Space Takers: Play Room Edition

Frequently I hear my clients say that the play room always looks like an explosion. Kids toys often are stored at kid height along the perimeter of rooms nearly encasing the entire space with what can feel like continuous clutter. So many toys these days require their own floor space like doll houses, and play mats, and lego sets. So much so, that it really is important to understand square footage and choose the items carefully to get the right fi. Even the neatest room will look cluttered if it is over filled.

The truth is, full rooms do not necessarily mean fully engaged kids. You especially want to eliminate space takers that don’t get used or simply have been outgrown. Here is a short list of things we frequently see that eat up square footage with low frequency of use:

  1. Painted furniture like wooden rocking chairs and rocking horses. These are things often purchased by adults who seek to make the room” look” child friendly. But in reality, kids hardly choose this hard surface sit in or use, even if their name is painted on it, or if it was a gift from their favorite grandparents.
  2. Riding toys. Carpeted rooms are not the best place to play with these items or to store them. Consider where these will be used, and remember that they can be hung with hooks on the vertical space of our basement and garage walls.
  3. Stuffed animals. Rarely are stuffed animal a “toy of choice” during active play time. A few may be useful for nap time and story time, but once they start filling up toy chests and shelves, and are strewn across the floor, these are stealing space.
  4. Large motorized toy vehicles. These need to be purchased with care–understanding where they can be stored so they can be played with instead of parked. If they are an outdoor toy, is there convenient outdoor storage? If they will be used in a basement, can they be kept in that area?
  5. Tented play houses. If these are something your kids love, then they should be given the space to enjoy. But you do not want these to end up in hallways or rooms intended for other things, or blocking beds or desks. Plan accordingly.
  6. Race Tracks and Doll Furniture require lots of horizontal space. Consider other areas besides the floor to place these.
  7. Desks. Desks are also useful, but flat horizontal tables with no storage may take up more room than it should without providing a home for crafts or school work. Make sure desks and play tables have plenty of storage designed for your child’s needs.

Having planned homes for toys is critical to achieve an uncluttered look. It also helps at put away time to know exactly where the items fit and belong. Overfilling a space will lead to the same cluttered results as never picking it up in the first place. So purchase with square footage in mind, and don’t be afraid to move things along that take more than they give.


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Birdie Brennan Professional Organizers has been simplifying people’s lives since 2001. Birdie is a member of NAPO, a founding member of NAPO Ohio, in the Inaugural class of Certified Professional Organizers, a Golden Circle member and a member of ICD. It is our love for organization and design that led us to designing and installing closets.

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