Playroom Update

I’ve shared before the progression of my playroom, but a quick recap:

My “playroom” is actually supposed to be the formal dining room.

Right off the living room and visible from the main part of the house.

When we first moved into a house with ALL white walls, I thought I’d get creative and paint one of the walls a pumpkin/squash orange-y color.

It was a moody, sorta romantic color that would help set the ambience for perfectly executed dinner parties.

I searched high and low for the perfect table…which I found for a steal at a ritzy model home sale.

Burled deep mahogany wood.

Pretty glass candlesticks.

Virgin Pottery Barn Candles.

So pretty.

So perfect.

And then one kid turned to three.

And that whole having-an-entire-room-dedicated-to-two-meals-a-year-while-your-living-room-is-littered-with-toys-because-there’s-nowhere-else-for-them-to-go thing got old really quick.

So, much to my chagrin, I sold that pretty table (that needed dusted regularly) and added toys.

Truth is, I’ve never looked back.

The playroom is centrally located in the house where I can keep an eye on my kids easily.

And they don’t feel disconnected from the rest of the family when they are playing.  (My kids are too young at this point to realistically play upstairs in their rooms.  It’s just too far removed.)

And, my living room?  It’s pretty much Company Ready all the time.  Or at least with 2 minutes’ notice now that the toys have a dedicated space.

With time, the playroom has evolved based on the kids’ ages and abilities and it’s looking a little less cluttered these days.

(For the record, I have probably bought my kids five toys…total.  Ever.  Being the first grandchildren on both sides…well, let’s just say that sometimes we have to have the “Do NOT buy the kids toys unless you are making a donation to Goodwill” talk.)

Over the last couple of years, my color palette has gone from deep reds, oranges and browns to brighter, lighter yellows, blues, and pinks.  (Ah, the beauty of paint and some accessories!)

That orange wall was bugging.

And, the whole intimate ambience thing for a dining room is fab, but translates into dark and dreary for a playroom.

So, armed with some leftover paint from Henry’s room three years ago, moving some furniture around, and a few framed prints…

MUCH brighter, happier and playroom-esque!

The bright multi-color bins that used to house the toys were replaced with a Craigslist dresser that used to be country blue with handpainted roses.

Now, instead of the toys being visible and making the room feel cluttered even when they were all put away, they live hidden in drawers.  (The room being visible from the main part of the house is great for keeping an eye on kids, but hard to strike that balance between kid space and hello, this is my house! space).

Rainbow bunting re-used from my Queen Bee Market booth, colorful bowls from the $1 bins at Target hold random little toys that need to make their way home but we’re in a hurry, and the black cupboard thing in the corner that used to hold all of our fancy barware, now holds organized bins of art supplies and playdoh.

This side of the room still looks really cluttered to me, but I’m not sure there’s anything I can do about that since it’s really about the train table…which the kids still play with….at least it’s off to the side, right?

The curtains are my pretty dining room curtains turned around…that’s actually the inside lining…but it’s simple and good enough for now.

A corkboard for artwork, a blue bin for diapers and wipes, and an egg timer for clean up time (“I’m setting the timer for 5 minutes.  You must have the room cleaned up before it dings or…[insert consequence here].”)

My favorite part is all of the fun little prints strewn about.

(Print from Blossom and Vine.)

I really, really, really didn’t want to spend any money on this room update.

I used paint I already had in the garage, shopped my house, and re-arranged.  I was forced to buy a pint of primer because I was all out, but at the end of the day, I only spent $7.50 to completely re-do this room!!!

I have a stack of random frames from other parts of the house that have been re-done or moved around…some of which were too big for the prints I had.

I pulled some of my favorite fabrics from my fabric stash and just used them as “matting”!  Um, yes please!  I think I’m going to be doing this on purpose more often!

(I love You print from here.)

The alphabet in Portuguese is such a fun print…you hardly ever find anything in Portuguese!

Another example of a too big frame with fabric taking up the extra space.

And a print that is crooked in the frame…and I have yet to fix it.  Meh.

A free printable is probably my favorite part of the entire room.

The playroom.

That should be a formal dining room.

But isn’t.

And while HGTV would have my head, it works for our family and that’s really all that matters.

(Hey look, it’s me!  In my yoga pants and a messy pony…otherwise known as The Uniform.)

Do you have a playroom?  Is it visible from the rest of the house?




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I'm a mom to four. A wife to one. I believe in story. I love telling you about mine and would love to hear yours. There's really no sense in wasting our suffering and not sharing in each other's joy. We're all in this together...even if it doesn't always feel like it.


  1. 1

    LOVE IT period.

  2. 2

    I love it. I am all about making rooms work for what you need them for, not their expected purpose. I love what you have done, and it looks perfect for your family. Good job!

  3. 3

    Very cute!

  4. 4

    I just love everything about this room! We did the same at a previous house we lived in and turned the formal dining room into a play room. I love that white toy chest and I love that your kids still play with the train table! My littlest is obsessed with trains and tracks but never did play with the train table! So weird!! But seriously love everything about this room!!!

  5. 5

    Love the room! Such pretty colors. Do you think if you painted the train table the same color as the dresser it might look less cluttered? I’ve finally realized that with my kids stuff, if I can at least get it mostly one color, it helps with the cluttered look. My sons train table is white, and it seems that even if there are cars all over it, it doesn’t bother me quite as much as his sisters multicolored array or “stuff” LoL!

  6. 6

    We do- it’s supposed to be the “formal” living room. It’s visible from the foyer, the family room and the kitchen. And I painted it bright orange :) I’m getting ready to tackle it soon because I want to make it *slightly* older for them and have a long desk area for homework and such.

  7. 7

    wow. LOVE it! i cannot believe you spent basically $0 on this. i love the larger frames with open space, surrounding the framed print. i love the fabric as matting because the frames were too large. and i especially love seeing my “you are my sunshine” print sitting there in YOUR house!?! yay! honestly, what a good idea to give up the dining room, too. great job!!! i love everything about it!

  8. 8

    Ok, first WHERE did you find the portuguese print?!! I HAVE to have it :) So true about not finding portuguese stuff. We have a playroom too, but fortunately its not that visible. But in turn its not very cute either. haha!
    Love the whole room, thats awesome you didn’t spend anything. I also just recently did the fabric matting thing because I was a dork and got a document frame at the $1 store for a 8×10 print! But I’m totally copying the frame w/in a frame! Brilliant :)

  9. 9

    We have a play closet. Under our staircase, there is a really random and oddly sized closet that is tall enough for me to stand in, but too small to really make any use out of. So all of the “downstairs” toys, get shoved under there. While it’s not exactly an entire room, it is nice to have that space close by so we can shove toys in there when we have guests over. Love the prints you have hanging up.

  10. 10

    Love it – thanks for the inspiration! We don’t have a playroom because we live in a 120 yr old 6 roomed cottage – so I’m always trying to find storage solutions for my daughters ever growing toy collection. Currently my living room is home to two toyboxes that double as side tables, a rocking horse and a ride on car. Wish we had a playroom!

  11. 11

    Love your playroom, especially the paint. So much better than trying to send little ones upstairs to their rooms or downstairs to a basement playroom. Our house is small and the constant toys under foot make me cray-zee! The fact that you did this so frugally makes it even better.
    I need to get some cheery prints for my house… asap. Now I’m going to dream of having a dining room that I can convert one day!

  12. 12

    ugh- the color choices are perfect. And the printables, and the scrap fabric mats, and those fabulous chairs at the table, ugh. as in ugh- I’m jealous. ugh- wish I had a room that looked like this. ugh- why can’t I put together fun colors like this. you are inspiring.

  13. 13

    I like your living room as well as your play room. Nice choice of color. . I love the design and the arrangement totally.

  14. 14

    We have a tiny 2 bedroom 1 bath house in a fantastic part of town with wonderful neighbors! However…I dream of a playroom. Love the new colors and fun prints!

  15. 15

    i love this. our playroom is basically the first room you seen when you walk in. that has mostly bugged me, but it really is super convenient. when people come over with kids, they can get right to playing. this post is good for me to read…to just release everything looking picture perfect and have a home that functions well for your family….that’s good stuff. thanks. :)

  16. 16

    We do have a play room. And like yours it is supposed to be a formal dining room. But for now it is the play room. My kids are older than yours, 6 & 9 so that is where they play watch tv and play the Wii. There are tons of shelves and lots of rooms. They have their own couch in there as well. Ours isn’t nearly as open as yours though. It has a door from the kitchen that has a pocket door that is almost always closed. And there is an open doorway from the hall. And for those twice or three times a year that we need the space, we shove the couch against one wall and add all the leaves to the kitchen table and we still have out formal dining room.
    Yours is adorable. Makes me wish that I had a play room when the kids were littler.

  17. 17

    Do you happen to know what brand and name that blue paint is? I LOVE the color and am looking for something similar for my playroom – I am also turning my dining room with deep burgandy paint into a playroom! I’ve tried about 3 different blue samples and none of them look great. I think your blue is a little lighter and it looks so cute!

  18. 18
    Brianne Ellison says:

    Oh I wish I could pick your brain. We Also have a formal living room at the enterance of our house complete with two formal flowery couches, a huge table for 8, glass coffee and end tables, and a china cabinet. We have no china and I don’t entertain so the room is completely wasted. I want to turn it into a playroom/ homework room but I don’t know where to start. We’ve been trying to move so bubbie says wait but that was several years ago and still no sale! I want to use this room now:) any suggestions on how to transform formal living furniture to be more kid friendly yet still king of eye pleasing?

  19. 19

    I would love to see any updates to this room as well as a tour of your home! :)
    laurie´s last blog post ..keep calm, stroll on…