Tuesday, February 3, 2015

evolution of a playroom.

You know how first impressions are supposed to be so important? Let me tell you how that shook out in terms of our house. We first saw it right after we'd be burned by a seller who rejected our offer on what we thought was The Perfect House. I wasn't ready to love again, and our Realtor's warning before we went to check this house out ("Just...try to ignore the decor") didn't really help. Nor did the salmon-pink exterior siding, the overgrown lawn...or the green carpeting and Little House on the Prairie drapes in the very first room we saw:

Nice shorts there, Cath.

First terrible impressions aside, the layout of the house and the awesome back yard (plus the affordable price tag...thank you, real estate bubble) won us over. We took the plunge and bought the house, despite its decor - and despite my adamance that we were NOT fixer-uppers and NOT DIYers. We moved in in the summer of 2009, and we spent our first night in the house starting the evolution of the front room by tearing up that green carpeting, which also snaked its way up the stairs and down the upstairs hallway.

Miraculously, the floors were in fantastic shape underneath that dingy, smelly carpet.

That was the last action the front room saw until winter, when we hired professionals to drywall over the textured-tile ceiling and paint the room brown:

Should've just left it like this. Especially that wall by the stairs.
(Beige is a hard color to pick, all right?)

Now the bones were looking significantly better - hardwood floors touched up, old-fashioned drapes removed, ceiling redone, and walls painted - but it stayed pretty empty for a while, with just an old couch and bureau shoved in there. Two years later, when we had saved up enough to afford some furniture, we Ikea'd up the joint. We also got married a year after we moved, which meant we were lucky enough to be gifted with new accessories, a new handmade side table, and a new-to-us piano for the room.

BUT. I have to be honest. While it was great that the room was evolving - we added some lighting, strung some paper lanterns in the window well, and arranged the framed album covers above the piano - it wasn't where we usually went to hang out. That changed once Rowan came along, mostly because it became her playroom. 

Here's how it looks these days (moving around the room clockwise):

(Took this pic during naptime, and you can see how Rowan gathers all her baby
dolls on the ottoman and covers them up with a blanket to put them "nigh-nigh"...ha!)

There's decent storage space (the Ikea EXPEDIT bookshelf, the storage ottomans, the...floor), but it's still just off. We don't have anywhere except the top of the bookshelf and the top of the piano to put things out of Rowan's reach, which makes it difficult to store my records, tapes, and CDs, and we've already run out of cubbies for her toys. I want to rejigger the wall art. I keep meaning to bring back the old bench for underneath the window (you can see it in the first picture; it's outside right now) and fix it up, paint it, and give it a pretty pillow cover. Also? I kind of hate the brown walls lately. Would LOVE to paint them a light gray (or, truly, a light, bright blue - but that isn't happening unless the blue kitchen gets repainted, too, soooo...). Changing the wall color in the playroom requires repainting the entryway as well, though, so I'm going to have to get a lot more motivated to make that happen. All in all, boohoo to all my first-world problems, the summation of which is: The room is functional, but not what I want it to be. And not what it COULD be.

In the meantime, I was cruising Pinterest yesterday and got COMPLETELY inspired by this picture:

from here
So bright, so airy, so cheery - and the angle totally reminded me of our playroom, with that big window on the one wall. The bookshelves on the right-side wall were what especially struck me. In a flash, I envisioned bookshelves flanking our piano, made to look like built-ins, and maybe even connected across the tops with a single display shelf. Actually, once upon a time I imagined doing "built-ins" on the window wall, connected in the middle by a storage bench to create a little reading nook under the window. That never panned out, though, because of two things: the way the window well is recessed, and the fact that I thought bookshelves would look out of place on that specific wall. Oh, and also because there's a vent in the floor under the window, and that detail kept tripping me up when I tried to brainstorm window-storage-bench ideas. This wall, though? The piano wall? Oh, I can just see the bookshelves now:

We have two bookshelves in the family room that would pretty much fit the bill for this project, but (1) I like them and use them where they are, and (2) there are approximately seventy trillion tutorials on Pinterest for doing this project with Ikea BILLY bookshelves, which are relatively cheap. For now, I'm trolling Craigslist to see if any pop up, since they're so popular - but if I don't find any soon, I might just sell a few more things from the basement's Growing Pile of Doom and go ahead and buy new BILLYs. ...And then paint the interiors a fun color, and then style the upper shelves, and then dream up a fun photo project for the upper display shelf, and and and...yessss! Man, I've missed dreaming up new room ideas. Definitely wish my favorite hobby weren't so expensive! But I really think I can make this work within an itty-bitty budget, and I'm excited to figure out this next stage of the playroom's evolution.

(Apologies in advance to my husband, who will no doubt suffer as a result of my "super easy and cheap and awesome" built-in bookcase scheme. Smooches to you, J.J.)

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