I have had a lot of recent inquiries on the best way to organize toys, so I thought I would share what works for our family. I have to begin by saying that my kiddos are 4, 2, and 5 months. I'm sure as my kids get older, the playroom will grow with them. For example, I would love to have an adorable table with chairs to do coloring, crafts, and painting but for now, we do these at our kitchen table. I don't think our landlord would appreciate my children's artistry on his nice white carpeting ;)
I am going to walk you through each part of our playroom, and share how I furnished and organized this space for pennies! I have to preface this by saying 99% of the toys my children own are either hand-me-downs or gifts. Also, I work at Lakeshore Learning and receive a 40% discount.
Our playroom is an L-shaped loft, just to give you an idea of its layout...
THE TOY DRESSER
This master bedroom furniture belonged to one of my besties and I bought this piece, its matching nightstand, and mirror (which you'll see later) for just $25! Thanks, Amy! :)
On top of the dresser I have the majority of their books sorted into categories. They can still see them so they can choose their favorites, but they are not within reach because let's be honest... that is a lot of books to have to pick up off the floor!
Inside each of the drawers, you'll find all kinds of fun stuff! I had them labeled at one point, but my two year old kept taking them off (she has an obsession with stickers). They are still, nonetheless, categorized! I have them sorted into the following: baby dolls, animals/dinosaurs, things that go, puzzles, sorting/stacking, play food/dishes, and imaginative toys (doctor kits, action figures, etc). In the center cabinet I have two bins. One has the train set and the other has HotWheels cars & tracks.
The long skinny top drawer is perfect for storing puzzles!
I wanted to make sure there was plenty of space in front of the dresser to play. :) Floor space is important in my family... my kids have LOTS of energy and need that space to run around!
THE PLAY KITCHEN
At the very top of the stairs to the right is our play kitchen. I used some command hooks (love those! especially if you are renting) to hang some aprons. As stated above, the accessories are stored in a drawer of the dresser.
THE SITTING AREA
In the corner of the "L" shape is the sitting area. This is where I chill with my mommy friends (or by myself haha) while the kiddos play. It gives me a complete view of the entire loft - and not to mention it's comfy!
I also read books with my kids on the couch and in the glider. Just imagine a cup of coffee resting on that end table... yep, that's a common occurrence here!
Along the wall we have our daily schedule and calendar. I remove this and store it behind the dresser when we aren't actively using it because, once again, my two year old can sure make a mess of it! I lucked out and found this bulletin board in my parent's basement. Score!
I purchased the calendar set from Lakeshore Learning. It's called Dots on Chocolate Calendar.
I created our daily schedule cards in Microsoft Publisher.
EXTRA TOY STORAGE
Another fantastic furniture find! This entertainment center was a free pick-up from someone in my neighborhood. The 'toys' baskets (found at HomeGoods) hold building blocks (duplo on the left and foam on the right) and the books stored in the center are categorized by seasonal, biblical, TAG books, and life lessons. I purchased these book bins from Lakeshore Learning - they have a variety to choose from!
(find them here)
The sand timers are sooooo handy. We have used them as sharing timers, time-out timers, and stay-at-the-kitchen-table-while-we-have-a-meal-together timers. Another great Lakeshore Learning purchase.
(find them here)
The lower cabinets contain bead mazes on the left, musical instruments in the center cabinet, and balls in the right cabinet.
The hanging baskets (seen below) were a diamond in the rough! I found this at GoodWill, and it was on 1/2 price Saturday so the whole piece - including the canvas baskets - was only $6.00!! It can also hang vertically. I just couldn't pass up that deal!
DRESS UPAdjacent to this piece is our "dress up" corner. I just placed the mirror that came with the dresser up against the wall and filled a basket (purchased at WalMart) with all kinds of fun dress-up material like old Halloween costumes, jewelry, goofy glasses, masks, etc.
Our four year old is getting into video games. We purchased this old-school tube TV at a garage sale for $10 and the nightstand was part of the $25 sweet deal from my friend! When my son wants to play, he can pull the little chair and ottoman (a hand-me-down from cousins) away from the wall for a cozy set up to enjoy his PlayStation!
We also have a Wii, so when extra space is needed we can simply move the chair and ottoman to its place against the wall next to the window and voila! More space to play.
THE BIG PICTURE
And there you have it! If you break the room up into sections and store toys according to how they are used, the task might seem less overwhelming. Your kiddos also won't be "attacked" by toys upon entering the room, either. I have to say that this space can get destroyed very quickly. BUT, it also cleans up quickly because everything has a place. And just as any routine, kids catch on quickly and before long they can clean up after themselves!
Hopefully you have gained some ideas & inspiration... and maybe a bit of motivation! :) What better way to spend these cold, winter days than to create peace from chaos?!
Happy Organizing, Friends!