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Great series on how a regular person (aka non-designer) can get their dream home.

The Forever Home Project: A New MPMK Series

So I’ve talked a bit here and there about our move this summer, but I haven’t really told you guys the whole story.  This move was a big deal for us, as most moves are for most people, in terms of logistics and timing and just overall stress.  But it was also a big deal for us because it represented a major milestone that we’ve been working towards for the past 5 years.

For all intents and purposes, we intend for this new house to be our forever home.  The place where our kids ride their bikes on the cul-de-sac, and set up lemonade stands, and just generally grow up. And we are really, really excited about not only the home but also the neighborhood.  There are tons of kids here (lots of family dogs too) and there is a very family oriented feel.  There’s an annual neighborhood garage sale in the spring, a Halloween bash in the fall, and even organized caroling come Christmas.

The house itself is significantly bigger than what our family of four has been living in up until now, too. There’s an expansive back yard and play set and just generally more rooms and more space for us all. (Did I mention there’s also a farm behind us with horses, and even a rooster?)  The hubs and I have been diligently working and saving for the past 5 years to make this home ours and sometimes it’s still hard to believe we’re finally here.

But that’s not to say all the work is done.  It’s a great house (our inspector assured us it was very well made by craftsman who paid attention to detail) but it’s also 30 years old.  And there are several areas that need our attention here and there.  And even those areas that don’t need work or updating, still need to be furnished and designed and made to be most functional for our family.

The task is an enormous one and, I’m not going to lie, somewhat daunting.  But we’re in it for the long haul and we know it doesn’t all have to be done tomorrow (or even next year).  So today I’m announcing the start of a new MPMK series, The Forever Home Project, in which I attempt to find out how an everyday, non-designer, homeowner goes about setting up a forever home.

I will, undoubtedly, have lots of dilemmas and questions along the way.  So what do you say – will you help?


Project numero uno is the living/play room.  This space is directly to the left of the front door and it’s where we tend to congregate for play dates.  It’s a big space and, since it doesn’t yet have much furniture, the kids tend to stretch out all over the floor to play trucks, or build castles, or do puzzles.

And I kind of like it that way.  So one of my goals for the space is to leave lots of open areas and not clutter it up too much with end tables and ottomans and the like.

Another of my goals is to have lots of toy storage in this room.  You’ll see as you peruse the photos that this goal is actually already being met – just probably not in the most aesthetically pleasing way… Basically we took every storage bench, shelf, and basket from every room in our last house and put them all into this one room.


Functional? Yes.  Cohesive and pleasing to the eye? Meh.


Finally, the room also contains some rather large play pieces, our retro kitchen and a chest of wooden blocks my uncle handmade for the kids, that also have to stay.

So where to start?? Well, first things first, the rug has to go.  Nothing personal, it’s a fun and colorful rug that I got on clearance at Pottery Barn about 10 years ago now and I still like it just fine.

It’s just not working in this space.  As I said, I host a lot of play dates here and many of my mom friends still have crawlers.  So I want the floor to be a little more cushy for both the babies and the moms coping a squat nearby.

So that’s criteria #1: cushy.  Criteria #2 is that it’s big.  I hear that one of the biggest mistakes regular folk make when purchasing a rug is going too small.  Which makes sense to me because rug prices can be crazy high!  Which brings me to criteria #3: inexpensive.  I’ve got a lot of rooms to fill in this new house, which means that even though I need a rug that’s at least 9’x12′, I don’t have two grand to spend on it.

After several hours parked on the couch surfing the web and half-watching an HGTV House Hunters marathon, I’ve come up with the following 4 contenders.  You’ll notice they all have a graphic, Moroccan flare and they’re all in the grey-blue family.  This is my answer to getting a neutral that won’t show every speck of dirt and something that’s modern and interesting but won’t completely overpower the room.

@modrentmessykid: Which rug should I buy for our new play/living room?

Here’s the fun part – you can vote just by clicking on which rug you like the best.  But wait!  I want only educated opinions so hear me out about the choices first:

  • top left – 10′ x 12′ Handmade New Zealand Blend Wool Rug, bluish grey $606. When I first saw this one, I almost immediately discounted it because of the extra large scale.  But then something, maybe the great price for a 10′ x 12′ rug, had me circling back and I decided to do a Google blog search for the image to see if any design bloggers had used it in their rooms (clever, no?).  Viola, this post came up and totally rocked my world.  Now I’m thinking large scale might be just the thing for my large room.
  • top right – 8’9″ x 12′ Handmade Moroccan Blue Wool Rug $599.  This one doesn’t quite hit my 9′ x 12′ minimum size requirement but it is a good price and has a good review.  I’m torn on the color, not sure if I like that it’s not as bold or if I think it’s a little too baby boy blue?
  • bottom left – 7’6″ x 9’6″ Rugs USA Trellis Slate Rugs $524.  The size of this one really is too small so it’s not a serious contender.  However, it’s a synthetic which my research tells me means it won’t shed like a wool rug and it’s part of one of Rugs USA’s infamous 50% off sales right now so I thought I’d throw it up there in case any of you are also in the market for a rug.
  • bottom right – Alliyah Handmade Bluish-Grey New Zeeland Blend Wool Rug (9′ x 12′) $509.  This is the exact same rug as #1 except with a smaller scale graphic.  It’s gotten lots of great reviews (which bodes well for both choices #1 and #4) and although it’s a foot narrower, it’s also $100 cheaper.  The question is, can I live with a smaller scale and smaller rug to save the 100 bucks?

Ok, you now have my full blessing, go ahead and vote!  Then check back soon to find out the results as well as what I purchased and to see it in the room.  Until our next installment of The Dream Home Project, happy decorating!


Where do you start when trying to put together a new room?  Rug? Couch?  Or with something else completely?

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{ 22 comments… read them below or add one }

Jori August 20, 2013 at 9:05 am

I say go with choice number 1. A large room needs something with a large scale and I think that the larger size is worth the extra money.

When I start a room? It’s almost always seeing what I need to work around or with. I honestly don’t remember the last time I did a room “from scratch”.


Steph (MPMK Founder) August 20, 2013 at 6:15 pm

I don’t either Jori! There are actually two rooms in this new house where we are basically starting from scratch – this one and the dining room. It’s really exciting but also totally daunting.


gina August 20, 2013 at 9:26 am

My fav is the bottom left but since its too small I guess its out! So my next choice would be the top left – I like the size and color!

We moved into our home 4 yrs ago and I thought this was our forever home but now DH is talking about moving – ugh! I would love to settle down and get our house perfect but I dont want to waste my time if we are going to move!


Steph (MPMK Founder) August 20, 2013 at 6:16 pm

I’ve always felt that way to Gina – it’s hard to invest money in furnishing and decor when you’re not sure if it will work in your next place.


Meghan August 20, 2013 at 10:37 am

Whoa! I’m super excited for this series. We our purchased our first, hopefully, forever home and I’m also daunted/excited for furnishing and decorating it. We have a lot of furniture already, but I’m not always sure how to make the pieces we have work and fill in the gaps.

PS we have also been shopping for similar rugs for our 20-month old daughter’s room (the rug in her room now will move to another room in the house.


Kate August 20, 2013 at 2:52 pm

I JUST went through this with these exact same rugs on overstock.com – nice taste! 😉 But here’s what I went with: http://www.overstock.com/Home-Garden/Classic-Chevron-Area-Rug-8-x-10/7212916/product.html in Denim Blue. Can’t beat the price, and in person, this rug is gorgeous and soft for my two toddlers! It really makes our living room… and our bedroom… and I wish I had bought it for every room. :)


Steph (MPMK Founder) August 20, 2013 at 6:17 pm

Nice find Kate – thanks for sharing!


Andrea S. August 20, 2013 at 3:16 pm

I like the third choice. When starting a room I always start with the most expensive items which is usually the couch, chairs and tables. Pick a neutral color you like and then add accent colors with rugs, lamps, picturesand pillows that are cheaper and can be replaced later if needed.


Steph (MPMK Founder) August 20, 2013 at 6:17 pm

Great advice, thanks Andrea.


Jessaca August 20, 2013 at 4:01 pm

I’m going to have to vote for the bottom left one, even if it’s a little small. I just bought the same one earlier this summer when Rug’s USA was running their 75% off sale, score! It’s great at hiding the dirt due to it’s darker color and it super plush and cushy:)


Steph (MPMK Founder) August 20, 2013 at 6:18 pm

I love hearing from folks who actually have these rugs. Thanks Jessaca!


Kate August 20, 2013 at 5:44 pm

LOVE the new series! My husband and I moved our three young daughters into our forever home about a year ago and like you, we had NO idea where to start. It’s the best problem in the world though! I will be following your ideas and suggestions very closely.



Beth August 20, 2013 at 10:38 pm

I am so happy I stumbled on this! We are closing on our first home next Monday and we have been living as minimalist – always thinking we were going to be moving overseas and not wanting to put any effort or money into a rental BUT now we are buying a home and pretty much starting from scratch with everything! I personally like the bottom left, I like that the shape is different and I love the color


Julee August 20, 2013 at 10:45 pm

Hi Steph,
I’m so excited for this new series. It’s been awhile since I’ve read a post and thought ‘wow, that is exactly my life at this moment.’ My family and I are about to move into what we consider our dream home – also 30 years old, gorgeous trees, cul-de-sac, much more space and definitely somewhere we see ourselves living for the rest of our lives. We feel so amazingly lucky! I will definitely be tuning in to see how your home evolves.
Best wishes,


Robin Lee August 21, 2013 at 11:14 pm

Start with warming up one wall.

I just saw (on Pinterest, of course) a map of the world where the countries were vintage wall paper. It would look amazing on one of your huge walls. Make some of your storage higher–double decker on the cubbies, and then the rug will announce itself as to the one you should choose.

Just my thoughts…


Robin Lee August 21, 2013 at 11:16 pm
Steph (MPMK Founder) August 22, 2013 at 8:15 pm

That is very cool! Thanks for sharing and for your ideas Robin!


Wendy August 22, 2013 at 7:58 pm

Looking forward to this series. We are in escrow for our forever home as well. For our space I’m planning on making a braid rug that I saw on Pinterest. It’s in my budget and I can use all our worn out clothes, sheets, curtains etc. I like the idea of reusing the fabric. Plus it’s sentimental to look at the floor and see our old stuff. Congrats on the new home. Wishing you many happy memories there. :)


Steph (MPMK Founder) August 22, 2013 at 8:16 pm

What a great idea, I love the sentimental aspect. Please send me a photo when you get it done :).


Michelle August 23, 2013 at 11:00 am

I think it depends on what you find that you fall in love with, then you work around that. If you find a couch that you absolutely love, get it, then design around it. Having a starting point makes it easier too.


Anne At Home August 27, 2013 at 4:30 am

They are all gorgeous! I’m looking forward to following this one as we are about to move into our forever home which has a dedicated playroom and I am trying to plan in my head how to do it. Centsational Girl has a great post on rugs, as does Emily Henderson on her blog about common mistakes made when purchasing rugs and how to avoid them. I think one of her options was to buy a less expensive big sisal rug and then you can get a smaller, nicer rug to go over the top. I’m seriously contemplating an indoor/outdoor rug that I can basically hose off to clean. They’re not plush but neither will I have to worry about play-doh/paint/food and other unmentionables going all over it. Good luck!


Maree September 7, 2013 at 7:52 am

Well, as a kiwi of course I say go EITHER of the New Zealand made rugs – and go BIG! I feel the larger the rug, the more cohesive the rooms elements feel when put together. If a rug is too small it distracts.
I’m intrigued to see how you manage your storage while also getting a balanced look as we are almost at end of our renovation and ready to layout play/family rom which doubles as a casual second lounge.
Maree, New Zealand


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