The process begins - going through our junk
Those of you who've been to our house know that we don't live in a mansion, at least by our standards. When you walk in the doors you see a main room and a kitchen and that's it for the main floor. I've spent much of my life in that room since the boys were born, but as they became more mobile I knew we needed another option. Going outside doesn't always work in our climate. We have an unfinished basement but I knew we could transform it into a workable space to keep the boys occupied. Thus started a several month project.
First we needed to clear out enough junk to have space to play. Those of you with basements know they are an easy place to let stuff pile up. While some storage is necessary we had way more than we needed or used. Time to purge. Joel led the charge being gifted in the organization department. My attempts usually just result in everything spread out all over the floor with no clue what to do with it. After we cleared a space and neatly stored what was left I found some of the coloured foam flooring (on sale of course!) to cover the non-carpeted areas. I love that it's comfortable and easy to clean. Virtually all our toys are hand-me-downs from cousins or gifts with a very few bought at a used sale and a picnic table off Kijiji. I wanted to add colour and cover up some ugly parts. Luckily I have bought way too much African cloth in past years so I put some of it to good use covering the walls and some shelves. I wouldn't call it pretty but it's got character and it was cheap!
I originally thought I wanted a finished basement but in some ways I think an unfinished one is great for kids. You don't have to worry about them ruining things as much. Sure, things like our furnace are exposed and I have to teach them some boundaries but it's good for them. And ultimately even though part of me would love it, we don't have the cash to finish our basement which is the only way we buy things (ie. no debt). I'm happy with the way it's turned out considering what we were working with and the boys love playing down there, often for several hours a day. When you inherit toys they are often the noisy, plastic kind that aren't my favourite, but they were free and that works. As much as I'd love for my boys to only play with wood and dirt and all things natural, c'est la vie! I've set up a little desk for myself where I can work on a project or read while keeping an eye on things. It won't be long until I can probably leave them down their on their own with frequent check-ins.
It is not a classy playroom. No modern decorating or sleek lines. I guarantee it won't be featured in any magazines. Sometimes I even feel it's borderline tacky but it's colourful, simple and hardly cost us anything. I like that. I love watching Caleb pretend to cook in the play kitchen, passed on from his cousin, passed on to her by a friend. I love watching Micah build a tower for the sheer joy of knocking it down. I love watching them both sit at the picnic table with a pretend cup of coffee, sipping it like daddy does. And I love that we actually followed through on one of our plans and got it done. The finished product is below. If you're not scared of furnaces and don't need perfection you should come over and play!