RSS Feed



This young family moved into their first home and designated the dining room as a playroom for their toddler son.  But after a few months that included a birthday and Christmas, the room began to feel like it was bordered with toys on the floor all around the room.  To maximize the space, and to make room for a baby sister coming soon, we sorted, categorized and organized the space. Affordable shelving systems were purchased from Target, making it possible for alike items to be grouped in containers.  The first picture shows the “building corner”. Blocks, duplos, and other car and building sets are stored here.  Follow along the wall and there are more trucks, and a basket of small toys all ready for the play rug.  This two year old already knows the balls go in one tote together, and there is another one for small figurines, and the last one has the “cell phones”, keys and other noisemaker toys.  The puzzles are on the corner and can be played with on the floor or at the table in the corner.  The table has handy access to the kitchen for future art activities that may need a quick trip to the sink! On the other side of the door to the kitchen is the dramatic play corner, where the kids can shop and cook up some great meals for their basket of stuffed toys!  The flip out sofa bed from IKEA is flanked by two windows where parents can relax and enjoy snuggles with the kiddos.  Tucked on the other side of the sofa is the baby corner — ready to be enjoyed as the new member of the family joins the fun. Even the baby toys have a container of rattlers and teethers, musical toys and soft toys. Next step?  Strip the walls of the 80’s dining room wallpaper and get creative with the walls. What is your vote?  Paint the paneling or leave it wood?  Colors for the walls?  Alphabet frieze? Chalkboard magnetic paint anywhere?  Let’s hear your ideas! The great thing is the room has already been kid tested – played in and cleaned up quickly because every item has a home!

Building Corner Cars, Toys, Puzzles 1 Table Corner  Dramatic Play Corner

Couch and Baby Corner




Playroom 4  12.14

I forgot to take before pictures, but all parents can bring to mind a space where toys and all of the pieces are scattered throughout the room and mixed together as though it had rained toys! 🙂 The purpose of this project was to clear this large bonus room of outgrown toys and change it from a cluttered and overwhelming storage area to a functional play space the family can enjoy together. Two boys who are about to turn 3 and 7 live in this home. Along the first wall we placed the stuffed animal bin and the farms and little people sets. Between this space and the next picture is a linen type close that stores all of the board games and puzzles.

Playroom 2 12.14

This is the “transportation area”. The corner begins with the younger type toys and continues along the wall with tubs of vehicles. There is a giant tub of larger cars and trucks and a smaller container of hot wheel cars. The area rug with roads is placed near the cars. In the forefront is a well stocked train table with storage drawers filled with train supplies that have been sorted by style, with some extra pieces contained below the table. Behind the train table are boxes with other train sets and car track sets that have been categorized and placed in boxes with lids to help them reach the goal of playing with one track set at a time. Barely visible is the entertainment center that contains equipment for the Wii; and now there is ample clear area to get physical with the Wii games.

Playroom 1 12.14

The corner to the right of the entertainment area is the dramatic play center with a tub of clothes and costumes for dress up and all kinds of kits for cooking, ‘doctoring’ and carpentry. (Santa may or may not have plans for this space.) 😉 Not pictured is the “adult corner” with some exercise equipment and there is also a comfortable couch and chair for movie time opposite the entertainment unit wall.

Playroom 3  12.14

The “building area” is next to the couch so the boys can build on the floor space or take advantage of the flat surface of the large coffee table in front of the couch when they need a hard surface as a base. The last set of drawers hold some collections like angry bird toys and those hosts of figurines that find their way into all play spaces. They are even enjoying the luxury of a couple of empty drawers for future use. Lastly, their creative music toys are stored together. This family has strategically chosen to store books in the bedrooms for easy access for resting and reading. They also have a well stocked “art center on wheels” that is tucked away downstairs and brought out for craft times at the breakfast table near the kitchen sink. This project was all about creating function out of a space that had previously been used to store toys more than it had been used to play with toys. We were successful at creating function and flow while taking advantage of resources already owned by the family. Now they can experience this area of their home in a new and purposeful way while considering options for design choices that may include vertical storage as well as a corner for an “adult work station”. The possibilities are endless but the function has already begun.






Upper Cabinet  1 Before

Cabinet 1 Before

Cabinet 1 AFTER All the mugs, cups, coffee and tea supplies are gathered together.

Cabinet 1 AFTER
All the mugs, cups, coffee and tea supplies are gathered together.

Upper cabinet 2 BEFORE

Cabinet 2 BEFORE

Upper cabinet 2 AFTER Now the daily use plates and bowls are together and accessible, with the less frequently used items are grouped together.

Cabinet 2 AFTER
Now the daily use plates and bowls are together and accessible, and the less frequently used items are grouped together.

Upper cabinet 3 BEFORE

Cabinet 3 BEFORE

Upper cabinet 3 AFTER The cookbooks are accessible and the other cabinets are grouped together by similar function.

Cabinet 3 AFTER
The cookbooks are accessible and the items on the other shelves are grouped together by similar function.



Garage beforeGarage after

Garage after

Garage after



Ellen closet before 1.14

Closet before

Ellen closet after 1.14

Closet after

Ellen closet view 2 after

Closet after

Ellen shelf before 1.14

Closet shelf before

Ellen shelf after 1.14

Closet shelf after

Ellen shelf after 2 1.14

Closet shelf after



Ellen guest room before 1.14

Guest room before

Ellen guest bedroom bed after

Guest room after

Ellen guest closet after 1.14

Guest room closet before

Ellen guest room after

Guest room closet after



Before . during . after group

Left wall of walk in pantry — before, during and after. Client posted she now does her happy dance in her pantry daily!














Study before desk left

Study before

study desk left

Study after. Much better. Next step is to go through and update all of the binders!

Study before desk right

Desk and printer area before

Study after desk

Desk area after

Study after shelves right

Printer area after

Study before couch

Study couch before says “Stress!”

Study couch after says “Relax!”



Storage Closet before

Storage closet had gotten stuffed!

Storage Closet before back

Lots of things in the back of the storage closet before.

Storage Closet before shelves

Shelves had become stuffed with forgotten and unrelated items

Storage Closet during 1

The sorting process…

Storage Closet during 2

…where you wonder how it all fit in the storage closet!

Storage Closet after back

Storage closet after…room to breathe!

Storage Closet after seasonal decorations storage shelves

A wall of shelving filled with holiday decorating items easy to access and return to their season!

Storage Closet after inside left low

Now the gift wrap station is stocked and ready to use right inside the door!



Kitchen counter after paper sort

Kitchen Counters AFTER the piles of papers and stacks of good intentions had been sorted and cleared from the horizontal surfaces in the kitchen.

Empty Space Quote

When she realized how much more peaceful her kitchen was with one small tray to collect incoming paper, she was motivated to write what I said to her on her fridge memo board as a reminder.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: