5 Tips for Furnishing and Decorating a Playroom

If you have young children, do they have a designated play area or playroom?

Do you struggle to keep the primary-colored plastic toys from overtaking the room (or even the rest of your house)?

Today I wanted to share a few things I learned over the past couple years as we furnished and decorated our girls’ playroom. This space is completely open to the rest of our house, and the before and after photos got me to thinking about how many changes we made to get the playroom to where it is today. We learned a lot and gave our new solution lots of thought, so here are my top five tips for furnishing and decorating a playroom that flows with the rest of your house.

1. Choose closed storage for small toys

I don’t know how we end up with so many small toys, but they seem to multiply at our house. The playroom really came together when we added two bookshelves with doors to the middle of the long wall in this room. The small toys that used to be visible on our previous shelves are now hidden in this storage unit, and the large toys can stay out without looking too busy. There are various bins and baskets behind these doors to corral the small toys, but since they’re concealed they don’t have to match or be perfectly neat all the time.

Cabinets in Playroom

The play kitchen is another form of closed storage in our space. It easily holds all our play food, dishes, and kitchen accessories and can hide other toys in a pinch.

Kitchen Wall in Playroom

2. Use baskets to group like items

Another excellent way to keep toys looking neat is by storing them in baskets. We like to use baskets for everything from blocks to trains to stuffed animals. The white and natural basket on top of our toy cabinets holds our wooden train set from Ikea and adds nice texture to this surface.

Playroom Closeup

Beside the toy cabinet is a huge basket for our stuffed animals. I actually found this one at Goodwill, and it’s super versatile and makes cleaning up so easy. Find a stuffed animal? Toss it in the basket!

Cabinets and Dressup

In the little nook beside the play kitchen, I like to keep a basket for the girls’ mega blocks. These blocks originally came in a pink plastic wagon, which was fun for a little while but took up a lot of room and was pretty gaudy. The basket tucks nicely into this little corner and is unoffensive as far as mega block storage goes.

Kitchen Wall in Playroom

3. Divide the room into designated play stations

Once the toys are concealed or easily stored, divide those storage pieces into designated play stations. This helps kids know where to find different types of toys, and it gives your eye a place to rest as you look around the room (so you don’t just see one big mass/mess of toys!).

Playroom After

In our playroom, we have a kitchen area, a craft/snack table, a storage unit for smaller toys, dress up hooks to each side of the storage unit, and an open area in the middle. While some might feel the urge to fill up the floor space with an ottoman or other large toys, we use the empty area for bringing out toys to play, doing large projects, and impromptu dance parties. 🙂

Left Side Playroom

Cabinets and Dressup

4. Choose furniture that will grow with your child or your room

Think outside the box and consider non-kid-specific furniture for your playroom. You should choose furniture you would buy for your home whether or not it would be in a kid space. This tip applies to children’s bedrooms and nurseries as well. I can see our white cabinets easily becoming a dining room buffet or craft supply storage as our kids get older.

Cabinets in Playroom

When in doubt, don’t buy the primary-colored furniture! While the girls will eventually grow out of this craft table, I made sure to choose a finish that was neutral (natural wood) and wouldn’t distract from the rest of the room. I could see myself buying an adult-sized version of this set for elsewhere in our home in a heartbeat!

Play Table

So what do you do if you’re trying to follow this advice but you already have primary-colored furniture? The same thing we did with our thrifted play kitchen – paint it!

Left Side Playroom

Would you believe the girls’ play kitchen started out looking almost just like this?! Complete with pink, blue, and yellow doors.

KidKraft KitchenI found this piece at a consignment sale, so I didn’t have much say in the color palette. Instead of turning our playroom into a pastel wonderland, Stephen and I built new doors (a couple were damaged or missing), painted them white and added a sweet little curtain below the sink. Now the kitchen is still colorful without overwhelming the room.

Kitchen Wall in Playroom

5. Style and decorate the room as you would any other adult space

As I was putting the finishing touches on the room, I pulled out the girls’ favorite (and best-looking) toys to style the various surfaces. I like to decorate the play kitchen as I would my own kitchen – with cute textiles (the oven mitt and curtain) and fresh fruits and veggies.

Play Kitchen Closeup

On the wall above the kitchen, I hung two paintings by Libby in simple white frames. I love that these look professional enough that they could hang anywhere in our home, not just in the playroom.

DIY Art Closeup

The girls play with this globe and peg block often, and they’re pretty enough to leave out all the time.

Play Table Closeup

I even borrowed bookends from our own bookshelf for the top of the toy cabinet. You know playroom decor will flow with the rest of your house when you decorate with items you love from other rooms.

Pig Bookends Closeup

Giraffe Closeup

So those are my tips for creating a playroom that flows with the rest of your house: choose closed storage, use baskets, create play stations, select neutral furniture, and decorate it like the rest of your house!

What do you think? Will you implement any of these tips to improve your space?

I’m adding our source list for this room below. Thanks for reading!

Sources

Wall color – Silver Drop by Behr
Roller shades – Home Depot
Cabinets and doors – Ikea/ Ikea
Cabinet top – Lowes
Pig bookends – CB2 (similarsimilar)
Natural and white basket – Hobby Lobby (similar, similar)
Wall hanging – DIY here
Frames for DIY art – Ikea Ribba
Play kitchen – consignment (similarsimilar, similar)
Play table – consignment (similar)
Dress up hooks – Ikea
Cloud pillow – Ikea

Some links in this post are affiliate links.

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36 Favorite Picture Books for Toddlers and Children

Are you looking for new books to read to your children or to give as baby shower or birthday gifts? You’ve come to the right place!

When I shared the photos of Libby’s bedroom update, I mentioned that we are big lovers of books in our house. I love to give (and receive) books as gifts, especially to first-time parents, so thought I’d share the books that have become favorites of our 1- and 3-year-olds here at Heardmont.

Bed and Bookshelf

These are the books we read to our girls nightly, take with us on vacation, and can recite by memory. They’re the tried-and-true favorites we come back to again and again. I’ve included a few notes about our favorites and books for older kids below. Enjoy!

Reading Nook

The Wonderful Things You Will Be (gorgeous illustrations – pictured above!)

The Rainbow Fish (great story about sharing)

What Do People Do All Day? 

Atlas of Adventures (gets the discussion going about other parts of the world)

Oh, the Places You’ll Go! 

The Book With No Pictures (hilarious!)

Little Bear (a definite favorite)

Press Here 

On My Way to the Bath

Guess How Much I Love You 

Sleep Like a Tiger (read every night at bedtime for a solid month)

We’re Going on a Bear Hunt 

GALLOP! (really cool “moving” pictures)

In the Night Kitchen 

I Heart You (another with beautiful illustrations)

Little Critter Just a Storybook Collection

The World in a Second 

Madeline 

HOOT (great for learning colors and counting)

Blueberries for Sal

The Story About Ping 

Go, Dog. Go! (for babies)

Go, Dog. Go! (for toddlers – different from the board book)

Silly Suzy Goose 

The Very Hungry Caterpillar 

Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?

Here are a few other stories we are excited to start reading to our girls as they get a little older. I’ve mentioned that we also love books with beautiful covers and illustrations, and these definitely hit that mark.

The Complete Tales of Winnie-The-Pooh

Beatrix Potter the Complete Tales 

The Adventure Collection (a beautiful heirloom set)

The Hobbit: Illustrated Edition 

Little Women 

Where the Sidewalk Ends (one of my childhood favorites that Libby is just starting to appreciate)

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone: The Illustrated Edition

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

Anne of Green Gables (have you seen “Anne with an E” on Netflix? Soooo good!)

The Little House Series 

We are always looking for recommendations for other great children’s books, so I’d love to hear your favorites. Chime in below to add to our list, and thanks for reading!

Bookshelf

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Posted in Babies, Big Girl Room, For Fun | 3 Comments

Libby’s Big Girl Room | 3 Tips on Transitioning Out of the Crib

I’m back to share a tour of 3-year-old Libby’s updated bedroom! Earlier this week, I showed you the pennant banner I made to fill the big empty wall above her bed. Now you can see the full effect in the room. I used several different fabrics I’d saved from when we decorated her nursery two years ago, so the banner really coordinates with the rest of the room.

Big Girl Room V

Our girl’s been in her twin-sized bed since the beginning of the year and she loves it! The bed, sheets, and white quilt were a Christmas gift from her Papa Joe, so I’m sure that added to her excitement. Keep reading for a few things we did that really helped with the transition from crib to bed.

Big Girl Room

Another thing she loves? Her new reading nook!

We used this white canopy above her crib for a few months before she moved into her new bed. I was worried it would be too much of a distraction above the new bed, but it turns out it’s perfect for filling the space at the end of the bed and creating a cozy reading and snuggling area.

Reading Nook

The bed itself has a metal frame and is quite low to the ground. The height makes it really easy for her to get in and out of bed herself. The headboard has an adorable criss-cross detail you can check out here.

New Bed and Banner

We read books every night at bedtime, so instead of a nightstand, I opted for this small white bookshelf. Lucky for us it was a freebie from our neighbor and is just the right size to hold some of our very favorite reads. Not only are we huge fans of books in this house, we especially love beautiful books. Stephen has been known to browse Amazon for classics with gorgeous illustrations and covers like The Adventure Collection and the illustrated version of The Hobbit.

Bed and Bookshelf

Stuffed animals always seem to find their way onto these shelves, and on top of the bookshelf we keep a lamp, special clock, and sound machine. We searched and searched for a low wattage LED bulb with a regular base, and the winner was this 200 lumen bulb from Ikea. It gives off just the right amount of light to read by without being too bright to wake up tired toddlers.

Bookshelf

Are you ready for our top three tips on making the transition from crib to bed?

  1. Set expectations. We talked to Libby a lot (for weeks beforehand) about how things would go down once she had a “big girl bed.” We always acted really excited about the change and told her how special having a new bed would be. Most importantly, we set one rule: “You have to stay in bed until mommy or daddy comes to get you.” We still have her baby monitor (with wide-angle lens) in her room, so if she needs to go to the bathroom or wakes up in the middle of the night, all she has to do is call us.
  2. Get one of these clocks. I’m not even kidding. This is the number one thing that keeps our girl in bed every single night and until 7 am each morning. It’s called the Ok to Wake Clock and turns green at a pre-set time every morning. Libby is definitely a rule-follower and knows she has to stay in bed until that clock turns green. When it does, she says, “I’m ready to get up!” and we start our day. I think she’s gotten out of bed herself two times in the five months since she moved to her bed, and our success is 100% because of this clock. We also love that we can set the clock for a certain nap length and that it functions as a night light.
  3. Create a good sleep environment. For us, that meant adding a blackout roller shade to the window and a sound machine. We love this sound machine (baby sister sleeps with one in her room, too) because it creates true white noise without being distracting or moving air like a fan would. It’s actually our go-to baby shower gift because it’s just that good!

Bookshelf Essentials

Bed Banner Bookshelf

I’m loving that we were able to transition from nursery to little girl’s room without changing the major design elements in this space. I kept the curtains, dresser and chair (on the other side of the room), and that gorgeous chandelier and updated the bed and play areas to fit our little girl’s needs.

Big Girl Room V

Are any of you approaching the move from crib to bed soon with your little ones? If you’ve already made the change (or did years ago), do you have any other suggestions to help with the transition?

Thanks for reading! I hope you enjoyed this glimpse into our home. Check out the list of sources for the room below!

pennant banner / bed (similar) / similar white quilt / purple chair / reading canopy (similar – sooo cute!) / blackout shade / sound machine / clock / owl lamp / similar bookshelf / baby monitor / wide-angle lens / similar chandelier (similarsimilarsimilar – closest match but goes out of stock quickly!)

The bird pillow, mint green pillowcase, and colorful quilt were handmade.

This post contains affiliate links.

Posted in Before and After, Big Girl Room | 3 Comments

How to Make a Pennant Banner

Our Libby celebrated her third birthday a couple months ago and shortly beforehand was the proud recipient of a “big girl bed” from her Papa. Decorating above the side of a twin-sized bed is so different from decorating above a crib! All of the sudden I had a huge blank wall to fill with something that wasn’t heavy art.

This was the corner of her room where we chose to put her new bed. (Click the picture below to see this room as a nursery.)

LibbysNurseryBefore

After I took down all the art, I decided a pennant banner would be a cute way to fill the wall with non-dangerous decor. Luckily I held onto all the extra fabric when we decorated her nursery the first time around, so I had lots of coordinating fabric to use.

GluetoRibbon

Here’s how I did it!

You will need:
Fabric of your choice (at least 3-4 patterns)
Scissors
Cardboard
Ruler
Pen
Glue gun
Ribbon
Iron (optional)
Supplies

Creating the pattern:
1. Draw a rectangle on your piece of cardboard. Mine was about 5″ x 5.75″.
2. Make a mark halfway down each end of the rectangle and draw a line across the center.
3. Use this line and your ruler to create a triangle.
4. Cut it out!


CreatingPattern

Making the banner:
Use the cardboard triangle as a pattern for your pennants. My pennant banner took about 14 of these fabric triangles.

Pennants

Once you’ve cut out the triangles, iron them (if you want to) and hot glue them to the back of a ribbon of your choice. No hemming or sewing required!

GluetoRibbon

This was a seriously fast way to bring some color to the wall above the bed and repeat the fabrics I’d already used in the room. I love that it took less than 30 minutes to make and required no sewing at all!

Here’s a little sneak peek of the banner in our girl’s updated room. Stay tuned to see the rest of the space!

New Banner

Do you have a wall that could use a little pennant banner love?

Posted in Big Girl Room, Crafts | Leave a comment

Target Area Rugs on Sale!

Hi friends! I wanted to pop in with quick heads up that Target is having a 48 hour rug sale, online only. That means our sitting room area rug is even more of a steal now!

Sitting Room After

Target has really upped their game in the area rug department lately. Check out all their sale rugs here: 30% off rugs online only 48 HOURS ONLY. Valid 5/4-5/5

This post contains affiliate links.

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Our Sitting Room Reveal

Y’all, I’m so excited to share our sitting room with you today! This room and the adjoining playroom were so tricky – it took us the majority of our two years in this house to figure out how we should actually use this space.

You’ll recall our new sitting room was staged as a formal dining room when we bought our house. Turns out that wasn’t what our family of four needed at this phase in our lives. Here’s a look at the old dining room…

Sitting Area Before

And here is almost the exact same view today!

Sitting Room After

Oh my goodness, you would not believe how much we use this space now! It’s the perfect spot to sit and watch our girls play. After we moved our couch back down to the den, we were left with the rug and dark brown chair and a bunch of blank walls. We tossed around the idea of adding a sectional sofa on the far wall but decided to try different layouts using pieces we already owned. I’m so glad we did, because this arrangement feels so cozy and homey and includes most of my very favorite furniture in the whole house!

The two cream chairs under the window were given to us back in Arkansas when my grandpa passed away and my grandma needed to downsize. They’re not lounge chairs by any means, but they’re the perfect balance of comfort and firmness you want in a casual sit-and-chat kind of chair. We replaced the old blinds on the large window with the same roller shade as in the playroom for a cohesive look.

Sitting Chairs

One of my favorite parts of the room is our wall of black and white family photos. Some of the pictures are very old and some are much more recent, but they’re all special for one reason or another. Years ago, I spent hours refinishing the mid-century credenza beneath, and it has become a great storage space for seasonal kitchen items and art supplies.

Credenza

Our vintage rocker and ottoman that Stephen found on Craigslist back in Arkansas are still going strong. This chair is the perfect amount of broken-in and is the most coveted seat in the house by both parents and toddlers alike!

Lounge Chair

In this photo you can see a few of our favorite things beneath my grandparents’ wedding portrait. They were so young!

Close up Books

Here is another treasured photo; a snapshot of my dad as a baby with his older sister and their mom in the 1950s.

Close up Dad

This cute little pottery pig (he’s actually a salt shaker) was an antique store find on one of our first trips as a married couple. I wrote about that black and white DIY cross-stitch project here.

Close up Pig

Here’s another view of those awesome mid-century chairs. You might have noticed the wall behind these chairs has been painted and the one behind the credenza is still the original tan color. These chairs are along the same wall as our new storage unit in the playroom, but the other wall goes all the way up to the vaulted ceiling and we’ve concluded we’ll need scaffolding to be able to paint it! When we rent or buy scaffolding to tackle that project, I’m super excited to replace the dining chandelier in this room with this simple pendant light (it’s already here and waiting in the basement!).

Sitting Chairs Wide

I talked a little about that vintage end table in my last post. I brought out a couple favorite books, a beautiful handmade walnut bowl, a candle, and a thrifted lamp with new shade (this is my favorite shade for updating old lamps). The bowl was a housewarming gift years ago. I recently gave my sister-in-law this similar bowl, complete with adorable gold fox & hare inlays. She loved it!

Close up End Table

I’m so happy we thought outside the box and created a room to suit our family and our lifestyle right now. Instead of a bulky dining set, now we get to look at this when we’re building block towers in the playroom with our girls. And now there are plenty of comfy seating options when they’re content playing on their own and we do get a chance to relax!

Sitting Room After

What do you think of our finished sitting room?

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Posted in Before and After, sitting room | 1 Comment

The Sitting Room: Before Photos and Progress

Today I want to share some of the updates we made to our formal dining room before we found a family-friendly solution for this space. When I shared the before photos of our playroom, I mentioned that we’d made some changes to the formal dining room as well. This photo shows how the playroom and dining area open to each other.

Playroom Before

Here’s another view of the dining room. You can see the previous owners had their table and china cabinet centered under the chandelier. Through that doorway is the breakfast nook and kitchen (where we eat all of our meals), and the stairs lead up to the bedrooms and down to the den.

Sitting Area Before

For our first year in this house, we set up this space as a dining area. It didn’t look that different from the previous owners’ room, but our furniture made the playroom and dining space feel completely cramped and dark. This is the same furniture from our dining room in Arkansas, and it’s a great example of furniture that works in one house not working in another!

Dining During

We decided to try something new right around the time baby girl #2 arrived. We desperately needed more room for adults to sit while kids played in the playroom, and we realized we’d used our dining furniture about five times in the year we’d been in the house. So we removed the dining furniture and brought our couch (the Hamilton Leather Sofa in Sienna from west elm) up from the den. All of the sudden, the front of the house felt so comfortable and open. A sitting room was born!

Sitting Before

We needed an area rug to keep the furniture from sliding around and to soften the wood floors, and after looking at hundreds of rugs online, I fell in love with this gorgeous blue one. For a rug this size and style, I honestly couldn’t believe how amazing of a deal it was!

Sitting During

If you follow me on Instagram, you probably saw this photo I shared of a little corner of this room. That little wood and white end table is one of my very favorite furniture pieces. You’d never guess 10-year-old Meredith once painted it baby blue with white clouds and a yellow sun to match her childhood bedroom! Ours is vintage, but here’s a similar, inexpensive one on Amazon, if you like the look. The envelope-style pillow covers were a DIY project using fabric from Hobby Lobby. This is the gold cross fabric I used, and here are two fabrics similar to the navy blue.

Sitting During Closeup

Even though we loved having this couch in the sitting room, once our baby started sleeping through the night, we got some semblance of our old lives back. Turns out that couch is pretty awesome for Netflix watching after the kids go to bed, so we decided to move it back down to the den (where we hang out in the evenings). Luckily, we had several furniture pieces we loved at our old house that hadn’t found homes here yet, and moving them into the new sitting room gave them a chance to shine!

I’ll be sharing the after pictures of this sitting area soon, so check back for those later this week! In the meantime, if you’re in the market for a super durable and comfortable leather sofa, we do love ours #hearteyesforever. And that rug. It’s a great deal and really, really, ridiculously good looking (name that movie!).

Thanks for visiting!

This post contains affiliate links.

Posted in Before and After, dining room, sitting room | 3 Comments

Our Playroom Reveal

You guys! I’m so excited to share our finished playroom with you!  If you recall, when we saw our house for the very first time, this room in the front was set up as a formal living room.

Playroom Before

We decided it was officially “the playroom” shortly after moving in. Over time, we added more toys and storage, but certain elements never worked. Most recently, the room looked like this.

Playroom During

And here’s the finished playroom today!

Playroom After No1

The first updates we made were to cover the semi-gloss tan walls with light gray paint and to replace the barely functional blinds with new roller shades. The paint color alone helped tremendously to lift the mood of this room.

Next, we removed the bookshelves and added these amazing, hide-everything white cabinets. I added the wooden top to really finish off the look and am so glad Stephen convinced me to keep it natural instead of staining it darker.

Cabinets and Dressup

That natural and white basket is perfect for our wooden train set, and you might recognize the wall hanging I shared recently. We resisted at first, but it’s safe to say princess fever has taken hold at our house, so I made the girls’ dress up clothes easily accessible on the wall hooks beside the cabinets (for spontaneous dance parties!).

Playroom Closeup

Cabinets in Playroom

Giraffe Closeup

Pig Bookends Closeup

On the opposite wall is the play kitchen. This was a consignment sale find that Stephen and I fixed up for Christmas last year, and both girls love it! I also framed a few art pieces Libby made with finger paints and poster board. I love seeing kids’ art in homes, and I think framing these pieces really elevated their look.

Left Wall Playroom

Kitchen Wall in Playroom

DIY Art Closeup

Play Kitchen Closeup

The play table and chairs fit perfectly under the windowsill and don’t block the light like the old chalkboard did. The girls love sitting here to work on crafts, have snacks, and watch the trash truck go by.

Playroom After

Play Table

So there you have it, a formal living room turned playroom that still looks nice enough to greet guests. I am loving the closed storage and all the little projects that went into making this room a fun place for our two ladies.

Cabinets and Dressup

Sources

Wall color – Silver Drop by Behr
Roller shades – Home Depot
Cabinets and doors – Ikea/ Ikea
Cabinet top – Lowes
Pig bookends – CB2 (similarsimilar)
Natural and white basket – Hobby Lobby (similar, similar)
Wall hanging – DIY here
Frames for DIY art – Ikea Ribba
Play kitchen – consignment (similarsimilar, similar)
Play table – consignment (similar)
Dress up hooks – Ikea
Cloud pillow – Ikea

Some links in this post are affiliate links.

Posted in Before and After, Playroom | 4 Comments

The Playroom: Before Photos and The Plan

It’s taken awhile, but we’re finally starting to find our groove with this house. We’ve moved around a lot of furniture in the two years we’ve been here, and one space that stumped us for a long time is what the builder of this house probably called the formal living and dining room. These are the first two rooms you see when you enter the house. Here’s how they looked when we saw our home for the first time.

Playroom Before

And this is how the space looked right after we bought the house. The white door you see here is our front door, so those windows face our street. I immediately knew we’d be replacing the window treatments and painting the walls, but those changes took a lot longer to achieve than I hoped!

Empty Playroom

This home had two living areas but no dedicated playroom. We originally thought we’d use the sunken den as a play area, but at the time our oldest was just learning to walk and couldn’t manage the split level stairs down to the den on her own. Now that’s the case for her little sister! Since this formal living room was on the main living floor, it became the playroom by default.

Here’s a photo I found that shows how we initially set up the space. We anchored those bookshelves to the long wall and began filling them up. For awhile, we placed our books on the top shelves and toys filled the lower ones.

Playroom One Chair

I eventually found a second chair for the space and later replaced the pile of pillows (fun while it lasted!) with an end table between the chairs.  This was about a year ago. Notice the window treatments and wall color hadn’t changed yet!

Playroom Two Chairs

I’ll write soon about adding seating in our dining room on the other side of this space. When we made that change, we were able to remove the adult chairs in the photo above and replace them with a wooden shelf, kid-sized chair, and chalkboard. I also finally took down the previous owner’s cornice boards and started thinking about paint colors.

Playroom During

We liked having our books on display and a place for toys, but those open shelves always ended up looking messy. As the girls got taller, it was harder and harder to keep them from pulling heavy books off the upper shelves that were supposed to be off limits.

The wooden shelf under the window created a sort of window seat and good storage for stuffed animals, but again, it always looked messy. I also didn’t love how the chalkboard blocked the window, and the blinds were in terrible shape and hard to operate.

Here was our plan for the space!

Playroom Plan

First, the walls had to go lighter. The girls loved the play kitchen, so it had to stay. We decided replacing the bookshelves with closed storage would go a long way towards keeping the room looking tidy. I also wanted to bring in some texture with new roller blinds, a DIY wall hanging, baskets, and colorful art.

So how did it all turn out? Stay tuned – I’ll be sharing the after photos of this room very soon!

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Our Favorite Whole30 Recipes

I thought I’d share something Stephen and I tried recently that was honestly pretty life-changing. Have you heard of Whole30? It’s a 30+ day limited ingredient diet you can read about here that basically eliminates major food types that can negatively affect mood, energy levels, allergies, and weight. It’s all about eating good food (as much as you want) and paying attention to how your body feels.

Whole30

We were both a bit skeptical, but when our program ended we felt awesome! Both of us lost 10+ pounds without counting calories (weight loss wasn’t even the goal) and have so much more energy than before, which is important for keeping up with our littles!

Heard Family

The steps are really basic and most of the information about what foods to eat and avoid is readily available online, but there are also some great books with more information and recipes to help you get started. Here’s the book that explains the program, here’s the step by step guide with recipes, and here’s another cookbook with 150 compliant recipes. These are all currently on sale on Amazon prime!

I wanted to share a few recipes that were our go-tos over the past month AND that we’ll continue to eat now that our Whole30 month is over. These are delicious regardless of which “food rules” you are or are not following!

Please pin these recipes from the original source.

Sweet Potato and Beef Stew

This was by far our absolute favorite new recipe. We followed this recipe from Kelley and Cricket very closely, except we added 3-4 diced white potatoes and at least half a bunch of kale and cooked it for 30-35 minutes in our Instant Pot.

Beef-and-Sweet-Potato-Stew1-1024x1024

Whole30 BBQ Sauce

Next, this recipe for BBQ sauce from Happy Wife Style. We put this on boneless skinless chicken thighs or 2″ slices of pork tenderloin and pop them in the Instant Pot for melt-in-your-mouth barbecue in 20 minutes.

Whole30 BBQ Sauce

Enchilada Stuffed Sweet Potatoes

We’ve served these Enchilada Stuffed Sweet Potatoes by Living Loving Paleo to company several times, and they are awesome! We love ours topped with homemade guacamole. They make a completely filling and satisfying meal.

One note, we reduce both the chili powder and cumin to 2 teaspoons each. This still makes the sauce super flavorful!

Enchilada Sweet Potatoes

Tuscan Chicken Spaghetti Squash

This recipe from Physical Kitchness was a nice change of pace – lighter with the shredded chicken and spaghetti squash but still super filling. She also includes a great tip for cooking the spaghetti squash quickly.

I made the most alterations to this recipe, so I’ll just include my version below.

whole30-tuscan-chicken-spaghetti-squash-1

Tuscan Chicken Spaghetti Squash

1 whole spaghetti squash, cooked and shredded
2-3 chicken breasts, cooked and shredded
1/2 white onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 small salad package of prewashed spinach leaves
3 eggs
1 Tbsp coconut milk fat
1 package grape tomatoes, cut in halves
1 Tbsp dried basil
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 dash cayenne pepper (optional)
olive oil for sautéing and for the baking dish

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat bottom and sides of 9×13 baking dish with olive oil.

On stovetop, sauté onion 3-4 minutes in olive oil until brown, then add garlic and spinach and continue cooking until spinach is wilted. Remove from heat.

In a small bowl, whisk together eggs, coconut milk, and spices.

In a large mixing bowl, combine all ingredients then spread in baking dish. Bake for 30-35 minutes until the edges begin to brown and most of the liquid has evaporated.

Instant Pot Rotisserie Chicken

Finally, another of our absolute favorites, this Instant Pot Rotisserie Chicken recipe from A Pinch of Healthy. I made this for the first time just this week, and OH MY WORD it was amazing! I followed the recipe exactly – no changes required!

Instant-Pot-Rotisserie-Chicken-slice

One kitchen tool we could not have survived Whole30 without? Our Instant Pot! We’d been doing lots of research into the world of pressure cookers, and when our slow cooker bit the dust THE DAY we started Whole30, we decided it was time to upgrade.

Our Instant Pot

We got the 8 Qt pot because we tend to cook lots of food and eat the leftovers for lunch the next day, but there’s the more standard 6 Qt version, too. This particular pressure cooker can also slow cook, steam, make rice and yogurt, sauté, and more. Amazingly, even though this was meant to replace our slow cooker, we haven’t used the slow cook feature once. It is just too darn easy to put a whole chicken in the pot, turn it on, and eat 45 minutes later!

So, if you’re considering Whole30 or just want some new delicious recipes, give these a try. I’ve also shared more Whole30 compliant recipes on my Whole30 Pinterest board.

Let me know if you try any of these recipes or if you have any favorite healthy dinner recipes to share!

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