Playroom Makeover

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playroom makeover -- before and after

I thought they may come back with a “Sorry can’t help you” reply.  I braced myself for the disappointment because I wanted to work with Howards Storage on this post.  There are two main reasons for this: Firstly, I’m a fan of Howards Storage and their organisational systems; and secondly, I (really) needed the help.  Help with the playroom, or more accurately, the absence of a playroom.

The Challenges

The children: There are four of them.  My eldest doesn’t play with toys anymore (expect Lego); she’s twelve, so it’s just the other three that use the toys (aged 10,7,6).

Our house:  The three children’s rooms are small; I can fit only 1 bed/bunk and dresser so I don’t keep toys in the rooms, and we don’t have a spare room we can use as a play area.

Position: The designated play area is a walk-through space where I place mismatched boxes along the walls.

Aesthetics:  It’s a high traffic area of the house, and it doesn’t look appealing.  Play is important to me, and I wanted to invest some effort in this space to make it inspiring for the children.

Products: The woven boxes haven’t stood up to the regular rigours of childhood play; the bins are great but the kids tend to tip everything out to find things at the bottom so pack up is a nightmare; and some of the toys are rarely played with now.

Here it is:

howards storage play room

Good Things

I enjoy the kids playing in this open space because, although I don’t often get down and play with them, I do feel involved in their play.  This room is central to key areas in the house so play is a natural and integral part of family life. I like that.

Re-Organising the Playroom

1. It gets worse before it gets better

I reorganise the toys about twice a year, and when I’m in the process of it, I remind myself that it gets (much) worse before it gets better. I’m ruthless and pull EVERYTHING out.

organising toys

2. Sort                  

After pulling the toys out, I sort them into groups; the kids helped me with this.  I always feel grateful that my children have so many toy options to play with when I see how many toys they have.

This is pretty much all the toys in our house, besides stuffed toys which are now kept in the bedrooms.

organising toys

3. Store/Give

  • Prioritise toys most played with.
  • Give away items the children don’t need or use.
  • Store some toys and rotate to keep things fresh. I stored toys (like the Little People toys) in an Easi-store Underbed Box on wheels.

4. Solve

I presented my challenges to Howards Storage and they came back to me with a system that is clever, simple and visually pleasing. I was thrilled (thrilled!) and surprised.  Here it is:

playroom makeover

Problems solved

Reading area 1

Spice racks allow for easy access to favourite books in this reading corner.  Books can be easily rotated each week.

spice racks reading -- play room organisation

Reading Area Two

Dekorkubes cubes are versatile stackable, hangable shelves.  They are perfect for storing small books and cute knick-knacks.  I use them as a mini bookshelf storing small books and story-book related toys, like my favourite childhood story books, Grug by Ted Prior.

playroom organisation

Toy Station

The toys are stored in a Swedish designed elfa system (there’s a ten year guarantee with this product). The mesh baskets are huge and sturdy and the children can easily find what they are looking for and clean-up is simple and quick.

elfa storage system -- organising toys

elfa storage system -- organising toys

One of the top draws holds a Battery Box that stores different sized batteries and there’s a tester too, so you can see which batteries are charged. Simple. Clever.

elfa storage system -- organising toys -- battery organiser


The children produce a lot of artwork, and the fridge just isn’t big enough!  I think this is my favourite part of the play room, because the idea is simple and I love seeing the children’s masterpieces on the walls.  To hang the artwork, I used three Command Hooks and skirt hangers.  Now I can display and change artwork as the children do it and it gives this space a special and varied feel.

organising toys -- artwork

displaying children artwork



My children draw most days, and the mini bucket turntable is perfect for all our drawing supplies. When the kids want to draw, they can grab a bucket, find a comfortable place, and go for it.  Other craft supplies are stored on the bench top in navy & red striped totes.

organising toys

art caddy -- organising toys


The Lego storage bricks add a splash of colour to the room. The kids think keeping Lego INSIDE big Lego bricks is awesome.

organising toys -- lego

I am beyond thrilled with the result. How good does it look!? I know I’m gushing but I can’t help it. So happy. Already, I can tell the changes make a difference in how the children play, and pack up.  It will be interesting to see how it goes after the novelty has worn off, so I’ll do another post in a couple of weeks.

If you’re stuck with an area, take a picture to Howards Storage, and see what they can do for you! I’m overwhelmed with the cleverness (and simplicity) of the systems and grateful for the tailored advice.

This is the new view from my kitchen. Ah, the happiness of it. It looks good. It feels good. So good!

playroom makeover

Do you have a challenging area in your home?

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Kelly loves life at both ends of the spectrum: wearing high heel shoes one day and hiking boots the next; sipping tea out of a pretty cup and slurping hot coffee from a camping mug; challenging herself physically and stopping for quiet unhurried moments to feel the wind on her face. Kelly and her husband Matthew seek to live a fun and adventurous life with their four children and pet bird.

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  1. Alyce says

    It looks fantastic, Kelly! I love the drawers, and I love the art display (SO simple and easy but loold great). One question; where did the rest of the books move to?

    • says

      We LOVE books at our place! And I like having books splahed around different places around the house. Because I wanted to maximise the floor space for the children to get down and play, I moved the bookcase to another area in the house: near the tv area which is just around the corner. This way, I can still pull out books and have them readily available in the playroom (and rotate), plus the rull range of books is still there for the kids, usually they raid just before bed time.

  2. Melinda says

    It looks great! I’m about to also tackle a cull and reorganise! I love the drawers but sadly we couldn’t afford the price tag!

  3. says

    I am a HUGE fan of a good ol’ toy cull :) Holy moly that was a lot of toys there. And you are speaking to a self-confessed container-aholic haha. I love it. I’m not at all embarrassed to say organised things make me happy 😀

      • says

        We have a difficult house for small kids as its two stories with kitchen lounge upstairs and bedrooms and a smaller lounge downstairs…so they do have toys in their rooms as the downstairs lounge is set up as our school room (we homeschool) but they also have a box of toys upstairs cos they still like to play where I if im cooking dinner etc they want to be the toys pretty much spread into all the love to set it up tho with the toys in the school room with better storage etc…just need to actually go buy the stuff and do it!

        • says

          Sounds like the house I grew up in. It’s interesting and unusal to have the kitchen upstairs. My Dad’s a builder, and he put the kitchen upstairs because there was a nice view, and then put a huge walk way through the trees out to a back deck. Was lovely…but we had to climb the stairs a lot. Ha!

          Must make it more challenging having a school room section too.

  4. says

    Oooh I love the hangers for the art work… and the reading nook… and the drawers… actually I love it all!

    We don’t have a play room either and while we do have some toys in bedrooms we are trying to find a good way to make play fit into our family living space too… it’s not easy, but I think you’d done a great job!

    • says

      Thanks Kate. Yeah, this area I think was designed as am extra dinning room. But we only have one table and it’s in the tiled are next to the kitchen so this is just a walk through space…but I’m stoked with how this has worked out. There’s actually a lot more space there now, and interestingly, I’m finding less toys spread around the house becaue there is enough room for the kids to play on the floor here. So win-win-win.

  5. says

    It looks fantastic Kelly! I love the Elfa system but never thought of using it to store toys! so many great little ideas here…the picture hangers, the reading corners…great storage solutions and it makes your space look so much bigger…great job!

  6. says

    Oooh, I just love the Dekorkubes! How good do they look? I actually had the elfa storage system as my amazing wardrobe in my last house and when we sold that house I took it all down and brought it with me. As our new house had all built in storage already, all the elfa stuff was reused to organise the shed instead. Never thought about it for toy storage but it’d be perfect! I really need to check out those dekorkubes… oh, and Howards Storage World, if you’d like to redo my toyroom as well, I will welcome you with open arms 😀 Looks great Kelly!

    • says

      HAHA. Howards Storage are awesome to work with. I’ve worked with them before (prior to this post) but I did think when I emailed them with my challenges, they may of gone with someone else less problematic (and with a dedicated room). Liked them before. LOVE them now. haha. 😉

      The Dekorkubes are gorgeous! They look so funky and fun. They sort of act like this uber cool space-like doll house too, I’ve noticed as the kids play.

  7. says

    We have some of the elfa storage system in our big kids’ room, both for clothes and toy storage. I can see another trip to Howard’s Storage world coming on as we re-arrange the rooms, moving my two girls in together.

    I love those spice racks for wall books – how great do they look?!

  8. says

    OMG! What a sensational visual on how Howard’s Storage can help. I have purchased things from them before and can’t imagine life without them. Our living room would probably need the most help as it is also our toy room. Hard to ever feel like you get on top of toy mess. Thanks for the great post.

    • says

      The only problem is now Kate, that I’ve been spoilt, and now want to re-organise the entire house. HA! BUT I’m pulling myself back and feeling so very grateful for an awesome playroom. x

  9. Chelsea Wilson says

    You have so got me thinking and rethinking our spaces! Our kids rooms are tiny too and we have no spare room for a play room. But iLife being a part of their play so am rethinking where to make the play space. I don’t want to regret making a play space somewhere where the mess might frustrate me but I want a space that is visible from the kitchen. Hmmmmmmmm lots of thinking. Thanks :-)

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