For Ali and Jim Harshaw, there was only one way to address their home’s formal living room: Hand it over to the kids.
“I really wanted an area that would bring us together as a family and the kids together,” Ali says, so they turned it into a playroom for their four children—Jesse, 10, Wyatt, 8, Elliana, 5, and Isla, 2.
“It’s the first thing you see when you walk in our front door…most people probably think we’re a little crazy,” she says. And if things get a little too, um, informal? Jim installed French doors to keep things separate when needed.
It started with the hammock. At the boys’ elementary school, there is a hammock where kids with anxiety and ADHD can take 15 minutes to sit and calm down. Ali says the hammock at their house serves the same purpose.
“Honestly, when my kids are upset, I can usually find them there,” she says.
Next came the rock wall. “We thought the kids would get sick of it, but they are on them every single day,” Ali says. After that, the couple added the rings (“They can all flip and do fun tricks”), then the swing, followed by the rope.
There are other, less intensive playthings in the area too—marbles, Legos, dolls, games—but the kids have fun coming up with routines and challenges for each other with the climbing wall and swings. (And, don’t worry, the floor is covered in wrestling mats that they solicited on Facebook.)
“[The kids] love to climb the wall, grab the rings from the corner of the room, swing on the rope and land on the other side of the room,” Ali says. “Totally my fault if they all end up in the circus.”