To know me is to know my hatred of all things plastic and primary colored. As the mother of a 2-year-old and a 4-year-old, these things are shockingly difficult to avoid. But, I persist. That doesn’t mean depriving my children of the things they love (seemingly just to spite me, sometimes) like battery operated, florescently colored helicopters or miniature keyboards that play every blasted obnoxious sound under the sun. It just means that those things are frequently tucked away into a more aesthetically pleasing vessel, like a linen ottoman with hidden storage. The reason I’m a stickler for these things is not because I’m a wet blanket, but because a beautiful home brings me peace in the chaos that is this stage of parenting. Because when a room is well put-together, this mom is a happier, more fun-to-be-around mom. Because for me, clutter triggers anxiety.
Above all of these feelings, though, is the desire to give my children their own personal safe havens. Their very own pieces of this big world to dream and play and sing and read and be. I’ve always been an introvert down to my bones. As a kid, when I was sent to my room for any number of reasons, I always rather enjoyed the punishment. My room was where I could close the door to the rest of the world, and create my own. In my eyes, my bed (a very 80’s white iron daybed with shiny brass knobs) was right out of a Princess castle. My little library of The Bearenstain Bears and Shel Silverstein may as well have been from the great halls of Oxford. Because that little room, with its pastel curtains and pink plastic doll house, brought me so much joy and satisfaction. I want my kids to feel that.
None of this is to say that children can’t have all of these wonderful experiences in primary colored rooms drenched in toys. Not at all. This is simply how I function. It is where I take something that’s a personal challenge, and create beauty from it. If I’m being entirely honest, I wish I were a little more laid back about messes and clutter. My creating magical rooms for my children is how I knock out the would-be challenge of chaotic spaces, instead bringing joy and (occasional) harmony to everyone in the house.
It was love at first sight with our home. There was absolutely no doubt in either Brandon’s or my mind that this was where we would raise our family. But, like any other home decorated in the 90’s, it needed some updating. Soon after we moved in, I walked from room to room, planning and mentally decorating each space. Jovie’s room awaited her with a shade of bright pink on the walls (which I quickly tamed to a buttery yellow), and Leston’s powder-blue room was highlighted with a kitschy cowboy wallpaper border. Everyone who walked into Leston’s room before I got to my tools and paintbrushes had a little chuckle at that border before saying something like, “When’s this coming down, Linds?” or “So, this is the first project on the list, eh?” But you know what? I love it. It’s the only room in the house we didn’t paint, and the only wallpaper I haven’t replaced. There’s something kind of wonderful about that wallpaper, and I plan to keep it up there until Leston is old enough to insist otherwise.
I want to walk you through a few of the touches we made to make each room so special, and such lovely places to be, starting with Leston’s room. As I’ve said, this was the room that we’ve changed the least, but it remains one of my favorite spaces. It’s masculine and boyish, childlike, yet sophisticated enough for him to grow into.
On the practical side, children do need a place to keep their toys and stuffed animals. My answer for this was a very inexpensive toy chain from Amazon. This solution is nothing new (I remember friends having them when I was a kid), but it is very practical, and a cute way to display your child’s treasures.
As with all of the furniture in our house, Leston’s bed was a thrifted find. A garage sale, actually. The sweet older couple I bought it from (for $20) said that it had belonged to them when they were first married in the 50’s. Keeping with the theme of this room, it is one of the rare pieces in our home that I did nothing to change.
A little cleaning and bit of polish and it was ready for a new mattress and some bedding (which I found at Ross, another of my obsessions). Cute, isn’t it? As well as the money saving perks, I just absolutely love the history in thrifted pieces. This bed alone adds so much charm to Leston’s room, and he’ll be able to enjoy it for years.
Sentimental touches make a room homey, make it feel lived-in and loved-in. Childrens’ rooms are no exception. Leston’s room is full of special pieces that give him a sense of his history, and how much he is loved. At Leston’s baby shower, an adorable children’s book themed bash thrown by my precious sister-in-law, she gifted me with this sign she made. It is a quote from one of my very favorite children’s books, The Giving Tree, and it is so special, to both Leston and to me. His bookshelf is full of meaningful mementos as well- a model ship from a trip Brandon and I took this past summer and bought when we were missing him so much it hurt. A handmade pillow that once belonged to Brandon, lovingly made by Gigi (Brandon’s mom), and so many others.
If you haven’t noticed by now, I love personalized pieces in the kids’ bedrooms. When I was pregnant with Leston, the day (yes, the day) we decided on his name, I made his name sign. Using an old frame we had in our garage, some rope, a little paint and sandpaper, and some wooden letters purchased from Michael’s, I lovingly made this sign for Les. I know that one day he’ll outgrow it and no longer want it on his wall. It will likely be replaced with posters of his favorite band or photos of his own memories he’s so busy creating. But until that time comes, I will cherish it every time I look at it, thinking of that day I excitedly drove to Michael’s, incredibly pregnant and utterly clueless as to the love in my heart about to go off like a bomb.
Nothing in this room was expensive. Nothing about it was difficult or required much handy working skill. It was put together with love, and with the hope that little Leston would use this space to grow and nurture his wild imagination and his sweet spirit, knowing that he has his own little piece of the world to plan and laugh and play and dream.