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Emily Henderson

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by Emily Henderson
Playroom Update Lores 1

There is no room that I apologize for more than this one. And while I know we are all done apologizing, I physically can’t help it because I’m TRULY regretful that I can’t seem to figure this one out. When new people walk in I immediately distract them to the left, into the living room with a ‘nothing to see over there!’ vibe. It’s gotten better, thank god so today you are going to see where we are at now, and how I’m stuck and another epic DIY fail.

When I started this playroom, the kids were 2 and 4. They are now 3 1/2 and 5 1/2 and if I don’t start speeding this up I will have two tweens no longer interested in playing ‘horsies’ or ‘inventor’. But I was distracted by the mountain house and at such a loss of what to do here that I just couldn’t.

Here’s where we started:

BEFORE:

When we bought the house, it looked like the above photo. Sure, easy enough. It would be the playroom, er, TV room, er both…

But I’d make it cozy…paint it really dark, not realizing that it would chop up the house so much and make it feel so much smaller.

That was makeshift, obviously, with leftover furniture, not actually designed, but you get the idea.

So we painted it light and got a sofa that was better scale for the space, but it was still a TV room with some toy storage in the back. (The sofa now lives in the apartment of our last Feel Good Flash Makeover.

But then we realized that the kids really needed a playroom, a space just for them. We nixed the sofa and TV and brought in a bunch of toy storage.

We made the same mistake that a lot of new parents make—too many toys, not enough that they actually play with or engage with for a long time. Bins of balls, action heroes and garbage that they pull out all day every day but they don’t really engage with. They liked the play kitchen, but the rest was mostly for other kids to be enamored with, not them. As much as I begged them to play dollhouse with me, they weren’t old enough. Even that adorable workbench that we got for them for Christmas sat totally untouched unless we did it with them. What they love are two things: arts and crafts and building things (think Legos).

2x2 Grid 2500 Pixels Horizontal Copy

THE CHALLENGES:

It’s a long skinny room that needs to function as the playroom (for now) but you see it IMMEDIATELY when you walk in. I actually wanted to put in some glass doors and somehow figure out how to decrease its importance and give it its own space (because someday it would be a great home office) but Brian wasn’t on board as he thought it would break up the space too much and make it feel smaller (it would).

It has an architectural break in the wall, almost creating two different spaces, but it’s awkward.

You can see it from many rooms on the first floor so it can’t scream TOYS and instead, should look pulled together. You know, as if an actual designer lives here, but I still want it to be playful and fun, you know, as if it’s an actual playroom.

Additionally, the lighting felt too big. It doesn’t look like it in the photos, but I just wanted to simplify it a bit.

After trying a million different layouts, I drew inspiration from, well, our preschool and had the idea that maybe where the wall juts out should be its own “room,” with cubby dividers creating walls and a sense of privacy for them. Not because they need privacy, but because creating zones seems like what little kids like, and areas where they can imagine and play felt right for their age. I was right and this was a huge hit with them.

Playroom Update Lores 1

The good news:

MURAL: I love that mural so much. I ordered it from Rebel Walls and you can size it exactly to your wall so it fits perfectly. And yes, we put it over the plaster wall because we didn’t want to skim coat over the original pretty plaster as we knew that someday we would likely remove it and then we’d have one flat wall. We customized the color to be a nice muted navy blue and white. It’s graphic yet exciting, as it’s not too busy and it’s playful in an old-world way (matching our 100-year-old English Tudor).

LIGHTING: I switched out the lighting so that the sconces matched the living room (we stole two from the living room over the bookshelves and instead put in horizontal art lights—I’ll show you soon). They project less into the room but still provide nice lighting (the house has no can lighting and we didn’t put any in except for in the kitchen and bathrooms during the remodel). We switched out the ceiling fixture to be glass (from Rejuvenation) so it took up less visual space. It is raw brass so it will age really nicely. I love them both.

RUG: The round rug really helps that space feel brighter and more playful. Obviously a round white rug in a playroom seems a bit nuts, so I bought an inexpensive one in hopes that if it only lasts for a couple of years, I’m at least not wasting too much money. The other options we considered are a darker round rug (which might have been a better choice long-term) or using Flor tiles. But out of desperation on a Saturday morning, I pressed “purchase” and you know what? It’s been TWO months and it still looks this white. It’s cheap, 100% polyester or rayon and for some reason, maybe that it’s such a high pile, it hasn’t stained at all. I came up with a genius rule that there are not paints in the craft room, which they don’t miss (remember we can play/paint year-round outside in LA) so it’s actually GREAT.

Playroom Update Lores 6

ART TABLE: I bought the table a year ago and put on the taller legs that came with it so it’s a great height for them (and us) to sit at. I used Target stools that come with a different table that was too small, but we had leftover from another project. I wish they sold them on their own. Elliot sits here for HOURS a day. She spends more time drawing than I ever knew a child could. It’s amazing.

Playroom Update Lores 5

BOOKCASES: I used that architectural break to divide the room with bookcases. They each take a side. On Charlie’s, he has his Legos (the kid is SUPER into Legos, guys) and he displays them on the top shelf. Birdie has a ton of beads, treasure boxes, princess crowns and horses. I already had these Pillowfort bookcases/cubbies from Target that were functional and great but the back of them had a wood/white detail that was too busy to be seen from the back.

So here were our options:

  1. Make it look more “built-in” and cover it with with the same white as the molding and even add trim pieces like a baseboard and a trim piece against the wall to make it look “built-in.” That is a lot of work though for two pieces of furniture that are definitely NOT built-in.
  2. Make the back of the shelves functional (as in create some sort of feature for them).

The Pottery Barn shelving (from the “befores”) is now upstairs in their room (not all of it—some is in storage).

After thinking about it for a while, we realized that we would be spending way too much time/money trying to make a piece of furniture look built-in. If it were something we could do ourselves (Brian and I), that would be different but paying someone (our handy PA, Shade) to do it could take hours and add up to hundreds.

So instead, we had this idea that we would put a pegboard on the back that could be a few different interactive things, such as:

Rubberband art:

Rubber Band Marble Run
images: left via instructables | right via kara paslay designs

Marble run or tubes that you snake around the pegs:

Tube Marble Run
images: left via frugal fun 4 boys | right via frugal fun 4 boys

You can use cardboard tubes like they did on the left, or really bendable tubes, or PVC pipes like they did on the right.

We do need more art storage for more maker supplies so we also thought that one of them could be styled out more like this:

Kids Craft Wall How To Home Inspiration Cupofjo
image via cup of jo

This is where it all started going/rolling downhill.

Because we are perfectionists, we felt that we couldn’t use something readymade. WE don’t just buy pegboard, no, and certainly not a system from IKEA that would, well, create the most perfect and functional art wall. NO, we have far too much time and money to waste to do a simple solution!

Instead, Shade would buy some plywood, cut it perfectly to size and drill each hole INDIVIDUALLY, then attach it to the back of the shelves (after bolting them together).  Sounds easy, but this did, of course, take time and time is money. I think he spent a day and a half on it, which is about $350 in labor (not including materials). We ordered some marble run stuff and attached the pegs to them so they could move it around and create their own creation.

The problem is by customizing our own holes, it fits no art system because they aren’t spaced apart in a standard way.

I’ll remind you what it looks like:

Playroom Update Lores 1

We found these raw wood marble run pieces and glued pegs into them, with the hope that they can be rearranged on the peg wall and be an interactive game that our kids will spend hours quietly playing with.

The kids came home that first day, got excited then realized that they are VERY hard to take in and out and went back to Legos and art. Even when I sat down to do it, I got frustrated. It could be that they are too young, but it’s frankly just more annoying and the payoff (a marble rolling) isn’t worth their frustration.

Playroom Update Lores 4

Admittedly, it does look fun, but for whatever reason, they don’t like it. It’s kinda hard and again the payoff isn’t worth it.

Around the same time, we bought an art system for the play attic at the mountain house that was awesome (update on that space with photos coming soon). I then realized that we had gone through all this trouble to create a custom system that already exists readymade and affordable, only better and more functional! It would be like spending months designing a chair that already exists.

Cool. Sure, it’s white and plastic and ours is raw wood and pretty, but I actually think that white would work better in here anyway. Why didn’t we just do this in the first place? Honestly, because I haven’t been to IKEA in years and didn’t know it existed. I was hasty. Too busy to research. Preferring instead to spend time and money customizing something that doesn’t work.

Additionally, after ours was done, I thought we couldn’t find pegs that really fit easily because the ones that we bought for the marble runs were too big and tight. Then last week, I decided to, you know, measure the holes. From there, I Googled pegs that size, ordered them and boom. The morning of the shoot, I set up the rubber band activity and it looked cute. I couldn’t find rubberbands so I used Birdie’s hairtyes to show you the function.

Playroom Update Lores 3

PLOT TWIST:

When the kids came home from school on Thursday (when we shot this), they started playing with the rubberband wall and proceeded to play for a while (I’d say around 25 minutes which is a long engagement time for a 3 and 5-year-old). Birdie wanted rubber bands on her side so we took out the marble run and they put the pegs in where they wanted them, moved them around and made patterns, letters and shapes with the hair ties. We then found our actual rubber bands, started playing with those and guess what? It’s a really fun guitar wall and they played with that for a while.

So now I’m thinking that maybe it wasn’t an epic DIY fail but only time will tell. Part of me wants to fill the holes and paint it white and then attach the art organization system I mentioned we already have at the mountain house.

I did, however, buy them a cart full of garbage to play with in the meantime.

Playroom Update Lores 2

We call it the “makers cart” or the “inventor cart.” It’s full of recyclables (plastic containers, cans, paper towel rolls, newspaper), different tapes (I need to buy stock in 3M or Scotch because the amount of tape we buy for them to make things is INSANE), magnets, screws/bolts/brackets, strings, pipe cleaners, etc. Hell, we put all takeout materials in there—chopsticks, plastic forks, etc…

Like I said, LITERAL GARBAGE, but it makes us feel way less bad if they at least get some creativity out of that waste. Charlie LOVES it. Birdie is much more into art and coloring, but Charlie loves inventing things and our neighbor (my best friend’s son) tortures her with bringing home his “inventions” daily (riddling her house with our garbage).

So there’s one success.

I also LOVE this art wall. Like nothing makes me happier than when they finish something and ask me if they can put it on the wall (not sure why they ask).

Playroom Update Lores 9

So the next challenge is making a big bulletin board that is actually pretty. Here are my ideas:

  1. Put it in an interesting shape, like a house. Have it lean or start on the floor so that they can reach and add their own finished pieces.
  2. Use masonite (a soft composite) and cover in a fabric (likely a pretty linen or maybe a subtle pattern).
  3. Mount a thick roll of cork to plywood then paint it a color or white.
  4. Frame or trim it out with thin wood.

Like so:

160831 Kinderspeelhoek Krijtbord Bron Liveloudgirlcom
image via live loud girl

I’ve tried to think about different shapes that make sense, to try to reinvent this but I haven’t come up with something that would be easy to execute that makes sense for art. I love the graphicness of the house, and remember that we have a big moment, the mural on the opposite side of the room.

Playroom Update Lores 7

Okay. This room also needs to kinda function as the kids mud-room. So we brought in that bench that has great storage, but also provides a great drop place for the kids’ bags and shoes, as if they put them there, EVER. HA. They are getting better, but the first week of school they dropped them within inches of the door, on the floor.

The drawers right now hold more art supplies and paper, but will be great for either shoes or homework stuff later. We had it at the foot of our bed for a while (which we loved) but we needed it down here more.

Playroom Update Lores 8

I was going to get a bigger mirror, possibly pill-shaped because its 2019 and evidently we DON’T do rectangles in 2019, but then I found this vintage Thonet mirror at a thrift store near the mountain house and couldn’t not buy it (I think it was like $45) and so one day I put it up on an already existing nail and realized that I actually might love it here.

Side note: I never bought or installed nice grate covers. I meant to. I have had it on my list for 2 years now. It’s a long list but above it are things like “raise children” and “stay alive” which are taking more time than I had predicted, so the bottom of the list sits there unchecked. Instead, we have the $3 ones that I feel like you could buy at 7-11. I really need to replace them and will, I promise. (I have a personal assistant now so maybe it will happen before 2025!).

Now I need to decide if I want to add hooks for bags and make it look like a proper Pinterest-worthy mudroom or just call it and let them put their bags on the bench because that is more likely to actually happen.

So I’d love any and all opinions on what to do in here. I know I want to create a more awesome art wall. I know that Birdie would like easier access to art supplies, but we could just do another cart full of supplies and tools and keep the rubberband art. Also right now she is super into colored pencils because that is what is in front of her, why do I need to add more? Less is more with kids, right?

Resources:

Toy Cubbies | Table | Stools (similar) | Rug | Bench | Wall Mural | Ceiling Flushmount | Sconces | Supply Cart | Marble Run Set | Play Kitchen

***Update photos by Veronica Crawford

  1. I think the room turned out beautiful!! I love the mural and it just looks like such a happy and functional room – I can see why your kids like hanging out and creating in there 🙂 If I was you I wouldn’t add more stuff it sounds like it works great as is (plus maybe one art-cart for Birdie). Also I am obsessed with that mirror -it’s gorgeous!! I actually quite like the look of the art wall and would try not to take focus away from the fab mural, but see how sticking tape on pretty plaster might not be ideal…. Anyway it sounds like you and your kids are really using and enjoying the room so I think that sounds great 🙂

  2. Also about the drop-off area: I mean I too dropped my school bag right in my parents hallway for over ten years, so uh I know how hard it can be to establish a different route there ;’) but having it directly in line of sight on the bench doesn’t seem ideal for avoiding clutter… is there a way you could have an easy drop off point right by the door? I’m thinking ideally of a closet or something similar with doors, so they can just come in, open said doors, drop all of their stuff, never to be seen again until they need it the next day. Would that maybe work somewhere?

  3. I love this space! Gosh it’s hard to keep it simple with toys right? My son goes to a Waldorf school which only has beautiful wooden toys and simple cloths (for fort making and such) and they have the most magical time playing. And it just looks so pretty! At home though, I struggle to keep it that simple and it’s a constant battle for me to keep the (plastic, neon, sometimes battery powered) toys from overrunning the house.

    I love how you simplified this room though! Super inspiring. And I absolutely love the little nook you created with the bookcases. I would have loved that when I was a kid.

  4. I like it! Seems both calm and fun which isn’t easy when making a kid space. As a preschool teacher, I find it’s best to have a flexible space and rotate things around when the kids seem to be getting bored. As to the art wall, a school I once visited hung a variety of old (empty) frames on a feature wall and then would hang the art inside. Made the kids feel very important. I want to try this at some point. As a parent, though, I just kept a roll of painters tape and taped the art up. Also, that mirror is so pretty there.

    1. I love theempty frame idea! I currently just use a piece of twine with little clothes pins to display art.

      1. They make these frames that you can open while still on the wall to change out art. I’ve always wanted to do this but never have. https://www.target.com/p/loft-by-umbra-kids-art-display-storage-black/-/A-51067191

  5. My daughter loved her art space as well. For easier access to art supplies, I took Ikea’s cubbie system (now called the kallax) and basically wrapped her art table on two sides with cubbies, cubby side out. The supplies were easily accessible, easy to clean up and it gave her more of an art desk/nook feel that she loved. Also, with only wrapping two sides, it left two sides of the table open for multiple people to sit and draw at. If your table doesn’t get moved for play time and if you have enough floor space for the kids to maneuver around it, it may be an art supply solution that doesn’t take up wall space. We had a standard height table and it worked well, not sure with the dimensions of your table how it would work.

  6. This room is really pretty! I love the bench! As for the art wall, I had the same dilemma with my kids art wall. I wanted to keep it simple, but I didn’t want their work just stuck to the wall so I did a large framed cork board, painted it the same colors as my walls (gray in my case, I just used the leftover wall paint) and I used leftover trim paint to paint the (thin) wooden frame around it. I love it because it literally blends into the wall, which lets the kids art stand out, but it feels finished.

    1. Yah thats a great idea and very similar to what I was thinking too!

  7. I think the room looks beautiful. That mural is amazing! I have had a playroom for 13 years now and my best advice is to get stuff that can be reconfigured. You need to mix things up once in a while just to keep it interesting. Preschools do this usually twice a year at least. Once rearranged, everything is new and fun again and the kids will play with stuff they haven’t thought about in months. Also, if you can reconfigure it, then it can grow and change with the kids. Because they will have different needs at different ages. At your kids’ ages, mine loved smaller spaces that made them feel secure. Later on, we needed large spaces for the kids to go wild, set up big forts, make epic hot wheels tracks, etc. I love love love my Ikea Kallax bookshelves because you can put them horizontally and vertically, you can use them as benches, you can add backing like peg board or corkboard–basically, you can combine them in infinite ways. If they aren’t designer-y enough for people, you could have something similar made, but make sure they match that size because so many baskets are made to fit in those size cubbies. Also, as much as I hate it, kids need to SEE the toys to play with them. You’re better off with fewer things in the room but have them visible and easily accessible, like you are doing. We had a closet and would rotate a few things out every few months to keep things fresh. Finally, I totally agree with your assessment to figure out what your kids like and stick with that. I have gone through so many toys over the years and come back to the old stand bys–art, dress up, building things, and tinkering things (side note: when legos get boring–we adore magna-tiles and my 13 still plays with them when them when he doesn’t have his face in a screen. We also like Keva sticks. Bonus–they are raw wood and beautiful!). As for art walls, my preference is to keep it as simple as possible, since the art gets crazy. We tried lots of iterations, but our best was attaching cork board to plywood, attaching to the wall and framing out with a simple white frame. Maybe it’s boring, but I felt like it let the art shine. Also, I just want to say thanks for posts like these. I love hearing about your process, how you struggle and maybe don’t get it right at first just like the rest of us. It is so encouraging to non-designers to hear that maybe there is no “right” way and not everything is pinterest-perfect. Thanks for continuing to be real.

    1. totally agree about seeing the toys – its an ugly truth and when magazines give all these ‘closed storage’ suggestions and tips i’m like ‘somebody doesn’t have kids ….’. I was one of those people before I knew. Also i’m going to check out this Kallax system. and YES to rotating art. What is a keva stick? going to look it up. and thank you 🙂

  8. I love the mirror – while it has an obvious vintage flair, it’s also octopus-like to me, which jives nicely with the oceanic mural.

    And talk about an AH-HAH (yes, all caps) moment for me from this post – that Makers Cart is genius! I can’t even count the number of battles I’ve engaged with my six and seven year old daughters, as they habitually ransack MY desk drawer (which, to their credit, has so many office goodies, all nicely organized in little trays and bowls). Broken staplers, one thousand rolls of masking tape gone, scissors left out all over the kitchen, not to mention the OCD-induced agony for me when I have to tidy up. I am off and running with this Makers Cart idea!!!

    1. oh good!!! I was a huge inventor when I was a kid, and loved going into our garage to find anything that I could tape together to make a gadget. Also YES to the octopus reference!! you are right!

      1. Love the Maker’s Cart. We have something similar and call it our “Imagination Station.”

    2. I was just thinking that my a-ha moment was the zones!! why not be inspired by pre-school… but make it fashion (jk but you know what i mean)?! to me it looks like a brilliant mix of calm and creativity. somehow have to translate this energy to our basement playroom but not sure we’ll be able to replicate that LA light streaming through the window!!

  9. Wow, I absolutely LOVE this room. The mural is genius — flows well with the rest of your house but adds a whimsical touch to signal the play space. For the art – I wonder the same for my son! I’m thinking about a grid of clipboards (either white or traditional brown chipboard color) to easily change the art out, but haven’t gotten around to installing it yet. Excited to see what you decide!

    1. I thought about this too. We have some up in the play attic at the mountain house but they are kinda annoying to add to (and the cute ones were expensive). I want it to be plastered with art and it wasn’t allowing for enough …

    2. Growing up we had a box of crafting items (i.e. random hairs product lids, pieces of tile from remodel, cardboard tubes) we called the “make and do box.” The idea and name stuck for another generation as my kids crafted from our “make and do box.” Imagine my delight when our youngest, at the end of her senior year, loaded the entire “make and do box” into her car to take to school for building their Rube Goldberg project. (They won!)

  10. Love the room as it is. What a find in that mirror! I would say if their bags make it to the bench area it’s a win. Maybe later when they are taller hooks would work. As for the art wall, while I think the house is really cute I don’t think it relates well to the mural. What about several rows of a clothesline situation for them to hang their art? It would bring more order to that wall and be a nod to the flags on a ship.

    1. Love this idea! Maybe even add some triangular flags in there

    2. We have rows of clothespins at our home. I like that it is structured (in a row), but they can change things out easily. Once it’s full I ask them to pick something old to part with before we add something new. They even put up things I’ve done with them – which makes me oddly happy to see during the day. Reminds me of the time I’ve spent crafting with them.

  11. For an interim solution you could install one of those systems from Ikea or a DIY chic version thereof, that has the the wire and clips and clip up art and rotate it out easily as they make new things. I’ve seen lots of versions of this for displaying photos and it looks a little dorm room-y but I think with some pretty knobs and clips it could be really chic and simple and not detract from the mural moment!

  12. I love everything about this room! Looks so bright and inviting but also functional for the kids:)

  13. I loved this post! I have little ones so you’re addressing my real issues, and I realize that’s not the same for everyone. But I also love the lowish stakes and experimentation and evolution here. It looks great! Thank you!

  14. Personally, I love this room as it is! i’ve been trying to think of ways to re-do the kids playroom (aka our basement) so that it’s not just a landfill of toys and crap. Currently, our dining room works as our art room for the kids, which is very frustrating because we have two rolling carts of art supplies in there and tons of stuff on the table at all times. So, I like the idea of moving the “art table” to their playroom…. Also, i love the idea of an inventors cart. i’m totally stealing this.
    love the mural!
    love that you have all your kids’ art hanging on that wall. that’s what our dining room wall looks like. it looks like a warm and happy place, and kids feel important when they see their stuff hanging up like that.
    as for bench and hooks. i say add the hooks even if they don’t use them on their own. then, when you have people over, you can just hang up their crap they way you would want them to and it will look a little more organized. i mean, i set up a great and functional (IMO) entryway for the kids to have a place for shoes/coats/backpacks/seating to put shoes on/etc. you know what they still do, take off all their stuff and dump it and run. on the floor. where we walk. blah! but when someone comes over, i hang all that stuff up exactly how i want it to look (like, if they did things the way i had planned), and it looks like an organized entry that you can actually walk thru, and i look like the queen of domesticity. okay, that’s a total stretch. but at least it makes me not feel like i need to apologize for the mess (yes, i know, we’re not apologizing, but it’s hard-wired).
    anyway, all of that to say, i love this playroom.

  15. I love that mirror! Looks very fanciful and like a fairy tale mirror. Also, that mural is so, so good.

  16. I’ve been reading your blog for a while now and apart from enjoying the content, I’m always happy when I see the topic of waste brought up and that you speak more and more about being responsible for the waste we generate. Great idea about repurposing the recyclables as crafting material! But… please let me call you out on that rug. As a influential designer, who aims to be responsible, you are essentially showing to your readers that it’s OK to buy something that will not last long, and throw it out as soon as it gets ugly, purely for the visual effect. A dirty polyester rug is indeed a thing that no-one will want in their home, so there’s no way to give it a second life. (Or can you clean it?) It will then end up as garbage, and take literal ages degrading, with polyester letting out microplastics (which by now have contaminated even the most remote environments – it’s really scary, all of us are drinking water with microplastics in it) on the loose.

    I think it’s essential for responsible design to only produce and buy things that last and don’t need to be replaced immediately. Of course mistakes happen, but the more we think, the less they will happen! And I think this is actually an excellent way to talk about design in the 21st century – as a designer you need to be able to find solutions to many different problems, rooms do not only need to look good on pictures, they also have to be livable… And I think sustainable absolutely equals livable. I don’t think I or anyone else needs to convince you that we need to take this responsibility together – your kids are going to grow up in the world we create for them 🙂

    PS just to get a perspective… In my childhood home there’s a big woollen carpet that my grandparents bought in the seventies. The wool is of excellent quality, there’s patterns and rich colors, and it couldn’t have been holding up better for a carpet that’s still in use (in a living room that gets a lot of movement) after almost 50 years. Somehow it hasn’t aged at all. I’m thinking also of the beautiful vintage rugs that you show here from time to time!

    1. I thought the same thing, so I’m so glad you wrote this! It will end up in a poor neighborhood’s incinerator or a poor country’s landfill. So frustrating!

    2. i thought the exact same thing about the rug. THANK YOU for saying this. it looks great, but yes, ug. it’s basically made of plastic too.

    3. Emily and team are very conscientious about waste and environment despite working in an industry that revolves around “pretty things.” Your tone is dismissive of her consistent endorsements of conscientious consumption. Every person makes their own compromises about environment and personal utility.

    4. All I thought reading your post was how exhausting it must be to go around sitting in judgment and nitpicking about someone else’s consumption. Posts like this are just. so. tiresome.

  17. Stop. Thinking. So. Much.

    1. Thinking. Stops. F**king. Up.

    2. OMG…this was my thought exactly. I get it is right next to the front door, but you are absolutely over thinking this. Buy white cord for the art wall. Hang like you would draw Christmas tree branches. if this makes sense. Use Ook nails, so your plaster walls come out semi-unscathed when taken out(trust me on this). Buy small white clips to hang their art, and be done with it. You are driving yourself crazy when you don’t really need to.

    3. Stop. Reading. This. Blog if it bothers you so much!

    4. Truthfully, that was my gut response as well. The kids don’t care if the room is perfect, they just need a table, chairs and a few shelves so they can do the activities they enjoy. -Too much clutter? Put up some type of doors.

      Perfectionism can be a massive time suck. The room looks great as it is and is way more beautiful and functional than any other playroom I’ve seen. Most people I know don’t even have a separate playroom and everything either winds up in the primary living space or the kid’s rooms. This is infinitely better!

  18. From my experience of raising three kids, I would give up on trying to make the bench the drop zone. They really just want to drop their stuff as soon as they get through the door. There’s got to be a place nearer to the door where they can drop their stuff, isn’t there?
    Then I would make that bench and mirror area a dress-up area–put costumes and vintage clothes (this is where garage sale-ing with your kids can be fun) in the bench and maybe a few fun hats in a basket. With the awesome mirror right there, it’s perfect!

    1. Oh that’s a fun idea!

    2. Agreed!

  19. I love this!! Perfect timing too – I’m trying to make our play space more functional for our current needs. We live in NYC so the space also has our desk and is the walkway to the balcony. This is making me rethink my current plan in a good way!

    Young House Love has a great cork board in their office for kids art that might work well for your space too.

  20. I love it! I know the pains of trying to make a play room kids will actually play in! I would add cork to the entire wall and paint it the same as the wall colour. I would possibly frame it out so it is cleaner, and then let the kids have at it.

  21. Have you considered magnetic paint for the art wall? You could have it a different shade to the wall, in a big square (or any shape really!) to keep it corralled. Then start collecting magnets to hold up all their masterpieces!

  22. Any chance you’d consider mounting the mirror horizontally?

    1. My thought exactly!

  23. Thank you for sharing! I think it looks great! I wouldn’t worry if they aren’t ready for marble run. My son got really into it around 8-10 years old. I think simplicity and flexibility are key. Their interests will shift with time. I only wish I had kept our playroom set up as a playroom longer. When my youngest was 8, I thought he’d want to play in his room more so I moved things there. I inadvertently made it harder for him to play / build with his legos, etc. and created a bigger struggle against screen time. Oops, still trying to course correct that one. Also, FYI: early childhood suppliers, especially for Montessori and Waldorf ( but also standard programs) have lots of sturdy raw wood art / play options that parents can buy too.

  24. L O V E the space and the ship wall mural is beyond amazing! An idea for the kids art – we use old fashion looking clipboards attached to the wall to display the kids artwork, it’s actually super cute and the kids love that they can put it up themselves (well the ones they can reach). We have it in a grid pattern and it looks really good. I attached the clipboards to the wall with those command Velcro strips and it literally took like 5 min to create this awesome kids art gallery wall that’s also kid friendly.

  25. Head’s up on backpack hooks: once the kids get older (mine are 7 and 10), their backpacks get super heavy. Many days they almost pull our peg rail right out of the wall. If I had somewhere where they could plop them and still be out of the way, I’d do that instead in a heartbeat!

    1. I was thinking the same thing – and also that it’s harder to get things out of a backpack if it’s up on the wall, so they’ll end up taking it down to pull out all their school treasures/future homework anyway. Dropping it on the bench really isn’t so bad.

  26. Your work is always so gorgeous and inspiring. But advice, since you asked for it? Quit fiddling with a play room. My kids are 10, 9, and 6 (so, not that much older than yours) and already well beyond having a play room. We’re setting up a major messy desk in the garage for art and invention projects. We have drawers full of legos. And a giant swing set. And bookcases. Everything else they do is in nature or on little screens. Use your house’s space for the whole family. Anything you make especially for the kids will be obsolete in a few months or years, and kind of a waste of precious time and resources now.

    1. Agreed, but what is a playroom now can be an art room or project room or homework room later. My kids do hw at the kitchen island and I LOVE having them in there with me, but it’s always covered in papers/pencils/etc and has to be cleared for dinner. A designated table that could stay untouched would be really nice.

    2. Different perspective, my 10 & 7 year olds still use the playroom all the time– alone, with each other, with their friends. We don’t allow screens during the week so maybe that is part of it but I also think kids are different. Mine love using their dollhouse, blocks and legos, horses, and do tons of art projects, or just hang there for a quiet spot to read. The playroom opens out onto our back garden so they can easily run in and out so perhaps that helps as well?

  27. Hi Emily! This room is so beautiful and calming. I actually really like the art wall as it is because it’s the most relatable and “non-editorial.” It just looks like anyone’s house, which I think is a compliment!
    For the rest of the room, I think it’s lovely but perhaps you can add a few pops of color, like throw pillows on the bench or add bookshelves to the wall where the bench is because kids books always add such a cheerful smattering of color. I just think that while it’s so calm, it doesn’t really look too cozy, I guess? I’m not a designer so this is just my two cents. Lovely work though!

  28. I love the art wall we have for our kiddos. I painted it with magnetic paint and then went over it with chalkboard paint. (You could also do whiteboard paint.)

    My kids put their art on it with magnets- easy peasy – and they also dray around their art with colored chalk. We have a section of the wall where we write reminders for the week- soccer games, school special schedules. For our five year old, I write in pictures and words so she can start recognizing the words.

    I’m an elementary teacher – and the whiteboard I have at school is magnetic. Magnet boards truly are the best way to change yo your display quickly and allow kids to have their own sense of style. Both of my kids also have a couple of magnet boards in their rooms so that they can “decorate” too.. I bought them giant magnets from IKea and let them paint the magnets and put a clear coat on top. The possibilities are endless!

  29. How do you do kid book storage? Asking because our books always look like a mess that’s about to fall over, no matter how neatly we try to put them away.

    Also, how do you store the paints and other messy craft supplies that are only to be used outdoors? Asking because my four-year-old finds all the messy things and does them everywhere when we’re not looking (read as prepping meals or changing the baby’s diaper for 5 or less minutes).

  30. Love the mural. I don’t have kids, but this is a cool playroom.

  31. It looks great. Love the sectioned off area by the window. It would be a great reading nook. 🙂

  32. I think it looks great! Having two older kids now, I have one piece of advice. Any solution you come up with MAY be temporary, as their needs and interests change. I wouldn’t worry about spending something too custom that you would want to tweak in the future. I think your already realizing this though. The struggle to get them to put stuff where you want want is REAL! I find myself adjusting drop off points to fit their behaviors to minimize the battles!

  33. I love this so much- it’s so fun and bright and as a kid I would have loved a cart full of stuff to “invent” with! The only thing I’d change is add bookcases and TONS OF BOOKS. This cozy little room has always seemed like a perfect cosy library, screaming to be filled with amazing books for lots of age ranges and genres. Books that you and Brian will like and books the littles will like. When they’re a little older, replace the pegboards and art table with a couple of giant comfy “cuddle up and read” chairs.

    1. That’s what I was going to add! They need books in here, and that sunny, cozy spot in the sunlight would be PERFECT for reading/looking at books. Add something comfy to sit on on the floor to make it inviting. As for the art, I’d skip the house shape; it will just get in the way of the art. Just a big, plain bulletin board of some sort that blends into the walls, with whatever they need to attach their art all over it. And when they get a little older, try Playmobil sets for imaginative play–my kids played with their (overly extensive) collection until about age 12!

      I adore the mural, and I also thought the mirror looked like an ocean creature!

  34. For the art wall, you could try something like this? https://www.younghouselove.com/more-room-for-grumpy-snowman/

    In the interest of time/expense, it seems like an easy, no-frills option. Then again, we have had all the supplies for this sitting in our basement for … two years? And haven’t built it yet. But we don’t have a personal assistant! Or a miter saw. So maybe you will beat us to the punch.

  35. I loved reading about this evolution! Sometimes I get hung up on making decisions, as if a frame can never move etc. Was really interesting seeing you problem solve this space.

  36. My kids use tons of tape too! Daiso sells really inexpensive tape and now I don’t care if they use a whole roll on their project.

  37. Hi Emily! This post was really inspiring to me! My kid would love this room. RE: the art wall- don’t overthink it! This art wall is the most perfect, beautiful thing in your home exactly as it is! This wall is the beating heart of your home. Seeing kid art displayed makes me sooo happy!

  38. P.S. That Thonet mirror is AMAZING!

    P.P.S Can you give source info for the play kitchen and chore chart? Thanks!

    1. Hi! Play kitchen is linked above in the resources (at the end of the post), but we’ll find out about the chore chart!

  39. I still think you should use this space as a formal dining room.

    1. I kinda do, too.

    2. I agree. And the current dining room space immediately off the kitchen could be more of a “breakfast table” type eating area.

      I think the kids can play in their rooms. Aren’t they sharing a room to sleep now? So one of the bedrooms could actually be more of a playroom space. At least that way you can close the door and not have it be the first thing you see when you walk in the home. I think the layout and location of this room is much more appropriate for a formal dining room than a playroom!

  40. I think this is great! Good idea sectioning off the bay window part. Bonus is that some of the uglier toys can stay out of sight without having to be put “away.” What about sanding down the pegs on the marble run so they fit more easily? I think that sounds so fun! Maybe they would be more into it as they get older. Kids are a constantly moving target. 🤷‍♀️

    I would love to see some pulled back shots of this space as it is now, so we can see how it fits in with the rest of the house.

  41. What I really want to know is – What did you do with those GORGEOUS custom made curtains?????

  42. Wow, you did SO MUCH WORK for two little kids!!! Honestly if you look at this room through their eyes and not your designer eye, more workable solutions will come to you. I get that this room is visible from the other spaces, butfercryinoutloud, who else doesn’t have this issue with kids??? Everyone that comes to your house would understand the room and the purpose, no matter what it looks like.

    My .02 cents…that beautiful bay area is too pretty to block off with the bookcases. Stack them on a wall, put some small chairs there and a bookshelf full of books. You can paint some chalkboard paint onto your wall in a shape (maybe a ship to match the mural?), and attach a pegboard to the wall like the image you showed. I love the garbage cart. We used to do that with our son…I’d go to Goodwill with him so he could pick out toaster ovens, old phones, and other electronics to take apart and rebuild. He loved them and would literally spend all day on those activities. (May have contributed to his becoming a mechanical engineer. Who knows?) Buy a regular pegboard and attach it to the bookcase but paint it a happy kid color, not white. Kids love color!! Maybe do one on each bookcase and paint one for Birdie and one for Charlie. And add a basket full of stuff to put into the pegs.

    I like the rug a lot…but not sure it will hold up to rain.

  43. That mirror at $45 is the biggest find/steal ever or what? Love it sooo much!!

  44. I love it, but I see why it was hard to decide what to do… our lives change and the design changes. I’m currently going through that in our front living room (first room you see in the house). We have 2 big IKEA bookshelves in this little nook of the room with my kids craft table in front of it and then adult furniture in the rest of the room. The mess drives my husband crazy, and he wants to get rid of all their stuff… They are in 4th and 5th grade, so I’m trying to hold off until they are done with elementary, but we’ll see. Maybe one smaller bookcase that shuts so we don’t have to see their junk (dirty socks, rocks, wrappers, etc end up on the shelves). I love your little “mudroom” and wouldn’t change a thing!! Do NOT add hooks to that wall, the mirror is perfect there by itself! I can’t really tell but it looks like you have a little wall to the side of the mudroom, maybe that would be a good spot to add little hooks at their height.

  45. All set to buy that rug, then realized it was from Wayfair. Just can’t support that company right now. Unimpressed by its response to its employees’ request that it cease profiting from sales to border camps.

  46. Hi Emily!

    I love this room so much! Have you ever shopped on line at Discount School Supply? They have the most amazing supplies – I really love their WASHABLE paints – the liquid watercolors are so fun – you can order small bingo bottles, fill them with the watercolor paint for fun painting with not much mess! Supplies are not expensive and they ship really fast – this is just me – an after school art teacher – I am not a representative – just a big fan!
    https://www.discountschoolsupply.com/

  47. Nice bright space. More pics please for the other window side of the room. Is the play room the only toy-filled area in the house?

  48. Gorgeous! What is the Ikea art system? Currently working on our playroom and trying to encourage more art time!

  49. I like it! It looks happy now. Plus it’s a play room so it’s going to get trashed anyway. I’d roll with it and maybe make small changes you mentioned.

  50. Stepping on a LEGO with bare feet is torture. Stepping on a thumbtack with bare feet means a potential trip to the hospital. Cork boards are for teenagers and adults that don’t drop sharp tacks and loose them in a giant thick fluffy rug. I’m better most of they playing in that room is done barefoot or in socks. Please go with strings looped on hooks and hang the art with clips or mini clothes pins, or something magnetic. Lots of great options that are easy and can let the artwork be the star.

  51. The room is beautiful. I love the kids art thrown all over the wall.
    Wanted to ask— Have you heard of the nugget couch, and what do you think about it?

  52. It looks amazing! Honestly, I don’t think you need to add or change anything. The great big open white wall to hang art is perfect. Trying to make something neat to hang on, just limits the size and number of art pieces they can hang. I think we try to complicate and “pretty” things so much when kids just need it simple. It’s honestly an amazing space and I”m sure your kids love it.

  53. Love watching the evolution of this space! It is such a challenge to create a fun yet organized and aesthetically pleasing space for kids and I appreciate you sharing your thought process, what worked, and what didn’t. (Coming from someone whose sunroom is constantly morphed into a mosh-pit of cushions and every blanket in the house, and then littered with tinker toy “swords.”)

    We used a similar cart (Ikea’s version) to corral art supplies and it has been my favorite art supply solution – we have ikea plastic tubs stacked on the two lower shelves filled with markers, crayons, colored pencils, stickers, paints/stamps and then on the top shelf of the cart we have standing magazine files filled with coloring books, sketch pads and construction paper.

    As for hanging art work, we use Ikea’s wire and clip system in our hallway and get a lot of compliments on it – finding a place and a way to display children’s artwork that feels intentional rather than messy is a challenge for sure! Another idea I’ve considered is creating sort of a grid of clipboards to display artwork.

    Can’t wait to see what you come up with – the house shaped bulletin board sounds adorable!

  54. HI! Cute room! And just a little advice from a parent who had a play room, then TV room and now teen area. Just keep hanging the pictures on the wall and skip the bulletin board! Then there are no push pins, etc to deal with and it can look just as fun and simple as it does today on your wall. Teens hang photos on walls and swap them in and out and love it! Probably the only one in your house that is bothered by the pics on the wall with tape is you. The kids don’t care – they just like seeing it displayed!

  55. Love it all! Where is the dollhouse from?

  56. My “children” are now teens and in their 20’s. I laughed out loud as I read the comment section because so many memories flooded my brain of my children’s artwork, their inventions and the many mishaps that occurred in their playroom! So…tips based on real life trips to the hospital with my children ….avoid tacks, hooks , pins and clipboards for art work at all costs! (Why clipboards? Tips of fingers sliced off in silver clip. )NEVER have something that LEANS on a wall for children. Do NOT put hooks to hang back packs…coats yes…backpacks never. Unless you like patching walls. Accept shoes will always be kicked off at the front door until they hit 5th or 6th grade. Maybe. Accept that the room will be constantly changing and never picked up. And although that was a constant source of irritation then, I would go back in a heartbeat. LIttle kids…little problems. Big kids…big problems. The mural is outstanding!

    1. Lisa, Mine are 39 and 42, but I did get extra kid time by teaching kinder and preschool. We would rotate centers every month and I did share that idea with parents. Kids do better with less stuff and changing it every so often is a great way to re-energize play. Open ended materials like Emily’s kids love are my personal favorites because they naturally grow with the kids.
      I love the room and the art display as it is. They will change so fast that doing something that they will outgrow seems like wasted energy.
      Art From Scrap is a wonderful resource whether you want to donate or buy stuff. The one I used is based in Santa Barbara, and I remember something like it in San Jose, here’s a link:
      https://exploreecology.org/art-from-scrap/

  57. Hi, There is such a thing as a peg board hook-individual metal s hooks- you can arrange anyway you like and then hang decorative basket/buckets/containers for art supplies. We used them on the pegboard in in my daughter’s backyard playhouse with a rainbow of beach buckets.

  58. For the bulletin board shape, why not play off the mural and do something nautical inspired: a whale, lighthouse, etc. ?

  59. Have you heard of a toy company called maileg? They make dollhouse size furniture and stuffed animal mice and rabbits. It sounds weird but they’re actually adorable and very good quality. And my 3 year old is obsessed and uses them in her dollhouse all the time.

    I noticed she loved the idea of the dollhouse but wasn’t super engaged with it either. But as soon as I replaced the wooden people with these little stuffed animal mice she was in love. They’re pretty cute!

  60. Hi Emily, that space by the window is pulling me in!
    Would you consider having a built in bench by the bay window?
    I understand that it would take away from the bottom of the beautiful, long windows but I feel like that would give the view better justice than the way it is now…
    That way you could also put the art table and 2 chairs there as well.
    Or just make it a nice reading nook with bean bags?
    I love how you let your kids get creative with all kinds of “trash” 😁

  61. You are waayy over thinking this. Leave the art wall exactly as it is. Center the rug/table/chairs. Replace the bench with an armoire that can house everything. Put a leggy, petite day bed in front of the big window so the kids can read.

  62. That mural is everything! I love it. I do not love that mirror there. It’s a great mirror but I feel like the scale is off. Also, I don’t know about your kids, but my kids loved, loved, loved seeing themselves in the mirror at that age, especially when they were into playing dress up. I picture your kids standing on that bench trying to see themselves in the mirror. I think a bigger mirror that goes lower would be really good. My two cents.
    Also – you have to go to IKEA! Or send your staff. You really can’t not know what IKEA is doing these days and be a designer. I mean, I know you’re a high-end designer now and Target also pays you, but I think it’s just good due diligence.

  63. I really like the space. And I’m SO happy Elliot is drawing all the time. That was me as a kid. I just didn’t have a spectacular play space…we didn’t have a “play room” or “play space” at all. We just had to shove furniture around to clear what space we could get in our bedrooms. I’m jealous.

  64. For Birdie, check these out. Our 3, 4, & 5 y.o. grandkidz LOVE these:

    The Pencil Grip Kwik Stix Solid Tempera Paint, Super Quick Drying, 12 Pack (TPG-602) https://www.amazon.com/dp/B013HO4OR0/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_apa_i_YXaGDb1DZ13DN

  65. OMG HOOKS…I can’t get my husband to properly use the hooks in our drop-off area, much less my kids. The kids will just drop their bags and shoes wherever in the room is convenient at the time and run off to play. My husband uses the hooks but somehow winds up with 10 jackets and 3 hats on 2 hooks within a week. And it’s not even cold yet! Our drop off area is hopelessly cluttered, but I’m still fighting to maintain some order. It’s an ongoing battle.

  66. Did you end up having to do any repairs from leaks? I think I remember this room having some damage from rain.

    We make robots and other creations out of trash all the time…and then they want to keep the taped together garbage “FOREVER!”

  67. Room looks great. It’s nice to know that even top designers have a hard time, sometimes with a space. Thanks for sharing the journey.

  68. That mirror! ❤️

  69. This looks like it gets played in and then you cleaned up extra for grownup guests. Great Job! The mural is so fun and so Emily.

    My kids have interests similar to Charlies and we just buy the tape in bulk. Costco has the gift wrapping tape starting soon in like a 24 pack. We also get great use from self adhesive googly eyes.

    bulletin board means sharp tacs or similar; we thought that one through with our kids and decided to keep using tape (or magnets). Your kids are your own and your millage will vary.

  70. It’s a terrific room! What if you continued the sailing theme with an actual sail to hold the finished art or one cut from fabric-covered Masonite?
    May I suggest you get brush markers for Birdie as they make for more creative strokes? They come in huge sets with a wide variety of shades. (I’ll look up our brand and post it here.)

  71. I’m super jazzed about what you finally worked out here. Love the mural, the octopus mirror and the 2-sided divider that provides perfect little work spaces for each kid – keeping the busiest toy storage out of sight from other rooms but absolutely accessible to the children. hides (Those little storage dividers can also double task as a temporary little puppet stage.) Your art wall makes me happy and I feel this room will grow well with your family. Brava.

  72. Love it! Link to the curtain rods or were those custom? I need that exact set of rods for my window!

  73. Hi! Awesome post! Where is the gorgeous blue rug? If you don’t want it anymore can I have it? 😉 I love the freeform art gallery- it’s so chill and perfect

  74. Emily. I love the way you write. You are so real and astute and hilarious! I came to the site for the fabulous design and the delightful humor and writing style of you and your associates are just cream on top. You often make me laugh out loud. I’ve been an almost daily reader for more than a year. Keep up the good work team!

  75. Let me just advise you: no to cork board with little kids! The tacks/pins will inevitably end up on the floor/in your foot/used as weapons against a sibling. Mine are 7&8 and I’m still not sure I trust them…..

    1. I was thinking no to tacks, too. I’d say leave it as-is or do something magnetic.

  76. WOOF, I feel you, our “playroom” is an open space in a row home next to the kitchen and dining room and the toy creep is real. Son and daughter are now 10 and 7. I can honestly say our best “investment” has been the Target $1 bin for the matching tin buckets for art supplies. I have about 6 of them lined up on a desk for markers, colored pencils, glue sticks, scissors, beads, etc. They’re lined up in a tray. The kids still keep things relatively organized and all is in easy reach. I also like the IKEA Alex supply carts for corralling paper and tape and stickers and cotton balls and stamps and tattoos, AKA garbage for older kids. Finally, I can vouch for the Expedit (now Kallax) system as well for growing with kids. The cubes are really well sized for board games, which is what my older son is much more into these days than inventing. (Well that and throwing sportsballs into the wall 😖)

    I like the art wall but one thing you could consider on the long wall is to put up multiple rows of picture ledges the kids can lean their art against along with a styled piece or two. Looks interesting and intentional.

    Last thing: your kids are prob still a bit small but a karaoke machine with two microphones has been magical and your separation makes for a great stage vs audience area. We don’t even use the karaoke part, I (I mean the kids) ask Alexa for a song and just belt it.

  77. Lovely to see your home again! I love the separate space you made.

  78. When my kids were younger and had a playroom we had a very large, trimmed out, house shaped chalkboard that was magnetized. Kids could draw with chalk, but also hang an ever changing gallery of their creations….with the interesting, over sized magnets that I spent hours and hours finding….😊

  79. I’m an architect who have just relocated to the USA. I love your work and have been reading your blog for years.
    I would love to hear from you how we, the “common” designers and people, can go through the same process of retrying different designs.
    Often times you envision one thing, but it turns out to be completely different in reality. What do you then? Return everything and paying tons for the shipping expenses? Selling it? Trying to repurpose it?
    I find that restarting from scratch is a luxury, and I would really love to hear your point of view, from your experience.
    Many thanks!

  80. If you’re not opposed to carrying over the nautical theme, a lighthouse shaped art board could be cool and still minimalist.

  81. Ok, I’d hang out in there myself! Love the round fluffy white rug and short stools! And the rubber band art. I think this is a cool as any playroom can get! And it is cool- fun for kids and also attractive to adult eyes. Ok, maybe pegboard would have been easier and cheaper, but I like the look of the plywood.

  82. Ha – I love this post. I have SO MANY TIMES overthought an idea and then realized there was a simpler solution after I implemented it. Re the art wall: what about keeping it painted and not doing a bulletin board. I had the same thought in my house and am now doing different colors of washi tape to hang the art. It doesn’t ruin the art and is more flexible. And my art cart had this thing that I could put tons and tons of washi tape on which is sort of fun. Also, agreed – my kids can’t reach the hooks so they just throw their bags on the bench if I’m lucky. If I’m not, they just throw them on the floor

  83. Art solution for Birdie: IKEA SKADIS pegboard. We use it over my son’s desk for all his art supplies and he LOVES it.

    Art display solution: string and clothespins. 🙂

    I love the mural!!

  84. I LOVE it! Functions exactly as it is meant to, and I think the separate spaces are perfect!

  85. I love your writing. It is relatable, informative, and makes me laugh. Thanks for sharing!

  86. I love that you turned the shelving unit/”dividers” so that the shelves were facing away from the open area of the room. That way, no one can see the piles of toys on the shelves when they get messy. I think it would be great if Birdie would love an art center cart with her own colored pencils, crayons, markers, a small journal to contain her masterpieces, and the book would be portable for those outside painting gigs she might like to attend. It could also have flat items that she can glue into her art book, sequins, paint chips you no longer use, gift wrap, magazine pages, and of course, a glue stick. I love art, so I love that she can spend hours drawing.

  87. Such a beautiful space! We didn’t have the room inside our 1050sf home so we built a “tinker station” outside once our oldest was 5 (he’s now 8). We built a workbench, donated old non-power tools and bits and pieces of the miscellaneous things that build up in the garage over time, and added glue, paint, tape and screws / nails. Our kids haven’t stopped since! They beg for all the items that break or get phased out around the house, we just cut off any electrical cords or dangerous pieces and they’ll happily dismantle and built new items out of them. We also bolted a large piece of acrylic plastic to the exterior wall with binder clips for painting.

    This is how we have a fan made of a toy plane propeller powered by an old printer motor and kids with slight hoarder tendencies 🙂

  88. I wish you could add your day bed.

    The light wood should match perfectly.

    Kids love a place to rest after a hard day of playing. Xo

  89. Theres’s so much to love about this room! It looks great. My kids are only slightly older than yours but I am not a designer by trade so… my opinion is don’t stress so much about it and see how things evolve. Kids use of a space changes so much as they age, their interests develop, they get better at following rules about putting things away (and develop new things they’re not good at listening to!). If you have to have it look amazing in the meantime, just keep making inexpensive and low commitment choices. When they’re little, it can be so hard to live with the imperfections of a house — the mess, the baby proofing, the reasonable choices instead of the designer ones — but they do grow up quickly and it won’t be too long before you’ll be making this room over into a gorgeous office or something.

  90. This is a really pretty playroom!

  91. I feel like every parent has bought a ‘cart full of garbage.’ I laughed out loud!

  92. I love the play room! You are getting lots of great advice, i’m sure you will process it all and come up with great solutions for the remaining projects. Thank you for sharing successes and fails!

  93. OK, so my kids enjoy “likable recyclables” the most out of anything. At their elementary school, they call it “tinker time” and give the kids literal garbage and depending on their age, give them some sort of engineering task to make with the again, literal garbage. It doesn’t matter what I buy, if I am willing to let them play with garbage, they are happiest. My kids are now 6 and 8.

  94. I say this as someone that does NOT have a Pinterest home, nor a super compliant child (opposite, in fact), NOR a ton of structure or rules in how our home functions—- training my kid to hang his backpack on a kid-level hook and put his shoes in a basket was one of the easiest things I’ve gotten him to do. You just decide this is the place for these things , tell them you now have a super special place for these things, and then be super consistent about enforcing it (for MUCH shorter than you’d expect to, like maybe a couple days, tops). You do have to commit in your mind to enforce it through the protests and grumbles and self-doubting of it all— do not pass go, nothing else will happen before shoes and bag are put away. But guess what! It takes less than a minute so it’s SO easy for them to do it and feel proud of themselves and then it becomes a habit. It may be our ONLY habit, the rest of the house may be a literal disaster zone, but that little slice of order makes such a difference. I encourage you to try it!

  95. Maybe you could mimic the teardrop swirls in the mirror with cork for your bulletin board. It could also mimic the waves in a way without it being obvious or too nautical and it’s not a rectangle.

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