January 25, 2012

House Tour: Dining / Play Room

Welcome to our Dining Room / Play Room where we spend much of our time, especially on dreary winter days. We are somewhat challenged for space and we needed to find a way to make our dining room also work as a play area for Little Smith and a storage space for his growing collection of toys. It's funny that we use the most formal room in the house as a play space but it gets used far more than it ever did before! It's my favorite room because it has wonderful light so I enjoy spending time here as does Little Smith. I really wanted to preserve a functioning space for us all to eat together in addition to play and at least for right now, this room accommodates both perfectly.

The house was built in the 1920s and I love all of the paneling and the built in china hutch in this space. I enjoy a mix of traditional and modern design and since the room itself is quite traditional it's fun that the furnishings are so clean and simple.  The overall idea was to be playful and bold but without much color so that our favorite dishes (on display in the hutch) and all of the toys would contrast and provide bright pops of color.  The paint scheme is crisp but also conservative; woodwork is all painted a bright white and above the chair-rail is a muted historical blue.
left: large toys are stored along the far wall, the chandelier is a DIY project  right top: the high chair by Bloom sits at the head of the table and swivels to take advantage of the view  right bottom: the glass and metal table slides out to double in size for larger gatherings 

I've actually had the table and chairs for a long time. The plastic chairs designed by Phillippe Starck get mixed reviews for comfort but they're definitely more comfortable than they look! Actually they work better than ever now because they can be stacked and put off to the side to allow Little Smith crawl and roll under the whole table.

The chandelier is a DIY project that I tackled last year and I'll be posting on that in the near future. It's a fun and unique focal point that people either love or hate- I love!

The china hutch is my baby where I display my favorite dishes and vases. I change them out every now and then but I enjoy seeing all of the color behind the glass doors. We use the drawers below for silverware and table linens, plus the occasional puzzle or toy.

top: the built in china hutch houses many favorite colorful dishes and serving pieces  bottom left: two rows of hand blown glasses (the all blue are a wedding gift from a Vermont artist and the multicolored were purchased in Venice)  bottom right: vintage childrens' dishes and vintage berry casserole and custard bowls handed down from my mom

The curtains are a simple sheer white from Target a few years ago. I love that they let in tons of natural light and you can actually see through them to the view beyond, but they do screen out some of the direct sun and soften the room at night, plus Little Smith enjoys hiding behind them.

We recently got the toy storage cubby at Ikea and I'm so happy we did it before the holidays when we got so much more stuff! It's basic but it works well for Little Smith to get out toys he wants on his own. Generally he dumps everything out across the whole floor so it's great to have bins to throw it all back in at the end of the day. Large toys are lined up along the opposite wall and luckily we don't have too many for now.

a collection of favorite children's toys are displayed on the top of the toy cubbies just out of reach - for now. clockwise from top left: vintage wooden car which was mine as a child, vintage candy dish with letter blocks,  most toys are stashed in cubbies and bins (beyond chairs) at an accessible height , vintage nesting blocks gifted from cousin Kamy

The floor tiles are the typical foam mats you see in most day-cares but we got them in charcoal gray and white which is somewhat unexpected. We were worried about keeping the white clean but I think the gray almost shows more food. They do need to be cleaned frequently since Little Smith is a food flinger.

All of the wall art are black and white prints of pin-hole photographs by Big Smith aka James. He builds his own site specific pin-hole cameras and I hope he will do a post in the near future about his work because it's amazing!

the palette is intentionally muted in black, white, silver, and blues to contrast the brilliant color of the toys and dishes. clockwise from top left: glass and stainless steel table, pin-hole photography by Big Smith aka James, antique silver fish gifted by aunt Linda, plastic chairs by Phillipe Starck for Kartell and floor mats by Great Mats

As you can guess, this room is not always this tidy. There's often stacks of mail on the table or hutch and lots of toys all over the place, but I actually find that it's pretty fast and easy to pick up everything and enjoy Sunday breakfast as a family or a cup of tea at nap time. It's a room that the whole family enjoys. Thanks for taking a peak inside our home!


  1. You have to know that I love this! Amazing. :) Makes me happy!

  2. This room is stunning! Clean and elegant, but still modern and fun! I love that you were able to take such a formal space and make it functional and inviting to Little Smith. I am seriously in love with this room. I want to somehow transport it into my place! Hehe. Where did you find your foam mats? I'm normally not a big fan, but seeing them in such muted colors really works for me.

    1. Thanks guys! Tara I ordered the mats online from "Great Mats". They have a lot of colors available but most are pretty bright- these are gray and white.

  3. Wow! You have done an amazing job with this room. Its functionality plus the colors are fantastic. I love the blue you chose (we have a blue dining room as well!). It looks great with the white. And that built-in hutch= my dream. Wonderful job! And thank you for sharing a piece of your home with us. I can't wait to see more!

  4. So ingenious to combine these two family spaces! I'm not pressed for space, but I love this room. I found your post by searching for ideas of using gray as a wall color in a play room. Love your gorgeous accents of aqua and red!

  5. Hi there! We're working on painting a new family room. I remembered loving your muted historical blue color and came back to find it now. Do you mind telling me the exact name and brand of this paint? Thanks much!

    1. Hi Samm, I know it's Benjamin Moore and I'm fairly certain the color is 'ocean floor'. Hope that helps!

  6. What a post. It is really awesome. It contains everything for building a good community. Full of information. HATS OFF!
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  7. Thanks guys! neha I ordered the mats online from "Fitnessmatsindia.com". They have a lot of colors available but most are pretty bright- these are gray and white much more.

  8. Very well written and full of important information for all. thanks