After a little holiday hiatus, we’re happy to welcome back our D Moms Daily design guru, the lovely Tracy Martin Taylor of Eleven 11 Design. To kick things off for 2013, she’s tackling one of my very favorite topics — storage. (I love me some storage, friends.) Here’s her take on how to house all the sundry bits and bobs that our kiddos can’t seem to live without. Enjoy!
By Tracy Martin Taylor
It’s 2013. Do you know where your Legos are? If you are like most of us, the answer is “yes”…because they are everywhere. Never fear! It really is possible to create solutions for the seemingly multiplying pile of toys, without compromising your design taste. I promise.
Let’s get some of the rules out of the way. First, don’t kid (no pun intended) yourself. Think about how your family works and don’t try to ‘over organize’ and create a system you can’t possibly keep up. Second, design the tools to be manageable for your child or else you will still be cleaning up. And let them help you organize. If they are involved in setting up the system, they’re more likely to follow it. Third, use storage that looks good in your house. There’s nothing worse than a fab living room with bins in primary colors right next to your custom fabric sofa. Bottom line, you kids and their toys have joined your life, not the other way around!
Enough with the rules. Here are my fave solutions to organize your child’s hoard:
My wee one is newly obsessed with Lego Friends. For those of you with boys only, these are the girly legos. Over the holidays, we put together…oh…eight sets of them. So now we have these little “scenes” that (guess what?) don’t really fit in a box. In a moment of brilliance (I exaggerate), I remembered a set of vintage Tupperware TV dinner type trays with the sections for each food in my cupboard. Those trays, it turns out, almost perfectly house the main house, pet shop, café or whatever along with side channels for the wee people. They look organized on the metal bookcase in our living room that faces the back of the room. Oh, and they are easy to access, play with, and put back. This works for non-pink and purple legos too. And if the TV trays don’t work for you, lacquer ones (like those beauties from Jonathan Adler and Hay pictured above) will.
For tiny fairies, Squinkies, Skylanders, and other small parts you can’t seem to wrangle, clear boxes with lids are key. The clear part means your kids can easily find what they want, and when they are done playing, they can throw them in a designated cubbie or drawer. More on that below…
Let’s move on to Barbies, Princesses, Action Figures, etc. I have to say I question my daughter’s upbringing every time I count the number of Barbies she owns. I think I had three growing up. Our current collection is, frankly, embarrassing. I’m not sure how it happened, but I swear I didn’t buy even a fourth of them. Back to the solution. Piling them in a box doesn’t work (especially if you don’t want Barbie to get tangled hair). The answer, it turns out, is strikingly simple: an over the door hanging shoe organizer (24 count) in cotton. Hang that baby up and tuck all the small “people” into the pouches. It looks great, keeps them in good shape, and your kiddo can keep it straight. Add a small step stool to reach the top rows. Ta da! Done and done.
In your common areas, find interesting pieces that can hide the clutter and house your uber organized collection of fun. Cubbies are a great go-to, and you can’t beat IKEA’s Expedit bookcases (I love the lacquer version). My cubbies hide behind the sofa and double as a sofa table (with a lovely statue on the top) while acting as a secret (sort of) hiding place for my little’s wares. Baskets, fabric cube drawers, and the above mentioned trays, will fit in the cubbies and keep it all together. But you really don’t need to buy pieces outside of your living room scheme. Side tables, credenzas, and other ‘real’ furniture pieces can do the job without compromising style. (Cool living room storage links below). And you probably have storage now in your home that you haven’t considered for toys. Remember bright, plastic items don’t live in the living room. Those things go in the kid’s room or playroom. (Sorry girls, the townhouse can’t live next to the fireplace but the wood play kitchen can.) Be strategic and only have ‘furniture looking’ pieces out for the world to see. My fave living room worthy toy, by far, is the cool, clean-lined dollhouse by Plan Toys.
Whether it’s clear boxes, cubbies, or bins a good label maker is key. One a side note, a friend witnessed my moment of joy when I found a replacement label maker for my cherished Brother P-touch at an estate sale last year. I could barely contain myself. And for the record, I get a tiny knot in my stomach if someone uses it, as I imagine it smashing on the floor. Seriously, when you find a good label maker, much like the love of your life, hang on to it. (I know, obsessed.) Label any bin or container so there’s no question what goes there. I figure I want to make it easy for anyone (i.e. play date friends) to be able to clean up. If your babe isn’t reading yet, use small pictures to make clear that only Barbie shoes or Matchcars go inside. Plus, starting them early will only help you (and them) later.
Here are a few more of my favorite storage finds:
- 2 Modern magazine rack keeps coloring and story books tidy.
- 2 Modern coffee table with underneath storage is great for stashing small toys.
- Container Store’s slant jar neatly houses crayons, stickers, and even dress up jewelry.
- Stuffed animals and Tonka trucks look fab in this super cool pod
- For cool living room storage, I love BluDot, YLiving, and Herman Miller. (You can find the full line of BluDot at Nest.)
Now that you have some ideas, take inventory of your options and toy mass. Look at your furniture and make sure you aren’t wasting valuable hidden living room cabinet space on things that can go elsewhere. Then secure a piece or two to better house the toys that need to live in the grown up space. (Awesome excuse to buy a new piece of furniture!) Next step is getting the organizational tools. Last thing…live it. You will love that you can actually have someone stop by and not be horrified by the piles. The result is you don’t have to banish your kids to another room while they play to avoid a mess. And you are molding their own design eye’s by showing them your own.
Love your space,
For more design inspiration from Tracy, be sure to check out her blog.