Our home's designer look, courtesy of Fisher-Price

Move over, Martha Stewart - I have redecorated my house and it is fabulous! My days of paging through furniture and design catalogs for new, spectacular ideas have ended. Forget Art Deco, French country, or urban contemporary styles - for me, those are so yesterday. And none of those looks support my needs any longer.

I've decided to go a more organic route. My house's new look is casual, but utilitarian. Bright and playful. Practical, with more than a bit of whimsy. And did I mention colorful? It ought to be. The color palette was provided by Fisher-Price.

Before I had my son, I vowed that I would never allow his playthings to overrun our home. When I went to visit my friends with kids, I would shake my head with disapproval as I attempted to navigate through the various toys and accessories scattered about.

As I stubbed my toe on a portable crib that blocked my path to the couch and then stepped back on something that played "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star" when touched, I'd mutter, "I will never let my home get this out of hand."

I vowed that my house would not be taken over by all the stuff that accumulates once you have a child. Oh, no. My child's toys would stay in his playroom. He would play quietly there. He would sleep in the single crib in his bedroom.

The rest of the house would remain the lair of adults.

But as with most vows that I made B.C. (Before Child) - that he would never watch television, sleep in my bed, need a baby swing, and too many others to count - I have had to reevaluate my thinking.

In this case, which was more important: a house that looked stylish or a house set up to allow me to get everything done with relative ease?

After all, how could I cook dinner and keep an eye on my son if he played on an entirely different level of the house? How could I do the housework?

I couldn't - at least not unless I planned to sprint up and down the stairs every five minutes.

So I've adapted. Last weekend, my husband and I pushed the dining room table against the wall and moved two of the chairs into the storage room. We placed a large, vibrant alphabet playmat in the middle of the floor along with a large box of assorted toys that squeak, sing, light up, and vibrate.

But let's be honest, those toys are seldom in the toy chest.

Yes, all who enter here are now treated to a fairly complicated obstacle course when moving between rooms. You learn to tread carefully.

But the trade-off is more than worth it. When I can't play with my son, I can joyfully watch him from a short distance. I'm only a step away when he needs me.

Though my new style may not be appreciated by those with a taste for the finer things in life, it works for us.

I have found the balance that is so hard to maintain now that I'm a mother. I can take care of my son and still take care of everything else.

And really, what more could one ask for in a living space?

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