My personal style is elegant. Maybe even a bit…formal.
I know what you’re thinking. Ring child protective services! Children being raised by a formal mother! Bring in the governess to make them play-clothes out of used curtains.
It’s really not like that I swear. We made a mud pie once. Okay, so it was a picture of a mud pie. Okay, so it was an description of a picture of a mud pie. Okay, so we have no experience with mud pies. So what?
When we bought the house, my style was “very, very formal”. Six years and three kids later, we’re down to “very formal”, nowhere more so than in the living room. An important part of living with kids for me is having one place in the house to live without them. I needed my own space to read and be an adult some of the time, and this living room provides that.
Our home started out pretty traditional with pillars and mouldings, and I had a lot of aggressive Balinese carved wooden furniture to work with for this room, so adding some fun and whimsy in an updated color palette was a must.
More shots and DIY details, plus the reason for the Romeos and Juliets here.
The fabrics and colors of the living room continue into the adjoining dining room with more emphasis on red than blue.
I can not stop moving the accessories around trying to find the optimal position for everything. We love using pieces from our travels like the Balinese furniture, the statuettes from the Yucatan, and the matrioshki from Ukraine.
More shots of the kitchen and dining room here.
Just beyond the dining room is the area where we spend much of the day together as a family. We had two awful floods in our house (note to self: always listen when Noah foretells doom.) which gave us an unlooked-for opportunity to redo the kitchen. We added the bar to this custom island where we eat most meals.
Since we have the eating area at the bar, I transformed the breakfast nook into the little people kitchen. I love the octagon rug that fits so nicely into the rounded nook. I enjoy cooking dinner (where “enjoy” is very loosely defined) while my mini me’s cook imaginary dinner on the other side. The best part of the kiddie kitchen is the storage. We have tons of toys in there.
This family room side of the kitchen is the reason I bought this house. The soaring ceilings are open all the way to the upper floor producing a wonderful acoustic for singing. The piano had to go here for my practicing and teaching singing. This is the piano my husband learned to play on as a child, and now my children learn on the same instrument. The Egyptian trunk is chock-full of sheet music. Not the best organization, but pretty.
We use a foam mat on this play area to protect the new floors from the boys and vice versa. The foam doesn’t dampen the acoustic the way a rug would. Sometimes the hardwood-look even fools people who don’t notice the mat until they step on it and say, “Woah!”
In addition to the Egyptian chest in this brown and green room, we’ve got more wood pieces from Bali, a wooden vase Kent’s aunt brought back from Haiti, and this wooden menagerie Kent’s family got us in Sao Paolo where Kent’s father grew up.
Now for the upstairs.
Everyone’s favorite room in the house is Fluffy’s princess room. I swore I was going to be so classy and princess-free and gender neutral, but…we can’t all live up to our ideals when there’s a tutu-wearing ray of sunshine in the house. Instead of splashing the whole thing in Barbie pink (which day may come), I had these moldings made into panels on three sides of the room. The fourth is a wall of windows.
I am excessively fond of the ornate molding shadow boxes with the pink stripes inside. I painted the medallions in the corners of all the panels myself.
More shots and design details on the princess room here.
I also vowed when we had the boys that I would not do a themed nursery. I wanted to make myself a lovely sitting room–with a crib. But Kent insisted that we have something theme-y and cute. What? Who are you, and what have you done with my husband? I decided it was legit for him to have an opinion, and after rejecting many other equally trite and precious ideas, I finally agreed to nautical. To my surprise and delight, I absolutely love it. It always makes me think of boating and vacation.
I’ve grown accustomed to the porthole mirrors and the steering wheel clock, but when people see it for the first time, they get a big, “Oh, I get it!” smile of recognition.
More shots and details on the nautical room here.
And this is what I like to think of as my bedroom, though everyone in the house uses it constantly. The boys had difficulty nursing anywhere but in this bed, so for the 13 months that I exclusively breastfed them, we were all piled in here several times a day. I was obsessed with making my bed to show as though my compulsive neatness were the only thing holding impending chaos at bay. I made my bed several times a day after each nursing session just to show that they hadn’t beaten me! I felt like if my bed were at least made, then I hadn’t been carried down the mountain in the avalanche of twinfancy never to regain the summit of my own life.
With three kids age 5 and under, toys are like spiders in our house: you’re never more than 8 feet away from one. We keep things under control by having at least one easy clean up toy bin in all the rooms.
But then I moved her over the window, hung a ballerina tulle canopy over her bed, and brought in a big crate of toys. Fluffy’s time in our bedroom was only a few months. I am glad to be back to normal, but I did love having her in here.
And now down stairs to the rec room which was the bane of my elegant-style existence.
The kid side and adult side are open to each other. The desk is right there by the main toy repository of the house. Worlds collide. Cats and dogs living together! It seemed undecorateable. I wanted it cohesive, but I didn’t want the family side to look juvenile, or the kids side to look un-fun. A couple of years ago, I just bought every pink and green cliche at Pottery Barn Kids and put it on the playroom side for Fluffy while the other half stayed undecorated.
Recently, I decided to make it a place that didn’t scream, “I cared about your sister several years ago.” I didn’t want to leave pink out entirely which would be tantamount to telling my daughter, “you are dead to me”.
My daughter and I decided to go with chevrons and rainbows. The next trick was to work in chevrons and rainbows without actually painting a chevron wall or putting up rainbow decals which would be too obvious–or putting up a sign that said “rainbow chevrons” which would be too abstract. One of my exboyfriends would have loved that idea.
I wanted it to have some kind of twist. So why not use plastic cocktail forks from Target to make a sort of chevron wallpaper? We experimented with various permutations of color and pattern, and finally came up with this.
I am crazy in love with these forks and considered papering the whole room in them. I contained myself to the “accent wall” of the play room built-ins.
We have a dry erase calendar in there as well. I erased all our appointments for the picture because I’m tired of you all following me around all week. Just stop it.
I’m not a huge fan of labeling. I just can’t see much of point in labeling a see-through bin “Gold Napkins” with little tags on each of the folded items within that say “Gold Napkin”. Moreover, with little kids, the crates change so frequently from rattles to teething toys to blocks to cars, etc, that I just don’t want to relabel that often. Besides, if I were being honest, half the crates would say “Toys” or “Miscellaneous”. I do love the numbering system though. My personal crates are 6 and 7. Fluffy’s art supplies are in 10. Musical instruments are in 4 and 5. You get it.
My favorite little detail is the “play nice.” sign. Now whenever the boys are tormenting each other I can just point to the sign and…nothing happens. Not that I expected much. I have twin 21 month old boys, so “play nice” is more of a Platonic ideal than a practical reality. Surrounding the injuction with spiny plastic weapons is a little tongue-in-cheek. “Play nice” is what we strive for, but the forks are a wink that says, “Good luck with that.” Wait. Is my playroom snarky? I think my playroom has a bit of a ‘tude.
One of the partners at Kent’s firm sent us these benches for the boys with their names in removable rainbow letters, so they work great now. I even got a funky rag rug which the boys think is also a toy.
I use a photo gallery to hide all the DVD’s and CD’s. It isn’t exactly closed storage, but at least it doesn’t make mye drive my fingernails into my palms in disgust the way the shelves of media used to.
More shots of the playroom, DIY info and shopping details can be found here.
The other side of the rec room needed to be very flexible. The rocking (as in literally rocks back and forth) love seat is on runners, and the toy chest we use for a coffee table is pretty light, so we can easily move everything out of the way to do Insanity workouts in the morning, or set up the indoor moonbounce for special occasions.
And that, my friends, is what my house looks like–for the next 5 minutes until I start tweaking everything again.