February 2010: Kids


The playroom’s the thing

Problem: How to keep peace with four kids and three bedrooms

“Our house is constantly evolving,” says Jennifer Scott of her three-bedroom, two-bathroom home in Belmont. “Every space, every room has changed over time as the kids have had different needs.”

Jesse, 14, and brother Wyatt, 6, share a bedroom, as do their two sisters. Downstairs, a playroom provides overflow space.

Scott’s husband, Keith, is an architect, and shortly after the couple moved into the circa-1900 home nine years ago with two children (they now have four), he’d strategically redesigned the first floor to give it a better footprint for a growing family. The kitchen set at the back of the home became a light-filled sitting room, the dining room in the center of the original floor plan became the kitchen, and a closed-off laundry room became an open cubby area for coats, boots and backpacks. And at this moment in time, the first room on the right on the first floor serves as playroom.

Designating such a prominent space on the main level as a kids’ play area is what “minimizes the accumulation of stuff in the shared bedrooms,” says Scott. Her two boys, ages 14 and 7, and two girls, ages 12 and 5, double up in one of the home’s three bedrooms. As space is limited and occupancy is high in those rooms, they’re limited as much as possible to necessary bedroom activities—sleeping, homework and reading. They also come with bigger-sibling-imposed rules such as the restrictions Scott’s 12-year-old daughter laid down for her little sister.

“Jane tells Lucy she has to knock before she comes in. It’s her room, too, but Lucy’s only 5, so she actually listens,” says Scott.

In the downstairs playroom, by contrast, the kids can spread out and do what kids do—play pretend in the wooden playhouse in the corner; hang up their dress-up clothes and accessories on one of the intentionally low-hung wood hooks that span an entire wall of the room, keep all their blocks and books organized on the low shelves that span another and hang up all their artwork. It’s a kid’s play haven, especially for the little ones. Already, though, the older siblings are starting to outgrow it.

“Now the older two want a place they can go with their friends to get away from the little ones,” says Scott. She and her husband now are in the process of turning their first floor office into a lounge for the older children. Scott’s already planning the playroom’s next iteration as well: “Eventually, I’d like to turn it into a nice sitting area and a music room for the kids to play their instruments,” says Scott. For now, though, the playroom is clearly for the kiddos. No grown-up furniture allowed.—Katherine Ludwig


Barrettes at bay

Tired of finding your little girl’s barrettes strewn all over the house—except during the early morning rush when you really need to find one? This cute bow organizer keeps accessories where they should be: accessible. Hang it on the back of her bedroom door, low enough so your little princess can clip her hairdo duds on and off herself. $6 at Whimsies.—K.L.