Tuesday, January 24, 2012

* Kid-Friendly Spaces and Toy Storage Solutions In Our Home

I am really enjoying my online Playful Learning Spaces e-class with the 
lovely and talented, Mariah Bruehl 
(you might know her from a fun little blog and book called Playful Learning)

I recently shared some of the successful kid-friendly spaces in our home
on our class' Flickr page
and thought you might find some inspiration in them as well! 
(Warning: Get ready for a photo heavy and wordy post!)

I have found that having kid-friendly, proportional, 
accessible and organized spaces
make our home run much more smoothly.

I'll start your tour with our Play Room. 

Our formal "dining room" is our playroom. 

Along the wall in our playroom I assembled book cases from Staples office store 
and used paper covered foam core to color the back of each shelf. 
You could also use cute wrapping paper. 

Toys are in square (photo labeled) bins from Target.

The wire along the duct work is from Ikea and the flash cards

These are the laminated photo labels I have tied onto each bin with bits of ribbon. 
The labels are made with Scotch Brand self laminating pouches 
from the office supply area at Walmart/Target/Kmart. 

This bin holds Playmobil sets.

This bin holds our puppets.

Everything is labeled with photos
so kids, friends, and babysitters know how to clean up quickly.
Everything has it's own place or home, just like a classroom.

Here are some skinny plastic bins 
we use to store various toys and light table materials. 
I may add some photo labels 
but the girls like seeing through the bins to know what they're getting out.

Wooden blocks in a sturdy basket at kid (floor) level in the playroom.

The dress up clothes are in the rotating stand 
to the left of the Ikea bookcase.
I found the dress up stand online many years ago. 

We have curtains (Pottery Barn, discontinued) hanging to provide privacy 
from our kitchen eating area at night 
and make a fun background for plays and puppet shows.

Here is a corner in our Family Room.

This is our "block corner" it has Duplos, Legos, Wooden Blocks, 
and small wooden toys for building "Lands" 

The boom box is for our "Listening Center" 
with headphones, books and CDs/Tapes in the small basket in the corner.

The listening center books are on the right hand upper shelf. 
The left hand upper shelf holds Legos and a binder with lego instructions/ideas. 
The lower left shelf holds my daughter's rock collection 
and the wooden crate holds more of their seashell and nature collection.

Here is the post I wrote about her Rock Collection.

Another view of the "block corner"

This is a small vertical Closet Maid unit from Target 
that we have laying on it's side behind our couch in our family room. 
The square storage bins (also from Target) hold toys and puzzles, 
the table is great for drink glasses, snacks, and remote controls while watching TV.

Now we'll go upstairs and visit C's Room.

This is our 4 year old daughter, C's room. 

She has access to her books, 
toys are stored in the lower cabinets with doors, 
a small play kitchen on the right wall,
 and a small (kid-size) table and chairs 
that she uses for coloring and having tea parties with her stuffed animals.

The table is an awful Disney Princess table set we got at Kmart 
a few years ago, I was going to repaint it but then I put the cute table cloth 
on it and it's MUCH better (and I didn't have to paint!)

You can see the corner of her "sticker board" collection hanging on her door.
It's a piece of foam core hanging from a ribbon that she is 
allowed to stick on any stickers she gets from school, doctor's appointments, etc.

C's book nook. 
This is her little reading corner in her room. 
She enjoys sitting in her little chair and flipping through books. 
We select 4-5 books to read together every night at bedtime as well. 
The doll house book case came from Target a few years ago, 
square bins are Closet Maid also form Target, 
the tiny toile arm chair was a first birthday gift to my oldest daughter 8 years ago. 

Close-up of the shelves in my daughter's room. 
The bins are nice for paperback scholastic books. 

They aren't in a specific order but we do keep some books together, 
for example all of the Maisy Books, Curious George, Eric Carle, etc. are together. 
I'll put other groupings together too: halloween books in one stack, winter-theme, etc. 

She does flip through them easily because they're all facing the same direction 
it's easier to see the covers than looking at spines on a shelf since she's not reading yet. 


C's books are arranged by color.

Here is E's room. 

There are built in book cases in E's room (age almost 9). 
Some of my art books are in here because we don't have anywhere else to store them 
(her room used to be our guest room) 
I added the bins for her to store stuffed animals, coloring books, 
knitting supplies, and various papers. 
The square bins are Closet Maid from Target/Walmart. 
The "dotty" plastic bins were from Target's Dollar bin section last spring.
That's our homemade Fairy House on the floor in front of the bookcase.

E's Desk.
This is a desk we rescued out of our neighbor's trash a few years ago. 
We gave it a makeover with white and purple spray paint. 
The mini shelf with the little bins is "Closet Maid" from Target. 
She sits here to draw her fashion sketches, fold Origami, 
and draw cartoons in the morning and after school. 

And...Yes that is her terrarium in the corner. 
Her pet garden snail "Tiny" lives in it, she's had him for 4 years. : )

This is on the other wall in E's room.
 Books and a few of her favorite collectibles on display. 
It's her own space to arrange as she wishes.
She is very tidy and likes everything in it's proper place (just like her mom!)

E's tall bookcase in her room.
One of my older daughter's bookcases in her room. 
She keeps most of her "reference" library on these shelves. 
It's her favorite book "genre". 
Her American Girl dolls and doll clothes are stored in the lower cabinet.

Let's go back downstairs to the Kitchen.

Kid dishes in our kitchen.
This is where I keep bowls and cups at "kid level" 
so the girls can get their own cups of water and snacks. 
This is in that little drawer under the ovens 
that is too small to use for much of anything.

They use glass dishes and cups too, 
but they're in a higher up cabinet that I get down for them. 
This is just for their own snacks and drinks for the girls and their friends 
to grab when they're playing or out in the yard.
It's an odd assortment of dishes from Ikea and Target.

This wall in our kitchen table eating area is where we display the kid's school art projects. 

I used old frames and bulletin board cork material to make a rotating gallery space. 
They are backed with foam core and 
I use thumbtacks or push pins to hold up the art work.

Here is our Art Studio.

When we moved into this house we decided to use 
our very large "formal" living room as our art studio space. 
The large cabinets along the wall are Ikea Kitchen Islands, 
they have nice deep drawers and shelves for art supplies. 
The little green table and stools are also from Ikea 
- the girls do most of their projects here. 

I re-arrange this space depending on what kind of project we're working on.
I have a big fold up picnic style table I set up in the middle of the room 
for art classes and camps. 

Watercolor Basket. 
I was inspired by Mariah and another classmate to move our watercolors to a basket 
so the girls have everything they need whenever they want to paint.
 I included two tablets of watercolor paper, 
a small roll of paper towels, paints, brushes, a glass jar (for water), 
a small and extra fine tip sharpie, a sharpened pencil 
and some water-soluble watercolor crayons and pencils.

The girls loved having easy access to the new watercolor basket
and jumped right in to creating with it!

Re-purposed Diaper Caddy = Portable Writing and Art Center
I converted our old diaper caddy from Pottery Barn
to hold markers, crayons, paper, etc.
Portable and easy for the girls to tote around wherever they need it.
Also great for homework time at the kitchen table. 

Click here to tour our Kid-Friendly Spaces
Backyard Makeover! 

I hope you enjoyed your tour of our kid-friendly play spaces!

Pink and Green Mama 


Cerys @ Rainy Day Mum said...

This is wonderful thank you for sharing your kids spaces around your home. We have a typical English house with no dedicated "play room" and lots of the ideas I can adapt to our house. At the moment it's just a jumble of everything everywhere and looks more like a toy store than a home and learning environment.

Katie said...

Very Inspirational!

La Dolce Vita: The Sweet Life said...

Love it! I am an organized momma as well. Have similar bookshelves, but really like your laminated bin labels. Thanks for sharing your home.

Paintedpaper said...

Thanks for sharing! I love how everything is so beautifully displayed! Now if only I had a couple snow days I could work on my little ones studio! :)

April Vernon said...

Thanks so much for sharing all the photos! We have a very kid-friendly home & I am currently working on finding a balance between kid-friendly and organized! Great ideas!

Ticia said...

I love the idea of the bookshelf with the paper at the back.

Anonymous said...

I'm a 56 yo mom of 7 and grandma of 9 (so far)......can I move into your house??? It looks so *fun!!*

Wonderful job!!!

Mariah said...

Love them all! It is so much fun having you in the course :-)

MaryAnn said...

May I please live with you? Thank you!

Quon_mom said...

Very lovely and inspirational! I have some similar storage, though not nearly as beautiful as yours, with everything stored in its place. The problem I find is that things don't get used as much because they are always in sight and never novel. We don't have space to have "rotating storage" to keep things fresh. Have you figured out any way to address this issue? Or do you have rotating storage and display areas? Thanks!!!

pink and green mama MaryLea said...

That's a great question! Most of our toys are stored out as you see them in the bins and containers but I do set things out on the table in the playroom, the kitchen table, or on the family room floor to be "found" usually that's all it takes for something to get played with again. We do have one set of shelves in our garage that I keep sensory box and seasonal materials on. We don't have a basement and anything I put in the attic would melt in the summer or freeze in the winter so I don't keep toys up there either. We've sent a few things over to my mom's house so they're more fun because they are only played with at Grandma's house. We also pass along A LOT of outgrown or no longer played with toys to my Niece, our preschool, and Freecycle/Goodwill.


Leah said...

I'm so impressed with your organization and color! Looks like such a happy place to live and play!

Growing Book by Book said...

Love all the pictures. So inspirational. Thanks for sharing.

Anonymous said...

I always appreciate a great article or piece of writing. Thanks for the contribution.

"S" and family said...

What really makes your organized spaces look nice is that everything matches. I have tried using bins, but unfortunately things still look crazy at my house. I'll try rearranging them so that the bins are more color coordinated. Thanks for the great pictures; I didn't want the tour to end!

Cara said...

Thanks for all the great ideas...as my daughter grows, I feel like I'm at a loss with how to store and arrange her toys. Thanks for sharing!

Caroline said...

Thank you for sharing all these great ideas. Wondering where you found the rock collecting boxes? Was looking for something similar and never quite found it. These look like just the thing for our growing numbers.


Caroline Horner

pink and green mama MaryLea said...

Hi Caroline,

We purchased most of the "rock" boxes at the Container Store. A few of them are also the little clear boxes you can find in the craft store or sewing store for beads/embroidery floss. The big clear ones and the big clear squares are from Container store, I think you can find the big square boxes at Michaels in the frame area to store collectible baseballs. Hope this helps!


Roopa Shri said...

Wow looks great!! I love how everything is so beautifully displayed!

Heather said...

My name is Heather and I work for Worth Ave. Group. We’re currently holding a contest for K-12 teachers to win grants for their schools, and iPads or iPods for their classrooms. If you’re interested in participating or nominating a teacher, feel free to email me or visit the link I’ve posted below.
Have a great day!

Karen SIma said...

I have to admit that I am very envious of your play room. It looks like something out of a catalogue. This would not fly by with my kids. Congratulations!!

dannyscotland said...


NathanaelAndHeather said...

I am so inspired that it's not even funny! Nesting is officially kicked into high gear now... Thanks! ; )

Gizala said...

Thanks so much for opening up your home and posting this. You've given much inspiration to go forth and creating creative spaces in my own home.

Anonymous said...

Wow, just the inspiration I needed...! You have worked so well to get a house this accessible and organised. Did you have an overall plan for each room in your home or did you start with smaller areas and go from there? I'd love to work out how to get started making our home tidier but each time I try it gets swamped by the big picture!
Many thanks for the pleasure of looking at your spaces!

Hint Mama said...

I love how you upcycled the old diaper caddy into an art supply holder - so clever! Wanted to let you know that I featured you in a post on my site about 5 ways to upcycle diaper caddies:) Here's the link:


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