Half trying-to-keep-adult-space, half twin-proofing

E and I are trying to keep our home somewhat aesthetically pleasing, despite the chaos and overabundance of toys that having twins brings. We’re renting in a great part of Alexandria, but part of living here means dealing with a lot of the ‘quirks’ associated with 1940’s townhouses. The main issues seem basic… AC units and baseboard heaters, moldy closets, and a lack of electrical outlets, but these simple things make this place quite difficult to baby-proof.

Our biggest problem is that we have two adults, two toddlers, a cat and a dog in a two-level 930 sq ft condo. The old set up of our living room didn’t give the boys much room to play AND Oliver learned how to climb on (and we were afraid over the back of) the couch the weekend of their first birthday.

Check out the old layout here and then take a look-see at what we did:

We did bring the ottoman back down from our bedroom and I added a floor cushion (after I took these pics). The first because it gives them something else to pull up on, the second to give me a place to sit comfortably as I play or read with them. It may seem like these take up space they could use, but it has actually worked out well and they love running around the ottoman or flopping dramatically on the cushion.

The boys also like standing on the couch to look out the window and we haven’t had any problems with them being able to reach the TV or get under the shelves. All wires and plugs are in tubes tied to the pipes, or in a locking surge protector (the white thing below their toy shelves in the following photo). The only things we have left to secure are the speakers and accompanying cables, since we plan on attaching them to the wall with Command strips.

Books go in the basket on the left and toys on the right. I try to make sure that everything fits into only these two baskets and rotate out items from their room; I read somewhere that when kids have too many toys to play with, they get overwhelmed by the choices and lose interest in independent play, and it makes sense to me.

Here is one last shot of the set-up as viewed from the dining room; don’t mind E’s fishing pole leaning in on the left, it hasn’t found a place to hide yet.

I will say that the previous layout was more stylish and to our taste (I have yet to see anyone rocking a fence or built-in pipe and board changing table on Apartment Therapy), but this is functional for us at the moment. I’m sure things will evolve further as we toddler-proof the rest of the house.

Speaking of which, here are a couple of shots of the re-jigged entryway (with the console table we hacked) and a glimpse at a project for the stairs:

For a bit of comparison, here are the photos our landlords have posted on their rental site:

It’s amazing to me how much we’ve changed the space and in all honesty, the only thing I wish we had done differently is the paint. E and I couldn’t agree on colors, so we settled for a few neutrals that were on sale (the No VOC paint brand Home Depot used to carry). I sometimes feel like I’m drowning in browns now, but lesson learned: I’ll certainly never ‘settle’ for colors again.

Back to our current topic… Another fun surprise we had this month was the boys getting tall enough to reach ‘forbidden’ items from their cribs (air conditioner, curtains,etc.), so I did a little rearrange in their room one afternoon. The boys were due for a nap; instead they sat in their cribs and watched me push furniture around the room. Thankfully they were good sports about it and miraculously went right off to sleep when I finished. Previous layout can again be seen here, but this is what we have going on now:

(FYI, the fourth photo is the closest to true-to-life paint color. I stupidly turned the lamp on for the others, which cast a horrible yellow over everything.)

There aren’t many options when placing two cribs in a 10′ x 11′ room with doors on one wall, window and AC on another and baseboard heater on a third, but we’ve at least found one for now. They have a little reading nook between Eli’s crib and the window; one of my footstools is sitting there temporarily, but we plan to swap out this rug for a bigger one to cover that expanse of floor and I’m making a couple of floor pillows for them to lounge on. We don’t play in their room too often – it’s saved for sleep and quiet time – but as they get older the Eames replica will probably come out and we’ll add a play table with chairs for them to use. I’m hopeful we’ll move to another house before that ever happens, but if we’re still here, at least we have a few options.

Their room is functional and safe now, which is key. The only issue we have is that they reach through the crib slats and steal each others blankets…

So there you have it – a shift in two spaces caused by two little men and their knack for getting into mischief. Anybody out there find a better way to twin-proof a space like this? I’d love any suggestions.

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