29/52… Mid-Century Modern Playroom Edition


“A portrait {or three} of my child, once a week, every week, in 2014.”

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Izzy—As recently found, on three separate occasions, in his ever-evolving bedroom/playroom. I get the feeling he likes it in there.
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I don’t know if all parents are like the two Izzy got stuck with, but I do know that we are the kind of parents {and have been since the day he was born} that seek out our spouse, beckoning the other to come see what sweet position or setting we find our son in when we deem it just too cute for the other to miss. I suspect that, often, Mr. B’s reason for coming to get me is so that I can capture the moment on camera. But I equally seek him out to have him follow and observe what I’ve just discovered… what Izzy is doing or into at any given endearing moment… which is pretty much all of them, because… well, he’s three and ever-changing and curious and mischievous and lovely.

I’m not sure what it is about this last week, but in three different instances, one of us discovered him in his room playing quite contentedly. Not that he doesn’t almost always play that way in there, but usually when he plays in his room, he all but begged one of us to join him to so he would have someone to play with. Lately, though, we’ve found him so sweetly and contentedly playing on his own, and it’s been simply adorable… especially when finding him in his fedora, which I could not get him to wear for a photo if my life depended on it. {Although, I’ve never tried bribing him with candy yet. Hmmmm….}

This little guy’s room has seen so many transformations over the past year-and-a-half+ since we moved into this house. This is the second room he’s been in since our move. Last year, we realized it made sense to switch bedrooms and give him the larger one because he has more things to fill it up with {a decision that was also influenced by the belief that we’d be bringing a second child home from the hospital who he would have to share a room with}. When that switch came, he also graduated to a toddler bed… a very big step as a just-turned two-year-old.


Since the switch, his room has gone through multiple transformations… or phases. The big one came last Fall, when we finally updated the room from looking like someone only slept there to looking like someone actually lived there. I guess you could call it a makeover. Everything was taken out of boxes and bins—whatever was carried over from his baby nursery because it could still work well for a young boy’s room—and put together in a room fit for a prince. Actually, the feel in there was more like something Christopher Robin would have lived in. I’m not big on bright, bold, commercial or cartoony rooms for little kids. So I went for a much more cozy, warm and natural look with lots of wood tones. I loved it so much, I think I wanted to hang out in there more than he did. But I’m certain, as evidenced by his enthusiasm after the makeover, that he loved it too! And that made me glad. It’s not that I think he deserves a special room any more than any other child. But after the way life turned out to be since coming to this house, I just want so much to give him something nice. In many ways, making his room just right is more important to me than doing so for any other room in our house.

Additionally for this phase, we went to Ikea and bought a ceiling light, as well as some ledge shelving for his wall to display some of our favorite children’s books.
We bought him a little “Eames” rocker because the grown-up rocker he’d had in his room since he was born wasn’t being used anymore. {I could cry when I think of the fact that I don’t rock him in that chair anymore.} About the time that his new no-moms-allowed rocker arrived, I had also bought the black and white chevron rug seen in these photos to give the room some fun pattern and contrast. {I had grown tired of the chevron motif I kept seeing everywhere, but was not opposed to such a touch of whimsy for his room… especially when I saw the incredible clearance price attached to it. Ironically, Apartment Therapy posted an article about the death of this trend the same day I wrote this post, which also references another trend I bucked, ended up giving into and wrote a bit about on this blog.}

I also painted a $3 thrifted table for drawing/crafting that fit perfectly with the kid-size personalized Mid-Century Modern molded plywood chair we gave him on his first birthday {both shown in the photo below}.
I snagged a white version of this stool at a local second-hand store {for pennies on the dollar of what it costs bought new}, which makes a fun addition to the room {seen below next to the “Eames” rocker}. And I finally hung some artwork {old and new} on the walls, as well as the chalkboard elephant decal I had bought for his some-day room when he was born.

I would say that was the Phase Three transformation. With the arrival of our daughter around the corner and all the uncertainty that surrounded it, we decided not to do too much more than that, even though there was more I wanted to do. However, even if his room had stayed just that way, I would have been content to call it done. Given the fact that Anysia never came home and the certainty that we won’t have any more children, I’ve since settled on “Izzy’s Room” plans, and they include lots of other fun things… so, thus began Phase Four {right around his third birthday}.

Last week, I finally painted out his pink closet interior to white. {For some reason, the last owners didn’t bother to paint over the pink in there… painting only the main walls in the room with the color seen in these photos.} Because his rather large closet serves as toy central and the doors are/will be open most of the time, I wanted the walls inside to be white… and bright for the sake of visibility. {There are no lights in these old closets with sliding doors, so even an open closet is, at best, only half-open and, equally, half-closed. But don’t get me wrong… I LOVE this quintessential mid-century ranch feature and will NOT be changing it. Lights can always be added for better visibility}. The new white closet interior looks sooooo much better. I’m very glad to have that crossed off the list, as I couldn’t really fully organize the closet in any permanent way until the walls were painted.

For his birthday a month and a half ago, he got the orange and white teepee pictured below {which, of course, went on sale a day after we bought it… but we were still able to get credit for because we still had the receipt, so they honored the sale price… thank you Land of Nod!}. That was another big part of this new phase.

But the biggest part was his most recent addition… a beautiful used thrift-store-found Mid-Century Modern dresser {best seen in the third photo down from the top} that’s been awaiting some TLC {even though most of it was in beautiful condition when I bought it, especially compared to most of our other Mid-Century finds that are going to need hours of restoration work, either because they came pretty beat up to begin with, pre-Izzy, or because they have been banged up by him these last three years}. Since we’ve been in this house, we’ve found a few great pieces and stored them in the garage until we could get around to cleaning/sprucing them up. This one was one of those pieces… too perfect to pass up at such a steal price of just $29. And we lucked out, because someone had already bought it, but never came to get it, so it went back out on the floor for another lucky shopper to snag.


Now that he is three and a tad less destructive {aka, typically-toddler}, I’m hopeful that he will keep this dresser in good condition. The piece came with two of the six drawer handles missing, so I had to order six new handles… well, new to me. They are actually mid-century as well, so technically they’re old. I’ve considered painting part of the dresser, but whether I will or not is still up in the air. I’m just so happy to have it in there now. It is the perfect addition to his room. Because it was made around the time this house was built {1960}, it just fits in perfectly here… as do the many pieces that moved here with us. And it’s going to fit all his things just as nicely. I’ll be so happy to have all his clothes in one place and extra room for other things.

Clearly {as seen in the photos}, there’s still a lot of setting up to do in the room. But I’m totally excited to have taken another step closer to what I’ve envisioned. It has been a little too hodgepodge for my liking up until recently. Now that he is done potty training {as of just after his birthday}, I know I don’t have to keep the changing table {which was actually a dresser} as a back-up. Removing that was what made room for the new, much-larger dresser.

His room is finally coming along. There are a few art pieces I want to create for him. We have yet to give him a regular twin bed—right now he’s sleeping on a sleeper sofa, which I’m sort of okay with, because when it’s upright as a sofa and has pillows and stuffed animals on it, he really enjoys it as part of his room… and I like it because the couch, though new, has mid-century modern flair. I’ve got an old mid-century coffee table that I am converting into a headboard… and when it’s done, it will look a lot like this bed. There are some littler things I also want for his room. When circumstances settle down for us in the employment department, there is a vintage-esque globe I’d like to buy for his room {which I’ll be able to apply a remaining gift-card balance to when I do!}, and there is a garage-sale-found mid-century school desk in the garage that I plan to clean up and put in there. I’d like him to have some sort of clock so that he can get really good at telling time. I’m thinking of giving him an easy plant to take care of… maybe a cactus? I’d like to put a mirror in there. {One came with the dresser, but I’m undecided about whether or not to attach it.} And then I have some other small DIY projects… the biggest one being a chalk board / dry-erase board / magnetic board strip installation behind his door. Also, we really want to get some proper storage/organization installed in his closet for more efficiency in storing his toys and things.

Now that I think about all this, I remember when we moved in here {and I was still blogging on my old blog at the time}, I had wanted to sort of utilize my blog as a means of keeping track and documenting the different renovations, makeovers or remodeling we’d be doing on our house. There are soooooo many plans that seem as though they’ll never be completed until we’re old and grey. But you have to start somewhere, right? I guess posting about Izzy’s room today will be my initiation on this blog for posts where I track our progress on the house that we so love and have been hoping/waiting to work on.

I remember I was going to create those check-off lists like the delightful husband/wife duo does on Young House Love. I guess I’ll try that here, and then when I come back to do updates on his room, I can just copy and paste my list and cross off any new DONES as I go.

So here goes… here’s the list for Izzy’s room {which will include the crossed-off items that are the changes/updates we’ve made thus far}.

Izzy’s Room

Paint the inside of the closet white
Refinish hardwood floors {DIY if possible}
Paint pink trim on east window {short-term}… Can you see the pink in that first photo? EEEK! It has to go!
Replace windows {long-term}
Hang curtains {short-term}
New blinds {long-term}
Paint, stain or refinish closet doors… Mr. B wants to remove them, but I insist that they stay! Closet doors are a hostess’s best friend.
Paint walls {if I can’t live with the existing color… which I might be able to, especially if Izzy okays it}
Paint closet interior white
Purchase Mid-Century Modern dresser
Purchase rocking chair or other chair
Find bean bag chair for reading nook
Add closet units {like this Elfa set}
Add closet lighting {like this lighting from Ikea}
Hang plug/wire ceiling light {short-term}
Install hard-wired ceiling pendant light {long-term}
Refinish mid-century thrifted book cabinet
Make mid-century-esque twin bed like this one
Hang ledge shelves for favorite books
Install deeper wall shelving for displaying other items
Add storage baskets for stuffed animals and such
New bedding
Throw pillows
Find or make teepee/play tent

Globe for learning what on God’s green earth is happening!
Plant for learning how to take care of something {before we buy him a dog}
Clock for learning to tell time
Refurbish thrifted kids craft table
Rug for main floor area
Refurbish garage sale vintage school desk
Install activity board {chalk, white, and magnetic boards strip behind door}
Replace mama/baby rocking chair with kiddo rocking chair
Replace floor and wall vent covers
Replace light switch cover
Replace door knob {when all doors in house get new}

Partially Done

Create artwork
Hang existing artwork

At some point, I hope to be creating similar lists for all the other rooms in our house, and blogging about those changes as well. Not only is it something I wanted to do from day one, but now, a year and half later, I’m finding I need to set myself to a project or two. That is to say, each house update we do is a project, and there have been a few in the works lately, but I’m talking about a project for just myself that I can pour my energy into… like documenting the process. I admire the bloggers out there who are organized enough to write about and record the process and progress of their home updates. I’ve done so a little… in spurts. But then I lose steam. I want to stick with it for each room and each step in the process of transforming those rooms. I KNOW some day I will look back on the process of restoring and transforming our home during these days through photos and words and be so happy that I capsulized these things.

With the house being so torn up {because of a floor installation we started several weeks before Izzy’s birthday and operation tear-down-the-painted-wallpaper-in-the-hallway we started a few weeks after, it’s hard to sit down and write about these things. But just tonight, in counseling, I was reminded of the importance of writing {or somehow preserving/documenting} this time of life when I tend to feel disconnected because of grief. It’s slightly easier for me to write and photograph Izzy, but even that can be hard. So I know I will have to be very disciplined in doing the same for our house renovations.

It’s not just the destination I’m looking for here—the finished house {which seems like a too-good-to-be-true end product and unreachable prize}—but the process and the lessons learned along the way, as well. Lessons about DIYing, but also the lessons about life and family that we learn, too. That is my goal here! I want to treasure it all. So into my treasure box go these photos and words that will become memories and windows to the past… a view into a very specific, distinct and significant part of our lives. I think of these posts… this documentation… as sort of a keepsake box one would put in their attic at some point. Our house does not have at attic {which I am pretty glad about, because it allows for the fabulous mid-century ceiling that sold us on this house the second we stepped into it with our realtor}, so this space… this blog will be my attic, instead. And rather than old black and white photos that curl up in the corners or yellow with age, or diaries that fade with time, our stories of this house and all that fills it will rest here on this blog, which hopefully will never collect dust.

Of course, I’ve long ago begun recording all the non-remodeling/restoring stories of our home in this space. So it only makes sense for me to add these, too… for it is in these rooms in which I hope to create tangible beauty that beauty unseen, unheard and untouched is simply felt.

Okay… now that my much-longer-than-I-expected-it-to-be Project52 post is over, I guess I should also include the usual Izzy-isms that I like to have accompany my portrait{s} of him.

On my way out the door to go to counseling tonight…
“Mama, are you gonna drive outside on the road?”
“I am.”
“No, don’t do that… ’cause ‘notherwise, I will be sad.”
{Oh, how I love when he says ‘notherwise”}
“But I have to go.”
“No, don’t go. I just don’t want you to.”
{Oh… how my heart sings to hear him say how much he wants me around.}

Last night at the library as he sat on the bottom shelf and waited for me to find for movies on DVD {and handed me the ones he thought I would like}…
“Mama, I don’t like you… ’cause you’re a girrrrrrl.” {pause} “But I like you ’cause you warm me up.”
He’s one of those kids who despises wearing clothes, so when he’s cold, he’s always asking me to scoop him up and surround him with my warmth. It’s always, “Mama, warm me up. Warm me uuuuup.” To know that it’s appreciated and be told so out of the blue… well, who’s the warmed one now?

The more he talks and learns the art of conversation, the more I love this precious boy… so bright, so well-communicating, and so sweet to everyone in his life. I swell with joy and pride for him daily… not just on Thursdays when it’s time to do another Project52 post.