How we came to know “George” #Best09

We became homeowners about 8 weeks after Kendall was born. You should really never close on a house when your newborn is plagued with colic, but hindsight is 20/20… or something like that. Anyway, we had a *house* for close to a year, but we didn’t really have a *home* until sometime this summer. Truth be told, we probably unpacked the last box sometime this spring, and we still have pictures waiting to be hung.

Slowly, we’re talking turtles pace here, but surely we’ve transformed this once bachelor pad that was severely abused by multiple shades of pastel paint into a nest more suitable for our life. I’d even go so far as to say we’ve added a bit of flare and style to the place, or at least as much as you can on a meager budget of both money and time. Have we replaced the HIDEOUS white Formica counter tops or DREADFUL white tile in the kitchen? No. We may never, actually. But let me tell you… no, wait… I will do more than that…. let me SHOW you the greatest change we have made to this place, our home, this year.

Remember how I told you all about my vision for a space where my primate toddler would be able to roam free, happy amongst his multicolored plastic monstrosities toys?? The place with George, the gate?

Okay, first it started out as “the room we know not what to do with”, originally intended as a “formal” living and dining area. We are not “formal” people, if all the talk of wine juice boxes and beer at our one year old’s birthday hasn’t already told you that. So for a while it was just a room with a lot of boxes in it… and a ladder… then we added a consignment store desk that we painted black. It took that damn desk a MONTH to dry. I’m not kidding.

Halloween 053

Then we threw the baby jail in there.

daddy asleep on job 1

I swear, we didn’t sleep on the job *all* the time…

Look! He’s totally happy and safe.

daddy asleep on job 2

Kendall became frustrated with the confines of his space, so we doubled the baby jail with a sweet steal on Craigslist. It was a pretty nice set up…. for about a week. He quickly learned he could push the plastic fence all around the room to get wherever he wanted.

Baby Jail 003

Then we decided free range baby might work better. On a whim, I bought Kendall a train table at a consignment sale, not realizing kids don’t really play with trains for a really long time. We also liked to keep tools and random computer parts up there for a while. Mind you, this is all back when I could catch my son, even on a bad day, and his huffing and puffing was enough to alert me he was on the move, i.e. this was before he became sneaky.

nakedbaby in office

Then, well, he became sneaky… and fast. There was a period in time where I thought I’d lose my mind. Looking back, it was such pointless insanity that could have so easily been fought off with an earlier purchase of a baby gate or two.

This brings me to my grand epiphany. The moment in which I realize that I will never again live in a house that looks like kids don’t live here. The moment in which I embrace the multitude of blinking, buzzing, colorful toys, throw vibrant colors on the wall, and go with it. The moment in which I choose a Craigslist sofabed and a KICKASS babygate over the hurricane lamps and occasional table I’d been eyeing at Pottery Barn.

I present to you the best change we’ve made to our home all year- our work and play room.



playroom 3

Oh, it is still a work in progress, for sure. I have a lot more to do, but most of that’s merely aesthetic. This has transformed into a highly functional space for our family, and really, we did it with a very modest budget and a lot of help from Craigslist and Ikea.

Of course, I must show you all a picture of George, the gate, who inspired this whole journey. He is moved out of the way here, but when needed, he blocks the entirety of that hallway. Beyond that, you will see the super awesome way I childproof our fireplace hearth, by tossing an old blanket over it.


Kendall loves to play and hang out in this room. I especially love that there is no TV or refrigerator up here, two of his biggest distractions.  I think right now his favorite thing to do is to draw on the windows with his Crayola Window Markers and Window Crayons. Sometimes Scott forgets to watch him and he ends up drawing on the windowsills too. I never let that happen. Really.

drawing on windows

And sometimes we try to do crafts on the train table… since he’s really not digging trains yet, but most of the time he just tries to eat the craft… or climb on the table and jump on to the couch.

eatting paper in playroom

So there you have it. Hope you’ve enjoyed this tour of a portion of our home and my presentation of “The Best Change We’ve Made To The Place We Live This Year”, inspired again by Gwen Bell’s #Best09 challenge. This was a blogging prompt originally set for December 13th, but seeing as how I was running a marathon and all, I had to put it off a bit.

Now, any suggestions on what else to add, subtract, put on the walls? I’m open to suggestions 🙂 Also, tell me what the best change you made to the place you live this year was, please.

Kendall is 19 and a half-ish months. I can’t believe it took me so damn long to embrace baby gates.

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    • Sorry for the delay. Had to locate the paint chips 🙂

      1. We got the desk at a furniture consignment store. It’s an old school 1970s office desk. Used to be a hideous honey color. We painted it high gloss black. It looks great now, but it took a month to dry.

      2. Wall colors:
      The light color is Behr’s Chocolate Froth 720C-2
      The dark color on the far wall is Benjamin Moore’s Cromwell Gray HC-103
      The green is Behr’s Scotland Isle 410D-5


      • Thank you! I’ve been searching high and low for a year and a half for a color to paint our family room. It’s an enormous space. I may have hit the jackpot!

  1. Great idea for a “formal” living room. We’re in the process of building a house and plan to do the same thing…grab a sofa and set up an activity table and low bookshelves and have it be the playroom – I can’t think of a better use for the space!

  2. LOL!! We bought and installed the baby gates about three months BEFORE Ethan was born!! Haha!! It was to get the dogs used to it at the time, but man, what a great purchase.
    I think maybe sometime this spring/summer you should let K finger paint on a canvas or 2 or 3. and hang those in the room. Lots of color and really personal!

      • I think it would be even better if you have him paint with the colors you used on the walls. Maybe not finger paint, though I don’t think a little wall paint on his hands will kill him. You’d have to keep a close eye so he doesn’t eat it. But a few quick swipes wouldn’t be too bad.

        I just think there is room between no evidence of children and looking like a daycare. I’ve slowly added more primary colors to our living room, but I really work on keeping it under control. Our baby is 1/3 of the occupants here, so I try to think of it like that, so it gives me a “line” or a place to stop.

        • Even better! We have just enough pain left, I think.

          I agree, Lisa. I hope I’ve found that balance. I will say the rest of our house doesn’t look quite so daycare-ish. Mainly, I really try to keep the number of toys we have laying around at a minimum by packing them away and putting them in the attic when they go out of favor.

          That’s a great way of looking at it, though.

  3. You know my suggestions 🙂

    I can’t wait to finish our basement next year so we will have a comfy place when Ben starts to be on the go.

  4. It’s so nice and tidy! I really like the clean look. I have embraced IKEA in at least 4 rooms. *love*

    I don’t want to be insulting, but please tell me you’ve buckled that shelving unit to the wall.

    • Thanks, Becky!

      Oh, and absolutely, we have. That sucker is drilled in there nice and secure. In fact, it’s slightly irritating to me that it’s just a few inches off center from the chandelier, but it had to be that way to get it into the studs.

  5. It looks fantastic! I love the wall colors you used. Where did you get the blue octopus chair?

    I have three suggestions for inexpensive wall hangings.

    One is to frame pieces of Japanese paper. Specialty art stores often carry it and sometimes you can buy half-sheets if a full sheet is too big for your space. I like the Japanese Paper Place in Toronto. They have a huge selection organized by color.

    Another idea is to see if any of your local colleges have a student gallery. A lot of it might be crap, but if you’re lucky you’ll find something good. And every year there are new artists to check out.

    And finally, we’ve taken photographs of the tv while it was playing our son’s favorite movies and framed large prints of that for his room. (I’m sure Pixar wouldn’t be too happy about this.)

    Good luck. I’m sure whatever you do will look great.

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