Monday, September 16, 2013

House Tour: Play Room

Lots of hours clocked on the road rug.

Shall we just continue our little house tour? Seeing as I spent most of Friday morning cleaning up/excavating the play room, let's go in there next. I should tell you that it doesn't often look this neat and tidy, and that whenever I comment on the state of affairs in there, Espen will say: "Mom, it's not a mess, it's just a play time!" And so 95% of the time, I just roll my eyes (lovingly, of course!), shut the door and let him have at it. But you caught me during the other 5%, when I declared it time to "clean up, clean everybody, everywhere, clean up, clean up everybody do your share" and put everything in its place.

I realize that having a designated play room is a pretty suburban, petit bourgeois thing to have, and it is absolutely a luxury. But I was so sick of having our living space completely dominated by toys, that a play room, or in the very least a separate play area, was pretty high on my list of wants for our new house. As well as simply containing a lot of the kid clutter, I wanted to create a very kid-centric space for playing in. We're hoping this will be the house the kids will remember as their childhood home, and want to make it feel like a home for the whole family, and a play room definitely goes along with that. 

We shop at IKEA - can you tell?

We were lucky enough in our new house to have a bit more space than we currently need, and so we found ourselves with kind of an "extra" room on the main floor. It's right next to the front door (so not very private) and doesn't have a closet, so it's not ideal for a bedroom, and we didn't really need a whole room for a home office (more on that solution in a future post), so it became the play room. It's nice because it's on the main level, so Espen and soon Gwen can play in there and still be close to me, without having me looming over them the whole time, which is especially nice for play dates. The kids are within earshot, but the parents can chat in comfort in the living room. The play room also has two big windows and gets lots of daylight, which I love, especially during the colder months when we spend less time outside.

I love the deep window sills for displaying and storing toys.

Our house has a big, unfinished basement, so the longterm plan is to include a play room in our plans down there, at which point this room would become an office/library/hideout hybrid (I'm thinking wall to wall shelves stuffed with books and a couple of comfy armchairs). Because of that, we haven't done anything even semi-permanent to this room. I'd love to hang a shelf on the wall, or maybe a mobile or two from the ceiling, but haven't gotten up the courage to make holes in anything yet. It could well be years until we finish the basement, so time will tell how long I can wait on that one.

Gallery wall, play kitchen and dress up box. 

I'm pretty happy with our current modus operandi for the walls, though. I have hung a few posters with washi tape, but then we're in the process of covering (at least) one wall with Espen's (and my!) own art. One of his very favorite things to do is to paint with me, and after they have dried we pick a few favorites and hang them up on his gallery wall. It won't be too much longer until Gwen joins in and makes her own little mark too. I just unceremoniously stick them up with Scotch tape, often letting Espen hang a few himself. He likes his favorites to be low down where he can see them. Definitely not the fanciest in home decorating, but I honestly like how it looks and that it gives us a place to display Espen's work without cluttering up the fridge or coming up with some complicated system. I'm looking forward to when it covers floor to ceiling!

The play kitchen: where Chef Espen works his magic.

If you look closely, you'll see that a lot (a lot!) of our kids' furnishings come from IKEA. There are a few reasons for that, the biggest one being we live 30 minutes from a store. But I also happen to think that IKEA does children's stuff really right. Besides being clever and stylish, the things we have bought from IKEA just really seem to appeal to kids. And they get big bonus points for being gender neutral enough for boys and girls to play with and aren't plastered with whatever registered trademark your child happens to be enamored with at the time. I know lots of little boys that love to play kitchen, but it can be tricky to find one that's not incredibly girly. And there was certainly a time when it was tempting to buy Lightning McQueen-encrusted everything for Espen because he loved Cars so much, but that love affair seems to have cooled a bit these days. It gives things a bit longer life, I think. I also really appreciate that IKEA children furniture doesn't tend to be as huge as a lot of the other kids' stuff out there. Floor space is important in a play room! 

Circus tent, rocket ship, nest or comfy spot? 

Pictured above is a little reality blogging. Espen does this thing that we call nesting, where he will chose a spot and then round up all sorts of toys, pillows and blankets and cram them and himself inside. He often plays this game where he's preparing on an expedition in his rocket ship/IKEA tent, and needs to pack provisions for his space mission. Can you guess? Well, it involves shoving absolutely every toy he owns inside the tent and then lying on top of them. And it drives me absolutely bananas. Not only do toys get broken from this game, he also spends the next several days asking "where's my...?" Sigh. In light of just how much this bugs me, Espen might not be the one who has issues in this scenario. Be that as it may, when I cleaned up the play room, I started by cleaning the mass jumble of toys out of the tent and replacing it with a big pillow, a couple of blankets and a gang of soft toys, and now it has become a favored hanging out spot. Hopefully this will last a while and keep us both happy!

Who moved my cars?

Even if we won't be moving it to the basement for a while, I do have a bit of a vision for the play room. First of all, things will start to change once Gwen gets a bit more mobile and starts playing in there. Her birthday is coming up in a couple of months (yikes!) with Christmas hot on its heels, and that's going to mean more toys, and an increased need for storage, so a shelf or something might be nice. I'd also love to get a comfy chair in there for adults to join in the games or maybe read a book without having to sit on the floor. And something to hold library books so they're accessible, but don't get lost all over the house would be nice too. Maybe this or just a simple bin? And (if we can fit it with the rest of my grand visions!) a kids' table and chairs would be nice too. I've got my eye on this one. Maybe for Christmas? 

And that's the play room! Do you have one? Do you want one? How do you solve the never-ending deluge of kid's stuff at your house? Spill. 

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