Thursday, October 08, 2009

Our "Imagination Station" Reno.

"Imagination is the highest kite one can fly."
~ Lauren Bacall

Yes, I thought this title above was absolutely fitting for this post. Welcome to our brand new "Imagination Station"!

In our home we have an alcove on our upper floor measuring approximately 7x11 feet, something like a mini loft overlooking the stairwell down to the main floor. It was the oddest room! When we came to look and inspect this home as a possible purchase for our second work transfer since moving east, I had grand visions with several possibilities, which could transform and change over time as the children grew older.

The alcove was just sitting there, as a bonus room I guess and although I had many ideas for it, the energy which would be required to get all creative has been unavailable within me up to this point in time.

Apparently for future consideration, there is plumbing in the walls, just in case we ever wanted to build another bathroom linking two bedrooms into it on either side.

Here is a glimpse of the room BEFORE we began with our tornado effect;


What a disaster this small alcove had become over time. No one seemed to be able to find anything, even though everything had a place it belonged.

Motivation wasn't strong enough for working in here, so the children seemed to be hauling things out to work in other areas of the home and then just chuck all in here again later on.


Oddly enough I came to the conclusion this space should be an imagination room, initially going so far as calling it our "Lego room" at first, that is, until recently when I happen to wake from a night's slumber and woke with an entire plan to revamp the room in one fell swoop.

Alarmed by my sudden grasp of renovation desire (you have to know all we've had to endure here with this topic already, so heh, it was odd, very odd okay) I informed my hubby the children and I would be driving down towards his office to meet him for lunch that same day. Mum was the word from him, just one of his eyebrows raised upward when I admitted my plans for the day were inspired by my dream. I suppose he just knows me by now and just knew to go along with my flow.

Ikea was nearby....ah ha! (WHO doesn't LOVE that store anyway?)

I knew "exactly" what I required to make this reno happen. Weird I know. I just knew. I marched through the showroom, wrote down my items and grabbed a shopping cart, that is, after we dined with my hubby in their restaurant for lunch first. He strolled with us for a bit, trusted my instincts and then after a time perusing through the store, he had to return back to work.

Among a few smaller items perfect for what I thought of, I wondered as I was hauling things around on my cart, wearing heels and all if the two large boxes would actually fit in my vehicle. I suppose I appeared to be a lady in distress at one point that a fine employee offered us his big strong muscles to lift two items and get them onto the cart for me, the only big items, but still...heavy.

I love drive in coffee stops, don't you?

Somehow I knew I would require extra java jerks to get me through the rest of my brainy reno idea and I also knew if we didn't get it into gear immediately once back at home, everyone would lose their "oomph" and the project would soon grow stale.

And so the massive overhaul reno job began...

  • Little by little most of the items were removed from the work space for sorting. The three drawers of Lego Duplo were thrown on the floor, one drawer at a time for sorting and sifting through to remove all things NOT lego.

  • The Playmobil draw drawers were dumped out and sorted historically by subject topic. Each drawer was already labeled but somehow they were mixed up a bit more than usual, making the exact ones necessary for our schooling difficult to locate.

Our teens assisted their mother with hauling the heavy boxes up to the top floor, and then after dinner, our son was able to play a large part in assembling the shelving unit with my husband's instructions.

I dreamed of the perfect solution to all our organizing needs to allow this room to become fully functional, it was a shelving unit from Ikea called; "Expedit"

  • I was able to purchase the large wicker baskets along the bottom of the shelving unit at Ikea and love them to bits! They have handles and can be pulled out in a jiffy, even dumped and cleaned up again with the purpose of returning it to its original spot.
  • The four clear bins with lids on the second to bottom shelving sections are some of our lego collection (though all mixed up right now). Some of our other boys have their collections in their own possession, so those ones are gone now.
  • Rather than purchase anything else for the other eight square spaces, I was able to reuse the larger drawers from the drawer units I already had, leaving the smaller drawers reorganized with non-imagination station items elsewhere. The now empty stands on wheels are being stored and out of the way in case I prefer to reuse them at another time. I would love and prefer the wicker baskets in every section, however I find it difficult for young children not to be able to view at a glance the drawer section they are looking for. So for now, we'll just keep things this way but in the future I can foresee all sorts of other variations and usages for this shelving unit. I just LOVE it!

  • I even found a few photo frames at Ikea in Lego primary colors, just perfect for our room. I've snapped so many photos of our children designing and creating their work space projects over the years. Now all I have to do is have a few copies of these photos printed and insert them into the frames for imaginary decor within the room.
  • I also located these perfect mini white shelving which the frames rest on. I have already seen many of our playmobil characters dressed up and exhibited on them, all ready for action at a moment's notice.

  • The table is one I've had for many years, just perfect with five inch siding offering spill proof play. It is a favorite for everyone and had to remain in this "Imagination Station" alcove. Maybe one day I'll paint it and spiff it up a bit...

  • Using a piece of pine shelving I already owned, resting it on two shelving brackets, a mini work desk was set up for projects on the go.
  • A bulletin board (already owned and from Ikea) will be used for photos, idea sheets and instructions for viewing at a glance.
  • A small wicker basket rests nearby on the desk space for gathering a few items for creating.
  • Another smaller shelf (IKea long ago, never saw anymore this size there this time though) rests above the desk area, perfect for resting playmobil characters on when assembling them with their accessories when getting ready for another project, or for play.

  • This bank of drawers (in lego colors) was purchased long ago at Walmart, and used to house all of our lego duplo. We have lots of it, and it began to overflow all over the place. We removed all of the duplo and now it is the home of our wooden blocks.

  • Though I wasn't originally looking for it, I did find the perfect area carpet at Ikea. It was just resting on a pile, all rolled up, shouting out my name. I've always had a small carpet in our lego area as I've instilled a montessori theory to them that all play must remain within the boundaries of the carpet area. Now the carpet protects the wooden flooring from those sharp lego corners, and the space is more practical when there are two children playing together at one time.

  • Remaining on the carpet keeps things in order, especially offers no special surprised to night time crawlers accidentally stepping on sharp lego pieces in the middle of the night. Have you ever done that? Ohhhh it hurts!
  • Clean up becomes a breeze using a dustpan, one from the dollar store used in this room for lego, blocks and playmobil only.


  • Grabbing an extra chair we had on hand (Ikea from over 24 years ago), the space is complete, all but the photos are gathered in this "Imagination Station" and our children are in there every day since we completed our grueling reno task (I won't kid you, it was exhausting with six people working an entire afternoon/evening together on this). I am so pleased with the outcome of this room. I can't tell you how happy we all are with it now. Yeah!!!
During this entire project, my excitement reigned supreme from beginning to end, envisioning the entire big picture beforehand. As my dreamy visions began to unfold before my eyes, I am so thankful for the blessing of such an idea, and in my sleep yet.

I now hope and pray I am blessed with more dreams where I wake up knowing "exactly" what to do in a few more rooms to get more functional and organized way more than we are right now. (wink, wink)

They who dream by day are cognizant of many things which escape those who dream only by night.

~Edgar Allan Poe, "Eleonora"