is more about the look and feel of the room than its function. this is something of course you already know, but this room needs richness and depth. texture, color, pattern. your house has a very cohesive style, and it seems that the spaces you’re unsure about are the ones that are asking to explore a different facet of the house’s concept. so colors/patterns/materials in the finishes here that explore colors that contrast or complement the ones in other parts of the house; contrasting/complementing textures too. more of a narrative than something that matches or carries colors/finishes over from adjoining spaces.

    the kitchen works so well because it has lots of (real, old) wood to balance the brightness of the light and the new materials. this is crazy but: what if you stripped the doors and trim here??? sorry to say this, but the process photos look better in terms of color/light/texture/materials balance. imho every room in this house should have at least one thing in it that funks it up and tells a story and looks like it was there all along. I know this is an interior design cliche and that you already know this, but the “farmhouse” element has something to do with a feeling of being collected and furnished over time, layered. if that’s no longer an option with finishes in this space, you’re so good at doing that with furniture and styling! looking forward to seeing how this turns out.

    1. oh I have one more thing to say about function: if you’re ok with cleaning there every day, then the crafting station works. but having a pass-through area that gets messed up every day….that’s rough.

      the newest house on the reath site has an amazing landing with I think Morris wallpaper and desks for homework. so I vote YES! on wallpaper and desk areas. seems to me that having very discrete, smaller areas that could get (and potentially stay) cluttered would be the way to go here.

        1. Thank you for posting this! I didn’t think wallpaper would work in Emily’s landing but now I love the idea. The wallpaper really makes the Reath house landing feel more like a room. I don’t think papering will make it too formal to use now as a craft space, it’s just a matter of finding paper with a touch of whimsy.

      1. Wow, that that Reath home is so beautifully stunning! (except for over the fireplace, a missed opportunity for a large painting) the landing is amazing too. Thanks Kj for posting the links!

        However, the landing is too stiff and formal for kids (even for the Farmhouse), and now Birdie and Charlie need a wonderful creative space and their landing is perfect for that! Having a space with room and creative materials at-the-ready, is inspiring! They each have large bedrooms and I am sure Emily has plans for a wonderful reading nook in each bedroom.

  19. My advice would be to have a designated creative space in the house no matter what. Kids will be creative all through high school if they have the space and encouragement ( my three kids always did projects together no matter the age). If it’s the landing, I can say that our L shaped desk was used A LOT (we made it out of two doors with book shelves supporting the ends). They did crafts, computer games (do kids still play Nancy Drew? That was the best creative, brain-using game ever), homework, science experiments, etc. etc……

  20. You wrote “Nothing is just a choice without affecting other past choices or future choices. Everything. Is. A. Thing.”
    Yes!!! THIS … is life. Every. Single. Choice. Affects. Everything. For. Everybody.

    I like your idea of a n L shaped desk in the corner. Space ro spread out.
    I actually think drawers under the desk would effect tidiness better than shelves above, though.
    It’s wonderful that they get along so well that they can lose hours crafting and sewing together.

    I’m excited to see what happens in this ultra-flex space. 🤗

    Oscar and Buttercup like it up there!! 🐾🐾

  21. What about a multipurpose kid hang room, for when it’s just then but also when they have friends over. You could put a pinball machine, foosball table (and yes, maybe a dock for the Nintendo switch but with the other options, friends will def want to try the more lo Fi foosball/etc games too) as well as a craft table. Like a kid bar! But instead of booze it’s cool kid games but also these more hands on and when they have friends over they will congregate there, even as they get older and into teen years. You could also have a floor to ceiling bookshelf with some chapter or craft books as well as board games (higher up so takes effort before dumping for no reason)

  22. It would bother me to have chaos in such a visible space (as opposed to a closed off room, attic, etc.). I’d only use this space for crafting if I literally had no other option. Otherwise, I’d use it for “pretty” storage, and art, and let it be a pass-through to other rooms, even if not the best *use” of space, if that makes sense.

  23. My answer depends on another question: how does it make you feel to go upstairs and have this area be a disaster?

    My kids are the same ages as yours, and while they do a good job of picking up after themselves when specifically directed, it’s still a work in progress to get them to do so independently (and will continue to be for a while, I expect).

    Personally, it would make me feel anxious, frustrated, and distracted to have a craft explosion situation every time I walked upstairs, so knowing that about myself, I would not deliberately locate that activity in that space.

    We recently completed a major renovation project as well, and then DIY’d a basement reno, and let me tell you – having the basement become the designated kid area has been such a relief to me. They can be as messy as they like, I’m not panicked about things like markers potentially getting on a brand-new floor or counter in the main living space, and there’s plenty of storage for all of their crafts, toys, and activities. And I can shut the door. 😉

    So…this is a very long-winded way of saying: can you live with it being messy? And if not, is there another place where you could put the messy stuff and have it be contained, and use the landing space for a simpler purpose?

    1. This is exactly what I came to say! I have four kiddos from KK to teen and we are heavy into the crafting. LOTS of trial and error has taught me that, for us, crafting must happen in the kitchen or another space where we’re forced to clean and put it away regularly but also has lots of oversight. I would not have crafts in places where other kids who visited my house could run wild with them. If it were me, I would likely create this as a lounge/tablet or TV or gaming space. With a coffee table for playing board games. It’s great for when you’re hosting adults downstairs and you can send the kids upstairs, but you still have easy oversight and can pop upstairs and check on them. It has wonderful possibility, I’m excited to see what you do with it!

    2. Good point. I wouldn’t mind the craft explosion up here. I can’t see it from the kitchen or my room LOL. And the creativity feeds me more than the mess depletes.

  24. What if you create the craft station in the guest room? That way the door can be closed when it’s messy, and then before you have guests or just every few days do a big clean up. That seems like a way to mimic the attic space at the mountain house, and it’s fun to have a play space close to their bedrooms where they can use it when inspiration strikes

  25. How Shaker-farmhouse-styled do you need this space to be? Because if you could tolerate a bit of MCM, you might look into Staples Ladderax modular shelving. It’s nicer looking teak on metal ladders that form the sides, and it has a freestanding version so you can add and change and expand things and needs evolve (and not damage the walls). There are pieces that offer closed or open storage, and a bunch of nice matching baskets could corral the stuff you don’t want to be out of sight/out of mind, and does seem to make kids more able to tidy themselves. Worth a Google? (It’s UK based so might be too expensive to collect over there, but could be a fun new vintage hunt, yeah?) and then a floating oval or rectangle table with chairs for doing the actual projects. I say leave the floor and walls and get a mildly patterned rug you actually like. 🤷🏼‍♀️

  26. I would put a rectangular table there and make it a crafts/maker area for now, with shelves and bulletin board above for display of the projects, as they get older this can become a computer table, as they will start to need the computer for school work and I don’t love the idea of them quarantining in their room with a computer but also recognizing the need for a quiet area to focus.

  27. Design for crafting now, homework and hobbies as they grow into teens. My three teens have needed space for a computer (with multiple monitors) for multiplayer gaming (so much Minecraft!), recording YouTube videos, music editing, yearbook layout, and yes, homework. It would have been a real luxury to have a dedicated table (not the kitchen island) to spread out for 4-H projects, sewing, electronics, building a computer, painting, Student Council campaign posters….I would put in the storage and workspace now, and though the contents of the drawers will evolve over time, the space will get used in so many new ways before you know it. We had a desk in the kitchen for a long time to accommodate some of these needs and provide some supervision over the computer, but this seems like a perfect in between, semi-public space.

  28. This sounds like the winning approach to me: “L-shaped desk with storage drawers + shelves for books/crafting supplies would have the most longevity for crafting now and homework later” and compatible with the harlequin floor and jute rug. And the center is still available for play.

  29. When my kids were 7 & 9, we had a huge “make it room”. Thankfully, I found an amazing designer/blogger with fantastic ideas on how to set up a space that would encourage them to make art. ( The important parenting bit of all of this is coming up with a kid-led cleaning routine, it takes consistency and focus, but they do it at school so they can do it at home. After they got used to the clean up process, they were also less likely to make the tornado-style messes that they didn’t want to have to pick up later.

  30. I’d love to see the blue of the stairs continued on the floor up here. And then two desks, built in or not, for crafting now and homework later. And A big armoire for craft storage.

    1. I’m thinking two desks or matching tables too. That way when they are older and want more privacy, the desks can be reused in their bedrooms. And a hutch for the craft supplies will hide the chaos, but keep everything in one place so they know where it is when they want to use it-markers, colored pencils, paper, they still use through middle school and high school for school projects and nothing worse than hearing them tell you they need clay for a project-at 8:00 pm on a school night. Ask me how I know.

  31. I’m going against the crowd and voting against crafting area. Given their ages, your kids are on the cusp of not wanting to do crafts anymore. Well, maybe not Birdie but she’ll follow closely behind Charlie. I’d lean into where they’re going, not what they’re (temporarily) doing now. A space to do homework makes more sense to me since that’s where they’re heading. You can use that area for crafts right now, anyway. A desk area is multipurpose. A craft area is very specific and you’ll need to change it soon, anyway (although that would be fine for the blog).

    1. But doing homework in the hall doesn’t seem vert practical. It would not be a quiet place where you van concentrate.

      1. When my kids were young, homework usually was done in the kitchen or wherever I was. This way, I was nearby if they needed help, and I could make sure it was completed before they moved on to another activity.

    2. They might outgrow organized crafts but probably not creating. I have 7th grade twins who receive very little homework almost none of which is completed while sitting upright at a desk! But they still make stuff and I don’t see it stopping anytime soon. They and their friends draw and make jewelry and do all kinds of puzzles and needle felt and use yarn. With kids, I will forever advocate making spaces that suit them now and not where you think they’re headed.

  32. We have a craft desk armoire thing that can be folded away. It’s right next to kitchen table so any long mess is a lot! It goes through many phases of use/nonuse. My older kiddo also keeps stuff in her room away from younger brother and it can get messy.. than as u say not used. I wouldmlove to have it all in one space.. anyway I find kids need clear bins (despite me wanting to use paper stuff we had) and it to be very very easy to put away! I was hoarding paper things they didn’t really use and once it was less stuff and easier for them to put away… they did. Also this is hard but designate a sizable place or places to store the in progress (or “done”) works! Theses are often bulky and messy and tbh eventually get chucked sometimes but they are less likely to clean up if they think the project would be done forever and all the cut out scraps gone.
    The 3d printer is cool and needs space for computers right? We haven’t had much homework ever thank-goodness (6 & 11 yr olds) and once they do they will be older and need it in their room I assume for focus. I can’t wait to see your take on a Craft space with hidden but easy storage!

  33. At that age, my best tactic with my kids (now 19,21,24) was to buy some beanbags, a big round coffee table, and let the space evolve. The fact that you seem to have so many regrets about choices made along the way with this house suggests that it’s time to stop. Take a 6 month (or permanent) break. Settle in, let the spaces evolve naturally. You don’t owe us your home and your kids have a right to grow up without the eyes of your “followers” on them. They and their friends’ (completely normal) messiness needn’t be under so much scrutiny. You will be shocked how quickly the next 10 years pass by. I don’t like that you painted so much lovely natural wood. You wanna know how much my opinion should matter to you? Literally zero.

  34. Flexibility seems key, since their interests and activities are changing. If it was me, I would have a large rectangular table for craft projects and laundry-folding and some storage for crafts, games. Video games- I don’t know where those are best done! I agree with the free play over structured projects approach, for most of the time. It’s nice to have a space like this that is up in “their area” and not messing up your living room! And it seems they are happy spending time in the space. So how far wrong could you go?

  35. That last idea you floated about the L shaped diy desk for crafting now and homework later is what I was going to suggest. We did that using ikea billy (or alex? can’t remember the name) storage drawers and some butcher block that we stained. What I love about it is that it is temporary – looks kind of built in but isn’t so we can repurpose that space easily later. There are tons of drawers for the paper, crayons, paint, scissors, glue, rubber bands and all the things. I really don’t like crafting with them, but am happy for them to do it. Ours is right next to our kitchen so I have to look at it all the time, which means I end up cleaning up after them a lot. But you wouldn’t have that problem.

  36. I think you should dedicate part of the guest room to crafts and let this be a cozy spot instead. That way it can be behind a door. You’ve said you don’t have overnight guests particularly often, so if it went a while between clean-ups it wouldn’t be as big of a deal. Then you’d really get use out of every space up there.

    1. i agree with this. we ended up combining our son’s lego room with the guest room. it’s really nice to have it mostly out of sight out of mind, and to make use of a room that otherwise would see zero action. we have guests a handful of days a year, but daily lego chaos is real.

  37. we have a craft room which is a bedroom with no flooring; in order to have this room not all my girls have their own bedroom. it’s worth it. they love it. i deep clean it yearly when they are at camp and otherwise i close the door! what they make there is amazing but it is a HOT MESS. i’m a bit anal retentive so the rest of the house is clean clean so it’s nice for the kids to have this escape. they spend days in there. highly recommend but having it front and center might drive me nuts.

  38. I personally like having a landing that is just a landing. We have one at the top of our stairs, and I love the open space greeting me when I get to the top of the stairs. (We have one bookshelf, art, and a gallery of family photos in the room.) Our kids still play there sometimes, especially when they are building forts; but most of the time it just serves as a pretty room that we walk through. Your landing is much larger so maybe it feels like you should use it. But your house is also so big that it seems unnecessary to make this room “functional.”

    1. I agree. The negative space is lovely. Just a light, bright simple space that serves as a connecting point between children and the occasional guest. With the skylights, you could also do some plants here to give more of a sense of passing through a forest into the kids’ rooms.

  39. I would do some built-ins with closed and open storage (for books, crafts, games, etc.) on the wall where the bookcase is now, and then a table and bench along the wall close to the stairs. Eventually you could lose the table and use this as a reading nook. I do think the white is too sterile (even after adding in art etc) but no thoughts on what color would work best.

  40. If this space wants to be a kid zone, full of messy and unsightly crafts/games, etc., then just let it be one! Your kids will be out of this stage faster than you will want them to be, and sudenly morph into tweens who view you primarlily as an obstacle to obtaining their desired amount of gaming/apps/social media/sephora/youtubers talking about games, apps, makeup. OMG, tweens/teens are great in other ways, but you will be DREAMING of the days when they were happy crafting for hours.

    You can make it pretty one day. In the meantime? Not every space needs to be shared on the blog! You can leave us looky loos out of this one.

  41. I guess I don’t understand the point of a pass-through room like a landing being a craft area, den, TV area, or anything other than a landing. It would be extremely cramped with anything other than that table. Can’t the kids play and craft in their bedrooms or kitchen? Plus, in a couple years they won’t be into crafts or toys like they are now.

    1. Crafts can be art space or creative space, sewing space, or a workshop space. Many people need a space like that, engineers, photographers, artists, to create or fix things, no matter what age. For older kids it could also be a hangout space with a sofa and bookshelves and games. But then again, they are left to be by themselves and I think it is important to invite kids into the other living spaces to tell them they are seen and they are important. It’s safer and it increases the opportunities to build a relationship between older and younger generations. I’m kind of against sending kids into their rooms for play and daily activities. I think it might be alright in a small house, where everyone is so close to each other anyway. But I would prefer to be closer to notice kids and when they are in trouble, need to talk, etc.

      1. I totally agree that having a common space to hang out, craft or play is a great idea. I just don’t think a landing is the logical place for it. The sun room/office/dining room would make more sense.

  42. It’s such a light, bright space. I love the white walls with patterned floors, it’s going to look amazing. I would go with with crafting space – put a wall of shallow storage cabinets with a few open shelves all along the back wall, and a narrow rectangle table with storage cubbies below it (cubbies facing the storage wall), and some sturdy chairs. Continue to use it for crafting and have the bins and storage space to pack it all away when done so you can walk past it without seeing disaster.

  43. So for resources I recommend the Design Mom’s book on how to design homes with kids. Can’t remember the title. I also like the Parenting Junkie’s (Avital) of YouTube approach. Gabrielle has a nice way of defining some space. I think she allowed some beautiful toys in common spaces, she defined where projects are done, where games are played, where books are read, where people sleep (her bedrooms are more for sleep, family time and play is in the common areas). That’s something I work toward myself. While Avital I think had a good perspective on designing play. In summary, the fewer toys they have the more they play. This happens at my home regularly where we have a huge mess in our day space: living room and family room. I clean then mess, hide 20 toys or so in the basement and they play for ours in the clean space with fewer toys.

    So I’d paint the floor blue for continuity, and do the same wallpaper as in the entrance unless jerks too busy and full of contrast. I would put all games and even puzzles in the cabinet in your family room so that they are enticed into playing more and using screens less (Gabi’s idea). If not in the family room then in the living room locked in a cabinet. Perhaps that will prevent dumping. In their bedrooms, I’d design quiet spaces (Avital’s idea) so lot’s of books and soft toys only, and person toys only that they must be responsible for.
    They might need a small writing desk for homework and a cabinet/bookshelf eventually if they plan to do homework in their rooms or keep their treasures or their individual toys and stuff in their rooms. I’d dedicate the landing to crafts and blocks and a few other open ended toys that they jointly use. That’s a big enough space to create, but I wouldnt put too many things in it so not distract them. Fewer is better. Going forward I decided to buy fewer toys and include more clothes and accessories I would buy for them anyway for holidays and birthdays. They really have more than kids their age had in the past. The amount detracts from play and causes anxiety. So opening up gifts with a new hat, dress, chocolate mix, apron, as opposed to 10 toys that end up on the floors.

    This is not in anyway criticism. Or at least I don’t mean it that way. That’s something I struggle with myself. I have a 2 and 5 yo and I have no basement or extra room that could function as a playroom.

    1. I apologize for typos and not noticing wrong autocorrect. Hopefully these don’t detract from the message too much

    2. To clarify what I wrote.
      Quiet spaces in their bedrooms.
      Books like encyclopedias or books on various topics or albums in the living room or where they do homework so that they can be conversation starters, used more often by everyone.

  44. I like the idea of it being a tinker type space where they can work on whatever they are into at the time whether that’s crafting, building, school project, etc.

    However, I don’t agree that that idea is compatible with also having it be a space that is clean every time you come up the stairs. I think you need to decide which matters more to you – it being a clean landing space all the time OR it being a place for them to create because if you try to make it both, you’ll just end up frustrated.

  45. I would design the space for the here and now. And just let it naturally evolve as the kids grow. I love the painted floor idea. I painted my main bedroom hardwoods. White, and an 8″ black trim around the edge. I love it! Gives a little something something, but not too distracting. It has worn really well. I think using the upstairs door color on the floor somehow, would be lovely. Instead of open shelving, you need something with doors to close off the mess. It’s easy for the kids to pick up their papers, crafts, whatever from the table, and put behind closed doors. The open shelving mess would make me crazy as well. As the kids move out of the crafting, coloring stage of life, this would be an amazing hang space. A couple of comfy hang chairs, with a cute, small, table would work great up in the landing space. Honestly, you are just going to have to accept that this spot will be in perpetual disarray for the next 10-11 years, until Birdie is out of the house. So spend as little time as possible up there to keep your anxiety about the mess in check!

  46. My vote would be to install floor-to-ceiling painted wood built-ins WITH doors that you can close to house the crafts. Out of sight! If there’s room, it’s not a bad idea to install 2 small pony walls to create a designated craft area. But like, cute ones that are farmhouse-Scandi-minimalist-Henderson approved.

    Our playroom is “SO BORING” – except once a week, even it gets really cleaned. If my kids are “so bored”, I offer the option to do the laundry, every time. And guess what? They’re no longer bored.

  47. Remove the washer and dryer, and make that a crafting/toy/game storage closet, with shelves and a built in table, nothing fancy. I’m sure the kids could cope, with doing their laundry downstairs in the mud room.

  48. yeah i lean towards art studio feel, but common sense dictates a space that could have multiple functions, like it would be nice to be able to fold laundry and watch a show, have the art project space, and maybe also gaming bean bags too? like, could wall mount a small frame TV and the room would have multiple uses. swivel barrel chairs and a lower table/desk situation maybe

  49. My girls crafted until they were at least 12-13 and after that still needed access to art supplies quiet often. It was around 15-16 they stopped (still makes me sad).
    Living with crafting supplies for years if this were my space I would put in a shallow armoire with all the supplies organized for easy access and a place for sewing machine, printer, paper…. Everything can be closed up and then leave the crafting/game table on the landing. The more organized the art supplies the easier to clean up is what I found. (ie, bin for glitter, glue. etc). They can grab out the ‘glue’ bin but then put it back easily. You can also use the armoire for a wrapping station. Depending on how big it is you might can squeeze games and puzzles on the bottom shelf. That would be my vote after years of living in mess util I finally got organized.

    1. one more thing, you mentioned constantly changing interests. Once I got the base organization down every couple of years I changed out the bins based on their current interests. (ie. at one point they were into glitter and fancy tape so I had a bin for each. Later I realized they hadn’t touched the tape in a long time as their art projects became more grown-up. I would then make a catch all bin for things they rarely used and opened up space for new interests. When I say bin I mean a small clear plastic bin that I labeled with a label maker.

  50. Re the video games comment, wanted to plug that there are some really beautiful, story-based, social, and non-stereotypical options out there, and that can be like interactive stories than the (IMO) more frequently-cited, repellent options. I’m a cis adult woman who loves story-based video games, and have concern about how gendered they’ve historically been (i.e., the boys play while the girls sew)! While I’m not suggesting that screens of any kind are ideal for kids, in rainy PNW, it’s a fun evening social activity that we share with good out-of-area friends (you can do cooperative building games that are a BLAST). So if you’re thinking about this topic, just offering a nudge to make it non-gendered, social, and creative! For design purposes, recommend a shared space where they can play, which encourages the social engagement, rather than a solo computer space in the bedroom. Also having one computer and requiring turn-taking was something that worked for me and my sibling as a kid, and got both of us invested in sharing a game’s progress, strategy, and design.

      1. There are some games that allow you to do different things based on your interest. For example some play Civilization game to build others as a strategy game if war. Some play Oblivion or Witcher as a strategy game or to gather herbs. I loved Age of empires II to build cities, same with Tropico, others like the strategic and competition aspects more. There’s stigma associated with gaming but some games are smart and develop some problem solving skills

      2. For younger players, Child of Light is beautiful and well-paced (there’s combat, but it’s low-. For older players, Horizon Zero Dawn follows a very capable young woman in a post-apocalyptic, eco-forward story epic (the most mammoth game, but gorgeous and your behavior drives game outcomes). Grounded is a group game where you’re teenagers shrunk in the backyard, running around building things with grass, etc. (Think, Honey I Shrunk the Kids.) Trine is probably more teenager level, but also cooperative, some fighting, but lots of puzzle-solving (you rotate between a scattered wizard, a jolly knight, and a badass archer lady).

        The absolutely most beautiful game, but it also made me cry, is What Remains of Edith Finch, which follows a young girl who returned to her empty family’s house. Totally story-oriented, gorgeously narrated, and beautiful… but also like a good, heart-rending book.

        To be clear, I also enjoy The Witcher, Dragon Age, and Dishonored, which are more adventure-oriented fantasy and story-based, but also have more mature themes. Wouldn’t necessarily recommend for kids.

    1. I’ve always loved the Nancy Drew games. They’re mystery/puzzle and would be age appropriate.

  51. OOO, doing something vertical and fun to reference the skylight (centre a rug beneath, hang plants, a mobile, etc) would bring some logic to to the many-doored space. You could even continue the painted pattern from the floor in the skylight well (vertical walls.)

    My kids are older teens and still love creating. We have an upstairs landing office carved out with the family computer/printer, a big white board, and long desk. They use it constantly.

  52. My kids are younger also, but through Girl Scouts and sports and church and other friends, we are around tweens and teens. I am always struck by how even the big kids are still really children. They still like crafting. Friendship bracelets never stop being cool. Doing art is still something they like to do. I would design this space expecting your children to remain children for many more years.

  53. I love “crafting landing”! It seems like the perfect place since it’s adjacent to the kids’ rooms and not in your main living area. Looks like you just need a place to stash the stuff, and maybe a table for the sewing machine. We got desks for the kids and they always opted for the floor. We also had doll houses, but they preferred to make their own houses in our bookshelves!! (picture “beds” for calico critters made of cotton balls tucked around the books and “elevators” made of string and cardboard between the shelves)! I remember pulling my hair out at the time, but in the big scheme, it is a small price to pay for a short time of creativity!

  54. I like the idea of an L shaped baguette with full bookcase/closed storage on the back wall where there isn’t an air vent and the bench comes around down the long wall under the vent. Storage in the bench too. Then you could have a table, maybe a drop down so its expands only during crafting or laundry folding sessions. I also really like the idea of a bookcase and comfy chair, but if its just pretty and not going to be used…. Although, I would use the heck out of either space! The harlequin floor sounds so pretty! I can’t wait to see what you end up doing with it.

  55. I’m crafty so I vote for craft space. I grew up with a not crafty family. We had one pair of dull scissors in the kitchen and that was it, so I’m happy you are providing so many opportunities for your kids. However, I’m wondering where you hang out up there, if at all? Is there a place for you to lounge with your kids? Maybe in the future, when crafting is by the wayside, it could be a little lounging space. Or a crafty space could be in the guest bedroom?

  56. I have a 14 (boy) and a 15 year old (girl). I think you are on the cusp of major change and it will continue to morph so you need a space that can shift duties as well. I do not allow my teenage sons friends in my daughters bedroom and vice versa; lots to think about in the coming years. The toys and craft phase will fade but school projects (group projects) and other needs will arise, including video games. I would maybe do a work desk/table with a couple comfy but smaller swivel chairs plus stools/poufs/cubes to allow for at least four seats total. Plus a small TV and some closed storage for supplies. Paper, pens, glue, scissors will be needed thru high school. The table could be used to fold clothes or sew or do crafts now but would also work as a social lounge or for laundry.
    BTW my kids both love to sew simple pajama shorts in fun prints and also pillowcases for their bed. And they both still use the kiddy print pillowcases now which makes me smile.

  57. Our loft is serving as a big craft/sewing/needlefelting/knitting/you name it space. It started with minimal storage- became a disaster and then I got it all organized.
    If you are looking to encourage the arts and crafting then do that and as the kids grow you will know what is needed in the teen years. 😀

  58. Re: a craft area, I think it would drive you mad to see the inevitable mess that would present at the top of the stairs every single time you came up. I love the idea of a cozy reading nook on the so many rainy days. And I agree that the crafting years are soon coming to an end as they retreat to their own rooms. I’d love to see how you would design a cosy library space!

  59. Absolutely embrace their love of crafts for now! You will be able to make the space practical AND beautiful. In the blink of any eye your kiddos will be out of this phase and it can become more of a homework area, or you can rethink the space entirely. One suggestion that I don’t think anyone has mentioned specifically: labels are key when getting kids to help clean up. Everything needs it’s own bin/box/basket with a clear label stating what belongs inside. Closed storage will obviously be much prettier if you employ this system. Learned this trick from my kids’ preschool!

  60. Your L shaped desks, drawers, shelving idea is great. Run it along the long wall with no doors, put a TV in the middle, desks on either side, alongvw/ drawers and shelves. Two bean bags or chairs facing the tv, and craft supplies in a huge closet on the short leg of the “L”. Paint the floor just as you envisioned!!

  61. I really think the l-shaped desk and bookshelves with storage is the way to go here. It’s open space for crafts now, and it’ll be a homework space later. That’s a decade + of usage in a kid space, which is truly the best you can hope for.

  62. They might not age out of crafting. My oldest turned our laundry room into a darkroom over Covid and he just got accepted into a great art school. My 15 year old son’s best friend bought a sewing machine so he could start designing clothing. Having a dedicated space for crafting might get years of use!

  63. Don’t fight it… It will become video game central. Which it’s the perfect space for—not behind closed doors but also not right in a busy traffic area.

  64. L-shaped desk with storage drawers + shelves for books/crafting supplies sounds exactly right. Also love that it provides you with the opportunity to do something beautiful and custom with a carpenter/artist OR to DIY it in a way that would be more relevant to most folks reading.

  65. No need for a crafting table. My kids are slightly older than yours and something really helpful is a desk space! Better to have it somewhere you can see what they are up to rather than in their rooms.

  66. First off, I am SO entertained by reading all the comments. You can just tell a person’s enneagram number by how they allow their kids to play (or (ahem) not play because you’re keeping it so organized and so clean and requiring them to be JUST LIKE YOU). This has been a good lesson to myself to chill out and relax in the mess a bit and just let our kids CREATE.
    I feel inclined to comment because I have 3 kids ages 9, 13, and 15. We are on our 4th house since having our first child so I feel like I have seen all of the ages and spaces. What I found works best is a nice sturdy table as large as the space can allow. Perhaps the greatest purchase of my life was while on a walk with my Mom we happened upon a garage sale and I bought a wood kid table with 4 chairs for $25. It was really nice quality, solid wood and fairly large for a kid table. Because it was $25, it cleaned up well but I did not care if there was glitter glue and marker all over it. 3 scratches is a tragedy but 1,000 is patina, right? For years I had an organizer from Target (our favorite place!) that had open bins. I “tried” to keep them organized with different bins holding craft paper, crayons, markers, stickers, cards and envelopes, etc.
    I put a very inexpensive rug under the table. My tip is not a solid color or a rug that has white or a light color in the pattern. And let the play doh dry and it will pop off with a knife 😉 The table, even though kid size, had sturdy wood chairs that my husband and I sat in all the time with them. As they got older, I cannot tell you how many school projects we did at that table (diaramas, anyone?). The fact that it wasn’t tied into a wall like a built-in desk meant you could move around it. Countless posters were created for school projects, sporting events, and signs to cheer up friends.
    I am a very clean person, probably verging on OCD 😉 Having an inexpensive table and rug was key for me to be able to “let it go”. I also loved the open bin organizer (they were slanted at an angle toward you so you could see what was in each bin). Yes, they would get mixed up, but every few months you sort of reorganize it and that didn’t take long. My two cents – this is what worked best for us and for several ages as they grew older.

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  68. Make it a craft space. If they don’t have one they’ll just do this things on the floor or at the kitchen table or on the island. My kids are 17,14, and 11. They all still need a craft space sometimes. When they start to spread out on the table it’s nice to be able to direct them back to the lovely space I’ve set up for them. Plus then, they can leave paintings out between layers, come back to projects after glue dries, and you don’t have to move it for dinner.

  69. I had a desk/craft area set-up in our living room (not the room we’re in much together), as for a while I was really into creating hoop fiber art. Then I paused on the fiber art, felt real guilty looking at all my supplies hanging out, and I put everything away, right before Christmas. With Valentine’s Day on the horizon after Christmas (and those dang post-holiday blues!), I got super inspired to make a lot of VDay/heart things, like cute felt/pom pom garland and handmade cards. So I schlepped all my art supplies back out to my desk area, and set it back up (though some of my cute metal organizing/storage carts were taken into bedrooms by my girls, and I don’t have the heart to take back the carts!). The return of the craft zone has gotten me and my girls (ages 10, 11) back into being creative too. Just the other day when I woke up, I found that one of my girls had been watercolor painting. So yes, I think a full-time home for art/craft/creativity is amazing – it really does spark the art creation!

  70. I would consider installing a long, hinged table/desk on the stairwell wall. Useful for crafts, folding laundry or studying. When not in use, simply collapse the hinge so the table top is flat against the wall and out of the way.

  71. Both my kids love to craft and are pretty messy so we have a few rules that work well for us:
    1. No wet stuff – so no paint or glue. Then have markers, pens and so much tape (including duct tape and double sided tape for sticking stuff together) and it makes a massive difference. Tape is much easier to clean up and they can still make pretty much anything
    2. They have to clean up before moving to the next activity or before bed. We have a rolling cart and bins so it’s super easy
    3. They each have a dedicated space on their room for their creations

    This way they can pretty much be left alone and generally don’t create too much carnage!

  72. Hahahahah, sometimes when there has been a particularly “fun” playtime and we don’t have time to clean-up before we go somewhere, as we are leaving I will say “At least if the house gets broken into they will think we have already been robbed.” I am glad it is a common phenomenon!

  73. Emily, I don’t know if you’ll see this comment, but I just came to say that this blog has became a really valuable resource for me in the last year in thinking about how we live in our homes and debunking the traditional or expected uses of certain rooms or spaces. As a person who lives in California, we are at a crossroads in terms of either figuring out a way to buy up (unsuccessfully so far), remodel what we have to make it bigger, or try and live with the space we have and make changes as we/our children get older to improve functionality for our family at that time.

    We now have the freedom to rethink how we use our spaces. Do we need to have a central TV watching area when all of us like to watch our own things on our iPads anyways? Do we have to have a designated place to park the car? It feels like with the Farmhouse, you are constantly evaluating how to live in the space NOW and what that might look like in the future, and that feels like a very modern and practical method of thinking that really resonates. Anyways, thanks!

  74. Totally random question: how big is the space between the bottom of your doors and the floor? I went back and forth a lot with my contractor about this, and I didn’t really find very helpful answers on the Internet. We’re not so happy with the result. Your space looks tight, and while I like the look, is airflow affected? Thanks!

  75. I suggest a rectangular drop-leaf table for flexibility. I suspect later you will want a couch for “hanging” as teens. My kids were always motivated by my telling them I would help clean if it wasn’t done by a time we set. They knew that I would have them clean more throughly!

  76. Transitioning with age for kids a place for crafts, homework and hangout with little friends. Build seating with lifting the top for storage. L-shape table great idea!

  77. I looked back through a million older posts and I can’t find any info on the trim design. Is there a link to trim design in any of the posts? My place is currently gutted and I haven’t been happy with the trim I picked for my design. I’m thinking this might do the trick!

  78. I like the idea of a built-in desk along the stair wall with shelving above, maybe some task lighting… And that way it can be adaptable and evolve with the kids. Right now? Crafting area. Later? Study area. But I think it’s smart to make a desk/workspace area for the kids. I’m kind of curious if you can open up the wall separating the staircase? Make it a pony wall instead and then make the upper portion open shelving so you can still let more natural light in (I believe the stairwell has windows but can’t quite recall…)? However, there’s a definite possibility that it sounds cool in theory but is a bad idea in reality.

  79. If the kids love art, 100% go that route. That confidence, curiosity, and enjoyment that are created will last all their lives. Then lean into friends want to exhibit politeness and separate buckets for each supply. Hopefully win-win. 😊

  80. As a mom to kids a few years older than yours (mine are 11 and 8)– do the crafting table! It will have TONS of longevity! DEFINITELY have a space where they can just craft themselves– that’s where magic happens! My suggestion would be to go colorful vintage rug (or even imitation vintage rug so you don’t feel bad about destroying it) here instead of jute rug. You want something non-fussy that can hide paint splotches, tiny bits of paper, and glitter. 🙂 Cover as much of the floor as you can because crafting can be messy, and why make it something you stress out about too much? Buy amazing art supplies (there are REALLY good markers on amazon for manga drawing that are SO great with kids your age) and come up with stupidly simple organization systems that are still fun for you to look at. This room can be a mess, yes, but it might also be such a joyful creative space to look at when you go upstairs! It’s also a good place for a computer down the line, because you do want that somewhere where anyone can walk in and see what’s on the screen (mainly so we can monitor whatever horrifying Youtube accounts they’ve found lately). I’m excited to see what happens here!!

  81. A close friend growing up had this at his house and I thought it was SO COOL! His parents built their house when we were about 10 and the primary was downstairs with the two kids rooms and guest room upstairs. The landing had a couch and bookshelves and tv. But! I think I would do exactly when you’re thinking which is craft/game space that can become more of a homework space later. I would do two desks pushed together facing each other to create one big crafting/play surface (like you see in open offices sometimes) and then that way you can just shift the desks when the time comes to convert it.

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