Wednesday, January 11, 2012

54 Reader Space: The Great Playroom Makeover!

Today's reader, Megan, and her handy hubs, took back a playroom that was lacking in functionality and effective storage.  I love their "go-getter" attitude and all of their fantastic and super smart solutions!

Megan wrote:

I recently discovered your blog, and I have been in awe! I am a clean, organized girl trapped in a slob's body! Okay, maybe I exaggerate a little, but I have found my inner organizer, and I can't be stopped! I have come to see {much to my husband's delight} that everything works better when you are organized and everything has a place!

Our playroom has LONG been a source of aggravation for me. There was no organization, way too much clutter, and things taking up space that weren't even used! My kids love to play in it a LOT, so it would just get messy and chaotic, and then when it was time to clean there would be groans all around because it was in such a terrible state, no one wanted to do it and it would take forever.

While my husband was off over Christmas, we decided to tackle it once and for all. We pulled out everything, just like you suggested, and piled it all in the middle of the playroom. We sorted into trash, keep, and donate piles. We moved out large pieces that were never played with. We reorganized it all so it made sense, and EVERYTHING had a place. We targeted the most used toys in the playroom {which surprisingly were just two!} and made specific homes for them so it would be easy for them to play with and easy to clean up. Since we have an 11 month old, the biggest concern was so many little toys all over the floor, so by getting everything in a home and getting it up off the floor, she can actually enjoy it, too!

We installed wire shelves in the closet, which was completely useless before, and my husband made two tables to house the most often used toys.

The result is a SUPER CLEAN, functional, pretty space that we can actually enjoy as a family now! {Before my husband wouldn't even go in there because it was such a disaster.} 

It makes me happy every time I walk past it now, instead of closing the door and shaking my head.

I thought I would share it with you, and say thanks for all your inspiring organization on your blog!

Thanks so much! I really enjoy your blog!


As Megan mentioned, the playroom was asking to be helped out a bit:

"I'd like to say this was on a particularly rough day after weeks and weeks of neglect. And while that may be partly true, this was honestly the way our playroom looked a lot of the time. The kids play here A LOT, and it is just messy and disastrous. And see all those little things all over the floor? I knew that couldn't happen because we now have a crawling baby.

So I analyzed the way my children play, brainstormed on some ideas, and then started in.
The biggest problems in the playroom: no organization, with no specific places to put anything, so oftentimes it ended up on the floor; and poor utilization of storage and keeping most often used toys in a neat and organized way.

First, we pulled everything out and had three bins: donate, trash, and keep. If the kids didn't play with it, it went to the donate pile. {With the exception of, for example, the kitchen in the above picture. The kids never play with it, but it's very possible that Avery will, so it went to the attic.} If it was junk to begin with or broken, into the trash pile. And then the things that really get a lot of use, we kept. By doing this, we were able to get rid of a TON of stuff. I mean, seriously. It was crazy how much is accumulated in eight years of parenting and three kids.

I would have taken a picture of this stage, but I was buried beneath toys. I couldn't even crawl out to grab my camera.

Then we determined that there were only two most often used toy groups in the playroom: the Calico Critters items, and Legos. So we wanted to make sure those were easily accessible and up off the floor, since they both contain small pieces.

We also decided that the closet in our playroom was totally useless. See?

The shelves were in the middle of the closet, which were totally inaccessible. There was only one shelf across that the kids could actually put stuff on on the left side. Wasted space.

Something needed to be done.

Like I mentioned, we move the play kitchen to the attic because it is never played with. We also moved the workbench out, because it was also never played with.

Then we installed some wire shelves for the closet. {We purchased them from Lowe's for about $100.}

Ahhhhhhhhhh! Angels singing. This enabled us to get rid of all the eye clutter {like the opposite of eye candy, right?} from the tops of the storage units in the playroom. All the Little People items {which my kids still love!}, American Girl items, trucks, games, Geo Trax, car tracks, and puzzles now go in here, on their own shelves where they can easily be put away after playing with them.

A close up? Why sure!

Years ago, John had built the white cabinets that hold bins for toys. Since we had three of them, we decided to divide up the room with the cabinets and use one storage unit for each child, since we have three children. It worked out perfectly! We also had poster size pictures I had hung up of Ansley and Christian that were in need of updating. But since we divided up the cabinets, we thought it would be cute to put two posters, one baby, one older, above the cabinet of each child to designate their area. So I ordered some more posters, and we purged toys and lots of junk, getting each child down to three bins, since that was what the area would hold.

Then, we needed a solution for the Calico Critters and the Legos. They needed to be up off the floor. John had made a table for Ansley several years ago for her Calico Critters, but she has expanded her collection since then, so it was too small. As a result, they would pull it off the table and onto the floor and then little pieces would be everywhere.

We looked at several stores, trying to find what we needed. I am always so impressed when I read blogs or hear from friends of how they found this perfect table at Goodwill for $5 and they just repainted it and it was perfect.

We are not those people.  Generally, when we need something, John builds it.

So, we headed to Home Depot {actually we spent a LOT of time there during this redo!} to get the supplies. John is very talented in this area, so he whipped these out in a few hours. They turned out great, and were EXACTLY what we needed!

Then we stained the tables. Right in the playroom. We put the baby down for bed, and the kids helped with this part. They love to help, but sometimes when stain is involved, it can get crazy. It was actually fun, though, and the kids ooohhhed and ahhhhhed over their new tables. We had to give them overnight to dry, then we slapped a coat of polyurethane on top.

Last, I have always wanted to hang the kids artwork in the playroom, I've just never done it. So we grabbed some matching frames from Target, and put Ansley's artwork on one side, and Christian's on the other side. {As Avery gets older and draws, we will change some out for her, too.}
And are you ready? Drum roll............

I'm seriously SO thrilled with the way this turned out.

Aren't the two tables John made beautiful? I love them! The first table is for Legos, and they can spread them out and play away. The second table is for Calico Critters. Then you can see Ansley's storage area with her pictures and all her toys fit in her bins. You can see part of Christian's storage area, with his pictures as well. The artwork above the sofa is Ansley's, and it makes me smile when I see it.

Here's another view, just because it's so pur-ty.

Here's the other side of the playroom, with Christian's artwork above the love seat, and his section of the playroom for toy storage.

And the best part is that in just over two weeks now, the playroom has stayed just like this. Part of that is due to consistency in asking the kids to make sure it's picked up at the end of each day. But the reason it's so much easier to clean up is because everything has a place, so it never gets to the point of looking like the "before" photo. It has also been great because we are able to play as a family in there, whereas before, we wouldn't even want to go in there because it was so messy!"

OK, gather your thoughts.  While you do, I will share mine!

  • They did all the right steps.  Assessed that the space was NOT working for them.  Cleared everything from all of the shelves and sorted through it all.  Purged, purged and purged some more.  Analyzed what remained and how to effectively store it.  
  • They were ruthless when it came to keeping things.  Great job mom and dad!
  • By adding more shelves to the pre-fab closet, they multiplied their storage by hundreds.  Such a great solution to those larger toys that don't fit in bins and cubbies!
  • They DIY'ed those tables!  Can you believe it?  Me either, they are gorgeous.  I think her hubs could take on a side job of "Furniture Builder".
  •  They added photographs to designate zones!  Each kid has their own cubby and photograph to label it.  How fantastic is that?  And don't you LOVE what it does for the space? 
  • They displayed the kid's artwork to bring in added color.  No playroom is complete without some super amazing kid created art!
  • They created a system to allow the space to function for both big kids and wee ones.  Little pieces up off of the floor to reduce worries.  
  • I literally felt emotional after seeing the before and afters and just knowing in my heart how much happier the family would be in that space together, and how much easier it will be to maintain.  Sounds all mushy, but it's true.

So what are your thoughts?  What do you personally love about today's space?  Were you as blown away by this playroom takeover as I was?

ATTENTION!!  Want to be featured in a Reader Space edition?  Have an awesome organizing story to share?  I am looking for projects that have made a positive impact to your life.  Please send your story and photos to and I would heart to feature them right here, on the blog!!  Photos should be high resolution and unedited.  Please include a description of the project, including any costs, inspiration, and how it has changed your life and routine for the better!  Oh, and no worries my friends, we will NEVER judge "before" pictures because that just wouldn't be nice!  Only love goes on at this blog!  More info HERE.


  1. a girl after my own heart! Gorgeous!

  2. This is awesome! I am in love with the color of the stain!

  3. Great job! I love those oversize pictures of the children. Where can you order those?

  4. Wow! They worked hard, and it turned out great. :)

  5. I.Love.It!!! I am sooo jealous of the space, the handy-with-the-building-stuff husband's skills, and the function!! (I don't have the luxury of having that much space!)
    Great job!

  6. This looks fantastic!! Great re-organising job for sure and love the multiple tables.

  7. I'll bet their kids are USING the space more than ever. We always found that our kids played more and more happily in their playroom after a good organizing and dejunking session, proving the irony that we end up enjoying less even MORE.

  8. I love the giant pictures and the framed artwork! So jealous :-)

  9. Love it! My biggest issue with my now 19 month old's room is it's a nursery/bedroom and a playroom. It's so hard to find a balance; especially with such a small room. Any tips?

  10. Wow!! This looks great! I think this is great inspiration for a future child or children of mine! I absolutely love the picture idea! :) Good job!!

  11. Amazing...before and afters are the best!!! Great job Megan!

  12. This room is FABULOUS! I wish I had the extra space for a room like this! Those tables are gorgeous! I love how each child has their own space and place for displaying art. I also love the couch in the playroom. It's great in case the parents want to sit in the playroom with their kids to keep an eye on them, just spend time with them or anything. Fabulous!

  13. Wow! What a great transformation! love it!

  14. That's an amazing transformation!!! I love it! <3

  15. Such a fantastic turn around. WOW. Those shelves in the closet made such a great difference. Makes me so happy when a space comes to life like that. Good for them. And I sure recognize a lot of those toys in that closet!

  16. Aw, thanks so much ya'll! I love all these sweet comments! :)

    Kristin - I ordered them from Winkflash ( and they were $20 a piece, which I didn't think was too bad for their size. I love what they add to the room!

    Lori - YES! After getting rid of SO much stuff, my kids LOVE to play in here, and it makes cleaning a breeze!

    Thank you, thank you, ladies, and Jen for featuring it! :)

  17. What a wonderful transformation! I love it! I also have an eight year old girl named Ainsley! I bet she would love a poster sized photo of herself in our playroom - thanks for the inspiration.

  18. love this room! beautiful. did her hubby write a note on the bottom of the tables? It looks like it but is hard to tell. If so, I LOVE that! What a special piece of furniture--like an heirloom-- for the kids.

  19. Love the new playroom. Two tables is ideal if you can manage it!

    Thanks too for your guest post today on my blog. Loving those labels!!! You are the best.


  20. I love how they made up their playroom. Just looking at the things they changed gave me some good ideas on what I can change in our playroom. I love the two table idea, I have two kids and this would work great for us. I do not have a handy husband who loves to build stuff but might be able to find something cheap. Kuddos to them I love it

  21. Dana - thank you, and how fun! :) It's so neat to see what a small world it is when you can connect to so many via blogs! :)

    Anonymous - My husband always signs and dates his work (he's made lots of things for our kids over the years!) and then I thought it would be fun to add a little note to each of them. We thought it would be cool when they are older. Thanks! :)

  22. I love the poster-sized pictures of the kids. It just makes the room so much more interesting. LOVE it!

  23. That is an absolutely amazing make over! I still have no idea where our playroom will end up when we have kids, so I'm working to make sure everything is as verstile as possible. This gives me great ideas!

  24. Thanks for sharing this. I adore a real-life makeover.

  25. Oh my word! I just LOOOOOVVVEEE it and now I have serious playroom envy!! Hahaha. I'm in love with the poster sized pics of the kiddos and the fact that they have their own little shelves! Such a great space now!! Thanks for sharing! xoxo

  26. It looks great, now I need you to come over to MY house!!

  27. Fonts Fonts Fonts. I see that you have changed your I heart organizing fonts. Which ones did you use.


  28. Super Job! I love it. Makes me really want to tackle my Lilibug's room.

  29. What a great makeover! I love the personalised touches, and now it looks so cozy and inviting. Great job!

  30. Wow! Awesome make-over! I would love a playroom! It's a must in our next house. Until then I am gathering ideas and I've gotten several from this post!

  31. Whoa! It's very impressive! But I think the kids will mess it up in no time at all. We should teach them to tidy up after themselves.

  32. Amazing! I love the oversized pictures,I also love the Calico Critters for anyone who doesn't know what they are,Calico Critters are a collection of animal families that are adorable they have furniture sets,houses,stores,and fun stuff !!!!

  33. I LOVE it! Looks great:) It is much easier for kids to be creative if its uncluttered. I absolutely love the tables your husband built. Lucky you! I'm sure they were less expensive than the 1 i bought for our girls. Last yr, I was able to organize our girls playroom, label the baskets the whole nine if our 3yr old would just put things where they go:) * one thing we have been lacking are pictures in the playroom, I may do what u did with the kids photo's. Precious! Thanks for sharing.

  34. I breathed a huge sigh of satisfaction when I saw how lovely the room was after the transformation. Amazing!

  35. How beautiful- we actually just eliminated our playroom because it looked too much like a tornado every time I walked by!! Love the tables your DH made.. and love the poster size prints- it does not even look like the same room!

  36. Good job and what a drastic before and after! Love those tables too.

  37. Beautiful room! Congrats on conquering it. I'm so jealous, it seems like every time I look at an organizing blog everyone has HUGE rooms and MANY rooms to work with. I live in S. FL. a 2/2 1k sq. ft. is considered large (and expensive!).

  38. Teary eyed at Starbucks as I read this! What a great makeover. So glad to see a family affair in making such a great functional pretty place. The children are seeing and being thought many great lessons. Mom and dad working together, the love of their dad in his woodworking skill. The ease of life when things are organized and functional. The pride of their art. Ownership of a space to care for. Much blessing to this family.

  39. Wow! This fantastic! Thanks so much for sharing. I wish, wish, wish we had a closet like that in our play room. What a great way to hide everything. :)

  40. LOVE this!! what a special place for the children to PLAY and grow. I love the personzalized photos and the awesome tables they made. Great job!!

  41. Wow an amazing job! I always had an obsession for playrooms!

  42. Awesome! For legos, I had a train table that had a solid green surface... but since te sides are raised, it is PERFECT for lego building/containing! The trains have long been gone, but the train table lives on for lego creating! :)

  43. Could you please tell me the paint color?? I can never pic our a good color.

  44. Wow, this is really beautiful and amazing! We are moving soon, so I am gathering up thoughts and ideas for a new playroom (which is a MUST on our wishlist!). This gives me many ideas that I love! Thanks so much for sharing! I adore this blog!

  45. Please help! I would LOVE to know the measurements of the tables! My hubby does woodworking, too and he's planning on building them. I LOVE that they are not too big, not too small. We have a 10 month old and I want the tables used for legos and polly pockets out of her reach! Also, where did you get the adorable chairs?! Thank you thank you! You are an inspiration!

    1. Hi Jamy!

      This was actually a reader space, so you may have better luck with your questions by checking out her personal blog:


  46. I'm sure that your kids are happy to see this place. I really love the output of your project.

  47. That was an awesome makeover! You can add some colors on the wall also to make the place more attractive.

  48. Seeing this before and after seriously just made me a little teary. I'm not sure if I'm just feeling extra emotional or if maybe it was the children's photos and artwork but this makeover was really beautiful. The personal touches are what really make it warm and inviting. I'm very impressed! Now if I could get my hubby to break out some tools and build me some shelves I could get to organizing too!

  49. Very Awesome I love very much! Well done!


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