DIY combo light table/train table/coffee table (aka, the furniture dream).

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Light Table
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Train/Play Table
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Coffee Table

I am forever getting these big ideas, so it’s rather lucky that I am married to someone who is willing to make them a reality. Case in point, when our oldest was a baby I decided he had to have a light table, that also doubled as a train/play table, and that we could also use as a coffee table. It needed to be beautiful and affordable to make too. Easy right?

With lots of planning, some tool lending from friends, and lots of tweaking to get the lights just right, my darling wonderful husband built me this! Four years and another baby later, it still gets used daily. The light table element is definitely the most popular layer, but it is used in all its iterations. Don’t you kind of need one now too? 🙂

Lillie FoulĂ©’s Bedroom/Play Space Makeover | October 2019

Lillie FoulĂ©’s bedroom doubles as her play space (and at times as a play space for her baby brother too). Her mama reached out to me because she was feeling overwhelmed by the space, which had become cluttered and wasn’t fostering independent deep play. After an initial consultation it was evident that the main issue was LF had too much stuff.

Being her bedroom, the room needed to have a bed and a space to store all her clothes. It is also the access for her parent’s bedroom door, which is in the finished attic. Being her play space, there was a lot of toys, stuffies, art supplies, and lot of miscellaneous. Lillie FoulĂ© is a vivacious creative four year-old, so finding a way to create a calming sleep space as well as an inviting play space was the challenge.

BEFORE and AFTER

Continue reading “Lillie FoulĂ©’s Bedroom/Play Space Makeover | October 2019”

Drowning in STUFF? Just get rid of it.

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It’s funny how much anxiety ‘stuff’ can give you, and when you have kids you seem to always have a lot of ‘stuff’. Take the PlayMobil in our house. I had never heard of it before moving to the US and for awhile I would find (and of course buy) bags and bags of it from thrift stores – especially the vintage stuff. I organized it beautifully and placed it out for my oldest to enjoy. And he did love it, but the way he played with it was ALWAYS tip it all out and ultimately leave a trail of pieces all over the house, with ‘junk piles’ of PlayMobil placed in vehicles and other various places. I’m all for toys being played with in open-ended ways, but this game made me miserable. And trust me, it’s not worth being miserable over a toy.

So one day when his interests had shifted, I packed up 99% of the PlayMobil and donated it. Just like that. Did my son ask for it and miss it? Not really. I kept the few key pieces I knew he loved, and by removing the rest of the pieces, he actually started to really engage and play with the PlayMobil vs just exploding them like a volcano. Click HERE for a great article about why fewer toys will benefit your child.

So often I hear from parents that they are hesitant to give away toys because 1) their child might miss it, or 2) it was given by a friend or family member and they worry about upsetting that person. Let me tell you, 1) your child will thank you for creating a cleaner more organized play space. It’s overwhelming for them to be surrounded by so much stuff and it’s hard to focus and play when you don’t know where anything is. Nobody needs 30 stuffed animals or 100 broken crayons. Do yourself and them a favor and purge! I know it’s good practice to get your child involved in the process, but for most kids, giving away their toys is next to impossible. My advice, and what works well for my family, is to find a balance. Continue reading “Drowning in STUFF? Just get rid of it.”

Ring Ring! Old Phones are the JAM for Play!

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I have a weak spot for old things – people, pets, and play materials included (haha). When we moved into our house there was an old house push button phone, which we immediately put into our kids’ play kitchen space. It has been used 1000 times over since then to ‘call’ all sorts of people. We did the same thing with an old flip cell phone we had, and most recently I bought a beautiful old wall-mounted rotary dial telephone from a yard sale and added that to their play space. What I’m saying is that old phones* make excellent toys. They are the perfect dramatic play accessories that can be used to order food, call family and friends, dial in for a super hero, call the fire department, share spy messages etc etc. So next time you thrift, or you’re at your parents or even grandparents house, see what you can find and bring home with you. Your kids will thank you!

*I don’t recommend using iPhones or other touch screen type phones as a toy, because when dropped the screens can easily shatter and make tiny pieces of glass that are primed to cut skin.

Building a Family Play Space | September 2019

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With the arrival of autumn and my birthday rolling around again, I decided my wish for the year was the creation of an outdoor sunken fire pit with wrap around bench seating (that’s reasonable, right?). Our back and front yards have been created entirely with our children in mind, but I wanted something Thomas and I could enjoy and use without the kids. And a place where we could enjoy the outdoors together and with friends, even when the days and nights get colder.

When creating an outdoor play space plan for a family recently, I came across this fire pit design as an inspiration for what they could build. I loved it so much however, that I kept thinking about it and it was the inspiration for what we built (or I guess I should say, what Thomas built). While perhaps not what I would typically call a play space, I wanted to include it on this blog because creating spaces for the entire family to enjoy together is so important too!

Unlike most of our projects, we bought new wood vs reclaimed for it (we just needed a lot and very definite pieces, plus we wanted it to feel like a seamless extension from our deck vs an add on).

My hope was that we could build it in a weekend (ha!), but the digging down in very hard dry soil took hours and hours, and honestly these things just take time. However two weeks later, after lots of late nights after work and continentally tacking away at it, we have a finished project! It will be stained in the coming weeks now the wood has dried out, but until it is getting quite a lot of use!

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The inspiration photo (source unknown)…

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An Outdoor Play Space Plan for a Family of Seven | July 2019

I was hired by the loveliest family to create an outdoor play space plan. Their children’s ages ranged from teenagers to still in utero, and they were desperate to create a place in their backyard for everyone to be able to enjoy. The husband in the family is super handy and able to do all the work, so they just needed help with the vision. After a visit to their home, we mapped out the section of garden we were going to use for the space and I got\ work. It was really fun researching and spending too much time on Pinterest 😉 to come up with the perfect set-up.

Their backyard BEFORE

In the end I created a plan and detailed document, laid out with photos and suggested materials etc. I wanted to share just the design sketch here to give you an idea of what we did. Drawing may not be my greatest strength, but this along with a detailed breakdown of what they should do, has set them on their way. I am getting regular updates on the projects and it is looking amazeballs!

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CURRENT update from the family (September)…

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A Little Free Library Space Just For Kids | June 2019

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When we bought our house six years ago, the backyard was a jungle of weeds, dead trees, and a dilapidated chainlink fence. Over the years we have transformed it, including very early on erecting a six-foot wood fence (because as much as I love my neighbors, I need privacy and to feel like I have my own oasis). We live on a corner and our home backs an alleyway, and so permitting wise we had to caddy corner the back corner of the fence. This left a little triangular section of garden outside our perimeter that needed something other than dirt and weeds.

Rewind again, and six years ago my dearest friend’s baby passed away during childbirth. As a way of honoring her son, she asked friends to give books away in his name. This led to her sister establishing library shelves of children’s books in places of great need, under the name ‘Charlie’s Books’. I decided I wanted to honor Charlie in the same way, so we created our own Little Free Library just for kids in this space.

Over the years the plants have changed and grown, and this year we decided to create bean teepee over the reading bench, but it’s always been space where the neighborhood kids and folks passing by on their way to soccer or the playground, can stop and read, take a book, or leave some to share. And although this may not be a typical play space, I wanted to share because it’s something you could build for your front yard too as a way to create a space for all the children in your neighborhood.