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Tip #1: Have a place for everything that is easily accessible.
I love organizing, so does my husband and my son. They are neater than I am, though. My son loves to sort stuff and for things to have a place. He doesn’t necessarily put things away neatly, but he likes for his toys to have “homes”. We started using the IKEA TROFAST units (pictured above) when he was about 2-years-old in our old house and he could work them from an early age. They are on each side of the desk and hold Lego, blocks, a marble run, cars and trucks, plastic animals, musical instruments, play food, pretend camping equipment and play tools. I love these drawers because they aren’t so big you can’t tell what’s in them and they are easy for kids to use.
Tip #2: Have a place to put things away.
Okay, this sounds like what I just said but it’s different. You want a place you can put toys and supplies away that isn’t accessible or as accessible. This is great for toy rotation and things you don’t use all the time or that you don’t want your kids to use without at least some supervision (paint or small pieces).
I took over our coat closet for this. I did lose some storage space for hanging clothes, but I think it’s worth it because I gained a lot of space for other things as well. It happens to be across from our playroom so it’s really convenient, but it could really be anywhere. When I did this we decided to leave our armoire downstairs for coats. You could do the opposite and get a large cabinet for toys and supplies instead of using a closet.
The closet was a standard double door closet with a wire shelf/hanging rod. We took that out and painted over the holes. Then we used the IKEA ALGOT system to maximize storage space. The system interconnects so you can choose what components work best in your space. We connected two of the frames with six baskets so that we have a tower of twelve baskets on one side and the large frame with shelves so that we have twelve shelves on the other side. Then we have extra space to the side where I use IKEA VARIERA basket to store wrapping paper and the IKEA VARIERA dispenser to store seasonal decor items.
The ALGOT baskets are awesome. The mesh is small enough that nothing falls through and they are large, about 5″ deep and about 20″ long. I have party supplies, all my camera gear, seasonal decor stuff, art and craft supplies, puzzles and toys, costumes, and art projects I want to keep. On the shelves, I have more puzzles, games, toys, art supplies, bins for fabric and tissue paper and at the very top I keep Easter baskets, Halloween buckets and the like.
Tip #3: Use Easy to move bins and caddies for Art Supplies
I want art to be easy to do, but yet not so easy that my son can decide to paint whenever (or wherever!). Actually, he’s just gotten tall enough to reach the supplies on his own, but they aren’t right in front of him all of the time. I keep playdough and playdough tools, paint and supplies, and various other things in a set of bins and caddies so we can easily start a fun project without digging through drawers. These have a home on the shelves in the closet.
Tip #4: Use Wall Space for Storage
My son LOVES trains. Everything about trains. He has since he was a little guy and he does just as much today. I was watching some videos of him when he turned 2 and he is playing with some of the same toys today after having just turned 4. Whatever it is that your kids love, make that the center of the play area and make it the easiest to access. Trains are kind of easy, you have a train table with storage drawers and you can put picture shelves on the wall to store the trains.
If you child loves the play kitchen, maybe have shelves in for extra plates and pots. Or maybe they love toy animals? Picture shelves that are a little deeper could store the large plastic animals. We used picture ledges like these, which fit perfectly. Matchbox cars fit on these too. Another way to use wall space is to put up colorful hooks. I added some by the kitchen space. My son hangs his dress up stuff there, an apron and sometimes his backpack full of racecars. I used the “Everywhich way” hook from Land of Nod in colors that matched the room. But I have used these “Smarthooks” in other spaces as well.
Tip # 5: Create a Display for Artwork
I love having functional decorations. For example, our weather board decorates the space but also has an educational function. It is the same with the shelves for the trains– they are easily accessible but also add a decor element to the room. I also wanted a space to display artwork. We used two of the IKEA FINTORP rails together to create a space for artwork on the wall. I’ve thought of extending it to three rails and I might do that. I used these curtain clips to hang the art, they work great for different sized art projects.