Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The new toy room!

I have resisted the idea of a toy room ever since my son was born over five years ago. Every toy room I have ever seen has been a disaster area, and I didn't want one in my house. I also didn't like the idea of boys and girls sharing a bedroom (unless they really have to) because it gets awkward as they get older. I have changed my mind on both counts.

First of all, my son has been sleeping in our bed for over a year. It was just easier to get him to sleep that way, and we are guilty of being too tired to care. After all, we all know that no self-respecting 13-year-old is going to sleep in his parents' bed. These things have a way of taking care of themselves. :) At any rate, that meant that one entire bedroom was essentially not being used, except to play in.

Secondly, I read Deniece Schofield's book Confessions of an Organized Homemaker and realized that it is entirely possible to organize toys so that the play room is not a disaster area and so that kids can put their own toys away most of the time.

So here you have the end result of my thinking. This is a huge sanity-saver for me because it drove me crazy when I'd clean the house and 30 minutes later the kids had dragged out every toy known to mankind and scattered them throughout my house. Now they are confined to the playroom for the most part, and I can have a clean house for more than five minutes at a time.

Let me share some pictures and ideas!

First of all, let's look at the closet in the toy room. Closets can easily degenerate into "don't open the door for fear of an avalanche" places, but I despise that. I wanted everything to have a clear, labelled place. I think it has happened, for the most part. This is the top shelf. These are the toys they don't play with a lot and I don't mind getting down for them every now and then when they decide to play with them. Note the bin is marked "Walkie Talkies". Now anyone who can read knows where those things go! My daughter's sleeping bag is rolled up inside the backpack.

These hanging backpacks hold my kids' Leap Pads and one play laptop that gets occasional use. Next to them on the clothes rod are the few dress-up clothes (fireman and astronaut).

Underneath are several boxes of occasionally-used toys that are not a bother to unstack every now and then as they're used. The play guns (the most-used of all these) are on top and easily accessible.

This is to the left, and it's one of my favorite features. These three plastic pull-out drawers fit perfectly into this space with just enough room to pull the drawers out. The bottom drawer holds extras of my son's Ertl farm set. The middle drawer holds miscellaneous Lego pieces, and the top drawer holds all the specialty vehicles made with Legos.

There was just enough space above this organizer to hang the hooks for hats. There are "make believe" hats here, as well as the utilitarian baseball caps. I placed the winter boots on top the drawers because my son uses them when he dresses up as an astronaut. :)

Now let's get out of the closet and take a quick tour from the door, to the left around the room. We've repurposed things as much as possible, since we didn't want to have to buy a lot of new things. This changing table worked well to store trucks, small animals (dinosaurs, zoo animals) sorted in dishpans, as well as stuffed animals on top.

Next comes the baby doll Pack 'n Play filled to the brim with baby dolls, then the shopping carts parked in front of the bookcases. Of course, when they want to look at books, they just move the shopping carts. I seriously debated getting rid of those carts, but they dearly love them, so I just gave them a parking place for the evening.

Here's what the bookcases look like when the carts are moved away. We pared down their book collection to only what would fit on here, reasoning that we can go to the library for specialty books. We stuck to their favorite series - Berenstain Bears, Dr. Seuss, Curious George, Critter, Max Lucado and Tonka, to name a few.

On top of the righthand bookcase I added my daughter's purse collection and a bin of all the small things she likes to carry around in them. On top of the lefthand bookcase is the toy cash register that they use to play store. (We got rid of a second identical one.)

Between the two bookcases, I stored the teepee huts I made for them for Christmas. They are easy to pull out, and this makes great use of that otherwise-wasted corner space. I've also stored their stick horses here, since they play with them with the teepees. You'll see an insulated lunchbox hanging from the teepee - that holds a few miscellaneous things like a lantern and binoculars that they use with the teepees.

Next we have the dresser (we'll peek in the drawers in a moment), a corner "shelf" we just bought at the thrift store for $3, and the play kitchen. I've organized and labelled each shelf in the corner organizer so that everything has its own home and is easy to put back. There's a shelf for my son's toy horses, one for learning toys (toy laptops and other educational games), musical instruments, and craft supplies.

Want to know how we've organized those dresser drawers? How's this? :) My kids aren't overly concerned about finding a specific item of play food, so just dumping the food items into one drawer and the utensils and such into another is as good of organizing as we needed for these items. It's easy on the eyes, easy to find what they're looking for, and even easier to put things away.

There's yet another drawer with baby clothes done in the same fashion. When they get older, we might try to fold the baby clothes, but right now they both enjoy taking the clothes off the dolls more than anything.

Moving around the room, we have the kid-sized table and two chairs in front of the window. This is where they can play kitchen, put together puzzles, listen to stories on cassette, play with games, etc.

Then there's the play table. We thought seriously about getting rid of this, but then we hit on the idea of organizing all the tiny accessories into labelled bins underneath. It was the perfect solution for us. (See below for a picture.) You'll see two stacked popcorn tins to the right of the play table. One is John Deere, and it holds all the John Deere Matchbox-sized toys. The other is Tonka, and it holds all the Matchbox-sized construction equipment. The play rug with a town on it is rolled up for easy access.

And here is what it looks like underneath the table. We concentrated on not hiding anything behind something else. Everything can be accessed from one of the three available sides of the table, without having to rearrange anything. And since they're labelled, cleanup is a lot easier. My son is pretty good at reading, and he knows exactly where everything goes now.

Tomorrow I'll share pictures of the shared bedroom. I like how it turned out, too!


Kristen Bieber said...

Thanks for the great organizing ideas! We are just about to do the same thing. I love the idea of using backpacks to store Leapsters, etc.