This is my third post in the Rethinking Home series. You can find the other posts here.
I’ve mentioned it before on this blog, but I love the idea of having attractive and creative toy storage in the main living areas, especially for a stay at home mom who is primarily home playing with kids during the day.
(This is from a client’s living room, see the rest of the room here)
But as my kids get older and two of them are in school all day, I’m realizing this idea still remains true for me. I want to be intentional about the hours we spend together so I still want there to be a space for their games, books, and activities in our main living areas. I don’t want my kids to immediately retreat upstairs after being gone at school all day to the distant playroom for video games or all their toys & books. Does this mean I have to sacrifice my living room and turn it into an all kid hang out space? Not at all.
When you have preschoolers, does this mean it has to look like a daycare all the time or like a toy store blew up? I don’t think so. With a reasonable amount of creative storage, and rethinking the idea of your home as a place for your entire family (its your kids’ home too!) I feel like you can achieve a look you enjoy and make an intentional space for everyone.
(Metal baskets under the coffee table in this living room are great storage for books and puzzles.)
So here are a few ideas I’ve come up with for rethinking the idea of toy storage in your home.
- Purge: If your family is like mine you probably have too many toys. Get rid of some- they probably won’t even notice. Even after you do that, not every toy your child owns has to be in the living room. Be selective. Rotate things out. As stuff makes its way downstairs, every once in a while I go through the baskets and do a big sweep and have them take their things back to their rooms and the playroom, leaving only a few favorites downstairs.
- Bring in attractive storage: Use baskets, decorative bins, bookshelves, even ottomans. We even keep a canvas bin on our stairs for things that need to go back to the designated kid spaces.
- Corral the small stuff: We have a tray in our foyer and a tray on our coffee table. When I step on a tiny lego during the day I can throw it on the tray and my son can take it upstairs before bedtime. When my husband comes home from work, he can drop his keys, wallet, loose change, etc in the foyer tray. Any time small things like that are corralled into a defined space they look and feel less junky and more like they are part of a system.
- See the toys & books as part of your decor, not something that competes with it: Decorate with what you love and decorate for your family. When you use bright color and pattern and don’t worry about sticking to a specific color “scheme” or “theme” the toys and books are better able to blend right in. They are just a part of life and make a home feel lived in and natural- less like a show home or model home and more like a place you (and your family) really want to be!
Like I shared earlier this week, our living room bookshelves house books for everyone and the bottom few shelves store games and toys as well. In the spirit of full disclosure though (you know I like to show the real deal), it is not always pretty back there.
But I can tell you everything does have a place either here or upstairs and when it starts to get like this, I know its probably time to purge and/or bring some things back up.
Lauren Liess (one of my favorite designers & bloggers), talks a little about this idea in her new book Habitat. (By the way, the book is amazing and beautiful, I highly recommend it!!!) She says family rooms “should be stylish, comfortable and able to stand up to wear and abuse. They should not only look good, but also be simple to maintain with easy to care for materials and plenty of storage to corral all the items that make their way into the space.” She goes on to say that in her house they have what they call the five-minute rule, meaning that “I’ve made sure to include enough storage in each room that anyone can clean up a mess in five minutes or less.”
All of this I love. Five minutes or less? So doable.
Our family rooms are meant to serve us, not the other way around.
Are you a slave to your family room? Do you feel like you’re constantly telling everyone to “get that stuff out of here?” Or clean up their mess? Maybe there is a way to rethink how that mess is cleaned up or how the storage is approached. Perhaps the decor scheme, while a lovely and serene one, is only inclusive of one person’s tastes and collectibles. If it is a family room, should it not reflect an atmosphere conducive to family time? I feel like this can be achieved simply by adding in a little bit of color and pattern- maybe with throw pillows, a few books around the room, etc. Also choosing durable fabrics and materials makes it family-welcome as well!
Just some thoughts to ponder here. I’d love to hear what you think! Let me know in the comments or if you have a picture of how you are rethinking home, share it with me on instagram! Tag me (@thehouseoffigs) and add #rethinkinghome to your picture so I can see it. Thank you so much for reading!