Friday, 23 August 2013

An organized play room...and a couple Ikea hacks

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Toys. Toys. Toys.

Sometimes they save my sanity. And sometimes they make me lose it.

I love them because what would I do without them on those long car rides? What would I do without them when little bodies become bored or rambunctious? What would I do without them when I'm trying to teach sharing, encourage fine motor skills and all of the other great stuff that learning through play provides?

But on the other hand, sometimes they can make me feel like I've lost. my. mind.
Tripping on them in the kitchen. Cleaning up millions of little ones on the floor millions of times a day. And clutter. CLUTTER, I say.

Too many toys becomes just too much for me, in every sense of the word.
Too much clutter. Too much stuff. Too many options, and ultimately less appreciation and gratitude for the things that they have.

So we decided to de-clutter our toys, keeping only the ones that Mya and Carter play with regularly (or that we thought they would play with when they're older) and we donated the ones that have been sitting collecting dust--because really, excess of anything is never a good thing.

Our main floor toy area now has only three toy baskets in which we rotate toys throughout the months (these baskets were from Canadian Tire, for $3.99 each on sale the other week--score!).

 P.S. They always come on sale for this price (we've bought a few of them before to store the kids books in each of their rooms), so keep your eyes open in the flyers each week if you want any yourself.

And our toy room in the basement? Well, now when two little birthdays roll around in October and the new toys (which one little girl is VERY excited about already) start to fill up our house once again, we'll be ready to add some more to our now (very organized) pile in the basement.

     So we started by bagging up some of the toys that we decided weren't played with much. Then we asked Mya which toys she wanted to give to some kids who didn't have as many toys as her, and she picked out a few. I'm not sure that she really understood fully at this age what we were doing, but as we continue to do this throughout the years it's our hope that she and Carter will start to understand that donating to others is better than having too much. Always.

     So after assessing the new amount of toys that we had, we got started on really organizing our playroom.

Now, let me start off by saying that Ikea is getting some HUGE free advertising here with this little post of mine...I have no connection to them though, other than I just love that store. But hey, Ikea...feel free to cut me a deal next time I pop in, cause honestly, everything in this post is all about you!!'s how we did it.

So if you're overwhelmed by toys and losing your mind over piles everywhere, hopefully this will give you a bit of inspiration:

We started by organizing our books and bought some spice racks from Ikea which we turned into cute little book shelves (kudos to Pinterest for the great idea).

A bit of white paint, and they look as cute as ever. We throw little board books here so that the kids can easily grab any book that they'd like and we're not worried about little fingers ripping pages.

And a bit of paper taped to the table means endless hours of colouring and drawing (and saves the table from scratches and marks).

Terry and I then bought a new shelving unit (also from Ikea) to store what we had left over from our toy purging and we bought some fantastic fabric-covered baskets from Ikea too which fit perfectly.

How did I actually organize the toys? Well, I made a huge mess. I dumped all of the toys all over the floor and started sorting them into piles, setting aside the ones that I knew we'd donate and setting the other ones in common piles (ie. all the dolls and doll accessories in one pile, all of the trucks and cars in another). I then put them all in the fabric-covered baskets that we bought.

This is what it looked like once we got it home and put the black and green baskets in.

And here is what it looks like now.

When we bought these green and black baskets I wasn't in love with the lack of pattern on them. So, I bought some fabric and got to work on covering the fronts (scroll down to the end of the post to see how I transformed these baskets from this...

to this.

After covering the baskets, I then took pictures of the different toys that we had, printed them off of my computer and made cute little labels for the bins. I laminated them so they'd last, and used velcro to stick them onto each basket, which also allows me to switch up the labels as the toys change over the years.

I then bought some white storage boxes (also from Ikea) where we now store colouring books/paper, craft supplies, extra markets etc.

These little white beauties are from Dollarama (can you believe it??)--I love them.

This room isn't quite finished yet though--it's been a work in progress over the past few months since everything takes a million years to get done when you're doing it only at night once little people have gone to bed. But I still have big plans for that coffee table, want a fun rug for the floor and still need to get some artwork for the walls. But it's coming. The Ikea shelving unit is off to the right of the picture below and the rest of the larger toys (large ride-on cars, dress up costume bin etc are all tucked away under the stairs).  

And don't be's barely ever that neat and tidy. You caught me on a good day.

So, back to the baskets:  If you want to cover your own baskets, here is how I did it:

After measuring the fronts of the baskets, I cut my fabric to size and started gluing my fabric on with my hot glue gun.

Pulling it tightly, I made sure that the fabric was perfectly lined up and smoothed out nicely.

I cut the top flaps to size, and glued them on as well, tucking the edges under.

Lastly, I bought some fabric ribbon and glued it down along the edges so that there were clean lines.

So here you have it. All wonderfully organized and makes me so darn happy every time that I look at it.

How does everyone else organize or store your kids toys??

Happy organizing!

Erica xo

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