Our New Play Room

posted by Andrea | 12/11/2013

our new play room

When we first purchased our home (almost exactly 3 years ago) one of the areas I was most excited about was the large landing area at the top of the stairs.

It was (and still is) big, bright, open… and full of potential for our future family.

I pictured it first as a den area for Dave and I — or even a hobby/craft area. Then I had plans to turn it into a fun play area for our little kiddos. And eventually, I think it would make a great study “loft” area for older kids with built-in desks, book cases, etc.

Here are a few “before” pictures from the day we moved in.

Nothing super special, but I could see the potential!

The usable space is actually not overly huge (only about 12′ x 11′) but it’s open to the living room below, and is conveniently located in the center of the bedroom/bathroom area upstairs. This means the kids will all have easy access to this space — making it the perfect bonus space for toys, crafts, homework, etc.

So since we’re in the process of renovating one of the bedrooms upstairs as Nora’s new “big-girl bedroom”, we decided that it was also a good time to transform this landing area into the playroom we envisioned when we first moved in.

Here’s what we ended up with!

This is what you see when you walk up the stairs from the living room. I’ve always wanted to do a big collage on this wall, but never took the time to put it together until now.

I’m really happy with how it turned out — and that I was able to use things we already had in the house. The only thing I needed to purchase was the clock.

I used some leftover black spray paint to make everything look uniform. And I was super excited to be able to incorporate some family heirlooms (the large military picture on the lower right side), some newer family pictures, a set of black hooks for all of Nora’s bags, a fun platter painted with chalkboard paint, and even an ultrasound picture of our little baby boy.

Nora loves the wall too — especially the hooks and the pig :)

Believe it or not, we actually had to search our house high and low to come up with all the toys we found here. We also purchased several new-to-us items via Craigslist, and left plenty of empty space for future Christmas toys that will inevitably be coming our way in a couple more weeks.

We put Nora’s baby crib, changing table, and other baby supplies under the window — and also right next to the stairs as we sometimes bring these items down to the living room to play.

As you can see by the photos below, we took out the (illegally spaced) spindles and put in a solid half-wall instead. This was actually all Dave’s idea and I LOVE IT!

The spindles were so far apart that Nora could EASILY fit completely through them (we know this for a fact, in case you’re wondering!) And I’m sure numerous toys would have gotten shoved through the spindles as well.

Eventually, we’d like to put a built-in bench or a built-in book case along the half-wall, but for now (until we know exactly what we want to do) we just put an extra chair and tiny book case against the wall.

The chair was actually a REALLY good idea since I end up sitting up there a lot reading books with Nora or working on my laptop while she plays. Plus, since it’s a rocking chair, it will be a nice place to sit with a new baby while Nora plays.

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The largest open wall is actually a walk-way between bedrooms, bathroom, and a large storage closet we have upstairs — so since we didn’t want to totally block all traffic flow, we couldn’t put anything too bulky against that wall.

I thought this would make a nice “gallery wall” for Nora’s artwork and some of her favorite pictures. We put her toy box, desk, and tool bench along this wall as well (all of which were recent Craigslist purchases specifically for the new play area).

These things can all be easily moved if need be, but they really aren’t in the way right now.

Rotating around to the far wall, we have Nora’s play kitchen (which JUST fits!)

And next to the kitchen, we have a freebie hand-me-down cabinet from my great aunt. I’m planning to paint that cabinet white to match the kitchen — but I wanted to make sure we like it up there before I waste my time.

We have a small TV and Nora’s “boombox” on top of the cabinet and then 6 small crates of toys on the shelves. I also have a basket of puzzles under the cabinet.

The crates have pretty much ALL our toys that used to be in the living room and in Nora’s special closet in our office. We just have one small basket of toys left in the living room and one shelf of books, since we like reading on the couch best.

This brings us back to the first wall you see when you walk up the stairs.

A few more Before/After pictures:

I couldn’t get the same angle because of the new half wall — but I think you get the idea.

So that’s it.

Nothing super special — just a new wall, some new carpet, paint, trim, and a bunch of toys — but Nora LOVES it up there!

I have a feeling she’ll love it even more once she’s more willing to play by herself and once we fully transition her to the bedroom upstairs.

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28 comments

  1. Courtney

    12/11/2013

    Looks great! I’m sure many great memories will be made up there!

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  2. Victoria

    12/11/2013

    Looks awesome and I am sure you family will get a lot of use out of it in the years to come.

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  3. Edie

    12/11/2013

    Such a great transformation!! It looks so cozy and fun! We’re on the verge of building our dream home, and the plan includes a loft area upstairs the I plan on being the main toy/play area. Can’t wait!

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  4. Emma

    12/11/2013

    That looks amazing! Especially the wall with all the decorations. I’m sure you’ll have lots of fun there.

    I was just wondering one thing, are you comfortable with Nora playing so close to the stairs (even if you’re nearby)? When I was four, I fell of the stairs playing and broke my arm in two different places. That wasn’t nice. :/

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    Andrea Reply:

    yeah, she’s a pro at stairs and has been going up and down since she was 10 months old (seriously!)

    we’ve never had a baby gate for her and never had an issue. We have ideas for a really cool “barn door looking” baby gate that will be built into the half wall at the top of the stairs. We might do something like that when the new baby starts to move around more and we need to keep him up there. But for now, a baby gate would only frustrate Nora :)

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    Tina Reply:

    I love that your house has cornered stairs for that reason. We have a steep straight up and down staircase that our toddler is constantly wanting to climb. I’ve almost fallen by myself so I hate that he’s so adventurous with the stairs.

    The new playroom looks great! What a wonderful asset that will be when the baby comes!

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  5. Rachel @ casamarcelli

    12/11/2013

    This looks fantastic! It was a great idea to cover up those spindles. We had those at our house growing up – there was nothing more fun than holding toys through the openings and dropping them at strategic moments. Usually on the heads of other siblings. :-)

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  6. Debbie

    12/11/2013

    Looks great! It must feel good to have most of the toys and kids stuff out of the living room now and all in one location. Is that a lamp behind Nora’s kitchen on top of the bookcase?

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    Andrea Reply:

    Yes! We never had a ton of toys “out in the open” but it does feel great to have no more toys ANYWHERE except in our play room. We do have one basket of blocks and the books still in the living room — but you can hardly even see them unless you really look for them on the shelf. Everything else is out-of-sight from the main floor!

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  7. AshleyB

    12/11/2013

    WOW! I love it! What a perfect cozy play space. Thanks for sharing :)

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  8. Shelly

    12/11/2013

    Love, love, love it!! Great job!

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  9. AshleyW

    12/11/2013

    Love the new space! What is on the wall above the toy box?

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    Andrea Reply:

    It’s an old antique crib bedspring I got from a thrift store a few years ago.

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  10. Linda B

    12/11/2013

    It all looks super cute!

    Maybe I’m too nervous, but the chair by the half-wall makes me a little nervous.
    Could a kid stand on the chair and launch themselves over the half-wall?

    But otherwise, I think it’s fabulous, and I love how you use stuff you already had around the house for decorating, but pulled it together in a cohesive way.

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    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks Linda — it was fun to find a new home for so many things we just had in storage (and not spend any money on the decorating!)

    The way I figure it, a kid could jump off a table, a book case, a chair, a bench or anything else near the stairs. We’re not too worried about it as Nora is a VERY cautious child and has been going up and down these stairs since she was 10 months old. Maybe if future kids are different we’ll re-evaluate… but for now, this works just fine :)

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  11. Sammi

    12/11/2013

    I love Nora’s kitchen and great way to cover up the spindles on the staircase. It looks like a very cozy and comfy place to play but as someone else mentioned I would worry about the chair being near the half wall by the stairs and children love to stand in chairs. The wall decorations are beautiful but a little grown up for a play room (I think I would have used bright colors and more child friendly photos) It’s really a great room, though.

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    Andrea Reply:

    I figure the walls are a bright blue and that’s about as “bright” as my neutral loving self can go :)

    As I mentioned in the post, all the wall decorations (minus the clock) were things we already had in the house — so this was my way of decorating without spending any money. Plus, you can see part of the collage wall from our living room, and I didn’t want lots of bright colors and “child-like decor” ruining the feel of our living room.

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  12. Michelle

    12/11/2013

    Love it! We did something similar in our basement when we first moved in. My girls LOVED their space and are now 11 and 14. It has become the “hang out” for them and their friends. They grow so fast!! Enjoy
    P.S. Nora’s baby looks exactly like my older daughters baby who she named Red Baby!

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  13. Linda

    12/11/2013

    Nora and her baby brother are lucky to have such awesome and creative parents!

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    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks Linda!

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  14. Amanda

    12/11/2013

    The room looks amazing!!! What color are the walls? And also it that an old baby bed spring you are using to hang Nora’s art work on? I love reading your blog!!!

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    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks Amanda, I don’t have the wall paint color right now (and I’m too lazy to walk downstairs to find it!) but yes, that is an old baby crib bed spring for the art work :)

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  15. Janice

    12/11/2013

    Did you get the gold piano lamp from goodwill. It looks so much like the one. I brought there after my garage. If so I just thought that would be pretty ironic.

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    Andrea Reply:

    Haha — I’ve had it FORVER and am meaning to spray it black. We’ll see if I get around to it this winter or not :)

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  16. Leah H

    03/13/2014

    I somehow missed this! Love it! So jealous! ;)

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  17. Sandra

    05/24/2014

    I love the way the kitchen fits perfectly with the slanted wall!

    Sandra

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  18. Laura

    12/10/2014

    Hi Andrea, what a beautiful playroom! I was just wondering how you liked that shade of carpeting. Do you find it hides the stains well? We are getting new carpet in our main living area and the one I have chosen is quite light, but has some variegated tones in it like yours. It is on sale in that shade otherwise id choose a bit darker being that I have 3 kids!! Just wondering your thoughts since yours is similar to what I’m considering. Thanks so much for reading this! I so enjoy your blog, get tons of ideas from you and use your recipes all the time! God bless you and your sweet family!

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    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks Laura!
    We love our carpet — and have the same exact carpeting in Nora’s room.
    I will say that we rarely (if ever) eat or wear shoes upstairs so it has little chance for staining, so I can’t vouch for how well it “hides” stains. Either that, or it’s SO good at hiding stains I don’t even know they are there :)

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