I’m about to tell you a secret. A big ugly, scary, wood-paneled secret in my house. It’s the girls’ playroom and it’s the place where pink plastic toys go to die.
When we moved into the house, the playroom was one of the big selling points. You see, our last place was a newish townhouse. And for all the great things it did have — a massive walk-in closet, 2 1/2 baths, a pool included with our maintenance fee — it lacked any specific place for our kids to put their toys so we spent many years with a Tinkerbell kitchen in the living room. (I know you think I’m joking but that’s a fact, Jack.) And since we went from having one tiny 6 week old when we moved in to having 2 busy and growing little girls when we moved out, the toys were beginning to take over our lives. (Note: Yes, the girls had a bedroom where some toys could go but since they shared it and it was kinda small, there wasn’t a lot of space for a Barbie playhouse.)
Before we talk about how it got to look like the explosion above, let’s take a peek at what it looked like when we came to see the house. An elderly woman had been using it as a sewing room. And we even find straight pins in the rug to this day just to remind us of it’s former life! Brace yourself for the worst / most hilarious “before” picture. And yes, this is the only “before” picture I have of this room.
Please note everything that’s happening here. Pablo is telling Sophia not to touch anything. Lily is trying to get picked up and Sophia is checking out the massive magnifying glass — which she used to call a “magnet flying class”. Priceless.
I had a grand plan when we moved in (over two years ago!) and it was to create a bright, airy room something like the pic below. I wanted lots of white and some pops of bright color. And I figured the best way to do that was to paint the paneling white and add lots of art in bright frames.
But once we got into the house and really accessed how bad off the other rooms were (bad wallpaper galore!), the playroom just got pushed back on the priority list. And then the mistakes (and toys) starting piling up.
Mistake #1. No system. We were so excited to just have space that we basically just dumped their toys down there and never set up a real system.
Mistake #2: Bad layout. Note the tall white bookshelves in the before pic above. They were attached to the wall and our old loveseat fit right in between them so we just left them there and planned the whole layout of the room around that section. (All because I didn’t want to figure out how to remove them. Come to find out later that it took 5 minutes and a screwdriver!)
Mistake #3: Let laziness take over. Because the room is really more of a storage space and they rarely play down there, we haven’t been diligent about making them pick up everyday.
Mistake #4: No decorations. Sure we hung up some bulletin boards, a disco ball (it was a promise I made before we moved into the house — and a source of pride!) and got a cheap duvet (essentially a piece of fabric) to drape over the old loveseat but other than that, we did nothing. The room needs a
little lot of love.
Let’s take another peek at those tall shelves that were attached to the wall. Note that the girls couldn’t reach the upper shelves. Plus, we were storing Barbies on the bottom, even though the Barbie house was across the room. Not very smart, was it?
Recently, I finally decided to remove the shelves from the wall and lay them down flat to create one entertainment center area and one Barbie area. (Don’t question this, people. If you had a Barbie house, a camper, a convertible Jeep, a hot air balloon and countless dolls and clothes, you’d need a Barbie area too.) One afternoon, Pablo and I spent HOURS down there cleaning and rearranging and when we revealed the new playroom to the girls, here was the reaction. I think they liked it!
They were so excited that they could reach their games and puzzles in the “entertainment center” that they pulled one out and started playing right away.
So far, it’s been working well. The girls do a great job of cleaning up after themselves and it’s a lot more functional with the shelves down on the ground. Just for fun…one more look at the “before” and “after”…
So, the rearranging is complete but we need to do a lot more. There are still so many things that I hate about the room (the wood paneling, the fluorescent and hallogen lighting, the wretched ceiling) and I’m not sure what I can get to right away. But there will be lots of cosmetic changes soon: new curtains, new art, a system to display their art better, and lots more function. Stay tuned!
Sue at Home