better homes than yours · family fun · Kids · Renovation

Day 58: The tour continues (downstairs)

I need more time to make my library not look like a disaster area, so today we’ll head downstairs into the rec room. What you see is a bit different from how we were using it before COVID: When schools closed I came down here and turned the rec room into the “school room.” And wouldn’t you know it, we do almost none of our homeschooling here — everybody wants to work at the dining room table.


Standing at the top of the basement stairs, you can see right out to our backyard. The landing has the same flagstone flooring (and heating!) as the front hall. It has to serve as a sort of mudroom, since this is where the children run in and out of the house all the time.

I actually have plans to outfit this area with some shoe organizers and a few hooks for coats, but I just haven’t gotten there yet.

As you descend from the landing you can look over the railing and see almost the entire room.


The room (including the staircase) is the same size as as it was when this house was a bungalow, but we made one substantial change: the windows. We used to have three tiny windows way up at the ceiling. Now we’ve got this wide expanse of glass that brings in lots of light and helps it feel less like a basement.


At first we thought this room might be used for swings, so we had our builders clad the wall with plywood instead of drywall to hide the inevitable dents. Clearly there are no swings here; but I do enjoy the fact that if I wanted to hang something on this wall I could screw right into it without using anchors or trying to find a stud.

The blue table was a very lucky curbside find. I set it up here so that E could have a workspace that was her size and was separate from everyone else’s work. The couch is our old couch from the living room in our bungalow.


The slightly darker patch on the wall is my quick and dirty method for an instant whiteboard. I used a roll of adhesive book covering material and stuck it right to the wall. See the red writing? My ambitious plan was to update it weekly with everyone’s learning goals. The first week I wrote on it was also the last week.



There’s a small table that looks like it belongs in a classroom. It did, before a private preschool went bust and sold off its furniture. My in-laws bought it for their home but were happy to send it to ours. There’s also an adult-sized table for the older kids to work at.



At the far end of the room we have a play area, with open shelving that houses puzzles and toys. This is where large-scale construction takes place with magna-tiles and the train set. The video game equipment that you see is on loan from friends. The screen was gathering dust in the storage room and is connected to nothing but the PlayStation (for which we have only three games: Rock Band, Lego Rock Band, and Rock Band 2.)

When you turn around and look back at the stairs, you can see E’s playhouse and, just beyond the stairs, a costume corner.


Here is the inside of the playhouse…


… and the view from the inside looking out:



You can access the costume corner directly from the playhouse or from the bottom of the stairs. This setup is relatively new: We used to have an old treasure-chest style trunk where we stuffed everything in. I’m hoping that the clothesline makes it easy to hang things back up and easier to find the one costume you want. 







That’s it for today. Next stop on the tour: The Makery!



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