Once I finished the bookshelves and got all of the kids' books back in order, I was free to begin the fun work. I have wanted to cover these cushions in Neverland (see cushion on right) since I first moved in. I found this fabric (see cushion on left) on sale at Joann Fabric and was thrilled! It was the perfect length to wrap these cushions. I sewed some simple pillow case-type covers, because I am planning on having to remove them to wash A LOT (I am not in denial). I was going to sew in zippers or some sort of fastener, but I realized I wouldn't need to, as they all fit so snug next to each other.
I wanted some cute pillows to make reading on the bench more comfortable and to make this area really pop. I had 4 pillows that I was no longer using, which were still in really good shape. So I covered them with some fun fabrics I had lying around (see pictures below).
This stereo cabinet is from the 1950's. I found it at Saver's for $4.95 and ironically, I barely had enough cash to cover the cost. But I could see so much potential in this piece. I knew that either I would use it or sale it. Either way, I had to buy it. It was sitting around for a few months, while I was working on the bookshelves. I figured out where it belonged and had a blast reinventing it (see pictures below).
Another great deal! I picked up this armoire for $20 at the Annual Presbyterian Church Rummage Sale. We used it as our Craft Cupboard for a while, but I knew that it belonged in Neverland. I sanded off all of the artwork (via all of my wonderful artists) and had fun reinventing it, as well (see pictures below).
The other item that I bought brand new was the 12 ft wooden board for this sign and the vinyl. One of our favorite quotes from Peter Pan is, "To die will be an awfully big adventure!" But an even better quote is from Hook where Peter Pan says, "To LIVE will be an awfully big adventure!" Aaron and I decided which quotes to use for this room and we both loved this one. A lot. I believe life, despite all of the hang ups and down falls, is supposed to be a great adventure. I am focusing on a life that is full of intent right now, so this quote speaks volumes to my heart.
Organizing books. It has been one of my greatest challenges since we began having kids. I am finally to the stage in our parenting, where our kids are old enough to know better than to rip pages or make a mess and think they can get away with it. So, I was excited to finally try out a new way of keeping the books where they belonged, when they weren't being read. I designated the first 3 bookcases to Fiction (for kids 12 and under....the Adult Fiction is located in our bedroom. And, no, it is not the type of Adult Fiction some of you perverts think it is. Ew!).
I put all of our non-fiction (well, minus the religious, musical, parenting, pregnancy/childbirth, cooking, and school books...which are all in different areas of the house) in the next 3 bookcases. Bookcase #4 has Everything Science, including 2 shelves for Gardening/Herbs/Natural Remedies/Home Repairs/Homesteading. Bookcase #5 has 2 shelves of American History, 2 shelves for World History, and a shelf for Languages. Bookcase #6 has a shelf for travel books/info on modern-day countries, a shelf for Geography/Sociology/World Cultures/Countries, a shelf full of biographies and autobiographies, and a couple of shelves for crafting, art, writing, and other miscellaneous subjects. I know, it isn't the Dewey Decimal System, but this way of organizing our books works very well for us.
You could say that we are HUGE fans of JRR Tolkien and CS Lewis...but that would probably be an understatement.
I had so much fun with this corner of Neverland!
Seriously, I think I pop down into Neverland at least once a day, just to admire my accomplishment (hey, I need to remind myself that I do actually accomplish something besides keeping our laundry room free of debris....I mean clothing). Above the red armoire, I have plans to put up a sign that has the quote, "Second to the right, and straight on till morning."
I picked up the map from Costco for $6 and found a sheet of leftover veneer to glue the map to (which, lesson learned....if you ever want to adhere a map/poster to some veneer, use a spray adhesive instead of modge podge. Just trust me on this one!). I also had some casing lying around that I cut, attached, and painted for the frame. I was so proud of my work. Of course, my kids always help me to stay humble. Within a week, I found that they had not only knocked it off of the wall, but it was even further damaged by someone knocking it over and stomping on it. Of course, no one could really say who it was that had done it. I procrastinated on fixing the map for a few weeks, as I was too busy to do anything in Neverland. But when I did finally get around to fixing it, I used liquid nails instead of wood glue and added several more staples and nails for good measure. That picture is NOT falling apart again. Bring it on, Lost Boys!
If you look closely at the left door on the bottom of the armoire, you will notice the scar from my bang-up job of fixing a tantrum-induced broken door. Not one of my little Lego lover's shining moments, but he is gentler now, when putting Legos away, especially after I repeatedly ask him to clean up and finally get a little upset. It took me a few weeks to figure out how to reinforce it (with nails from a nailgun and wood glue, in case you were wondering. I swear, I have fixed more broken doors than I care to remember.) Just trying to keep it real for all of you who think I live in a fairy tale....this is OUR version of Neverland, not Disney's. ;)
And, did you recognize the armoire? It's the one I picked up at the rummage sale. Isn't she lovely in this little nook? I took off the ugly vented door that used to cover this closet, stored it in the garage (to put back on, should we ever decide to sell our home) and decided to put something festive in there instead. I had a $2 can of "Oops!" paint, just waiting to be used, applied a little of that paint and distressed/antiqued her. Voila! I give you..........The Lego Cabinet! With a household of Lego builders, I knew I needed to have a way to house all of the Legos and the many creations that we have. I even went as far as cutting an inch off of the Lego long boards that we have, so they would fit inside of the cabinet. Now, when the Lost Boys and Tink are in the middle of working on a creation that I don't want out on the floor overnight, we have somewhere to store it. Win-Win!
Did I mention how much I love Neverland now? It just brightens my day.
This wall is where I am going to eventually hang a framed map of Neverland (from the book, Peter Pan). I haven't been able to find one online yet, and if I can't by the end of the year, I will just make my own. Recognize this cabinet? I used a little "Oops!" paint (that I had already utilized for several other projects and still have more remaining for future fun) to finish this lovely piece of furniture. Isn't it just adorable?
I found this hardware at Hobby Lobby and it was 1/2 off, so I spent an additional $7 for my retro $5 cabinet. With the $1 I spent on paint, I am going to say this was one of the best bargains I have ever created. This cabinet is going to be used to hold my exercise equipment...yeah, in other words my weights and yoga mat.
The reading fairy has been in our home since Alex (she was a HUGE book worm and loved fairies) was just a little girl (so around 15 years now). I felt that she would enjoy her stay, here in Neverland. And I was stoked to finally have the perfect spot for the FREE 16x16 canvas (we won from PixelGIANT) of last year's family shot. It has so much color!
I know this is a lousy picture, but you can see the puzzle board I made (I used the other 1/2 of the sheet of veneer, at the same time that I framed the map). We love putting together puzzles and I have always wanted to make a board upon which to keep the puzzles we are working on. I also found that awesome service tray (the dark brown one, in the corner) at a thrift store. It is perfect for Lego projects or for taking animals, dinosaurs, etc. for playing with on the road.
This is the toddler corner. I actually don't have any toddlers right now (and have no plans to have any more of my own), but there were many board books that I just couldn't bring myself to let go of. I have friends with little ones who need to read when they are at my house. And I am hoping to have grandchildren someday, all of whom will be avid readers, I am sure of that.
I have plans to put this quote, or something similar, on the wall above the periwinkle shelves in the toddler corner. By the way, if you look back at some of the before pics of Neverland, you will see these shelves in the corner where the treadmill is located now....they were a dingy, dark brown. Again, used another of my "Oops!" paints to create the look I desired.
This is the rocking chair that my mama painted for me when I was just a little one, myself. It survived all of my many phases and several coats of paint, to commemorate my many years of transformation. I recently worked on restoring parts of it.....maybe I can share the process in another post. That would be fun!
Simon loves puzzles, so he spends a lot of time here. One of my goals for Neverland is to get rid of unnecessary toys and give the kids better quality toys, to use on a regular basis. Puzzles, miniature animals, books, and a rocking chair for rocking babies.....it is a good start to reaching my goal.
And this is the moment I have been waiting for, the chance to share my own little strategy for keeping our books in order. You see, as I have spent years diligently collecting books, organizing and cleaning them up has been one of my biggest pet peeves. As you can imagine, with 6 kids in our house who all love to read, our library can get pretty messy. A few years ago, I had so many issues with my (then) 5 year old taking books off of the shelves, that I finally did the unthinkable and put all of our books in boxes. I was trying to sell our home, at the time, and it was overwhelming enough to try to keep on top of our regular messes, but to have to put away around 50 books a day was torture. I began hating books. I had tried everything, threatening the kids (that I was going to burn all of our books, not harm the kids...geesh!), creating a library system, complete with librarians who would help the younger kids get their books and return them, I even tried to have a specific time of day that we could all go into the library, so I could make sure not more than 3 books were pulled out. It was all to no avail.
As I was preparing Neverland to house our library again, I couldn't help but gain anxiety over the memories of my struggles with thousands of books all over the place. I literally stressed myself out over books. Then it came to me one morning, in the wee hours, as I was lying in bed, going over all of the worries in my world and sorting things out. Why not create some sort of fun book marker for where the books go? I could be insistent that the kids only take out one book at a time (We had a limit of 3 before, but that just opened up the door to more and more. What if they wanted 4? What if they needed more?). I talked it over with the kids and they were just so excited to have the books back, that they all agreed to these terms. I tried to figure out a proper book mark. I thought of cardboard, plastic strips, and then (one day, as I was picking up my freshly shaken-paint (one of the older Oops! paints, I bet), my paint lady asked me if I would like some big stir sticks for The Lost Boys and Tink to use as swords. I knew they would love them and took several of them home with me. That day, as I was brainstorming ideas for bookmarks, I glanced over at these guys and realized I had the answer right in front of me. I tried them out and realized that they were a little bit too long. So, I cut off about 5" and they worked perfectly. I painted them with the same paint I used for the bookshelves and distressed them (I like to distress items because then I never have to worry about them gaining the inevitable scratches and dings my kids will eventually give to whatever it is I am working on...they are already worn). I toyed with the idea of decoupaging them with some Disney cartoon characters or putting the kids' names on them, but in the end, this is how they remained. I like the fact that anyone can use them and if one gets lost, no one will cry over it because I can always make another just like it.
As I was photographing Neverland, Simon came in to explore his favorite bookshelf, the Science Section (that would be in the 4th bookcase). I was able to photograph how successful the process has been in our home library. Simon grabbed a bookmark, put it next to the book he wanted to read, then pulled out the book. Simple.
He was a little confused about why exactly I was photographing him....so, he got a little shy.
Eventually, he sat down and began an adventure.....
pausing to pose for me....
...what a goof!
One of my most favorite things to do, is to watch my kids reading.
And with the help of some new bookshelves and a fun way for the kids to keep track of where their books need to be returned, I am now able to enjoy watching them read even more.....
and to remind myself that....
....To LIVE will be an awfully big adventure!
~.~the purple sprout