I’ve recently reached the point of considering my kids’ rooms to be largely finished. There are still small things I’d like to do–such as replacing the boys’ wood blinds (which I recently dusted for, oh, the first time since we’ve lived in this house) with roman shades behind the curtains. But after almost three years of procrastinating, because I wasn’t sure about placement or couldn’t find the time, I finally went on a spree of simply hanging things up–and instead of waiting for the kids to be otherwise occupied, I let them hand me the hammer and measuring tape and watch my progress. They asked a lot of distracting questions, but they were very proud of the project and now consider me to be a professional hammer-wielder; when our plumber was working in the basement recently, B exclaimed, “He’s using a hammer, like Mama!”  It isn’t perfect–but it’s deeply satisfying to me to walk by formerly bare walls that are now filled. And it makes me happy to document these rooms where my kids sleep and play and store their small treasures.

This is the boys’ room:

C is proud to show off his domain:

I bought the alphabet poster for a couple of dollars, and spray-painted a cheap and enormous frame from Goodwill to hold it. The boys are smitten with their train hooks, given years ago by Oma and Opa for C’s first room in our first house, and finally brought out again when I figured out where to put them.

The boys help me make their beds; after I spread out the covers, they are responsible for positioning the pillows and stuffed animals, so this styling is courtesy of C.

C’s quilt, which I made for him when he was a baby. I love to finger the fabrics that I chose before I even knew if I was having a boy or a girl, and know that they were stitched with love for him.

We like wooden toys. Plastic invades the house eventually, of course, but I cherish these old-fashioned playthings.

The railroad crossing sign came from a summer trip to a train museum; they adore it. The top print (of the painting View of West Hartford by William J. Glackens), features a streetcar and boys skating, and I drew the steam engine from an example in one of the boys’ favorite books. C promptly applied his energies and learned to draw the same thing himself.

This is B’s side of the room. The top three pennants all belonged to Daddy when he was young; the bottom one is a new gift from Granddad. Those are tiny pewter soldiers lined up on the dresser.

B’s quilt, which I’ve written about before.

I bought the bus sign for a song and then decided it really needed a companion. I went back to the store weekly (during C’s speech therapy sessions) hoping the truck sign would go on sale, but it never did. Finally all the other designs were on sale, but still not the truck–so I asked the clerk, and she sold me the truck sign for a couple of dollars. I feel like a shopping champion every time I look at that. Of course the boys just like that they have truck and bus signs on their wall.

One of my theories of decorating is that every room should have at least one piece of real art. I don’t mean expensive art–the prints in the boys’ room are from a calendar that I chose expressly for the purpose of framing later. But it’s important to me that my children grow up in surroundings infused by high-quality art, so that they know what it looks and feels like and slowly learn what it means, to the world and to them. The print above B’s bed is The Nooning by Winslow Homer; I try to choose art that relates and appeals to children but is not necessarily expressly for them. I love the meditative mood this painting evokes, and the image of what seems like a classic American childhood, rural and restful, with a wide range for the imagination.

And the animal styling above is by B. I think it would all look much better without the   bright green dinosaur–but oh, well.

This is the normal appearance of the train table. I decided to take a picture of it as it was, and then I asked them to clean it up. As motivation, I promised to take pictures of their trains.

This is the train C wanted me to record.

This is B’s, occupying pride of place at the railroad crossing. You have no idea how special railroad crossings are at our house. Westminster Abbey has nothing on them.

Not to be left out, E proffered her own very special train for picture-taking.

I asked the boys to pose for pictures in their room. B flopped happily down on his bed.

My big boy looking pleased and proud.

It eases my heart, now, to pass the door of their room and see the sun streaming across the wood floor, and the decorations on their walls reflecting what they love and what we value for and about them, and their small absorbed faces bent over the train table constructing the little worlds of childhood.


By the way, don’t be deceived; their room doesn’t always look like this. The beds are usually made because I am particular about that, but we had to straighten books on the shelves and pick up toys before this little photo shoot!