If one could have a ‘spirit room’ then I’ll go ahead and say this is my ‘demon room’. That didn’t come out right, but the point is this room is just so challenging in function, layout and now in style. Let’s revisit the past and catch you up to speed on this embarrassment of a space.
When we first bought the house, it looked like this:
It was right off the entry and close to the kitchen. So we knew once we opened it up to the kitchen we would have this amazing flow and visibility (especially with two small kids). But it made the architecture tricky and I’m sure someone could point out a million things we did wrong. By doing this we were able to get a proper powder room (that you didn’t have to go through a hall to access) and more importantly mom visibility from the kitchen to the playroom (as if I cook and as if they play without us …. although keep reading).
But then we were like ‘WAIT, WHERE THE EFF DO WE WATCH TV?’ The living room has no proper TV wall that doesn’t totally dictate an awkward layout (see our first post, here). So fine, this would be a little den/playroom.
We painted it navy because that’s cozy and fun.
It looked pretty awful and jarring, mostly because of the awkward architecture and its location in the house (all the furniture and rugs were just leftover and obviously not designed to exist here).
So we repainted and attempted to design it as a tv room/den with toy storage.
It’s not bad, but not good. I love the sofa, rug (vintage), curtains (well the window curtains) and lighting but because it was so long and narrow, it still couldn’t be laid out in a way that made it look good AND functional.
We had those leftover curtains from a different room so I had our handyman install them here and while it was kinda awesome to be in a little cozy theater room, it begged the question – do we need a little theater room?
It felt heavy and made the room feel smaller. Sure it hid the TV but it was annoying and the jump rings would get caught on the rod because the weight of the blackout was just too much for that function.
It was neither a proper play room or a proper TV room. It was a long narrow room with an awesome sofa and a bunch of toy storage.
It worked and man, that sofa is cozy but it didn’t look good. Plus our kids aren’t allowed to watch TV during the week (listen, we have full-time childcare, if we didn’t it would be different, trust me) so seeing it became a battle. Around that same time we bought the mountain house, which doesn’t have a tv and guess what? Those little addicts forgot about their favorite thing in the world. The option was taken away and instead, sticks from the trees, a janky ‘stream’ and a lot of other activities distracted them from their one true love.
The first few months up there they didn’t even ASK for a ‘show-just-one- little-show’. So we were convinced. Up there they had a huge playroom with a lot of fun blocks to climb on, legos, puzzles, bean bags … it was a room totally dedicated to them and GOOD GOD-IN-EARLY-CHILDHOOD-HEAVEN, they played. The two of them would just play. Keep themselves busy. We’d be in the dining room drinking coffee, reading the paper (and by paper i mean magazine) or in the living room hanging out with other parents. Sure, our mountain house is way bigger than our current house and obviously it’s ideal to have a dedicated playroom, a dedicated living room and a dedicated TV den. But that’s not our house so we had to make some decisions.
We finally decided to remove the TV from this room and turn it into a dedicated playroom for the kids. Ironically, around the same time I was (and am) the spokesperson for the most beautiful TV on the planet. Don’t worry, the mountain house will have one, but I literally don’t have the wall space to put it in our current house. You can’t put a 65″ TV in this room and our living room has huge windows on both sides – sad story, I know.
This is the evolution of this stupid room (and I KNOW you are curious if we have a TV at all … stay tuned). It’s long, and has a weird architectural change 1/2 way through on the walls and ceiling. I designed it to be more of a ‘tv room’ so the sconces, drapes and too-big semi-flush fixture aren’t exactly ‘kid’.
And now that the sofa and tv are removed, the big question is HOW do I design this room?
Here’s where we are now – not designed but turned into a playroom.
If I were a normal person I’d be done. The color is pretty, the rug is soft and TOTALLY kid-friendly (plus a 1″ memory foam underneath) and the drapes are nice (although architecture above doesn’t have proper rain drainage thus making the curtain rods fall out of the wall). The kids are happy and frankly I have a lot of other things to design or do right now – including hanging out with my kids here or organizing a drawer nearby while they play.
But then I’m reminded that not only am I a content creator and designing this playroom is good for traffic, but many of you have awkward spaces and maybe me designing mine will somehow help you design yours.
First off, we are set with kids play furniture. The art table is awesome and Birdie spends an alarming amount of time drawing. The cubby and drawer set is genius because the drawer hides the random things, the cubbies are easy for them to access and clean up. As a super experienced mom of 4 years (ha) I’ve learned that kids need to see their toys in order to get the idea to play with them (a couple of you readers actually clued me into this). Additionally, a few books that I’ve read about having your kids help you with chores mentioned cubbies or open baskets opposed to drawers or cabinets because it’s easy for them to successfully put things away.
The dollhouse is from Target, and while I LOVE IT, for now, it will remain up there until they request to play with it because Charlie mostly destroys every eclectic, modern but traditional room that I create. And if you think I don’t have a sh*t ton of dollhouse furniture, including wine glasses, hat racks, pots/pans, throw pillows, and even fly swatters … you are dead wrong. My dollhouse is PIMPED. While I’m trying to brainwash the importance of style and decor into my kid’s heads, Charlie finds it far more fun to “rearrange” with his bat mobile. The truth is they need a ‘doll’. They don’t want to decorate, they like to put PJ mask in there and pretend he’s napping, etc. So I think Birdie is too young and Charlie is in a more destructive phase.
But she sure looks nice, no?
The relationship to the kitchen is pretty awesome. The whole floor is just so open – we can be in living, dining or kitchen and still keep an eye on our kiddos.
They are obviously happy with it, but I think we all know it could be better.
One of the challenges is the fact that there is a jut out and the arch is not quite in the middle. It makes you want to divide the space or do something with that architecture instead of fighting it, BUT WHAT?
Here is the one thing I have planned and already ordered – a big graphic navy and white ship mural with Charlie and Elliot’s names on the boats.
I bet you didn’t see that one coming. I didn’t really either. I saw it on the same site that I got my green forest mural in Elliot’s first room and I fell in love. I reached out and due to the success of their prior gifting to be on this site, they said they’d customize the color and add the kid’s names. GREAT.
We chose a navy blue. It was shipped from Europe in 2 weeks and then I was like …. wait … is this the best thing to do?
This was also during a dark period for me on social media where I felt like THE ONLY things that were hitting were things that were graphic, clean and poppy in blues and whites. As more and more people post other peoples stunning work, it leaves those of us who really just try to put our own work on our feed feeling a little down. That’s a whole other conversation, but my reaction to it was to basically make sure that I design with social media in mind – and incorporate the colors, styles and patterns that I know will HIT.
Now, part of this is disgusting and upsetting – that so-called ‘creativity’ is being dictated (or altered) to appease millions of strangers. But then the other part is that it pushes me to take risks and not be safe. The patio tile (AMERICA’S PATIO) cost me $8k + install and I didn’t want to spend the money but I did because I kept telling myself ‘this is worth it both for your family, resale and business’. I knew that the tile would ‘hit’ on social and BOY HAS IT. In fact we joke in the office that when the algorithm has got us down and a photo that would have gotten 15k likes now gets 2500, someone shouts – “put up a patio shot stat!!” 8 out of the top 20 most liked instagram posts had that patio tile in view.
For the record I would and will NEVER do something in my home just for ‘likes’. But knowing that a more interesting or riskier design element will likely garner new followers and more ‘like’s (thus breaking the algorithm) is certainly not out of my brain when designing these days.
The problem with the mural is then what happens on the other walls?
It’s hard. I’m stumped. Twenty-seven year old Emily wouldn’t care and would have made it look kinda cool regardless because houses are quirky. Thirty-three year old Emily would have customized it to be PERFECT. Now 38-year-old Emily is not convinced we should do anything and wait til the kids need change.
But it’s content… and if I’m going to do anything I may as well make it as cute as possible.
So thoughts? Feelings? This room is THE WORST so how do I make it the best?
*right now I’m planning on going for the mural then seeing how I feel because it’s great content even if it’s weird.
***Progress Photos by Sara Tramp for EHD