How We Turned a Playroom into a Hangout Lounge
Plus: Chocolate & More Chocolate S'mores Cookies*
Our Michigan farmhouse has a Michigan basement--which is code for "a great place to hunker down in the event of a tornado but not somewhere you want to spend time otherwise."
In lieu of a subterranean lounge space, my girls have what on "House Hunters" would be called a "bonus room." (Which is code for "we can ask more money for this house.") It's attached to my older daughter's bedroom, and we used to refer to it as "the playroom" in the days when my girls had playdates.
Now that my tween and teen daughters "hang out" rather than play, the playroom has become (wait for it) the hangout room.
Here are the tools and techniques we used to morph this room into a space "on fleek**" enough that my daughters will deign to take their friends there.
1. This is no place for beige. The neutral eggshell/cream/ivory/ecru paint that came with the house in this room was so out, I can't even talk about it. Limey green is in, with orange and purple accents. Honestly, I love these colors and am thrilled I've got a room to use them in and interior-design clients who want me to do it.
2. An attention-grabbing wall. It looks like all the other walls in the room, but it's actually a giant magnetic field! We painted one of the shorter walls with magnetic primer before slapping on the
messages using a magnetic letter set and generally impress their guests with the fact that stuff apparently sticks to this wall of its own free will. We could have painted over this magic primer with chalkboard paint for a one-two magnetic chalkboard punch, but our walls are plastered and textured...too rough for writing.
I. Love. This. Wall. But if we were doing it again, I'd only give part of it the powers of attraction. This primer is not cheap, and you really need several thin coats for optimum stick-to-it-ness. Maybe I'll add a redo to my ongoing list of "Things I Might Do When My Girls Are Out On Their Own." Or not. I never did get around to doing even half of the items on my list of "Things I Might Do When the Girls Are in School Full-Time."
3. Fun and functional seating. Specifically: butterfly chair + inflatable chair + futon. I know futons get a bad rap, but ours works perfectly in this space. It's casual but sturdy, and it quickly converts to a place to sleep when the hang-out room gets used for slumber parties. (Can I still call them that?) If you're thinking of getting one, make sure the mattress is at least five inches deep and decent, not some foam wafer (which is why futons have gotten that bad rap, I think).
5. A nod to the past. My husband's parent got this clock for our oldest daughter when she was just a baby. They brought it back from Italy, having purchased it for their beloved first-and-only (at the time) grandchild from an Italian clockmaker. It is from the playroom days, but it fits the color scheme and the space and has sentimental value, so it stays. If my girls ever mention its removal, I tell them it's "quirky" and to embrace the nostalgia.
6. Snacks. Eventually, everything comes back to food in this house. But in the play-to-hangout-room transition, these, too, have matured. Goodbye, Goldfish crackers. Hello, Chocolate & More Chocolate S'mores Cookies.*
Other hang-out must-haves we threw in the room include a colorful five-head lamp, the requisite TV/DVD combo, a giant hand-me-down dresser with tons of storage, and my personal fave: this trash can. $6 at Big Lots, and it completely echoes the color scheme.
All of this comes together to accomplish my real goal: to create a place right here in our house where my girls want to hang out. Because I like having them home with me. And also because if there's a tornado, we've got the perfect basement to go to.
*Chocolate & More Chocolate S'mores Cookies (Yup, you can print this.)
Heads up, mama! This dough needs to chill at least an hour, so plan ahead. Yes, I know that's a pain. But it will be worth it. Also worth it: getting ahold of some parchment paper to line your cookie sheets. I've even found this at the dollar store, although cheap parchment tends to be a one-and-done deal, whereas I've reused better stuff many times over.
1/2 cup milk chocolate chips
1/3 cup oil (be generous here if your cake mix is more than 15 ounces)
9-12 large marshmallows
3 whole sheets graham crackers
1. Cut marshmallows in half width-wise. Put them in the freezer until further notice.
2. Combine the cake mix and the chocolate chips.
3. In a small bowl or 1-cup glass measure, whisk together the oil and eggs.
4. Dump the oil/egg mixture on top of the cake mix and stir just until you don't see any more dry cake mix.
5. Cover and chill at least an hour or up to several hours. Did you cut and freeze your marshmallows? If not, do it now.
6. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line your cookie sheets with parchment as advised above. Or, if absolutely necessary, butter them like crazy or spray very generously with nonstick cooking spray.
7. Put the graham cracker sheets in a small plastic storage bag and take out any frustrations you've got by banging them into very fine crumbs. Dump the crumbs into a small bowl.
8. Scoop out two-tablespoons globs of dough and line them up on your cookie sheet, 9 to a sheet. (Only prep and bake one sheet at a time.) When you've got your globs all lined up, get your marshmallows out of the freezer. Press and flatten out a dough glob a little, put a marshmallow half in the center, then form the dough around the marshmallow, encasing it completely. Use a little extra dough if you need it...you want your marshmallow all tucked in. Repeat with the remaining dough blobs you've already portioned out. Return remaining marshmallows to freezer and dough to refrigerator.
9. Roll and coat each marshmallow/cookie dough package in graham cracker crumbs...don't be skimpy here. If you run out of crumbs, beat up some more.
10. Place marshmallow/cookie dough/graham cracker packages on the lined/greased/sprayed cookie sheet and bake for 6-9 minutes, or just until puffed and slightly cracked.
11. Cool on cookie sheet on a wire rack for 5 minutes before using a spatula to remove cookies to the rack to cool completely. Or to a plate to eat immediately.
12. Makes 16-24 cookies, depending on various factors...whether you're pro- or anti-raw cookie dough, how big your "2 tablespoon" blobs are, that sort of thing. Store airtight if storage is something you actually end up eating.
* * * * * * *
**Not familiar with this newish entry into the tween/teen lexicon? See "8 Things Moms of Young Daughters Have to Look Forward To (Really)," point #2.
Other posts that would have been in this series except that I put them up before I started the series:
- "Six Layers of Love (Or: Confessions of a DIY-Challenged Mom and What Gluten-Free Peanut Butter Bars Have to Do With Any of It)"
- "How To Trick a Closet Into Thinking It's a Bedroom"
What inspired idea do you have to make this hangout room even better?
Tell me about it...but please do keep in mind that #idkhowtodiy.
Tell me about it...but please do keep in mind that #idkhowtodiy.