I know I’m lucky, I live in a 3-bedroom house in Richmond. As I said, I know, I’m lucky – actually, make that VERY LUCKY. Despite this, it has been surprisingly easy to feel like we’re short of space ever since Richmond Baby came to join us Chez Richmond and as her toy collection grows, we’re being gradually squeezed out of our living room/dining room/kitchen/etc. etc. This coupled with the fact that expecting her to play in and around the living room coffee table or perched (somewhat precariously I’ll admit) on the sofa, led me to consider the alternatives.
Actually one of my biggest prompts was experiencing extreme room envy when I visited the newly decorated playroom of a very dear NCT friend whose new house has more rooms than she can possibly decide what to do with (you know who you are! and we’re all very jealous!!). A dedicated space with fun wall stickers and boxes of toys where her little one can play for hours to his heart’s content and she and her husband don’t live in fear of twisting their ankles as they slalom across the open living space navigating their way through squeaky toys, rubbery chewy toys, musical toys, rattles, and teddies. As is the case Chez Richmond.
“I wish WE had a room like this”, I lamented, feeling rather unjustifiably sorry for myself and thinking my own lovely house was distinctly under performing by not having the space and means to provide a dedicated playroom for my own darling Richmond Baby. Then all of a sudden it struck me… duh! Why not convert the mini conservatory/more of a “lean-to” room that’s next to the kitchen and currently serving as a study-cum-dumping ground, into a room with a purpose: a playroom! Genius.
Then all I had to do was convince Richmond Daddy…
There was some resistance – “but we need a study” he reasoned – true, yes, it would be nice to have a study, but in reality our study was so full of random junk that you could barely set foot inside it let alone conduct any form of productive intellectual activities in there. And besides, it had become a complete eyesore with piles of papers, boxes of crap that we didn’t know what to do with, the Dyson, and discarded baby-related paraphernalia (we’re talking stuff that she’d outgrown or no longer needed but we hadn’t got around to putting in the loft – the other location in our house for random junk we feel obliged to store but may well either (a) never use again or (b) forget its very existence).
“I’m confident that everything in that room we can either agree to chuck or find a new, more appropriate home for, thereby giving us that space back to reinvent as a playroom…” – I said confidently, in my best work-pitch voice. “And besides, I’m concerned that Richmond Baby is spending too much time plonked in front of Peppa Pig when I need to prepare her lunch or put laundry on or go to the loo as I’ve no place to safely put her and leave her for a few moments distracted other than the sofa, surrounded by a fortress of cushions (which she has increasingly figured out how to tunnel her way out of… there have been a couple of scary near-misses when she’s almost gone head first off the couch onto the wood floor… not good). We need a playroom, we owe it to Allegra, and her cognitive, physical, and social development…. ahem…. plus, it’ll mean we can reclaim the rest of the house….” – this final point (not the bit about the cognitive, physical, and social development, the other bit), seemed to clinch the deal with Richmond Daddy, who’d already voiced his concern at the increasing prevalence of large plastic items that were dominating our once stylish and French country chic house inspired interior.
“Yay, victory!” I thought – silently punching the air, while retaining the look of someone who had merely agreed to an excellent idea of somebody else’s genius (Richmond Daddy – it really was all your genius idea, really…).
I must say, once the agreement was reached, Richmond Daddy went for it with gusto. In one weekend he’d basically cleared out 90% of the crap we’d had lurking in the room – about 88% of it he just cleared into the adjoining dining room for me to actually sort through, but none-the-less it was cleared from the soon-to-be-playroom and that’s what counted. As long as that room was on its way to realisation then frankly I could live with the rest of the house descending into seven circles of hellish untidiness and chaos (funny that, given my usual OCD tendencies, they must have been temporarily on the blink). Anyhoo, as I said, thanks to Richmond Daddy’s swift approach at shifting the junk and my methodicalness of sorting through it and either chucking it or re-homing it in other nooks and crannies about the house (to deal with another day), we suddenly found ourselves with an empty room and set about transforming it into a playroom!
We bought those spongy interlocking soft floor tiles that are ideal for a kid’s playroom/nursery and laid them across the whole of the floor space, which made the room look instantly playful and now provides a soft, protective floor for Richmond Baby to fall over onto to her heart’s content. Then I just simply filled the room with all baby’s toys and books and laid them out across the room in various places so she has lots to look at and lots to grab for and play with and I’m so so pleased with the results! There are still some finishing touches I’d like to add, like wall stickers to brighten the room up further and add additional fun factor, plus am thinking maybe of some window stickers too. We may also hang a parachute across the ceiling to decorate that (and cover up the rather ugly ceiling at the same time, which currently is see-through and constantly covered in leaves and other general garden debris that blows onto it: not attractive).
Richmond Baby has embraced her playroom enthusiastically and her face really lights up when we put her in there of a morning. She is really content in there exploring all her toys and it gives her the space to move from one toy to another and back again because she can have them all laid out around her, it’s great. It has also meant that she has been out of the living room and away from the TV (she still gets to watch the odd wind-down episode of Peppa Pig, but I no longer have to use the TV as a distraction to allow me to get some chores done) and I can pop to the loo knowing she’s in a safe place without having to build the cushion fortress every time.
I’m so glad we tackled what had become a junk room and turned it into a fun space for Richmond Baby, it’s somewhere she’ll be able to enjoy every day and it certainly is more pleasing on the eye to look into that room now and see it filled with toys and books and colour, instead of papers and random furniture and general crap.
Project Playroom: done! (well, apart from a few final finishing touches…).
Verdict: a success!!
Do you have a dreaded room of general crap in your house that you’ve been meaning to tackle and that could be turned into a more productive and enjoyable space? – what would you ask the 60-minute makeover team to turn it into if they got their hands on it? (does anyone really think they revamp those houses in 60-minutes?!? it seems unfeasible…)