The most often-improved room in our house is…the laundry room. Well, it was a laundry room when we moved in. The home inspection noted some water staining that could indicate sub-floor damage, so one of my first tasks was to tear up the lino (a back-breaking job), inspect the sub-floor (no damage; a sheet of plywood under the lino had acted as a barrier) and re-tile. Alvin was kind enough to order a new washer and dryer and we had about a week before delivery to pull off the whole project. (Thanks, Alvin.)
This photo shows the room before we put the doors back on the cupboards – I thought it looked quite nice.
Our friends Doug and Jenny moved in up the street a couple of years ago; Doug is an architect and every time he came over for dinner he would ponder over how we could open up the dividing wall between our kitchen and living room. One day he realized that we actually had enough space to create a third bedroom, so he drew up a plan of the whole thing. And it only cost me a fried chicken dinner!
When we found out I was pregnant we put step one of the plan into action, which was relocating the laundry room to a closet down the hall, tearing out the wall between the old laundry room and the kitchen, and putting a new wall up that made the kitchen much smaller to create the third bedroom.
Somehow I can’t seem to find any pictures of the bedroom once it was finished; the last ones I see were taken when I was putting the baseboard in, and before the replacement windows arrived (which took forever!).
The room functioned nicely as a bedroom while Alvin’s parents were here to care for Carys after I went back to work, but since then it’s only been used by occasional last-minute weekend visitors (hi, Micah and Julie!). We decided we just weren’t getting enough use out of it to justify keeping it as a bedroom, so we have started converting it again – this time without major construction, thank goodness.
I’ve been doing a lot of reading about Reggio Emilia approaches to education, which are modeled on the student-led system developed in the town of Reggio Emilia, Italy. The idea is that instead of just having the few ‘languages’ at their disposal that typical educational systems consider important, in Reggio systems children have access to “a hundred languages” through which they can express their ideas – including painting, sculpting, drawing, dance, drama, collage… Respect is a core principle (sound familiar?), and children are considered co-creators of knowledge rather than vessels to receive instruction from teachers (or parents). So rather than developing a curriculum that must be taught, the teacher and student work together to understand what the student wants to learn, investigate the topic together, and document the process. Carys is still a bit young for all of this at the moment but when she’s ready, I’ll be ready too!
Over the holiday weekend I painted all but one of the blue walls a nice neutral cream (please don’t ask me what shade; I mixed odds and ends from four old cans of paint and I used every last drop). We put the day bed back in the room – although Alvin has plans to move it to Carys’ room once we sell the ugly La-z-boy I insisted on buying so I’d be comfortable while nursing that’s currently in her room, I rounded up some wooden boxes I’d made previously, and then we took a trip to the Container Store to get some more storage. They had a kids’ desk there with a really ugly white top but we liked the idea of the drawers on each side, so we bought those and I polyurethaned a sheet of plywood for the top. It’s just velcroed on so we can easily collapse and store it if last-minute guests arrive demanding accommodation (hi, Micah and Julie!). The cream walls function as a canvas for the thought processes and the resulting art, and the neutral tones of the plywood also cut down on distractions. The pops of color inside the boxes are left over from the birds I stenciled in her bedroom and I think they provide a bit of interest without being too bright. Modular storage boxes are apparently all the rage at the moment; I got the idea from Chez Zerbey’s nursery (scroll down to Boxes + Nursery Updates)
It’s not finished yet; I have another box underway in the garage, and I need to figure out artwork (some space will be left for Carys’ artwork too), but I like the direction it’s headed.
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