Dream Room #1: The Ball Room

When I was 10 years old, I thought I wanted to be an architect. I was particularly fascinated by Frank Lloyd Wright and Thomas Jefferson (he designed a lot of the architecture at the University of Virginia, where I attended summer camp).

In hindsight, I didn’t actually want to be an architect. I’m not that patient or detail oriented. Nothing I’ve ever done has been up to code. It just wouldn’t work.

What I really wanted was to live in a really cool house someday. A house with lots of different rooms, each with a specific purpose.

So I’m starting a new ongoing series for the blog in which I’ll describe these rooms, and you can let me know if they make any sense. I doubt I’ll ever have a house like this–I’m not sure I’d even want a big house–but it’s fun to imagine what it would be like.

The first room also dates back to my childhood. For some reason I really loved those big pits filled with plastic balls at McDonald’s and Burger King. I think it may be because we ate fast food so rarely–it really seemed like a treat. But there’s also something wonderful about jumping into a vat of plastic balls. They could even be painted gold so I can feel like Scrooge McDuck (diving into a pile of gold coins would be quite painful).

What’s a playful room of childhood nostalgia you would put in your dream house?

13 Responses to “Dream Room #1: The Ball Room”

  1. Marcus R. says:

    Precisely this. I’ve priced it out more than once. Still too costly, but a man can dream.

  2. I remember the day a family moved into the big up-until-then mysterious farmhouse across the back alley behind the small row houses where I lived in Pittsburgh. (Its street, Wightman Street, and the local grade school were named after the original owner.) The property, which spanned half a city block, had a real water pump and an old barn with a trap door on the second floorโ€”(where, decades later, I pictured my hero, Dr. Richard Kimble, hiding from Lt. Philip Gerard in a haystack). The arriving renters had a little girl, Jean, two years old, just like me; we were inseparable for the decade of our childhoods, and became lifelong best friends.

    The farmhouse itself had a kitchen (with back stairs up to what had probably been a servant’s room), pantry, dining room, living room, and large hall separating what became our “Playroom” from the rest of the house. When indoors, we spent our time behind its big heavy sliding doors, trying to solve riddles posed by Jean’s parents, playing board games, and giggling as we made up plays to perform for the neighborhood. The Playroom was the stage for our performances, its sliding doors our curtain. We proudly collected nickels, dimes, or small brass safety pins as the price of admission. The “grown-ups” almost never entered the Playroom; it was our world.

  3. Joseph E. Pilkus III says:


    As I’m a bit older than you, I remember fondly spending quite a bit of time in an arcade and spending far more than I probably should have. Fast forward 15-20 years, and I have almost no desire to play any type of video game, save Star Craft (and Star Craft II) due in large part to the great story arc. However, if I had a dream home (and as I get older and with my daughter now off to college, a condo is looking really great), I would definitely have a few games of yesteryear, including Space Invaders, Asteroids, and Zaxxon.


    • Jamey Stegmaier says:

      That would be really cool. I’ve heard of a few people having a some old arcade games in their basement. They’re a big group X-Men arcade game I wouldn’t mind having (though it would take up SO much space).

  4. T-Mac says:

    As a child, the room (defined loosely) I wanted most was a series of tree houses connected by rope ladder walkways, just like the Ewoks had in Star Wars. How awesome would that be? I’m still intrigued by things like tree house B&Bs.

    Also, I would have loved to have a turret attached to some part of my home, complete with battlements (and crenels & merlons), so I could rain arrows down on my foes as they approached. I still love some of the old St. Louis architecture that incorporates a winding staircase in the front (turret style, but without the exposed roof/battlements). Today, I don’t see why my current chimney couldn’t be augmented in some way to create this sort of system. Frank & Lisa next door had better watch their asses when I get proficient with a bow and arrow! (They’re actually quite nice, so I’d probably just taunt them from my turret like the French knight in Monty Python & the Holy Grail.)

    As I grew older (perhaps coinciding with playing the board game “Clue”), the most appealing room idea was probably the hidden room–something where a book or wall sconce could be augmented to expose a secret area or passageway. A house connected by secret passageways would still be pretty cool. It’d probably feature a two way mirror, and today’s version (hidden room, not passageway) would probably be a cozy bar area with a fireplace (tavernesque feel).

    I could go on…an in home restaurant, underground bunker of some sort, zero gravity room, Batman-style cave with waterfall cover, mini stage where I could rap-battle Eminem…these things would all have made the list at some point! Great topic!

    • Jamey Stegmaier says:

      This is such a good list! I may need to add some of these to my list. I really like the idea of hidden doors/areas. And a zero-gravity room?! Is that an option?

  5. Stephen says:

    A ballpit room would be extremely cool, yeah. Maybe not as an entire room, but… A good sized corner of a room or something, maybe under a bay window with a fairly low chair up against the wall fitted to the bay?

    The costing for them – once you find a supplier of balls – can be done with this XKCD fansite: https://www.chiliahedron.com/ballroom/

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