Happy Organize-Your-Home Day! Did you know that’s an actual holiday? It’s 14 days into the new year, so are you knee deep in organizing your life and home or still hoping it will happen on its own somehow? Since decluttering and organization seems to be a topic of interest to other people these days, especially moms, I decided to share 3 tips for creating and organizing your ideal playroom. I’ve included details on the most recently finished version of our playroom too, including our organizational systems.
Those who know me well, (or follow my instagram stories), know that I’m big into decluttering and organization…before this whole “Tidying Up” by Marie Kondo went viral. Don’t get me wrong, I love her philosophy on organizing and the techniques that she teaches! If you’ve read my recent post about my 2019 New Year goals, you know that I’m trying to up the ante with organization. Every pregnancy, I get in to serious nesting mode and find new systems and routines to keep our home organized and minimize chaos. In planning for our third son coming in a few months, my nesting is on a level 10.
Our playroom didn’t start as a playroom. Here’s the bare bones of our living room, or traditional “sitting” room, when we first moved into our home five years ago. To be honest, it wasn’t used too much. And years down the line I can see it transitioning into a bigger home office and room for homework/studying.
Back when Chase was born in 2016, it was still a living room for a good five months. I mostly sat in there to pump, feed and my husband used it to nap.
When Chase was around five months old and beginning stages of crawling, I realized he needed more room for floor-time activities. I decided to buy a playmat and relocate the current rug. The playmat, from SoftTiles, was durable, washable and had options for customized designs.
Fast-forward to today and we’ve gradually turned this place into a full playroom. We relocated the SoftTiles mat downstairs and replaced it with one from Little Nomad in Silver Lining for better cleaning and streamlined design to match our neutral interiors.
As picture-perfect as this may look, let’s be real…This is how it looks like in the morning before the boys get up. And then 20 minutes later:
Some may think that I’ve gone over the top with labeling and organizing it, but there’s a few reasons:
- Control Amongst the Chaos. This is the first room that you see when you enter our house. I don’t believe in having a pristine house with no trace of children living there if you have children. Kids deserve to be kids in their own home. However, it’s possible to still strike a balance of giving your kids a designated place to learn and play while also maintaining the home-appeal that you desire.
- Organization helps kids learn and develop. Children thrive on structure, predictability and routines, and a play environment with organization fosters these three things. Classrooms are structured in a similar way, so that students know where to go to retrieve something and where they can return it. This is also why I label everything, but also for practical literacy as the boys begin sight-reading.
Ok!… let’s get to it. Here are 3 tips for creating a fun and functional playroom:
1. Choose a design or layout
Just as you would plan out the decor and design of any other room in your house, you can do the same with a playroom. Even if your playroom is more of a “play space” in an smaller area of a larger room, you can continue the design and decor into the play area while maintaining kid-friendly vibes. Think about a room that you really enjoyed designing, you probably also enjoy spending more time in it. You can keep it very simple with decor, or create a whole color scheme.We always had neutral grey and white as our foundational colors and blues/greens as accents. Recently, we painted the entire room a warm teal and the mantel/fireplace white to complete the overall design. Decide what vibe you want from the room and go from there! Pinterest has a lot of great inspiration also.
2. Create stations
Sectioning the play space into “stations” or thematic areas give a natural structure to the room. As mentioned before, it can also foster that structure and predictability that kids love by mimicking the vibe of a classroom. This is possible to achieve even with a small space or play space of a common area. Here are the stations that we have in ours:
The boys love reading and will sit there for 10-20 minutes going through books on their own. I shopped around for several options for a bookshelf and chose this one from amazon because of how visible and easily accessible it made the books.
During one of the Black-Friday deals we scored an amazon echo dot for $20 that we stuck in the playroom for their entertainment. When their favorite jam comes on, they always run to this bin to pull out the headphones, ukelele, xylophone, maracas etc. Most of the musical instruments are from family and friends as travel souvenirs and gifts or from my childhood, so they hold some sentimental value as well!
Toy table/shelf and play mat-
Free play on the table-top and labeled storage drawers/shelves below for easy access. Play mat makes it a soft, yet flat surface for all types of play. The road/town map play mat (pictured in front of the fireplace) is from amazon as a Christmas gift, that adds an extra element of imaginative play with the small vehicles.
This corner is ever-changing with the boys’ interests, so for now it’s this theme. Boys always tend to gravitate towards toys with wheels, so naturally we’ve collected every service vehicle you can think of. This station fosters imaginative play with the roles and tasks of firefighters and construction workers. I actually got this firestation”dollhouse” off of facebook marketplace local listing for $25…. the previous owner’s kids had outgrown it. It’s a great place to find gently used second-hand toys and furniture!
Puzzle table/learning activity corner-
This Fisher-Price table is another vintage piece from my 90’s childhood…still in great shape! Many of these board puzzles and boxed puzzles were given to our boys as gifts (some from garage sales, which are awesome finds). This Melissa and Doug puzzle rack makes it easy to fit the chunkier sound puzzles that are too thick to fit in the traditional puzzle racks. The boxed puzzles sit nicely in a bin from Ikea, because they kept falling over when I had them stacked.
Boogers and messes happen…a lot. I finally decided to put a small basket of all the hygiene essentials that are helpful to have in reach, including a small trash can. One thing I’ll probably end up adding: Antibacterial wipes/spray for sanitizing toys/surfaces.
3. Store and contain
Toys tend to be natural clutter-culprits because they are often left in random places and also usually come with multiple small parts. Marie Kondo probably would agree that containing toys and their parts can be an easy fix to organizing a playroom and eliminating clutter. Consider what type of container you want to have: size, design, material, color, etc. Target, again, has so many options to choose from whether you want the budget-friendly simple design or more sophisticated look. BTW, Target is now having a sale offering 10% off all home organization sale! Anyway, here are my tips for storing and containing:
Shelving/storage units with drawers-
If you buy a shelf or table with drawers, it makes it easy to conceal toys, but allow for easy access/pick-up. We initially bought the Trofast toy storage unit from Ikea to house a lot of Chase’s baby toys. Once he became a toddler, he enjoyed using the top of the shelf as a play table. We added a second Trofast unit to extend the toy table for both of the boys to play on and increase the shelving storage below. The drawer bins can be fully taken out and placed back into place for functional use and clean-up. Some other great options are the cube storage organizers from Target with mix-and-match cube drawers.
Open bins for toys-
Similar to drawers, open top bins allow for easy access and clean-up of toys. Since Target his having a home-organization sale, I bought the plastic-weave bins for under $5.
Closed bins for smaller items-
There are some things like markers, crayons and scissors that I’d rather keep contained with a lid and not as easy access for safety and disaster purposes (bye bye nice clean walls). For flashcards and smaller puzzle pieces that can get confused with each other or lost, I sort them into small ziplock bags.
You can never go wrong with the old fashion toy box! Believe it or not, the vintage toy chest in our playroom was shared by my brother and I when we were growing up. My dad refinished this beauty so that his grandsons could have the same childhood thrill of using it. I place a lot of toys that don’t really have a “home” or are not used as frequently. On the spontaneous occasion that the boys open the chest and pull out toys, it’s as if they’re brand new!
So there you have it. My tips for getting that ideal playroom or play-space for your home. Everyone has different tastes and space, so it’s always interesting to see how other parents design this area for their little ones. What are your biggest tips, tricks or favorite elements of a playroom? What are your dream designs for a playroom? I love to learn about other creative ideas!