I grew up in a home where no television set was allowed in the living room. We were allowed in there, but no television. The TV was in the family room, and that was that. Living rooms were for talking, entertaining, reading near the fireplace. But not for watching TV.
When my parents moved to a one-floor condo and sold us the house, my mother insisted on a place with three bedrooms: one master, one guest room/home office and one for – ta da! – the television. Again, no TV in the living room. That third bedroom was made into a den, the doors of the 6-foot closet removed and a perfectly sized television storage unit installed in the alcove.
My mother, the room repurposer.
I was reminded of this while working on my story today on rethinking the rooms of our homes. I know several people who have swapped their living and dining rooms because they feel the spaces work better. I’ve seen young couples with no dining room furniture use the place as a playroom for their kids – or just as an open place for them to tumble, dance, stage shows. And some homeowners with second-floor loft areas have created cozy reading nooks or cool home offices.
Years ago, while I was renting a house that had a fairly good-sized “bonus” room off the back of the kitchen, my imagination worked overtime thinking of things that room could become. A greenhouse? A gallery? Oh, the possibilities.
In our current home, we have done our own version of repurposing rooms in fairly simple ways. About 10 years ago or so, we transformed our third bedroom from a guest room to a playroom for our young daughter. It was an idea that popped into my head in the middle of the night. I had been wanting to create a safe place for her and her little friends to play, and quite frankly, I really wanted a place to corral her toys.
I just didn’t want to send her off to the basement.
The bright third bedroom seemed the perfect spot. We had other areas where overnight guests could sleep. A playroom would be used everyday. A guest room? Several times a year.
The really nice part of this transformation was that it cost very little money to set up. Three white bookcases – two tall, one short – were brought up from the basement and anchored to the wall. These cases, the style of which screams “first apartment,” fit perfectly. I invested in some inexpensive solid blue and white plastic storage bins that look like miniature laundry baskets. These held books, toys, puzzles, art supplies, doll clothes, etc. My daughter and I filled them, labeled them and lined them up on the shelves, alternating blue and white.
I then hung blue denim valances at the windows, which already had pull-down shades. Her kitchen set was shoved against another wall, various costumes and hats draped on peg hooks, her table and chairs placed in the middle of the room. Artwork came cheap. It was all her own.
After working so well for so long, the playroom is now back to being a bedroom. But the living room has gone through a few transformations of its own over the years, most recently as part music room.
You’ll find several instruments in there. And a lot of music. But still no TV.