Must have: Entertaining space for kids

Kid-Friendly Living

Eric and Kim Tymchuk, who have two girls, typically entertain several families from the C3 Church in Lawrenceville every week. Sometimes that means another 10 to 15 kids invading their Gwinnett County home.

The couple realized they needed more space for themselves, their friends and their friends’ kids, who have gotten older, bigger and louder.

The priority

Finding an affordable home with extra play space in their neighborhood, Dacula’s Hamilton Mill, a massive development, with more than 2,000 homes. Their former home had four bedrooms, two-and-a-half baths and no basement, with about 2,500 square feet total. They purchased the home eight years ago, before having their girls, Mary Ella, 7, and Katherine, 3.

The search process

One night in November 2010, during a church small group meeting with more than 15 kids and adults in the home, Eric looked at Kim and said, “We need a bigger house.” It was too cold for the kids to be outside, and it was too noisy with them inside. “We kept hearing stories of the incredible deals that were available right now,” Kim said. “The next day, I sent him a text because I found this house online.”

But it was sketchy, she said, because the price appeared too low for the home, which was more than 3,500 square feet. It turned out the home was in the short sale phase, which explained the $280,000 asking price. They made an appointment to see it that evening. With the unfinished basement and extra play space, it was just right.

The couple made an offer on the home the Monday after Thanksgiving, and they were surprised to find it was approved in early December. However, the January closing was delayed when the bank realized Kim’s name wasn’t on the original contract and canceled the contract. They had to restart the process and resubmit the bid, and the same price was accepted. The Tymchuks closed on March 31, paying $270,000 (the home had originally sold for more than $400,000).

The home

A four-bedroom, three-and-a-half-bath home with an unfinished basement built in 2006, just 2 miles from their previous home. It had the same number of bedrooms as their previous home, but the bedrooms were much larger. For example, Mary Ella’s room is twice as big. “Her closet alone doubles as a playroom,” Kim said. It’s big enough to hold a kitchen set, dollhouse, dress-up area and other toys. In the basement, they’ve put down rugs to create a small play space. A play table also is in the loft on the second level. A screened-in porch, flagstone patio and fenced backyard also provide space for the kids to play and adults to congregate.

The adults often gather in the open kitchen and den area, which has proved big enough to hold up to 92 people (67 adults and 25 kids) for a church meeting.

The lifestyle

Entertaining remains a big part of life for Eric, 39, who works in sales for Ikon Office Solutions in Norcross, and Kim, 37, an associate pastor at the C3 Church. “When you make a decision to entertain like we do, which is at least weekly, and where most of the time, kids are involved, you really want that place that can really be that play area,” she said. Now they’re able to hold conservations with adults while the kids enjoy themselves throughout the home. “You don’t feel like the kids have been up under you the whole time. You don’t hear them,” Kim said.


Expecting to entertain in your home? Then consider these three kid-friendly factors.

1. Unusual play spots

Bedrooms, basements and bonus rooms often are kid havens, but also consider whether you can turn a sunroom or formal living room into a playroom. Or, like the Tymchuks, if your home has a larger-than-expected closet, make that a safe play area.

2. Outdoor access

The position of the basement in some Atlanta homes makes it difficult for adults to watch their older children playing in the backyard, without going outside or down a set of stairs to see them. You’ll want to check whether the layout will make it more difficult to watch children safely in the yard. “The way this house is positioned, as long as the blinds are open, we can see the kids in the backyard. We can keep an eye on the kids,” Eric said.

3. Noise-reducing layout

Open floor plans are beneficial when entertaining, but a setup with a second-floor catwalk or open space looking down to the first floor can cause the noise level to spike when entertaining.