December 18, 2014

Embracing Minimalism: The Playroom

OK, I might get punched for this but y'all are gonna have to wait (just a week…maybe two) for the poop post. Because I've been advised by council that, well, it just has to wait. Things are a movin' and a shakin' around these parts and good things come to those who wait.

In the meantime, let's talk playroom. Or, in Levi's word, the bay-uuun. It is a heaven and a hell for parents. It's a safe place for all their crap stupid toys and play things - a place we can perhaps close off and not look at but really it's always in the back of our heads as a sore spot. (Actually that would be where Levi hit me with a car.) And if you don't have a playroom you are (lucky and) cursed because then you can't close the door and you have to find a place for all that shiz amidst real people stuff. Making sense?


You see, in our old house we had a humongous playroom. Actually it was a playroom that opened up into another playroom (with a reading cave and a hideout and built in toy storage…aka: benefits of remodeling a basement). But what I found in all that space was that it would just get filled with toys. There was a place for a kitchen set and dress up bin and desk for coloring and on and on but really, by the end of the day, it all got dumped out everywhere and it took a mad mom and a grumpy dad and unwilling kids to get it aaaallll cleaned up. Forget I had labels and it all organized: it didn't matter. There was just too. much. stuff. for their little heads and hands to deal with.

So, what did I do? I started getting rid of it.

Fast forward two years and a move later and our playroom is about 1/3 the size of our old joint. This room needed to house toys, a sitting/TV area, school stuff, books, and still have enough room to, um, actually play. 

So, what did I do? I got rid of more of it.

The solution to the battles and the non-picking up was simply to have less. I cut it down to the basics (these might look different for your family) but I kept some of the creative play stuff and the rest went. Blocks, kitchen toys/doctor/construction stuff, a bin for Lola's squeaky things, a few stuffed animals, some blankets, the dress up clothes, Legos, and puzzles (art/coloring things are in a different area of our home).

And I enacted a rule: if the playroom can't get cleaned up (by the kids) in 10 minutes, then I get to get rid of more stuff. Because they know that if they can't take care of what they already have then, well, it must be too much. All it took was some good labeling, some good teaching about where stuff goes, and the gonads to follow through if they complained or couldn't deal with what they had. Nothing like tears when loading the Goodwill bag into the back of the rig to show that mama's serious. And you betcha that playroom got picked up in not 10 minutes, but 5.

Having less will naturally mean that kids might become more bored. Boredom = goodness. When they're bored I go tell them to make up something fun: a game, a project, do some art, color on a cardboard box, go read a book. All the creative peeps of this world invented things when they were bored. Plus I say that if they're bored with all they have why the heck would I want to get them more?!

Speaking of getting more, I pretty much put a stop to the buying of toys. Not that we did that a lot, but a thing here and a present there adds up. Even birthday gifts are becoming more experience based than material based. Which totally makes the material presents (when they do get them) all the more special.

OK, now for what you really want: Pictures. Here is what our playroom looks like now - along with a shot of the kids' rooms. My goal in all these rooms was to combine function with aesthetic design (ooooo, big word, big word). In other words, I wanted to maximize every square inch while making it look good. 'Cause I'm at home 80% of my life and I want my environment to be a place I love and that works well for our family. Alright, done talking.


Closet right and left. Right is cars, legos and puzzles (up top). Left is school crap (some of it needs to be filed AND I'm still purging).

View from the door at the sitting area. The couch is from Target, ottoman from I can't remember. Blankets are stored between the couch and the wall and pillows in the ottoman. Gotta have lots of fort building materials.

View from the sitting area. Bookshelves are from Costco. Bins are labeled with the type of toys that go in them. Even Levi (2 1/2) knows where stuff goes.

Here are the toys we chose to keep, going left to right: baby toys, cars, plastic duplo blocks, magna-tiles, music toys (but I'm close to getting rid of these), DR/Construction bin, balls, people (random animals/little people), stuffed animals, kitchen toys. And the far right is their cash register. But that might go soon, too.

Lego table - chairs and two separate tables from IKEA. Basket of dress up clothes, from Target. Boxing gloves for the boys, Costco baby. Eventually I'm going to do something with the wall. I'm thinking a cool rope/wire thing with clothespins to hang art work OR I might put up their maps. Not sure yet. I am, however, going to put up the IKEA spice racks under the light switch to house books facing out. For now, Go Hawks.


This room will eventually house "all the girls." Bunk bed is from Bunk Bed King. Dollhouse, an auction item. Nightstand and lamp from Target. Bedding, West Elm.

Dollhouse people/things are in the small plastic bin. Barbie stuff is in the ottoman.

American Girl clothes are in the white thing. Baby dolls/clothes are in the blue ottoman. Dress up clothes on the wall (with an extra bin of those in her closet). AND THAT PICTURE IS CROOKED, baaaaaa. Going to fix that now, lol. Hashtag OCD.


I bought the bunk beds from the previous owner (shoutout Rachel!). I actually bought a couch and some barstools from her, too. Bedding is from Amazon. Rug, nightstand, and lamp from Target. Under the bed we keep some play stuff: mostly a tube thing they can crawl through. But I might get rid of that soon because they don't listen to me when they play with it....

Behind the door: Football stuff. But a fireman coat got in there somehow. And a picture from my own nursery that I've had in my room/house ever since.

Laundry bin for all the kids. Trunk to hold blankets (which I bought off my college roommate for $5 when she sold all her stuff. Shout out Amelia!). In the closet is a dresser and some blocks/Lincoln Logs they can play with (if they ask).

The upstairs hallway. Lola's napping in that room behind the wall so piano is being played with headphones.

Alright, there you have it. I'll post the rest of the house as I get to it. For now, just grab a bag and get rid of stuff. There, my PSA for the day.

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