Putting It All Together: How I Came to Love My Children's Rooms

BlogHer Original Post

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Is your house a sanctuary? A place of rest and respite? Or does it need help? If you said yes to that last one, we're here for you! The next installment of BlogHer's "Putting it All Together" series will peek inside your homes -- specifically, the bed and bath rooms -- to see how you're making yourselves comfortable. Or not, as the case may be.

Rhoda from Southern Hospitality will be hosting this episode, with special guest Sabrina from Slice of Lemon. And of course, they'll be hanging out at the Most Fabulous House Ever, The Pioneer Woman's lodge, with PW herself, Ree Drummond.

But first, let's talk about my house, shall we? Specifically, my children's rooms.

I hate it when my house is messy. Hate it, with a capital HATE. It stresses me out to no end. This does not mean that my house is always neat (good heavens no) but it does mean that I'm constantly trying to keep up and not let the piles get the better of me.

That's a fun task with two grade-school boys living in the house, let me tell you.

Little boys love piles -- at least mine do. They're happy to pile books on the floor, toys in their beds, and laundry wherever they can find a space. It makes me crazy.

Last fall, we decided that we'd had it with my older son's room; it was nearly impossible to walk from the door to the bed. Our options, it seemed, were to take away all of Henry's stuff or get him some new furniture with storage for the stuff. We opted for that second thing, which was probably good since a lot of the stuff on the floor was important stuff, like his underwear.

Redecorating Henry's room truly changed all our lives. He got to choose the paint and the linens and the artwork, which gave him a sense of investment in the space; he got to make the decisions about what would be stored where and how it would be put away. He had a lot of guidance with all of this, of course (because I am a control freak who does not want to paint my son's room red, as he first suggested) but he was able to work with us to create a space that we all love.

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My husband was a little nervous about letting the kids choose their own paint, because our kids have ... unusual taste. Fortunately, it worked just fine -- Henry, who just turned ten, chose navy blue for his accent wall and a basic brown for the other three walls, while Charlie, our seven-year-old, went for a crazy sea-blue for the accent wall and a neutral cement gray for the rest of the room. It's just enough color, and exactly the right colors, for each of them, and the neutral base keeps it in line with the rest of our house, which is essentially all blues and neutrals.

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My husband found these metal comic book signs at Half Price Books, and picked them up for Henry's birthday. Henry loves them because hello, superheroes! And we love them because the design is cool. It's a win-win!

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This winter, we finally got around to getting Charlie some big kid furniture (his room was decorated in Nursery Leftovers, which was really sad since all of our nursery furniture was either purchased totally on the fly while Henry was in the NICU or inherited from various family members). Henry and Charlie have the exact same bedroom furniture, with one difference: Charlie has two twin beds, while Henry has a double bed. This keeps the look upstairs relatively coherent, even though each boy's room is distinctly different.

It's also a nice reflection of their personalities, honestly: Henry is an expansive sleeper (he takes up the entire bed, all the time) while Charlie is a snuggler (the kid never moves, I swear). Charlie loves the idea of having someone else -- his brother, our neighbor, a friend from school, me -- sleep in his extra bed, while Henry really prefers to be alone.

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The boys are responsible for keeping their rooms clean; in order to keep this from being a Herculean task, we've come up with a series of strategies for each of them. They both have storage in their rooms -- Henry has gigantic plastic bins under his bed, each one holding a specific thing (Bionicles, costumes, etc) while Charlie has baskets for his eleventy million stuffed friends. Putting things in the bins or baskets is so easy that no one complains about doing it. Much.

We also have bins and baskets in the game room (until recently, the playroom, but now that we're TEN and ALMOST EIGHT, we are TOO OLD for a playroom, or so I was told). Certain toys -- all the Legos, for example -- live in the game room; when they migrate down the hall to the boys' rooms (as they are wont to do) they need to make their way back to their home in the game room. Or else. The boys know this and they are good about keeping things where they're supposed to be, which means fewer wee tiny sharp things on the floor and fewer incidents of panic because THIS ONE LEGO GUY'S HEAD IS MISSING!!! (The missing heads are a catastrophe, you all. Seriously.)

Your turn: moms of boys, how do you keep your house from looking like a junior size frat house? And are girls any better about keeping things neat, or do they just get prettier furnishings for their spaces?

Susan Wagner writes about pragmatic fashion at The Working Closet and chic suburban living at Friday Playdate.

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