Organize a Playroom

This article is about how to organize a playroom. Children have a lot of energy. They are always active. Providing a place where kids can spent their energy through play and also learn and have fun in the process is important. A playroom will also help contain all or at least most of the toys in one place. This could be an entire room or part of a large room like the family room. Make sure it is a safe space for the children with plenty of light and soft surfaces. A space where you can keep an eye on them will be ideal. Usability, functionality, accessibility, storage and organization are the important features to consider in a playroom.

If you haven’t read my article on tips yet, please read it before you organize a playroom. That article will help you get through these tasks a whole lot easier and keep your results once you are done.

Decide whether to involve the kids when you organize a playroom for them. Usually if they work for something they would want to maintain the results of their labor.

Depending on the amount of toys, it could be a daunting task to organize a playroom. So have realistic goals and split tasks into small chunks. This way you can complete them in a reasonable amount of time and make progress. So set time limits (1 to 2 hr maximum) for each session of work. Do what you can in that time limit. Then, wait for the next day or weekend, otherwise you will be exhausted. Take a break, look at what you have accomplished and enjoy it. This is the best way to inspire and motivate yourself.

Your first task when you organize a playroom should be clearing items in open areas as explained in article Home Organization Tips (when you begin). Separate them into five categories and appropriately arrange them as explained.

The best way to organize a playroom is to divide the room into zones like creative, imaginative, construction, reading, entertainment, music etc. This way you can divide and organize toys for each zone into different sections providing easy access and a clean and clutter free look. This will also help if you have more than one child. They can either share or do something else while waiting for their turn. This will also be easier for the children when they want to put them back.

A creative zone is where they can draw, paint, color and do projects. So this zone will need a table, some chairs,storage to put the arts and crafts materials, a roll of paper towel and a wastebasket. If your desk has built-in storage like drawers and shelves, use the drawers to keep pencils, markers, crayons, paints and brushes, glues etc. and the shelves for coloring/activity books, papers etc. Use a silverware tray or similar divider trays to separate pencils, markers, crayons and similar items. If you don’t have built-in storage, you can use a plastic cart for these items. Children can move this cart closer to the table when needed and put them away when done. Another option is to put them in clear plastic storage boxes and stack them under the desk. Group like items together and put them in plastic food storage bags before putting them in storage boxes or drawers. You can also reuse diaper wipes containers to group them. Arrange books, papers etc. vertically like in a library using a magazine file, rather than stacking them. This will provide easy access since the children can see everything and pick what they need without taking the ones on top. Use a tablecloth if your tabletop is not easy to clean.

Put art work you want to keep in a sheet protector and file in a 3 ring binder. Use divider tabs to separate the work of each child.

Imaginative zone is for pretend play like tea parties, dress up, puppet shows etc. So this area should have a place to hang dress up clothes. You can install hooks on the wall for this. An adjustable height garment rack is another economical option. Doll house, playhouse, kitchen play set and accessories, play food sets, action figures, stuffed animals etc. will go in this zone. Keeping smaller items like play foods, baking set etc. in their original boxes will provide easy identification. Otherwise use plastic boxes or food storage bags to store them. Use mesh laundry hamper(s) to separate and store stuffed animals. A multi-bin toy organizer would work well in this zone.

Construction zone is for all the building toys like blocks, legos and puzzles. Try to keep them in their original packaging since they have the picture(s) of finished puzzles, buildings etc. You can keep puzzle pieces in a food storage bag and put it in their original packaging boxes. If they don’t come in storage boxes, cut out the picture(s) of how it is supposed to look like when finished building and write the number of pieces for the particular set and store them in clear plastic boxes. You can also make a copy of it and stick them on the box using tape or glue. If you make the copy of the picture large enough for the child to easily identify, you can reuse shoe boxes or shipping boxes even though they are not see-through. Putting puzzle pieces away as soon as done playing will ensure that you account for all the pieces. That way they will have all the pieces for next time. I have seen way too many puzzles with pieces missing. Use floor pillows for seating.

Reading zone is obviously for books. Bookcase(s) will be ideal for this zone. You can arrange the books on the shelves by character, theme, author etc. according to your child’s age or skill level. Bean bag chairs will be great in this zone since they are comfortable and easy to move around if needed in another zone. You can also use the floor pillows from the construction zone here. This zone should be a quiet place. So put it farther from the zones that can be noisy like entertainment or music mentioned below.

Entertainment zone is for watching TV, movies and playing video games. You will need a TV stand or entertainment center with storage for DVD player, game consoles etc. and also for DVDs, remotes and game controllers. If this zone is also used by adults use adult size furniture for seating like a sofa in addition to child size seating like floor pillows or bean bag chairs. A storage ottoman will be softer than a wood coffee table and will also provide extra storage space for blankets, DVDs, game controllers and remotes. See also my organize media drawers for more on media storage.

Music zone is for musical toys or instruments, karaoke machines etc. Use a toy chest or similar furniture for seating that could double as storage since these toys are large and bulky. You can hang guitars on the wall. You can also put headphones and microphones in small mesh bags (available at supermarkets for under $12) and hang them from hooks installed on the wall. Use magazine files to hold music sheets for each instrument. You can install floating shelf(s) above the hooks to store these magazine files. You can also put music sheets in sheet protectors and file in a 3 ring binder. Use divider tabs to separate music sheets for each instrument. If you have more than one child or one child plays multiple instruments, use one binder per child and separate the sheets for each instrument using divider tabs.

Useful tips when you organize a playroom:

  1. Anchor bookcases and other tall furniture to the wall to prevent them from tipping.
  2. Use vinyl remnants underneath the table in the arts zone for easy clean up from spills.
  3. Encourage children to put the toys or items back once they are done playing with and also before taking another one or before moving to another zone. Doing this will be more manageable than picking up everything in the end when they are tired.

  4. Using storage cubes and ottoman will provide seating and additional storage especially if the room is small.
  5. Use clear storage containers so that they can see everything. Otherwise put pictures of the toys on all sides of the container for easy identification.
  6. The storage boxes should be light and small enough so that your child can easily carry them.
  7. If you have small children, keep toys with small parts, beads, scissors, paint etc. which require adult supervision out of their reach.

When you organize a playroom, you give your children more time to play and enjoy the space because they are not wasting time searching for the toys. Teach them the important of maintenance.

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