Making the Playroom More Playful

The playroom was cute & the ABC art & Liam’s art on the walls made it less boring but I still felt like it could be better.  Liam hardly ever looked in the bins in the 2 Expedit cubes on either side of the futon and those toys & books were not being played with at all.

So with a little inspiration from Pinterest, I added a bench, new pillows, a reading nook & a couple cute wall decals.

The bench and book shelves are from Ikea.  My mom helped me make the cushion for the bench with fabric from & custom cut foam from  I found the grey & white stripe bins at HomeGoods a few months ago & got the dinosaur bin for stuffed animals there a few weeks ago.

The reading nook is probably my favorite part.  Liam loves books & is also a very organized little guy so he likes to put the books back on the shelf after he is done.  This helped make all the books visible so we aren’t stuck reading Go Dog Go over and over.

I had enough fabric left from the cushion to make a couple extra pillows for the futon.

The Coke bear likes his new home on the bench.  The new cushion even has a zipper in the back so I can remove it to wash if needed.  It’s actually 2 long invisible zippers that meet in the middle so that it is easy to get the foam in and out.

Here is one of the great decals I got on Etsy.  I’ll mark Liam’s height with a Sharpie on the white part of the chart.

Here is the 2nd decal from Etsy.  I used 1 of the bird decals from the Grow set for the Play decal since they came from different sellers the yellow birds were very different colors.

The room is much cuter now and a lot more functional.  Liam can easily find his favorite trucks & toys which helps him destroy the room in under 5 minutes,   Thanks to all the bins & baskets, I can pick it up in under 5 minutes too!  (Which is important since there isn’t a door to the playroom & it’s the first room you see when you walk in the front door.)

*Disclaimer – Some toys were removed for the photos…Thomas the Train & Mega Blocks just aren’t cute.

Christmas Ornament Garland

I decided that our staircase needed something pretty for Christmas.  I started researching greenery garland & figured out that the nice faux stuff was really expensive.  As I was looking for alternatives, I saw some pretty pictures of ornament garland here and here and decided go for it on a grand scale.  Since I planned to do the entire staircase, I went with a single color with multiple sizes and textures (shiny, matte & glitter) because I was afraid that multi-color would be too busy.  I found the SHATTERPROOF ornaments at IKEA in boxes of 50 for a pretty good price and bought a couple of boxes just to try it out.  I was happy with the first strand so I watched the stock on IKEA’s website for a few days until they got a new shipment & I pounced.  One of the worker’s told me not to hog them all because they weren’t getting another shipment, so I bought an extra couple of boxes just in case :-).  All in I got 22 boxes – 20 red and 2 silver.  This is what they looked like in the back of the SUV.  That’s what 1000 ornaments look like.

So as you can see I have my work cut out for me.  I found that 100 ornaments made a 4.5 foot long swag.  I need 9 swags for my staircase so that came out to around 900 ornaments.  IMPORTANT NOTE: These are SHATTERPROOF ornaments (e.g. plastic).  This is important for all sorts or reasons including safety for young kids (Liam is already enjoying playing with the garland as he goes by), storage and general sanity.

The other supplies needed for this project are 1/4″ ribbon – about 3 yards/100 ornaments, scissors, scotch tape, a towel & bows of your choosing.

First layout all the ornaments on a towel on the floor where you want to work.  Pick a comfortable place in front of the TV because each swag takes about 30 minutes to string.

Cut a piece of ribbon about 3 yards long and wrap one end in scotch tape to make the stringing easier.

Tie the other end of the ribbon to something (I used a table) and leave at least 12″ of ribbon slack at that end for hanging.

Start stringing.  I didn’t have a pattern but tried to space out the textures and sizes throughout the string with the largest ornaments in the middle.  Push the ends together as you are stringing to make sure you get a nice snug fit.  The ends of these ornaments were securely fastened so I didn’t need to worry about them popping off like the older glass ornaments will do – so if you are using those then you may want to use some glue to secure before you string.

Keep stringing.  In case you haven’t figured it out by now, the towel is to keep my carpet from getting covered in red glitter.

At the end of the 2 boxes I ended up with a 54″ swag of ornament garland.

Isn’t that pretty!

Next I used the excess ribbon on each end to tie the strand to the banister.  For the ends next to the walls – I screwed a tiny little eye hook into the banister to tie on the ribbon because those strands kept slipping down the rail to the nearest baluster.

I made a few simple burlap bows from wired burlap ribbon with a little red sparkle & added those to the end posts.

In the end, I used around 925 ornaments and 28 yards of ribbon since I made one strand a little longer than the rest since the railing was too long for the 54″ strand but not long enough to need 2 swags.   The whole project took me 5-6 hours spread out over 3 weeks and cost $200 (Garland from Pottery Barn would’ve been at least twice the cost on sale).   The time & money investment isn’t too bad since I plan to use this next year and the next & the next & the next forever.

Ready for the big reveal….

DIY: Ornament Garland for Staircase


Playroom Wall Art Projects

The playroom walls have been empty since it was painted nearly 5 months ago.  At first I had trouble figuring out what to do with the big wall over the futon.  I bought a couple of 16×20 canvas prints but they were MUCH too small for the wall so they are now hanging on either side of the door.  I stole an idea from a friend for the wall opposite the windows & just had not gotten around to hanging it again after the paint job (since the process was so much fun the first time around) so due to The List I finally got this room looking more …well…playful.

First let’s look at the idea to display kid’s art that I stole from a friend.  Liam brings home art regularly from school and in order to keep the fridge from being overloaded with baby footprints or collages; I decided to display them in the playroom.  A college friend has the same thing in her kitchen so I can’t take credit for this idea but I really love how it turned out.

Here is my little “helper” showing me that a measuring tape is a great toy.

For this project you just need the DIGNITET curtain wire  & a pack of RIKTIG curtain hooks with clips from Ikea.  The curtain wire is not the easiest thing to put up (that’s why it took me 5 months to get it back on the wall).   I learned a couple lessons the first time and this time I knew to use a GOOD pair of wire clippers for cutting the wire to the right length & solid drywall anchors.  I still had one of the ends pull the anchors out of the wall slightly when I was tightened the wire.

The display ended up being around 7′ long & it looks great with a selection of Liam’s art from the past few months.  It’s really easy to change out what’s on display and only cost around $16.

The next wall to tackle was the one over the futon which can be seen from the entry & dining room.  I didn’t want anything that screamed baby and I thought about some of the larger wall decals but never found anything that was right.  As I was searching on, I found a set of 4×6 Printable ABC Flashcards.  The graphics were cute and colors worked well with the playroom so I decided to use them to create a picture grid wall.   I printed them on card stock on a nice laser printer (I’m sure you can guess where….shhh!)  I tried to save paper/ink the first time by printing 4 per page, but ended up getting the scale wrong so I highly recommend a test print & measure of 1 sheet before printing them all.

I found frames at IKEA that were 2 for $2.99 and very lightweight.  I cut out each flashcard using a straight-edge paper trimmer like this one and then framed the set.  I used 1 small size Command Strips at the top of each frame for hanging – velcro the front and back of the strip together before applying to the frame & leave the backing on the wall side until ready to hang.

Now for the fun part – hanging 26 frames in a even, level grid on the wall.   I decided to use 1″ painters tape to layout my grid with a top row of 6 frames, two middle rows of 7 and the bottom row of 6.

First I measured to find the center of the wall horizontally & then the vertical center of the collection.  I hang art so that the center of the piece is at 64″-65″ off the floor – this is a higher than some recommendations but since Kevin and I are on the taller side of average this works out to be about eye level for us.   I put up the  horizontal tape lines first & aligned the top of the middle piece of tape at 64″ high (measure up from the floor at each end & then use a level & adjust the tape until it is level).  Next use a frame on top of the tape line and bottom & mark the wall with a pencil to indicate where to put the next 2 horizontal tape lines (remember to level!).

Next up – vertical tape lines – for the middle 2 rows there are an odd number of frames so one will be centered on the wall.  Measure to the center of the wall & mark it on the horizontal tape line.   Measure to find the center of a frame then align the center of the frame (or measuring tape) with the center of the wall & mark the tape on each side with a pencil.  Apply the vertical tape lines to make 2 rows and continue using frames to measure & apply tape.  For the top & bottom rows – center the first piece of tape in the center of the wall and then use a frame to measure out from there.  Here is what my final grid of tape looked like.

Now it’s time to start hanging some frames I started with Z and worked backwards.  Take the wall side paper backing off the command strips and align the frame with the bottom right tape strips.  Even though the tape was supposed to be level, I still used a level to double check each frame prior to pressing the Command strip to the wall.

The great thing about the command strips is that you can fix goofs like this when you see that the pictures are not in the correct order.  I also used the level on top of each pair of pictures to make sure the frames stayed level all the way across.

The rest of the project was pretty quick since hard part was measuring it all out.

After all the frames are hung, just remove the painters tape from between the frames.  The other advantage to command strips for a picture frame grid is that you don’t have to worry about the frames shifting off level & looking wonky.

Overall this ended up being 33″ tall & 44.5″ wide.  The project cost $ $60 ($18 for the ABC flash cards & $42 for the frames). The grid fills up that big wall nicely and Liam was very excited about it and started pointing as soon as he saw it.

Here’s my favorite little munchkin enjoying reading a book under his new ABC art.