Last May, we purchased our home as a foreclosure. It's a gorgeous home. We love it for so many reasons. The people that built the home LOVED built-in storage, and we have no shortage of storage places in this house. We have built-in lockers and a mail station in our mudroom. We have built-in linen storage in our bathrooms. Two of the four upstairs bedrooms have built-in desks. Really, they are just wonderful, and as our kids get older, we will appreciate them even more.
One area of our home that has built-ins is a lofted area of our second floor. We've been calling it a 'loft office', but we haven't been sure how to use the space. Originally, it was built as a home schooling station. Our kids are too young for school, and we don't have plans to home school. So what should we do with the space?
BEFORE (and this is a very nice before..it's looked way worse than this):
Use it as an office? We have a main floor office that we use to pay bills, store documents, and check email, and although we considered repurposing our main floor office, we liked the idea of having a closed door to all of our important paperwork and we have a big desk already that was used in our previous home. So, Mr. Lofty is not going to be a true office.
Next, we thought about making it a laundry folding station since our laundry is on the second floor too. I'm not sure what the problem was but in 2 weeks time we never folded laundry there. Was there too much room? I'm not sure, but the laundry just started piling up. Clean and dirty both. And then the cleans and the stinkies got mixed together. And then we decided this area was not a good laundry folding area.
Another idea was to make it a storage area. We tried this when we were finishing our basement. We had cardboard boxes stored under the desk, above the desk and on the floor all around the desk. While it may be practical, it wasn't pretty, and we are really into simplifying right now. Our sun porch is full of future garage sale items. My thought is that if we need to use this space as storage, we have too much stuff. Also, there is no door to this area, and the idea of kids getting trapped in piles of boxes scares me.
One idea I had was to make it my 'coupon station'. I figured I could use the space to print, sort and file away my coupons. I could keep everything all together and organized. I even had a printer up there until recently that I could plug my laptop into. What a dumb idea! The only time I have to print coupons is when a child/children are napping or after the kids go to bed. Printers are not quiet. Our back up printer is especially not quiet. And then, there is that whole door issue again. The vision of my stacks of coupons flying around the entire second level makes me very irritable. And really, most of my couponing is done on Sunday mornings on the couch with Lucky's help. My coupon files are smallish and all four (yes 4...it's a bit much, but it works for me) fit easily in my purse. Conclusion: I don't need a big office space to coupon.
Lately, Mr. Lofty has been our DJ. We have an old radio that we turn on when it's time to get the kids ready for bed. We dance and sing and run around. While that's fun and all, I think the space can be more than just a radio holder. It will still serve our 'groovin' needs' as Lucky says, but we're adding a little more. (Actually, Lucky says, "Let's Groove, Mommy". Okay. Let's.)
Several things were clear to us:
1. We had to make the space kid friendly.
2. We wanted to make the space a little easier on the eyes.
3. No matter what we did with the space, it would be much better utilized in the future, as a homework station.
So without further ado, here is what the space looks like now:
We made it a learning center by adding accessories we already owned and a few new items.
I picked up a US Road Map (although I need to get the wrinkles out:)), pinned it to a bulletin board and we've already started pinning down places we've traveled together as a family. It's also nice for pointing out where Oma and Opa are residing (Florida...boo to you and your 80 degree weather:)).
We, of course, needed some books, and I plucked a few from each child's room.
And we added a picture of the kids and Bill, which we printed at Sam's Club. This desk space adjoins the wall that I added the family pictures to earlier this week, so it's nice and cohesive and now Bill is in a picture:).
Crayons and Stickers are a MUST:
Fun New (to us) Chair:
I fell in love with this chair when I first saw it at http://www.iheartorganizing.blogspot.com/:
It's expensive, in my mind for a plastic chair ($100 new at Ikea), but I love that it takes up no visual space and it's durable for the kiddos. And I was able to find 2 on Craigslist for the same cost as 1 new. We can always add the second when the kids use the space more. As for now both of their butts can squeeze on one chair, comfortably, it seems:), and we have the second chair downstairs.
Here's our new drawing work station including a couple magnetic tack boards I picked up last week from Target:
2 kids=2 bowls of crayons:), one is hiding out in the drawer
A little fun with blocks (and it's hard to see, but the note in the basket reads 'Friday!'. That's a shout out to Rebecca Black. I love Friday too, Rebecca:)! And it's only 2 days away!:
Cost Breakdown (If we had an item at our old house, I'm counting it as free:)):
Ikea Tobias Chair (Craigslist, normally $100): $50
Huge Bulletin Board (Michael's Clearance): $18 (I think...I bought it a while back)
US Map (Walmart): $6
Rug (World Market....but we had it in the laundry room of our old house), so...Free:)
Metal Waste Basket (gift): Free
Ikea Green Metal Tree (From Charm's Old Nursery): Free
Blue Picture Frame (Walmart Clearance): $3
A to Z Book Ends (Target Clearance): $4.98
Books from kids rooms: Free
2 Glass Jars filled with crayons and stickers (Walmart): $6.97 each x 2 = $13.94
Magnetic Tack Boards x 3 (Target clearance): $3.74 each x 3 = $11.22
Lamp base (Target clearance): $4.98
Lamp shade (Target clearance): $3.74
Woven Basket (From Old House): Free
Globe (Goodwill): $2.99
Blocks (Goodwill, huge bag most of which are in our game room): $5
Clock (from Laundry at old house): Free
Ikea White Basket (From Charm's Old Nursery): Free
Silver Kleenex Holder (Goodwill): $1.99
Wooden Bowls (Goodwill): $0.99 and $0.49
Picture from Sam's: $0.13
Grand Total: $127.45, not too shabby. Now, hopefully we'll use the space a bit more. I know we will in a few years once we start having homework, and at the very least it's pretty enough in the mean time:)