House Rules

18 September 2013   //     13 comments   //   design, diy, happy, step away from the screen, type

Hey kids! Not sure if you noticed or not, but I haven’t been here in a while. My 365 project got derailed a little bit. First it was because I was busy. Then it was because I was actually spending a lot more time away from my screen.  Then I got busy again, and somewhere along the way, I decided to let myself off the hook and pick it back up when I had the wherewithal. Or not. We’ll see.

Meanwhile… I thought it might be time for another story about something I stepped away from the screen and made. Yeah? Okay! This story has a few “parts” to it, so I thought I’d break it down into bite size pieces.

Act 1 –

Scene 1:
About a year and a half ago, I started writing our family’s “house rules.” I had seen a few of these lists floating around the Internet and really liked what they were all about. Especially in a house with kids. So I started working. Not diligently, but whenever something occurred to me, I would add it to the list. I kept the list on Evernote so it would be with me wherever I was.

Scene 2:
One night I was sitting on my couch looking around the living room. The staircase is a dominant feature of that room because it is right smack in the middle of it. All our walls are painted different colors, but the stairs are white wood. It occurred to me that I needed to do something creative with the stairs. I mean, here it was, a giant canvas right in the middle of the living room and it was just plain white. So I added that to my ever-present, ever-growing list of “things to think about and do someday.”

Act 2 –

Scene 1:
The house rules were coming along nicely, but there was a problem: Where was I going to put it once it was finished? We don’t have a ton of walls in our house (years ago previous owners knocked down most of the walls turning a boxy, compartmentalized, 1930′s era bungalow into an open, airy, modern feeling home. We love it, but we don’t have as many places to hang things as we might like.), and most of those walls were already exhibiting art, as we’d lived in the house for 6 years.

Scene 2:
One daydreamy afternoon, I’m thinking about our stairs, and what fun thing I could create for them, when suddenly it all comes together for me. The house rules! On the stairs! One rule per step. I counted the steps (13) and opened the house rules document. I had 9 rules. Surely I could come up with 4 more.

Act 3 –

Scene 1:
The stairs were, upon close inspection, pretty banged up. 6 years of a family of 4 on white stairs? Yeah. Might need a little paint. So that was the first part of the project. meanwhile, I was trying to figure out the best way to get the words on the stairs. I considered freehand painting, sharpie, and stencil painting, but I’m a fairly compulsive person (understatement), and I know that any imperfections would drive me crazy. Finally I decided on vinyl. Choosing the typeface and, more importantly, the color took a while — the stairs are surrounded by yellow, sage green, red, and brown walls. What color would work with all of those? We ultimately decided on a steely blue grey. And practical, clean DIN for the font. I designed the words and had them printed at my favorite sign company for about $40.

Scene 2:
Got the vinyl back as one big sheet. While I cut the lines apart, I also stressed about how to apply them so they’d be straight and also spaced the same distance from the wall (remember — compulsive). I decided left-aligned would work better than centered, and would also look more modern.

Act 4 –

They came out about a million times better than I even hoped they would. And the kids love them. And I love them. And we have even invented a game around them. We frequently find our cat, Mark, hanging out in the middle of the stairs. So we decided he would choose our rule of the day. Any time someone walks by the steps and sees Mark there, they yell out the rule he’s sitting on: “Mark says WORK HARD!!” Or “Mark says, SHARE!”

Here’s the complete list of our house rules. I strongly encourage you to think about what yours would be, even if you don’t turn them into something on display. It’s pretty interesting to consider which behaviors are important enough to you and your family that you would classify them as “rules.”

Be Kind.
Laugh. A lot.
Work Hard.
Play Fair.
Tell the Truth.
Offer to Help.
Ask Nicely.
Hug and Kiss.
Say Thank You.
Respect Others.


13 comments to “House Rules”

  1. Carolyn says:

    Love this so much!

  2. Molly says:

    So simple, and so powerful. This is one of my favorite things in your house. Besides you and your family.

    And the cats.

  3. Laurie says:

    Aw thanks you guys :) You’re the best.

  4. Betsy says:

    Unbelievably awesome.

  5. So fantastic! Isn’t great when something comes out even better than you envision?

  6. Carabee says:

    What a fun and creative way to spice up your stairs!! I am completely enamored with Mark picking the rule of the day! Just all around love this.

  7. Amanda says:

    Oh, man. I love this. The cat, the all hands on deck to help. Brilliant. Thank you.

  8. Leslie says:

    Love every single thing about this! Nicely done. So sad I don’t have stairs in my house, but this is something you could run along the top of a wall too. Hmmm…

  9. kmkat says:

    This is WONDERFUL! I have a thingie hanging in the main bathroom in our house that says, Blessed are those that are pleasant to live with. It has always been just a sign printed out on a color printer and framed, but someday (someday!) I will cross-stitch it.

  10. I LOVE this! Such a great daily reminder and looks like you all had a blast doing it. I want to paint our basement stairs and I think this would be a great way to do it!

  11. […] collards recipe? You should try it. If Laurie threw a Mardi Gras party, and she let me, I would go. Look what she did to her stairs. (Also her cat is named Mark. Hey […]