The French doors open on a sunny afternoon
When we designed the floor plan of our house, we planned for one large family room (kitchen/pantry, dining and living areas) in the centre of the house, facing north. On one side of the family room, there are the children’s bedrooms, bathroom and study area, and on the other side of the house is the main bedroom and study. Currently, Elora’s room is in our study and her future room is Monte’s office.
One of the issues that us families of young children have to deal with is kids’ playing spaces in family rooms. Whilst wanting the children to feel that they have their own space and freedom to play, we also want a room that is suitable for entertaining and quiet adult conversation. We don’t have a separate sitting or dining room; it is just one large room for everybody.
Previously, we had kids’ books and little table in the tv area. It became ‘messy’ often (if you can call kids’ toys and play ‘messy’). Recently I changed some furniture around to make better use of space and delineate a few areas in the large room. I think this makes the space more useful for the different needs that we have, for example: children can play and build and create; people can watch tv (rarely) or sit quietly in the lounge area; people can cook, create, chat and study at the kitchen bench etc.
I moved a couple of ikea shelves to the dining area and I moved the dining table further into the centre of the dining ‘half’ of the room. The children’s books and toys are stored in the corner in front of the window but I make sure that at least half of the top of the shelves is left clutter-free, so it’s neat and tidy for the dining area. The table is kept bare, save vases of flowers. It is particularly easy to cover the table with a large quilt so the children have a nice indoor cubby in which to play! The children now have an area in the family room that is specifically theirs, with a toy box, table and other toys. They can play in the sun, and even though it is a small 3×3-4m space, it is theirs, and they seem to enjoy it.
I moved the sideboard and antique traymobile to the lounge area. The sideboard is useful for keeping blankets, DVDs, electrical stuff and things in, as well as being a good platform for electronic things like the wii etc. That whole part of the room looks more appropriate for grown ups. We often sit in the sun of a weekend afternoon, sipping tea and chatting, whilst children eat afternoon tea at their table, with a large slathering of wooden blocks on the floor in their ‘zone.’ Although children are welcome to play in the lounge half of the room, it is not where they store their toys, so it stays a lot neater.
I think a kids’ play area should be clean, light, bright and colourful, and that is what we have, even though it is a simple, small corner of the room. For me, a comfortable lounge room is light and bright and cozy, with ottoman, side tables, lamps, a comfortable rug (for yoga, Burpees and dogs), reading lights, piles of magazines and books, clock, music, flowers, photos, candles. We don’t watch tv much, so the screen on the wall is a bit of a blight, in my opinion, but it serves the occasional purpose, and it would be weird not to have one.
We have plans, for the future, for a renovation that includes a new library, sitting room and study. By the time we have teenagers in the house (not long now) we will have more separate spaces to suit our changing and growing needs as a family.
For now, we will read, play and chat together, in the same space. Afterall, we used to live in an ugly, tiny 6x6m cabin with no electricity (so forgive me for thinking my recent furniture rearrangement is blog worthy – I’m just happy).
One of Jacopo’s favourite spots is on the cow hide in the sunshine
Our beautiful, old girl, d’Artagnan