Treasures and unusual nooks are hidden behind a secret door (that doubles as a bookcase) on the top floor of Nana and BoBana’s North Downtown house. Greta, Collette, Harper and Holden, ages 3 months to 6 years, are the bright-eyed grandchildren who visit Jackie and John Binder (Nana and BoBana, respectively) in their cozy and quirky home.
A sleeping nook is built and outfitted for grandkids. Jackie and John Binder have devoted a special place to their four little visitors, ages 3 months to 6 years.
Jackie is the owner of local antiques shop Circa and, as such, owns an eclectic array of objects and furniture that delight and inspire. John, a contractor, is responsible for the bookcase/door and most of the structural eccentricities of the house. Together, they’ve created a space that is unique to their passions, interests and lifestyle.
Surprisingly few adjustments need to be made when the grandkids descend. Accommodating sticky fingers and guests of smaller stature is all part of the job of being grandparents.
In one room, collections abound. Delicate shells, sculpture, globes and art glass are all on display and many are accessible for curious visitors. “With the [collection] of glass paperweights, [the kids] were all allowed to hold them and touch them…And once that was behind us, it took a lot of the attractiveness out of it,” explains Jackie. “You always have to have something more interesting that they are allowed to touch.”
Another tactic that Nana employs is the use of standard, cafeteria-issue lunch trays. The little ones are offered snacks on trays instead of directly on the coffee table. Jackie says, “The trays were a good idea because they have a [raised edge]; they control any spill, if there is one.”
That’s about it for downstairs childproofing. Upstairs, the kids have a special place that is, essentially, all their own. The third floor holds the guest bedroom and bath, John’s home office and the hidden room behind the bookcase/door. In one sunny corner, low shelves hold a collection of new and vintage toys and books. Neatly organized plastic bins hold the tiny animals, crayons and characters, corralling the strays in the mix of playthings.
Hidden along a wall, with its own small window, is the sleeping nook. A snug spot built with the grandchildren in mind, it has a custom mattress (one side is vinyl, “for little bed-wetters,” as Jackie refers to them) and a sweet striped curtain for peeking behind. Greta, 6, the eldest grandchild, has already grown out of this “Secret Bed” and is now tucked in on the pull-out trundle on the opposite side of the room.
As the little ones grow, the space will continue to accommodate their maturing tastes. With a flat-screen television and plenty of seating, the big kids will surely maintain their claim on this special room.
By thoughtfully equipping their otherwise empty nest, Nana and BoBana have created an inviting and unique home for even the most curious toddler while maintaining a sense of ownership, tidiness and comfort for the whole family.—Christy Baker
Take a tip from Nana and keep snacks and spills contained by using one of these stylish fabric-laminated trays ($41.95, Seasonal Cook). Choose from a colorful and stylish in-stock selection or send in fabric and have one custom-made. Use them for snacks, craft projects or even to display your own “please touch” collection.—C.B.