This Incredibly Functional Home is Full of Great Design Solutions — Including a IKEA Hack for the Mudroom
Name: Stacie and Joseph Abdallah, their sons Nehemiah (7), Noah (5), Nolan (3)
Location: Atlanta, Georgia
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DIY is all about problem solving, and for former school counselor, Stacie Abdallah, it comes naturally. Since she and her husband, Joseph purchased their 2,500-square-foot home, she’s really leaned into her crafty side (getting her hands on everything from mixing up concrete coasters to creating a full-on garden oasis) which she showcases on her inspiring blog Stacie’s Spaces. “I’ve always had a desire for spaces to really function well for people,” says Stacie.
For her home, this meant immediately transforming the underutilized formal dining room into a playroom for their three boys. “Overall, I’m not a huge fan of keeping homes with their traditional roles if it doesn’t suit our family,” she says. Now that same room has had several iterations, but it’s all part of the growing process. “I’m really big on allowing spaces to evolve with your family over time.”
And while Stacie’s home is bursting with ideas, one fix that particularly stands out (especially for those of us without a proper entryway) is her genius IKEA mudroom hack to wrangle the chaos of the day. We’d say this is a solution most parents are in need of.
Read on for more about Stacie’s bright and uniquely functional space.
On painting her bookcases blue: The pandemic forced most of us to rethink our homes. For Stacie, it underscored her desire to bring in color. “I went through a phase that I think a lot of people go through, where they want to paint every wall white and have more of a farmhouse vibe,” she says. “While that look is still popular and fine, it’s not what I’m into anymore.” Stacie has been adding pops of color and texture, slowly refining the look and feel of their home, starting with the built-in shelves in the reading room. The minimal white shelves got a makeover in sophisticated Charcoal Blue by Sherwin Williams. “I really love what it did to the space,” she says. “Now I’m contemplating painting the entire room blue.”
The cozy reading room, where you’ll often find the family playing board games or lounging together, features an enticing hanging swing chair. “Our rule — which the boys do not always follow — is that in order to sit in that chair, you must be reading a book,” says Stacie, laughing. “It’s not just to swing; Let’s encourage literacy here.”
On converting the coat closet into a toy closet: Despite having a playroom for years, the boys would play with toys all over the house instead. “So I was like, ‘Why do I have this large designated space for all of these toys when they just play everywhere?,” says Stacie. The solutions-orientated mom decided to turn the family’s coat closet into a toy closet and it’s where a majority of their toys live. Of course, it’s flawlessly organized, with labeled bins that are easy to access.
On being a mom of three boys: “I love it,” says Stacie. “Of course I don’t have anything to compare it to at this point, but it’s fun. It’s definitely wild and adventurous — I’m always trying to stop them from climbing or jumping off of something.” For all the chaos that comes with living with boys, there are a lot of tender moments, too. “I love the love they show me as the mom,” says Stacie. “I’m kinda spoiled being the only girl in the house. They fight over who gives me the most kisses. I am the woman of the house — there’s no competition.”
On personalizing her kids’ rooms with unique themes: One project Stacie is especially enjoying is designing the boys’ rooms based on their interests. “My kids are not into characters or anything like that,” she says. “They are into very off-the-wall things.” For Noah, whose current past-times include conducting experiments and engineering his own gadgets, she went with a science lab theme. Joseph constructed a lab bench and they topped it off with a fun active motion stool. A cool circular feature wall lets the budding scientist show off his projects. “I really like creating spaces that feel like who they are at this time,” says Stacie. “It encourages their gifts and talents.”
For Nehemiah — a sports enthusiast who recently created a workout video that he hilariously charged family members a dollar to view — a gym theme was a no-brainer. And while gyms aren’t always the most aesthetically pleasing, Stacie managed to create an elevated sports den. She started with a cool industrial bed and found a mini locker to accompany as a nightstand. A zippy black and white patterned wallpaper and a metal sign featuring the logo for “Nehemiah’s Muscle Factory” ties the theme together. Of course, you can’t have a gym without workout equipment and Stacie installed a punching bag and brought in a mini trampoline to help get the endorphins pumping. “When he wakes up, he’s like, ‘This is my room and it really fits my personality.’ So it’s fun seeing them thrive in their individual spaces.”
Kids can be picky, and, dare we say, bossy at times. So while Stacie works with the boys on their main theme, she is good about shutting down the demands from overflowing. “They give me a lot of input but of course one of my rules here is ‘No pay, no say,’ she says, laughing. “They’re only allowed to tell me as much as I feel like hearing at that time.” Luckily, the boys have been so excited by the overall themes, they’ve let mama handle the rest.
On setting up the perfect classroom: Last year brought on a boatload of changes and challenges, one of the toughest being whether or not to send kids back to school. “I’ve always wanted to try homeschooling,” explains Stacie. “Although now that I’ve had that experience, I no longer have that desire,” she says. While the kids are set to begin school in the fall, they did have a pretty sweet setup. To create the workspace, Stacie got rid of the couch in the formal living room and added a desk and some book ledges to organize their supplies. “They love climbing up there to get their book of choice,” she says.
On the ultimate IKEA hack: What are those stunning built-in cubbies, you ask? Surprise! The mudroom setup is actually an IKEA upgrade. “We took three Billy bookcases and put them together and installed the lights across the top,” explained Stacie. Then the DIY expert took it up a notch by painting the cabinets blue and adding a textured paintable wallpaper to really give the cabinets a bespoke feel. It’s chic, but so very simple!
On slow-cooking the design process: One of Stacie’s design philosophies is “not to make it a microwave makeover but to slow cook and enjoy the process.” She explains, “We live in a culture where we like to see things happen quickly. We see things happen quickly on TV, and there are even people on Instagram who turn out projects really fast. This can be discouraging for the everyday person who has a job, and doesn’t have time to do a project in 24 hours,” she explains. “It’s really recognizing that it’s OK. Home takes time and some of the best meals are slow cooked. They take all day to prepare but when you eat it it’s tender, juicy, it’s seasoned to perfection, and that’s the same idea with the house. It takes time to form into your dream home. That’s something I want people to really feel when they see my page. I’m not rushing it. It’s going to take time, and it’s going to be right for us, at the right time for us, at the right budget for us.”
On the importance of outdoor space: A majority of Stacie and Joseph’s focus is how to make the most of their outdoor space. The couple have currently completed building a vegetable garden, a greenhouse, and play area, and are working on phase two: a much-anticipated she shed and deck with pergola. As for the kids, they just love the freedom of the outdoors. “It’s been fun to watch them explore,” says Stacie. “The other day we found some paw prints on our fence so they went on a hunt to figure out what creature made those prints.” And when they’re not digging holes or climbing on their play set, they have their own vegetable patch to tend to.
On her love of gardening: Over the years, Stacie has blossomed into quite the avid gardener, growing a variety of produce including broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, and collard greens, and even putting out an ebook, “Container Gardening Guide for Beginners.” It’s a passion she attributes to her grandmother. “My earliest memory of gardening was with my grandmother. We were planting sunflowers in front of my parent’s house,” she recalls. “At that time we lived in a small ranch style home, which I absolutely love and dream about all of the time. The sunflowers grew to be taller than the house. It’s just amazing to me how something that started as a seed could grow so big. So gardening helps me feel closer to her, and, of course, closer to God when i’m out digging in the dirt just recognizing all of the beauty there.
“My greenhouse has a name. She’s Josephine,” says Stacie. “The name means shall grow. But then also my husband helped me build it and his name is Joseph. So it worked out well.” Although she is not climate-controlled yet, the idea is Josephine will help Stacie to garden year-round.
On her future she shed: Stacie is currently working on a she shed for the One Room Challenge. “It’s going to be my office — and also my hideaway from these men that I live with,” she says. “It’s going to be a dark green velvety color. I’m going to paint the entire thing, even the ceiling.” Another design feature on her wishlist: a chandelier. “The boys would destroy it inside the house but I can put it in my she shed.”
On getting projects done with kids around: Some of us can barely get dinner on the table with small children running around let alone redesign a space. So what are the kids up to while Stacie and Joseph work on the house? “Sometimes they help out, if it’s safe,” says Stacie. “I’ll give them a small painting task.” Just be warned, says the expert, when you paint with kids you have to go back behind them and smooth out their drip marks. “You’re doing double duty a little but they feel more involved in the process.” When they’re not helping, the kids are playing nearby. This home is a labor of love in so many ways, thanks to this family’s imagination and hard work.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
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