Get Organized First
Organizational guru Rachel Rosenthal, of Rachel and Company in the Washington, DC area, suggests the following steps before you even start to think about designing (or redesigning) your child’s play space:
First, take out all of the toys from the area you want to organize. Touch them all to get a real sense of everything you have. If there are toys in other areas of your home that you want to incorporate into the space, bring those as well.
Next, divide them into categories. Make sure that all of the cars are with the cars, the books are with the books, etc.
Lastly, purge items that are broken or no longer in use. Decide if each purged item can be donated, trashed, gifted or saved in a different area of the house for sentimental value.
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Think Function Before Form
Once you are organized, Rachel suggests the following steps to figure out the design solutions you need:
Step1: Think about your ideal use of the space. If you need to organize a lot of toys in a smaller space, think about solutions that have multiple uses. For example, a chair or a tabletop with storage inside or underneath.
Step 2: Incorporate a color, design idea, or theme that your child likes, so that he or she will be more likely to follow the organizational systems in place and feel inspired when entering the space.
Step 3: Select specific products to help support your organizational systems after you have decided on the solutions you need. It’s important to remember that products are there to aid us, but they should not be the first things that you throw at your organizational challenges.
Step 4: When making your product selections, think about its function first, then how it looks within your overall design scheme. For example, if a small child will be playing in the space, think about using a product that is easy to use (maybe no tops) or that isn’t too heavy.
Where Have You Bin All My Life?
Bins are truly lifesavers when it comes to organizing toys. They come in a variety of styles to select from, so when you are deciding which type to use, think about what purpose you want the bins to serve and how you want to integrate them with the look and feel of the room.
Stacey Blake, mom and design blogger of designaddictmom.blogspot, advocates instilling the skill of organization in children at an early age to “facilitate their self-sufficiency, teach them responsibility, and cut down on the time busy moms spend cleaning up after them."
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As shown above, Blake uses a color-coded system for storing and organizing toys in her sons’ playroom. Each child is assigned a color of containers so that he knows what toys go in what bins. “The big, open bins are perfect for storing and relinquishing chunky children’s toys, and can be easily handled by little hands.”
In this room designed by Rachel and Company, the team selected open bookcases to store books and bins. The bins maximize the space inside the bookcase and the labels (pictures and words) allow for easier access and clean up.
An open bin to the right of the bookcase allows their client's son to see his stuffed animals, but keep them contained and organized at the same time. “It’s important not to select bins that are too deep,” Rosenthal adds, “things can easily get lost.”
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The multipurpose cubes in the middle of the room provide more storage for larger toys and also create a flat space for puzzles and games. Two round blue containers double as storage for blocks and fun little seats.
On deciding between open versus closed bins, Lily Zingman of Lily Z Design in New York says, “Having open bins in a child’s room makes it feel a lot more like a kid’s space since toys and books are on display. But, on the other hand, having closed bins hides the clutter, and gives the room a better sense of cleanliness.” In the room above designed by Zingman and her team, they opted to go with a stylish combination of both to suit their client's needs.
Think Outside the Box
Don't limit your storage options to traditional box-shaped containers. There are so many other fun options that can solve your problem and add a nice aesthetic element too.
"Storing small items in glass jars is always a fun way to organize," says Zingman, "it's visually pleasing and whimsical." In the room above, Lily and her team placed small glass jars and hanging cups above a desk area. "We like providing this type of system for easy access to crayons, pencils, art supplies, etc.," explains Zingman. "We love incorporating fun hooks too to help bring through the design concept in the details," she adds.
Rosenthal and her team liked using these cookie jars to store crayons in their client's playroom. By putting lids on the jars you use, she explains, "Things are contained in one area and organized, yet aesthetically pleasing."
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Do you have creative storage solutions in your own home? Share them in the comments section! And if you want more organization tips, watch the video below!