our atelier.

We love our house. We're renters but we love this house and all of it's quirks. It's an OLD farmhouse in a great area. Because it's OLD the layout is totally random and although it looks quite big on the outside, b/c the layout is so funny there really isn't that much space to work with.

So even though in the beginning we set up the house like normal people, over the last three years I've started to really USE our space instead of caring what is NORMAL. Like you know, having a table in your dining room and things like that.

I also want to mention the fact that we have never bought a regular priced piece of furniture. Actually, we've only bought one piece of furniture ever and that was a massive coffee table from Pottery Barn right after our wedding when the $1000 gift certificate was burning a hole in our pockets. It was on sale and it was big and it was awesome and now it lives in our basement. Anyway, I mention this b/c we don't have a lot of money so I have been forced to become seriously creative with my decorating. The biggest purchase I have made for decorating in the last three years was just this week and I bought some frames and a couch slip cover. Wow. So as you look at the photos today take into account that everything was either a yard sale purchase or given to us or picked up on the side of the street for free!

Anyway, so now that I don't think of our rooms as they were intended it has been amazing b/c we USE our house. Every single square inch for something useful. And the biggest thing to go was the dining room. It dawned on my one day that we NEVER used it. Oh, we have people over for dinner every once in a while and we also have beautiful china I used to have on display but it was, for the most part, a big room that was used rarely. And I like to LIVE in my space so about a year ago we took the table out and made it a craft room. And finally yesterday I finished some projects for that room that have been on my TODO list for far too long.

AND I took photos this morning and will walk you through the pieces of this room, our ATELIER if you will, and explain my thinking or planning or thoughts behind all of it.

So take this as a warning… this is a BIG post with LOTS of photos!


This is looking at one side of the room from the living room. This room is between the kitchen and living room. It has a beautiful bay window and gets GREAT light (too harsh this early in the am though!).


To the right of the kitchen door. I hung the chalk board low so the kids, even gray, could color at will. The paint palette is my old one and i just love it. The little blue bookcase was mine as a child and is now their writing center.


A better photo (kind of since the sun was streaming in, sorry) of the writing center… this has everything for WRITING. Next to it in that white container are Gray's balls to play with… it's nice to have toys for him in there.


My buffet and most coveted piece in our house. It came from a hundred year old house and was the garage work table. I painted it years ago and this HEAVY thing has been in every dining room… can you tell I actually LOVE the shabby look? HA! Anyway, storage underneath, the drawers hold random things and unfinished projects, the tray on top holds mail and my writing/cutting/punching supplies. We use this for drying artwork too.


Ok, maybe THIS is my most coveted piece! Again, taken, for free, out of an old house and painted+distressed. It looks beautiful with our china in it but it makes me happier holding my craft supplies!


Looking back towards the living room, this cabinet was bought for $3 at an estate sale and holds all of our paints.



I got this idea from my friend Sara and bought cheap 5×7 frames at Walmart to frame the kid's artwork. LOVE this addition to the room!


I labeled what I could b/c Bailey is working on letter recognition and reading will come next. It also helps baby-sitters know where things go!


Art supplies I don't mind them getting into themselves… foam stamps for paint, glue, glitter glue pens, markers, playdoh, crayons, foam stickers and colored pencils.


My supplies easy to get to… and I want to mention the mail on the cake plate. YES I could just put the mail on the tray, but I need things to be cute and to me this makes all the difference. I literally live for using things EVERYDAY that I love and I mean seriously, how many cakes do I make a year?

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 This little metal envelope I found somewhere for $5 (the sticker is still on the back!) and it's hanging next to the writing center so they can play MAIL, a favorite game!


The writing center…

Holds loose leaf paper, pens, pencils, #2 pencils, card stock, lined notebooks, stamps/stamp pad, stickers (lots of letter stickers) and little notebooks.

Bailey can write all of her letters and both girls LOVE to "write" in notebooks… as they get older this will evolve into hand written story books and journals I hope.




 A random corner next to the big buffet table… the bottom box is literally thousands of photos printed and loose. This is a project that will haunt me for years! The red container is one I love and has no use right now and the black box holds all our ribbon/string/twine/hemp. Poster board is behind and big construction paper is next to it.


The shelves in my "china cabinet"… random things+my glue+things for the girls to glue.


Binders full of ideas or kid's artwork (by year), my journals, baby books, quote books, etc. The brown box on the bottom shelf holds my permanent markers… lots of randomness in my cabinets.


 TOP: baby book STUFF and the plastic container holds cards for the kids… for every holiday/birthday I buy each kid a card, write them a note, seal it and label the outside, "Grayson's First Birthday, 2009" and when they are older I will give them all to them.

MIDDLE: My paint brushes, shaving cream (used for lots of painting projects), contact paper, tissue paper, paper dolls, paint tins, Magic Nuddles (we LOVE these), etc.

BOTTOM: Felt, embroidery floss, pipe cleaners, clay tools and my old TAPES I just can't part with!


Last cabinet… sand paper in one of my favorite pitchers (AGAIN, how often am I going to use a Pottery Barn glass pitcher around my three kids?), the girl's paint brushes and other paints, random projects.

Because this post can't get any longer, I'm going to share some of the projects in there…


There are ten of these papers, one for each number…


and the girls have to match the correct colored heart to the square. Great for Parker right now as we're working on colors AND counting.

20090626_0025b  Black paper in a baggie with chalk… great for doctor office visits!


I glued sticks to make a square and a triangle… they have to recreate them using the loose sticks… both girls like this but it's more for P's age (2).


An old muffin tin holds Boogle and Scrabble pieces… we use them to talk about letters and make up little games.


Things to glue.


We use the old Boogle container for button sorting!


I love garage sales b/c I find the most random things.. this bag of lollipop sticks for
$0.25! We glue and paint with these.


Just had to share one last thing… this was an antique spice rack we got as a wedding gift and since I DO NOT cook enough to have this amount of spices I decided early on that we would collect sand or rocks from every trip we take and keep them here. Sad that we haven't been anywhere… but there are some rocks from Mount Spokane we got the day before we moved away to remember our time there and in August there will be Florida sand! Wanted to share this idea b/c I think someday it will be really fun to look at… if we can ever afford to travel!


Oh, and if you were wondering about the numbers.. I am kind of obsessed with letters and numbers that represent our family… we have a lot of A's in the house for Allen, tons of the kid's first letters and I've started collecting the number FIVE since there are 5 of us. Anyway.


Did that overwhelm you? HA! So that is our dining room/art room/creative space/school room/ATELIER… which is a term I learned HERE (a blog you should all check out if this kind of thing interests you!)

I love it. Just BEING in there makes me happy. And I love how much the girls love it… how it allows them to just CREATE whenever they want. I hope they end up loving art as much as I do! Does anyone else have a space like this in their house?


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