I love playrooms. When walking into a playroom it should make your heart smile. It is a child’s special place where they can imagine, play, create, and simply be children. I smile when I walk into ours, as it is filled with artwork made by my children, bright colors, lots of books, and toys that ignite imaginative play. However, when the toys start to take over the space and there isn’t order to things (i.e. pieces missing from most toys, toys not having a “home”, they are instead piled together with no rhyme or reason) it is time for a playroom revamp. I did a playroom revamp this week. It gave me the opportunity to purge the toys that the kids had outgrown. The twins are now two years old, so the baby toys had to go! I will share below some of my tips from my playroom revamp project.

  1. Start with 2 boxes and a large garbage bag- Label one box “sell”, label the second box “give away”, and use the garbage bag to toss any toys that are broken or have missing parts. Once they are broken toys they are worthless. They need to be tossed. Unless, of course some super glue can fix it. If not, then toss it. We hold on to WAY too much junk. I am speaking from past experience. However, this playroom purge resulted in two full garbage bags of junk. The boxes were filled as well, but It was a relief to toss the things that were worn out, broken, or useless.
  2. Use bins and sort toys- Toys should have a home. I used a variety of baskets we owned and then of course clear bins. I used more medium sized bins for the playroom organization, as the shoe box size don’t have enough space for things like blocks, Barbie dolls, etc.
  3. Label bins- I used picture on the labels for the kids to easily recognize where things belong. They can’t read yet, so pictures are very helpful!  I used sticker sheets that I easily printed on our HP printer. I then cut them and applied them to the bins. Here are just some of the photos that I created for our bins and baskets:Labels for the playroom binsI took actual photos of our toys to make the labels, as I thought that would make things very clear to the kids which toys went where. Even the two year old twins understood this system. Victory! Here are some photos of the bins and their labels:Our playroom bins- we only take one out at a time. Once they are done, they put it all back in the bin, and then they can have another. They still have an entire toy box of random toys and whatnot that they can play with all day long, so their creativity and options and not stifled or limited.
     

For the baskets that I was unable to apply the sticker directly onto the front, I laminated those labels. I used a hole punch and then used a ribbon to tie the label to the basket. We had a variety of baskets utilized throughout the playroom, especially for larger items like toy cars, toy ponies, musical instruments, Barbie dolls, and more.

4. Keep bins of toys in a closet or out of reach- I allow my kids each one bin at a time. That way they don’t have the entire floor of the playroom filled with toys that never get put back in the correct place. That’s exactly how puzzles and games become worthless, because pieces become forever lost. We keep all of our bins in the playroom closet (along with art supplies, puzzles, and games). The twins can’t open the doors yet, but Brielle can. She knows to only take one bin out at a time, and then after she is finished she picks everything up and she can get another bin. The nice thing about doing things this way is that older toys can become new to them! They aren’t playing with them daily, so you can rotate which bins come out of the closet. They stay interested in the assortment of toys for longer periods of time.

5. Keep art bins out of reach- I put the art supplies on the very top shelf of the closet where the kids can’t reach. Why? I don’t want crayon on my walls and I don’t want the kids pulling out scissors and glue that may harm them. This Mom has control over the art supplies and when they come out. It makes art time more special too. I have bins for the following art supplies: crayons, glue sticks, scissors, hot glue gun, construction paper, coloring books, mosaic art stickers, foam art stickers, clothes pins, popsicle sticks, temporary tattoos, stamping, faux floral stems, stickers, and more. I also store our rolls of art paper at the top of the closet. Brielle’s art desk is on top of it all, as it takes up floor space if left out. She only uses it for art and craft projects, so it is stored with those supplies and easily grabbed when needed most. Thank you to our neighbors Shelly and Dave for the art desk, as Brielle still uses it and you gave it to her two Christmases ago!

6. Books need a specific home- We have a book shelf for all of our books. It is a collection that is forever growing. My kids love books! I am thrilled they love them. I also like the fact that they too can put the books back onto shelves within their reach. They should be able to take out books whenever they want to look at them. They know they have to go back on the shelves after they are done with them. Do they sometimes “forget” this policy? Of course, but that’s my job as Mom to remind them, It helps make them accountable for their belongings and care for these possessions that they are fortunate to have.  I love the custom painting of Brielle that my Mom did for us that is hung above the bookcase. My friend Elizabeth Perez, who is an amazing photographer took the photo from which my Mom painted the artwork.

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7. Store stuffed animals together- Stuffed toys can overtake a playroom. Why do kids have so many of these toys?? When our pile starts getting too big I start giving them away. We can keep the meaningful ones, but the ones (for example) won at the fair can be given away. We store our stuffed toys and puppets in an oversized bin in the corner of the playroom. I love the cute pattern on this bin and it was only $16.99 at Home Goods for this huge storage catch all! This keeps the stuffed animals from overtaking the playroom space. I have seen how other people hang their toys from nets in the corner too. Whatever works to free up the space for play, as stuffed toys are not played with as much as the rest of the toys. At least that is the case in our household. One meaningful stuffed animal that I still have is from our foreign exchange student Sandra. It is a blue Gorilla she had when she grew up and she gave it to us for our son Barron (I was pregnant with Barron when she stayed with us).  Five and a half years later and we still have it in our playroom!

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8. Use the play kitchen space for storing kitchen accessories- Many kids now have these play kitchens. I even had one when I was a kid! My kids have gotten dishes, tea sets, pots, pans, and play food as gifts the past few years. They have amassed quite a collection. They play in the kitchen area EVERY day. It was important that they have all their kitchen items in the kitchen. The handy thing about these kitchens is that they come with refrigerators, microwaves, and stoves. We use that space to store the kitchen accessories. I purchased simple round plastic bins/baskets at the dollar tree. The dollar tree is probably one of my favorite stores. Right up there with Nordstrom Rack, Target, and Louis Vuitton. Ok, who am I kidding…I like to shop just about anywhere. I am a regular at our local dollar tree (they recognize me when I walk in and often ask what current project I am working on). Everything is $1! What can’t you love about that! These colorful useful bins I bought about 3 years ago and they are still cute and very useful for storage in the kids’ play kitchen.

Using the baskets makes it very easy for the kids to pick up after themselves. Somehow the play food ends up scattered around the playroom by the end of the day. They can take a bin from the kitchen and walk around the room and pick up the items as they go. It makes for easy cleanup. It is also a lot easier to keep the items stored. If you simply try to stuff the items into the stove and fridge they fall out. The bins help them remain contained in the space so you can fit even more in there.

9. Have a place for kids to play on the floor and table top- My kids like to use the table top and sit in the chairs and they also like to sit on the floor and play. It is nice to have the option of both. It is especially nice to have the table when we are doing art projects. From time to time, they also have picnics in the playroom on that table.

10. Have adult seating available– I host playdates at our house from time to time. If the weather is not nice enough to play outside, then we go to the playroom. I realized after our first playdate in this room (2.5 years ago) that I needed seating for adults. I found three navy ottoman cubes that serve as chairs. The other nice thing about them is that the top comes off each so they can be used for storage! We use these ottoman cubes for storing Brielle’s dolls and doll clothes. They tend to take up a bit of space, so inside the seating has worked well! I like to dual purpose things when I can and better utilize the space.

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11. Make a special place for dress up- Brielle loves to dress up. I found that when the dresses were hung they were played with more often than when they were stored in a drawer or closet. I bought the above clothing rack at Walmart and it has two levels of hanging. When she has friends come over and they want to play dress up then I move the dresses to the lower level. I keep them hung higher the rest of the time so we can store other bins below them. It also prevents the twins from tearing them off all the hangers (which they have done when they are hanging from the lower rod). Next to the dress up rack we have bins for dress up shoes, crowns, and accessories. It is all put together in the same space for easy access and fun playing!

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12. Have a place to hang the kids’ artwork- I custom painted a sign with three clips on it to hang their artwork. The clips make it easy to change out the artwork anytime. I like to put their preschool artwork on display, especially the seasonal creations. It personalize the space too. Brielle especially likes having her artwork up for everyone to view.

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13. Make real art for the playroom to really personalize the space- Gallery wrapped canvases are quite reasonable to purchase at Hobby Lobby and Michaels. The other day I picked up a 10 pack of 8″ x 10″ gallery wrapped canvases from $9.99 on sale at Michaels! We created some modern art together this summer. Even Alex and Charlie participated! It makes the space extra special to have their own permanent art work hanging on the walls.Made By BrielleMade By Brielle, Alex, and Charlie (notice handprints from each of them)Artwork by Brielle

The artwork on the far right with the yellow background was created by Brielle at an art playdate we hosted at our house last year: Art Play Date

14. Pick a fun, timeless theme for the décor- I try to avoid decorating with characters. My boys currently love Thomas the Train. If I decorated with this theme I would have to redecorate in 2-3 years when they think Thomas is “babyish” (our train table is kept in another room anyway). I chose bright colors and patterns that will work for years to come. They can be in grade school in a few years and these colors and patterns will be just fine. Last year Brielle loved Doc McStuffins and now Doc McStuffins is not her thing and she prefers Rapunzel (the Tangled Disney movie). Their taste in fads are forever changing, especially when it comes to characters from TV and movies. I recommend avoiding these fads when decorating, unless you don’t mind redecorating every 2-3 years to accommodate their preferences. I like classic styles and bright colors. I made a table cloth and the bunting over the windows to make the room a little brighter and festive. I made a runner for the dresser in the same fabric, as well as a pillow that is on the navy ottomans. I like to use the fabric to pull the space together. I am not a master seamstress. I like to sew basic projects like these things, as they personalize the room and tie it all together for a sort of “custom look”. (I will share in an upcoming post how I made this simple, yet very festive bunting).

15. Toy storage doesn’t need a full room- When we lived in Florida our house was much smaller than the one we currently live in here in Texas. We did not have space for a playroom. However, we needed a space for toys as they were beginning to accumulate (we had Brielle and our foster daughter “Little Bit”). We had a hallway with just enough space to put a hutch for toy storage. It is actually the same hutch (technically called a dining room high boy, as it had no glass) we currently use in our dining room here in Texas. I bought it for toy storage, but in the hallway it looked like a beautiful decorative piece that nobody would have ever guessed was used for toys. I didn’t want our house to look like it was overrun by toys, as I do like adult space and nice décor. The hutch served a great purpose. I was able to sort toys into bins and put them into the cabinet for easy access. Having a playroom wasn’t a problem. We just became creative with storage of all the toys.

Here are some photos of our “revamped playroom”:

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Originally published on my Living Joy Daily blog in 2016: http://livingjoydaily.com/2016/01/27/15-tips-to-make-your-playroom-organized-and-fun-too/