Welcome to Guest Post Month at the MOB Society! Today’s post is a fun piece from Paige Rien, a designer at HGTV’s Hidden Potential for three seasons, and mother of three boys. Please welcome her!
If you have sons, you know that boys move constantly, and often at a fast pace. I’ve watched my oldest jump with all his might on my favorite piece of furniture, leave mysterious smudges on my drapery and cover a loved lamp in scotch tape. I used to think this is an unwinnable war. That is, the challenge of maintaining an aesthetic other than that of refugee camp.
But I don’t think so anymore. I don’t believe surrender is the only option either. Surrender in the house is problematic because the “phase” of boys being big stainers, and brawlers and breakers of things is not brief, and let’s face it – the world we’re preparing these boys to live in is full of places that they can’t touch. These lessons are best learned at home.
It’s important that we as parents have a place to call our own.
I think many people overlook this very basic need. It doesn’t have to be expensive, but everyone deserves to see beautiful things in their own home. So when you say, “I have kids, so, I can’t spend money on my house right now,” or “I have boys, I’m not putting my good stuff out!” Or “our living room/diningroom/bedroom is the play room right now,” it puts that fundamental need we have to be fully self-expressed, to see beauty, to feel like an adult, on hold.
Here are a few ideas for your war, or really, your peace mission to reclaim your home:
Outdoor fabric & rugs – Outdoor fabric and rugs, many of which are made with some form of polypropolene, have gotten much better and are downright beautiful. Best yet, you can power-wash them. This is especially key for rugs. Outdoor rugs are typically prepared for an onslought of preciptitation and mold and other inclement outdoor hazards, so your boy traffic is a piece of cake. Try HomeDecorators, Overstock or Ballard for good outdoor options.
Beautiful containers – I got this tip from my sister-in-law, Julie. You name it – rattan, wood, ceramic – what’s inside is theirs (LEGO’S, army men, nerd bullets), but what’s outside is what you like to look at. Always be on the look-out for pretty containers – don’t be confined to “bins” or obvious choices. Think about interesting laundry baskets, hampers, chests, storage ottomans, etc.
High-on-the-wall-shelves – Invest in wall shelves the day you find out you’re having a baby boy. At my son’s 12-month-check up, my pediatrician said, “it’s time to pack up your breakables,” as my walked-at-nine-months toddler ripped the door off the storage cabinet in the exam room. I thought to myself, no way am I ever doing that. I’ll just teach him to respect my things. I’ve heard legends of girls this works with, but this did not pan out with my extraordinarily active and curious son. Wall shelves have the possibility to add architectural detail and structure to a wall, and keep your littles away from breakable objects. Win-win.
Playful pieces – I believe in composing a house with everyone in the family in mind. I have playful pieces mixed in with pieces that suit my adult side. I have a bright salmon-colored monkey-eating-peanuts, table, which the kids like to talk to. (It doesn’t talk back.) I have art, not intended for children, that they find interesting. A bit of whimsy goes a long way in telling kids they’re welcome in your house. Look for art that speaks to everyone on etsy.com.
Hearty pieces – I don’t buy things that have an easily scratched finish or that can’t be jumped on. I don’t buy things that don’t do well with water or other liquids poured and then left on them. This isn’t surrender – it just means I opt for heartier pieces.
Teachable Walls – I believe everyone can benefit from walls that make a strong statement. Art can do this, maps can do this, and meaningful prayers do this very well. Art slows boys down as they run past, words entering the brain, even when we don’t know it. Walls are also a way for me to convey our family’s values. My favorite teachable wall is at the top of the stairs where I have the St. Francis Prayer in a large letters. It’s a reminder to me as I dive into end-of-the-day routines, usually running on empty.
Get them involved – They are really never too young. Let them try out paint colors you’re considering, or “help” hang art on walls. Ask their opinion on everything you do in your house. Let them know early on that making the house interesting, fun, and beautiful is not just mom’s responsibility, it’s a job shared by the family.
Acceptance, grace, some rules – One of the best things I ever did was read Michael Gurian’s The Wonder of Boys. It’s helped me see my boys as they are, and it helped me take it less personally when they break/stain/step-on/ruin something that I like in the house. The book also encourages me not to just throw up my hands and say, “boys will be boys.” There’s a difference between acceptance and indulgence. I have rules, and I let a lot go. I compose our house with, and for, the family God gave me. The grace comes as I notice that their influence makes my house more interesting – when they steer me in a particular way that turns out to be fabulous, or when I sit back and realize that we are building our house together as a family it become a more beautiful place for all of us.
Paige Rien is the mother of three boys and expecting (probably another boy) in March. She is a designer and author of the forthcoming book, Love the House You’re In, and two boys ago was a designer on HGTV’s “Hidden Potential” for three seasons. You can read Paige’s tips and house-love-journey on Facebook: facebook.com/lovethehouseyourein
It’s been a crazy few months here at The MOB Society, and through it all you faithful readers have stuck with us, encouraged us, and celebrated as we rebuilt the site from scratch. For that, we thank you. To show our appreciation, we will be offering giveaways throughout the month of November. Today we have a copy of Ann Voskamp’s new book, “The Greatest Gift: Unwrapping the Full Love Story of Christmas” to give away to one faithful reader. Follow the prompts below to enter. We will choose the winner one week from today.