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Tell me about your play rooms/toy storage!

post #1 of 35
Thread Starter 
We are designing our home and I'm trying to decide how I want to deal with toys and children's play. Right now, my kids don't like to play in their room. They like to be near me. I constantly battle between wanting a neat fam room and letting them play to their hearts' content (and thrash everything in the process).
I'm trying to decide how I want to set up our living spaces in the next home...
So, my questions are as follows:

Do you have a seperate toy room?
What if I just had a large closet off the family room for toy storage instead of an actual play room? I think part of my problem is that the toys need a definate place that they always go back to.
Do you keep toys in the bedroom?
How do you keep your toys organized?
What are your ideas/suggestions for clutter control of this sort? I'd really love to hear your solutions and input! Thanks!
post #2 of 35
We keep a few toys in the group living area and the rest go in a kids area. They do like to play near me, so I keep an easily organized toy up in the living/dining/kitchen area.

A big toy closet is a nice idea, but make sure you have enough room for expansion.
post #3 of 35
Hi! We have an actual playroom. It's supposed to be the dining room, but we're very informal and have a nice eat in kitchen, so it would just be wasted as a dining room.

In it we have a train table, which never has the train. We call it the activity table because they use it for puzzles, building with blocks, building logs, etc. We also have one of those wooden toy storage things you can buy at Target that has several bins.

I have all of their toys sorted into other bins and I rotate into the toy storage bins, that way they don't have access to everything at once and it's exciting when it comes out again. I keep what isn't in the playroom at the moment on a shelf in the basement storage room.

In our family room, we have books. The baby board books are in a basket and all the big boy books are in a dishpan. A little trick I read in the book Houseworks, is to put books in a dishpan vertically. That way they can just flip through to find what they want and it's easy to put back. We've had no more trouble with books all over since doing this.

We had a playroom in our basement until Tuesday. Eventually our baby will have his own room which is now the guest room. Dh and I noticed that when we're in the basement, they were always dragging their toys out to the family room part. It was really frustrating. Then it clicked with me that they just wanted to be near us! So we are making their basement playroom the guest bedroom and we set up a corner of the family room with their toys. We have a big 6x9 rug so they have a sort of defined area (good for when it's time to clean up- "put all the toys on the rug") and put a few small baskets of toys, their mega blocks and little block table there.

I try very hard to not have toys in the family room or kitchen. No toys in the kitchen is a rule now because I've slipped on too many toys that they leave on the floor and I just don't think it's a very safe place to play. They bring them in and I either toss them back in the playroom with a reminder or ask them to get them out. In the family room, I don't mind if they're in there playing, but I don't like toys being left in there because a lot of their toys are for 3 or 4 years and up and we have a baby who will soon be crawling. We still need to work on it because I'm not consistent. Part of me is wondering if what you said above (just letting them play in the family room too) would make for a more peaceful home though. Maybe we could find some of their toys that would be baby safe too (magna tiles?).

They also have the Plan roadway and some cars up in the twins bedroom that they all play with. It takes up so much of their playspace, so it was nice to get it out of the playroom.

Oh, my other suggestion is to not have too much out at a time. We used to have tons of stuff out and they just didn't play with it. I think they were overwhelmed by the choices. I may still go in and take more out of there because they really play with what they have when there aren't so many choices.
post #4 of 35
We have a very large house (old victorian) 5 bedrooms, 2 baths, large kitchen, dining room, living room and best of all... the playroom. One of the best things we did, was devote an entire room to playing. what is nice about it is it is right off our living room separated by large pocket doors which can be closed off if playing is too loud, or left open which creates a very open feeling. I try to limit the amount of toys, so they are not overwhelmed and have a nice space to play in. There is a small table and chairs, playstands, a dress up corner, and baskets of toys under a big deco mirror which takes up an entire wall. I also had my computer station in there, but will be taking it out as soon as I get a laptop.

In the living room we have children's books in two window boxes next to a bench in an alcove. Although this is very often another platform for playing, it is easy enough to throw the toys back in the playroom.

In the kitchen, there is a small bedside like table for the girls to play cooking at.

In the dining room we keep all our art stuff and music equipment for fun after dinner dancing.

They have their own room, but do not sleep there. In their room is their ponies, a small basket of stuffed animals, a rocking chair and more books.

In our room, we have a round rug in the corner with a small basket of misc toys and a nice wooden castle sturdy enough for them to climb on.

I would say our house is pretty child friendly yet far from looking like we live in a daycare center. One thing that I found helps is to have quality toys that match your lifestyle.
post #5 of 35
I try to contain toys to their room--other than books, games/puzzles, and trains. If the train table were in their room, they would have to walk on it

My boys (8 and 5) share a room. The bulk of their toys are in there. The room is about 12x12, with 1 wall being a sliding-door closet. I have an 8-bin office organizer thing from Costco in the closet. They each have an IKEA dresser with the big bottom drawer for playmobil/lego. They are each in a 4-ft loft bed with the dresser and an organzier under. Ds5 keeps trucks, stuffed animals, construction toys, plastic/wooden animals, plan toys under. Ds8 keeps art stuff, models he's built, one of those floor rockers from Target, a light, and a book under there.

All games are in our living room coffee table and in bins under the buffet (also in the living room). I use a low bookcase as a console table, it is full of their books. Also the library book basket.

They have more books in the (small) family room, this is where they often play if not outside or in their room. Our "breakfast table" is an art table and is right next to the family room. Cubbies have perler beads, paints, playdough, markers, pencils, crayons, yarn, glue. And sports equipment.

We a¬so have an almost-outgrown (I can't wait! I can't wait!) train table in the 3rd bedroom--which is an office/sewing/train room. All trains and Lincoln Logs are in there. I have also taken an underused cabinet above our coat closet to keep things like *$!& moon sand that I don't want them into without permission.

There are no toys in our room, the kitchen, and the dining room (though there's barely room for the table--which does get used for games), and only bath toys in the bathroom.
post #6 of 35
We also use our formal dining room as a playroom. I have a toy bin that I bought at Target, that keeps all the basic toys in it, blocks, dolls, etc.... I have a wooden clothes rack for the dress up clothes. everything else gets stored in the built in china cabinet. I don't like clutter so I keep most things up and the DD's get them out when they want to play with them.

DD1 only has one thing in her bedroom, a doll house, the rest stays in the playroom.
post #7 of 35
Thread Starter 
I have books in the fam rm and one big drawer in the ec full of puzzles. I'm a home educating mama (albeit my dc are still quite young, 5 and under) and don't mind the dc playing near me...however, I am wanting a def. place/system for toys...just not sure if I need an actual room for it or just a designated space. Has anyone read any of Sarah Susanka's books, such as Home by Design? (Great books on designing for life) Just wondering how to apply her principles to play areas, lol.
Thanks for the replies...I like the idea of toy rotation.

Keep 'em comin'!
post #8 of 35
Right now, toys are in the bedroom, in the closet. The bottom section of the closet is filled with 1'x1' square cubbies, lending a perfect place to put the toys. When there's too many toys for the cubbies, we weed them out and give away.

We keep art things in the computer room next to a large work table, and books in the living room.

It seems to work out best this way for us. I organise based on where the items usually gravitate to anyhow so this just keeps the chaos orderly.
post #9 of 35
Thread Starter 
Okay...let's try this! If you were building a house, would you put a toy room in it, or create a nook within/nearby the main family areas (kitchen, fam room, ect)?
I like the cubby idea in the closet. Just trying to figure it all out! Thanks for the replies! It's all so tough to figure everything out, ya know? (BTW, I've got time...we are building our garage and living in that while building the house).
post #10 of 35
I would love to see pics of all your playrooms. Sadly, we don't have a play room.

I do love pottery barn for kids organizers for playrooms...I drool over the magazine each time!!
post #11 of 35
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by Gwendolyn's babies View Post
I would love to see pics of all your playrooms. Sadly, we don't have a play room.

I do love pottery barn for kids organizers for playrooms...I drool over the magazine each time!!
Don't I know what you mean!!! If only I could afford their prices!

I would love pics, too! Great idea!! Show me pictures, eh?
post #12 of 35
We just bought a house over the summer. One of the features we liked about this house is the insane # of closets AND the playroom! I will try to take some pics later.

Our play room is upstairs in an open space. It is large (20x15ish?). There is one large closet in it for the toys that are out of rotation or just too bulky, and a bathroom off of it ~ VERY handy. We are still working on decorating and shelving type issues, but I just bought a couple of cheap white put it together yourself bookshelves for the toys. We have a couple of hutches in there, too. One holds the big kid games and puzzles and the other has the little kid games and puzzles. (Our kids are 15, almost 12, 6 and 3, so we have quite the variety as you can well imagine!)

We keep VERY few toys down stairs. I keep a bushel basket at the bottom of the stairs, and when it is full, it's time to have one of the kids take it up and put it away ~ still working on the put it away part, some how, they ALWAYS forget that.

How exciting for you to start with a clean slate. Oh, the possibilities!!
post #13 of 35
Our house has a game room that we made the play room. It has huge windows so there is a lot of ntural light. It is behind the living room, but between the master bedroom and the kids rooms. Hard to describe, but the kids are definitely not isolated from us. It is a one story house.

In our old house (900 sq ft) we had DD's room filled with toys. She had a pretty big closet that helped with storage, but there was always chaos. She didn't have room to play on the floor, so her bed was always covered with whatever she was doing that day. It made bedtime harder. In our living room we had more toys and all the books. It was kid friendly but I didn't enjoy having an easel and various kid stuff in there.

New house (2,500 sqft) has the playroom and our DD's share a room by choice. Their bedroom has a bookshelf and stuffed animals. No other toys. It makes it so nice to put them in bed and not have to deal with toys everywhere.

The playroom is a different story. There is a LOT in there. Play piano, kitchen, doll cradle & high chair, dress up trunk, doll house, table and chairs, easel, bookshelf that holds books as well as games, puzzles, art supplies. We have another book shelf that we bought from Ikea for $150 and it has 16 cubbies. That has cloth bins from Target that hold small toys as well as large toys like Little People at the bottom for my youngest. We have another set of bins from Target that was $40 but we are replacing it with another bookself like the one we got from Ikea. That will take up a whole wall, but with as much stuff as we have, we need to stay organized. Everything has a designated place and DH thinks I am nuts.

The girls have to clean up for 15 minutes a day to stay on top of the playroom. Otherwise it looks blown up. I would love to have Pottery Barn storage, but for now, the Ikea cubbies work for us. You can get them with doors, but I liked them open with the different colored cubbies. You can also do baskets.
post #14 of 35
I think if I were building a house, I would do two things. I would build an away room a la Sarah Susanka/Not So Big House with lots of built-ins and child-accessible storage. Shelves for baskets, drawers, cabinets with doors, whatever you please. While the children are young, I'd intend this to be the primary play area but keep it adjacent to the kitchen and whatever front room/family room/living room you and your partner spend time in.

The second thing I'd do is if you're building an upstairs, I'd build an open area between the bedrooms that is big enough to accomodate some playing and a table for drawing or what have you. Our friends have a lovely set up with no hallway. You reach the top of the stairs and are in a big landing kind of area that's sort of an odd shaped roomy area. There are three bedrooms off of it, each with a door, and a little lounge that holds the computer and a tv. The lounge area has no door. It's great because a parent can be computing or watching tv (dad in the evening sort of thing) and the kids can be out in the landing area playing. When we go over to play, my friend and I will often just sit on the floor in the landing and the kids either play in the bedrooms or they'll drag stuff out in to the landing.

What I like about the idea of a closely placed away room is that it allows young children to be close by but allows their things to be isolated when you want the stuff out of sight. As they get older they may not be as interested in playing right there so you've got a room that can be reasonably integrated into the rest of your house. As they get even older and possibly start entertaining friends of the opposite gender, you've got a place for them to spend time that's not too far from your supervision, depending on what your thoughts on that matter are.

No matter what, I think I'd definitely work to create a flexible system for organizing their things and I'd keep the volume of stuff down to a minimum. I've been in so many play rooms that are just a disaster and not usable because the attitude seems to be "as long as we can't see it, it's fine." Yikes! When you can't step through the room, I can't imagine the children getting much done in their either!

What a grand adventure getting to build your own house! Good luck!
post #15 of 35
If I were designing my own home, this is what I would do:

Off the kitchen would be our family room. It would have comfy seating, lots of shelving for books, and ottoman between the couches for seating or game playing, and the TV (hidden in a cabinet so it's not the focus). We'd also have a fireplace at one end (I've thought a lot about this . . . I love to house dream!).

I would have sliding doors to the backyard in the family room. Next to those would be another "room." It would be separated from the family room by half wall shelves (in the craftsman style) that flank a double open doorway.

This room would be lined (on two walls) with shelves about halfway up the wall (windows around the top of them). They'd be built in, and some of them would have doors. Toys and books and games would go on the shelves. The top would be for displaying the kids' building and art creations. The middle of the room would be for playing, table and chairs, etc. Hardwood with an area rug that could be pulled back for art or playdoh play.

When the children are younger, this room would be a playroom. Near the family room, yet a place for all the toys (and kids, as we like to have our playgroup over a lot). As they outgrew the need for a playroom, it could easily become a study/office/library for us.

Ah, to dream!

In my reality, we have three playspaces. The basement is for active play (ball pit, foosball table, swing, large blocks).

The playroom houses games, art supplies, baby safe toys, and the Playmobil (behind a gate).

Their room houses everything else. The don't play up there because it's the whole second floor of our house and gets cold in the winter and hot in the summer. So I guess they play up there in fall and spring .

Eventually, when my youngest is old enough to not mouth everything, all the toys will come to the playroom on the main floor.

At the end of the day, I like toys returned to their places. The only rooms we don't allow toys in at all are the bathrooms, our bedroom, and the kitchen.
post #16 of 35
This is a great thread! Thanks for some really great ideas.
post #17 of 35
We live in a railroad style apartment. The front room and middle room are connected and open, and the kitchen/dinning room/living room are separated by wall from the front of the apartment. All of dd's toys/books/art supplies are in her area. Dh and I have our bedroom in the middle room and put dd in the front room with all her toys. Here's a photo of the front room:
post #18 of 35
We have a playroom that gets trashed most days. On days when I don't feel like picking up, I can close the door and not look at it. It's actually our third bedroom, but we're all on one floor so it's close to the living room.

The vast majority of their toys are in the playroom. Their play kitchen is in the dining room, and their train table and tool bench is in the living room. Everything else is in the playroom. That said, they do bring their toys out to the living room A LOT which doesn't really bother me. At the end of the day I load up a basket with everything that doesn't belong in the living room and cart it down to the playroom, then pick that up. If I want to keep a nice living room, I can tell them not to bring toys down, or shut the door to the playroom since they can't get in (if we're expecting company very soon or something).

The only things the boys have in their bedroom besides their beds and dresser is the Maxim treehouse which only gets played with sporadically, and a big bookshelf full of their books. We do most of their reading in there and since they can't get in their without my help (childproof doorknob thingies), they can't pull all the books off the shelves without me noticing. They'll often ask me to open the door so they can grab a book to bring out to the living room if they don't want to read in their beds.

We also keep the stuff that I don't want them to have free access to on a shelf in the kitchen, where we also keep most of their homeschooling supplies. This is stuff like Magnetix, Lite Brite, etc.

It works okay for us. The only thing I'm unhappy with is our dressup storage. We just have a few hooks on the wall and then a bin underneath for everything else. They often completely empty the bin to get at something at the bottom, and it drives me nuts.
post #19 of 35
Thread Starter 
These are great ideas. I'm sick and not functioning well today, so I'll add thoughts later. I'd love more!
post #20 of 35
We recently finished remodeling and now have a finished basement playroom with a bathroom and a large walk-in closet lined with shelves for all the games and toys. (The playroom doubles as a guest room.) Upstairs, we have a family room. All of the toys live in the playroom except that my 4 year old has some stuffed animals and a few other things in her room, and there are a small number of toys (a couple of games, a small Lego set, or similar) in the upstairs family room at any given time.

My kids (8 and 4) are still too young to like going to the basement playroom by themselves but they do enjoy playing there with each other, when friends come over, or when there's an adult down there. We have a desk, a TV, and a reading area down there, so it is a comfortable place for DH or I to hang out while the kids are playing. I LOVE having their toys mostly all in one place, and having room for larger pieces like the play kitchen, kid-size table and chairs, air hockey table, etc. I love that most of our "stuff" lives downstairs and our upstairs stays clutter-free.

I think that with younger kids a playroom would ideally be closer to the rest of the house, but as they get older having a space that's a little more removed will be great.
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