Converting our Family Room to a Playroom: Part I


Here's what Maura and I have been doing the past few days:

Gotta love a 3 year old who likes to paint!

Things are really shuffling around in our house. Up until now we've been rocking two half adult, half kid rooms...our living room (where the fireplace is and where the coffee table got taken over for coloring and art projects when Maura came along) right off the kitchen and then our family room (where the TV is) a step down from that. I knew one day that we would have to completely give in and come to terms with the fact that we have 2 kids and that we weren't using either of these rooms to their true potential or to the benefit of Maura and Ian. Lots of new stuff for Chrismtas really put us over the's a really horrible pic of how the family room had come to look on a regular basis:

{and yes, there's a 7 month old hiding in there somewhere!...can you find him?!}
Eeek! Embarrassing but keeping it real! So, definitely time for a "playroom". We decided to move the TV (and entertainment center) into the living room and make that more of a general family room (more posts on that later) and keep this large, better lit, more off-the-beaten-path (read not totally visible the second you walk in the front door) room for the kids.

So besides moving or getting rid of a ton of the furniture that was in here, we have the chance to really make this space work for them by getting a whole lot of better storage and pumping up the fun/creativity factor. I knew right away that I wanted a chalkboard wall (plus, secretly deep down I think I wanted a black wall for myself!). When we went to our local Benjamin Moore retailer to get the paint, the nice guy there also pointed out the magetic primer, which would make this wall twice as cool - you can stick things to it and draw on it!!!

Because the Rust-oleum Specialty Magnetic Primer was not cheap and required like 4 or 5 coats to actually hold magnets (trust me, I panicked after the first 3 coats when every magnet was still sliding down the wall but decided to keep going...and it was not the easiest paint product to work with but worth it for the coolness factor), I decided to do just this center area in between the windows in it.

We've now painted two coats of Benjamin Moore Latex Chalkboard Paint in black on the whole wall (to the right and left of the windows the first pic above the chalkboard paint is actually the lighter gray color that Maura is "drawing" with) and need to do one more coat before we're done. Then you're supposed to let it dry for 3 days and then prep it with the side of the chalk before writing on it. For now I'm loving the dark wall and the fact that it has already inspired Maura to do a little portrait gallery of her immediate and extended family - she calls it her "collection" and these little pieces of paper her "bills":)

(Only real strong magnets are working on here. These are her little magnet blocks that you're supposed to build stuff with since they stick to each other, but we realized we can use them as regular magnets and also store them by just sticking them to the wall. I'm kinda bummed that our little plastic alphabet letter magnets are not working on the wall, I guess they're just not strong enough? I had envisioned the kids spelling and stuff on here:( Maybe I'll look for a stronger alphabet set. We have been able to hang up full 8.5 x 11" sheets of paper/artwork if we use these big shape magnets, so at least there's that. I'll let you know how the chalkboard part functions once we start drawing on it.)

Next on the to-do list, a big trip to Ikea for some storage and a new rug.

Ps. If you're curious, you can check out some general inspiration pics on my "Playroom" Pinterest board here.


  1. Brilliant to make one room completely focused on the kids! Love where you are hewing with this and the chalkboard/magnetic wall. In our last home I had magnetic paint on the large wall of our mudroom/back hallway. and found the same issues as you have described. I ended up spending a fortune on the really powerful magnets which were the only ones that would hold the kids artwork. as much of a pain as it was, I LOVED it and I think you will too!

  2. Fun Sarah! And that's a lot of paint - but hang in there for the cool factor because that is really cool!


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