Child’s play

Favorite room: Vintage toy room is a magnet for grandchildren — and adults.

Created by: Margie and Don Troupe, St. Anthony.

The back story: Over the years, the Troupes gradually converted their grown son’s former bedroom into a guest room, then into a playroom for the couple’s three preschool-age grandchildren. But instead of new toys, the baby boomer couple filled the room with vintage toys from their childhood era, mostly the 1950s and ’60s. “Our parents went through the Depression, and we joke that we used to play with a spoon and fork,” said Margie.

How they created it: Scouring websites and garage sales, the Troupes collected all the pieces to equip a complete kid-sized “kitchen,” including appliances (“they’re steel — the kids can pound on them,” said Margie), dishes and “food.” The room is populated by a small tribe of vintage dolls, including life-size Playpals, Betsy Wetsy and Thumbelina, and tin windup toys. “The workmanship is beautiful — more than toys today,” she said.

The payoff: The quaint play space is irresistible to the Troupes’ grandchildren, who visit regularly. “They want to go to the toy room as soon as they come over,” said Margie. “They never play with anything electronic when they’re here.” But even adult guests like to hang out where the toys are. “When we entertain, people gravitate there,” wine glasses in hand, she said. “Typically, people would end up in the kitchen.” But the vintage toys lure guests upstairs instead. “These are the toys they wanted.”

Quilter’s paradise

Favorite room: Craft room outfitted with everything a quilter needs.

Created by: Jackie Olmstead, Eden Prairie.

The back story: Olmstead, who has been quilting for three decades, converted an extra bedroom into a studio soon after moving into her home about 10 years ago. Her fabrics, several thousand in all, are organized by color and on display, surrounding her with a brilliant rainbow of possibilities. “I’m a visual person — I want to see all my fabric,” she said. “I’m stimulated and motivated by it.”

How she created it: Olmstead removed closet doors, replacing them with hanging fabric, for easier storage of supplies and tubs of partly finished quilts. She added track lighting, a design wall, a cutting and pressing table and her two sewing machines. Her vast collection of material is stored in CD storage units from Ikea. “They’re the perfect size for folding up pieces of fabric,” she said.

The payoff: Having a well-appointed workroom makes quilting more organized and more fun. “I love it up here,” said Olmstead, who typically spends 15 to 20 hours a week in her quilt room. “I have a wonderful treetop view. I can hear the birds. It just makes me happy every day to walk down the hall and look inside.”


Beach retreat

Favorite room: Basement escape inspired by a beloved vacation destination.

Created by: Sue Nelson, Northfield.

The back story: Nelson hates winter — and loves Sanibel Island, Fla. “We go every year for spring break,” she said. “That’s my place I want to retire. It has a feeling of quiet and peace. I could spend all day walking up and down on the beach.” About five years ago, she decided to create her own little Sanibel in her basement, to get her through the winter months.

How she created it: Nelson pulled up the carpet and painted the cement floor a sandy color. “Sanibel sand is more white than brown,” she said. The walls and furniture, mostly from Goodwill and garage sales, are painted bright tropical hues. Then Nelson added flamingos, palm trees, starfish, sand dollars and even a little tiki bar — “just for show,” she said. “It’s just a funky, junky room.”

The payoff: “In the middle of winter, there’s nothing better than to come down, turn up the heat and pull down the blinds,” Nelson said. She’ll watch a movie, do a puzzle, read or just relax with a glass of wine — “thinking about the good times.” Her husband joins her sometimes, although he has his own hangout, a baseball-themed room. “He’s not one for flamingos.” She also invites friends to join her to work on arts and crafts projects. “I don’t come down that much in summer,” she said. “But in winter, I come down a lot!”

Collector’s nook

Favorite room: “Turkish corner,” a dense display of exotic keepsakes and treasures.

Created by: Jane Andreachi, Bloomington.

The back story: “I’ve always been attracted to the Mideast and the Near East,” said Andreachi. Over the years, she’s acquired a colorful cache of artwork, figurines, carpets, cushions and pierced-brass lanterns. It all started with camels. “I’ve had a camel collection for 45 years,” she said. “I have camel everything. Early on, camels were not that easy to collect. It was a little bit of a challenge. I’m kind of an obsessive collector, obviously. Once I start collecting, I really collect.”

How she created it: One corner of the living room in Andreachi’s 1950s rambler is now a Casablanca-meets-Istanbul gallery of artifacts and collectibles. “One friend said every time she comes over she feels like she’s in a museum,” Andreachi said. Her corner is a bit of a throwback to the “Orientalist” decor that was popular in the late 19th and early 20th century. “A lot of houses had Turkish influences,” she said. “And a lot of homes of that time period had that type of corner.”

The payoff: Andreachi doesn’t do anything in her Turkish corner. “It’s hard to do anything there. It’s pretty crowded,” she said. “I like to sit opposite it and look at it. I just feel very comfortable and homey there. I like a lot of pattern, texture and color. A lot of people would be overwhelmed by it, but I feel invigorated by it.”