For the first year of Immy’s life, we lived in a 1 1/2 bedroom apartment with one open plan living area. For the second year of her life, we lived in a home with one small, closed in living area. Needless to say, I developed a few strategies in my endeavours to manage the toys and kids “stuff.”
I believe it is possible to coexist with children in small living spaces without it feeling like you are living inside The Wiggles House (all of those bright colours must be bad for ones mental health, I am sure!)
Tip #1: Think about colour
Our existing furniture includes a latte coloured couch, white TV cabinet, and red accents in the form of cushions, vases, etc. When looking for storage solutions for Immy’s stuff and children’s furniture, I thought about colour. White shelving and table. Reds and browns for the felt board firescreen I made (see bottom photo) and even her little felt birds (in picture above).
Tip #2: Think about organisation
Choose storage containers that complement your living space. Sure clear plastic tubs are great but they aren’t really that attractive. Neutral, natural woven baskets tend to blend in with home furnishings and work well to hold toys in sets – one for instruments, one for wooden blocks, one for zoo animals, etc. To help children identify what goes in which basket, you can tie on luggage tags with picture cues (or words for beginning readers and readers).
I also like the white wooden storage cubes (see below) as they can be really multifunctional. Turn them on their side for storage and a place to put your drink. Right way up, they are great for books, dress ups and larger toy items or games.
Tip #3: Think furniture
Be clever when choosing “children’s” furniture. The Ikea Lack coffee table (see below) is perfect as both a coffee table and children’s play table. Ours has hosted tea parties, train tracks and farmyards (to name but a few). The height is great for toddlers and young children and the shelf provides some extra handy storage space. I have also seen people butt a matching Ikea Lack side table up against the coffee table so that children can sit at the table and draw or eat. Looks great, and is also multifunctional.
Tip #4: Toy Rotation
How much is too much? I am a BIG fan of toys and book rotation. Children today have so many toys. Too many toys out all at once can be very distracting and cause children to be more likely to flit from one thing to another, rather then spending time dedicated to more involved play with one toy or game at a time. At a bare minimum, you should put away (or cull completely) toys that your children have outgrown or lost interest in. I like to rotate sets of toys (and books) regularly, it makes them fresh and interesting and keeps the “stuff” a little more under control!
Do you share a living space with the kids? What are your tips for keeping the kids clutter under control?