How is everyone doing? What a weird time we are living in right now! I’m definitely taking comfort in the fact that our family is all together, safe, well and we have a happy home environment to be locked down in. However I can’t deny it’s been tough at times. I’m grateful for our home but even a three bedroom house can feel claustrophobic when you can’t get out can’t it? And let’s not forget the whirlwind that is having a toddler stuck indoors all day – I mean, there is no escape from the sea of toys, clothes, books and dolls that are slowly spreading their way around the house.
In times like this, organisation is somewhat of a therapy for me. It’s what keeps me sane, makes me feel ever so slightly in control of the situation and gives me some purpose for the days. So setting some practical tasks to get the house organised or ticking off a few of those niggling jobs while we have the time has felt really satisfying (obviously in between many, many long days where we can’t get anything done because Evie won’t allow our attention to be anywhere other than on her all day). One such task was to try and find a solution for storing Evie’s toys in the living room so that it felt a little more like our living space again at the end of a long day of parenting. Now more than ever with us unable to leave the house, it feels important to be able to distinguish between our time to relax in the evenings from the non stop toddler shenanigans in the day.
How Things looked before… Lots of random spaces filled with boxes and baskets and no real storage.
Anyone with children will attest to the fact there there really is no avoiding the kids stuff taking over your home. Like many first time parents, we thought we’d be different. We told ourselves for those first 6 months or so that we could contain it to just that one basket that easily tidied away. We swore we’d still maintain a stylish home, and choose the items that suited our style rather than being practical for a child. But of course by the time that first birthday hits, you find yourself struggling to remember what your living room looked like without kids products lining every surface, and you wonder if you’ll ever see your rug again. When we moved into our current home when Evie was just over a year, we basically gave up on even attempting to design a living room that worked for us. It’s been Evie’s play space since the word go. And the older she gets, the more stuff she has, and the items only get bigger as we go along. Now as a three year old we have things like toy kitchens, dolls houses, painting easels and bikes to find space for as well as all the toys, books, jigsaws and craft products. Thankfully we did make the decision when first moving in to give her the bigger of the two spare bedrooms and now at the age she’s at, she does play quite a bit in her room, so is happy to have a lot of her bigger toys upstairs. But still the number of jigsaws she owns keeps growing and every time we managed to organise the living room, it just seemed to get out of control again in no time.
After… A stylish solution to house everything in one space
Our house is a perfectly good size for the three of us, but we don’t have a huge downstairs area. We don’t have a seperate playroom or dining space/conservatory that we can utilise for toy storage, so the living room is the only space to accommodate it.. Just before Christmas we had a big clear out, and re-arranged things a bit to make space for a Christmas tree. We felt quite good about the new limited amount of toys we had in the living space and how we’d managed to find a box for them all. But one Christmas and one birthday later and we were back to square one. We knew we needed some simple yet stylish storage in the living room to store all those smaller toys, the books we tend to keep downstairs and just tidy things up and free our floor space a little. We had a bit of dead space between our sofa and the door, not quite an alcove but big enough to house a shelving unit of some sort as long as it wasn’t overly deep so we could still shut the door. We were just stacking up toy boxes and baskets there but it was still looking a little messy.
I was so chuffed when I found the Abbeyville storage solutions from Great Little Trading Company and they were kind enough to gift us this 8 cube unit which was the perfect size for our small space. In our old house we had built in shelving within the two alcoves either side of our fireplace which would work so perfectly in this house too, but until we are in a position to install that ourselves, this unit is ideal. We’re big fans of GLTC over here and most of Evie’s room is kitted out with their products. We already have their book cases, one of the beanbags, bedding and curtains up in Evie’s room so it made sense that this was the brand to use for her area in the living room as well.
The storage unit came for self assembly but we actually found it really quick and simple to put together. I filmed a little video of us putting it together for my IGTV which you can see here! Of course my favourite part was the organising and styling things up once it was all built. We chose a mix of the woven storage baskets in shell pink and rope baskets in ivory/natural to house toys and kept a couple of the cubes free to style up books and more aesthetically pleasing toys (the garish plastic things are nicely hidden away in the baskets). The cubes are surprisingly roomy too so you can fit quite a bit in to each basket. As an example, we have one basket for Lego, one for jigsaws, one for toy cars, one for sticker books/sketchbooks etc, one for games and puzzles and one for all of the figures and little world toys (Peppa figures/PJ masks/Barbie’s etc).
I’m so pleased with how it’s all turned out. It fits in the space perfectly and it has felt SO GOOD to actually have a place for everything at the end of the day as opposed to just shoving it all into a corner and hoping for the best. Evie seems to like it too as she tells me it’s just like school where she can pick out what she wants to play with each day. I am finding she’s playing a bit less with some of her things (maybe because she can’t see them/they aren’t to hand), but then she’s also played with other things which hadn’t been touched for along time so I think I just need to make sure I’m rotating things around and that she knows what’s in every basket. At the moment I’m suggesting things and then getting things out for her but no doubt soon she’ll start pulling things out herself. We still have her bigger items out like her kitchen of course, but even those are getting more play because there’s more room for her to be imaginative.
I feel like this item will really last the distance for us too as we can switch the contents around as she grows and display it in any room of the house. I deliberately chose the natural and white design of the rope baskets as I know they’ll go with any room decor in the future, and who doesn’t love baskets? We’ll get so much use out of those. I picked the pink boxes to tie in with our living room decor and make the piece fit in with our other furniture as we have grey sofas with pink cushions so the tones work together. It also avoids half of the room feeling adult, and half the room feeling toddler.
At least one productive task completed during lock down! If nothing else happens then at least we can relax every evening having put all the toys from the day away in their rightful place and sitting back to admire an organised, functional and stylish space.