Our new house came with a playroom. What can be more fun for a child than to have a playroom of his/her own? But like any blank canvas, we felt pressure to make the most of this space. If you are in a similar situation and aren’t sure what storage or organizing system to establish, here are the factors to consider for children of all ages:
1) assess the toy situation- type, size and quantity of toys can be a big deciding factor
2) what is your the child’s play style? – is your child super-active and physical, a quiet and pensive reader, a creative artist, a budding engineer who loves building tall and complex structures, a dollhouse fan with a million little items to organize?
3) What sort of organizing style suits your family? Strict and precise, easy-going and relaxed, or something in between?
If you have a nice big empty wall (and are NOT renting), investing in a permanent (built-in) shelf unit might be the best investment you could make. Whether you choose something open and simple, something customizable or multi-function from Ikea and go about setting it up on your own, or hire a closet company is a matter of budget and function as well as visual appeal.
You already know that the storage needs of your child will not be the same forever. When your children are infants and toddlers, keep things safe by using furniture with rounded corners, bumpers on sharp edges and outlet covers. Keep drawers and doors closed with special hardware, safety-proof the room as much as possible. Keeping toys in a toy box can be convenient for you, but be aware of anything that could pinch little fingers or tip over on them as they become mobile.
As babies become toddlers and gain more independence, no matter what play-style they have, make it easy for them to reach their favorite toys with some open shelving down at floor level. Place toys that need adult supervision (or are not age appropriate) on top shelves where children cannot reach. Adding doors to open shelves can make the room appear calm as you can hide the clutter behind them. If you have especially messy or potentially dangerous toys (science kits, oil paints) or especially mischievous children, think about adding lockable cabinet doors.
Since my children are very visual and have no patience to look for their “stuff”, I opted for all open shelving, but with collapsible, colorful fabric bins. Because they all line up and are the same shape, they add much needed cohesiveness to the room. Additionally, because mine are collapsible, I can easily add or remove them from the shelving as my storage needs change.
Having books at eye-level on open shelves keeps them easily accessible at all times. Putting books in bins makes it too difficult for children to read the title on the spine; the last thing you want is for them to pull out a heavy bin that could drop on their feet.
Once you have things setup, spend some time showing your children how to take things out and put them away. It’s a great way to teach young children the art of organization and encourage them to be in charge of their belongings.
It is truly amazing how quickly things change! Baby toys give way to toddler toys and soon young children are transitioning into tweens. As your children become tweens or teenagers, you may want to think about converting the playroom into a home theater or media room. Be mindful of where you might want to position a TV and speakers. Try to anticipate where you will need electrical and Ethernet outlets and cables. Other families who have a child with one passionate hobby (a budding artist or musician) may want to plan for devoting the entire room to that hobby by converting it to an artists’ studio or music room.
If you feel confused about how best to configure your space, rest assured you are not alone. Many people don’t feel confident to tackle this solo and that’s when investing in a professional organizer, closet designer or interior decorator could be a great option. Some consultations are even free (with purchase). One or two hours of professional consulting won’t set you back much and it may save you thousands in future remodeling and bring you superb results.
To sum it up, buy storage that makes sense to you and matches the way your children (and you) like to play and organize. I hope that my advice on organizing a playroom has been helpful to you. Remember, the purpose of organizing is to make your life easier and provide more play time for you and your family!