Home Tour - A Play Area for the Kids

When we bought our house four years ago, there was one area in our downstairs living space that I wasn't quite sure what to do with. It was a small alcove that served as a small storage area for quite a while. We'd wrap our couch around in front of it and hide blankets or games behind it. It housed our fish tank until last year and for about six months, it housed our office furniture and computer while we dealt with our flooded basement. Then one day Joe moved our couch into a layout that I'd never loved, and it hit me that the alcove would be the perfect little playroom for our kids.

Kids Play Area in a Small Space

play area for kids in a small home

In an ideal world, all of the toys would stay confined to this area of the house, but despite my best efforts, they still end up scattered throughout the entire room, to every end of the house and even outside. And in the future I want to get a smaller couch that would leave even more space for the kids to play behind it. I think that I also want to get another storage cube and move more of the kids' toys down to this area. You can see the before picture of this space in this home tour post of the entire family room.

playroom storage

My first vision for this space were these shelves and bins. I wanted toy and book storage space that would look clean and match the style of the rest of these house. I found these bins {partner link} in colors that matched the rest of our house and picked up this organizer shelf {partner link} to store them in.

I store our toys by type and the kids know which bins hold which toys, even though they aren't labeled. I've been surprised that for the most part, the kids will put the toys back in their appropriate bins, or at the very least put similar toys in similar bins. The baskets that are sit on top of the shelves are some that we already had, and I keep the toys and games in them that require supervision or permission to play. Things like bubbles and playdoh or games with lots of little pieces. The bins in the top row of the shelf hold the coloring and art supplies and the 106 pieces of play food that we rotate through on a regular basis. The kids can still get to those top shelf bins if they're determined, but rarely do so it avoids too many big, out of control messes.

playroom in a small home

We added the kitchen for Christmas, the trampoline was a gift from my sister and her boyfriend, and the bench was given to us by my parent's neighbor when she was cleaning out her basement. Each toy in the play area gets used, and when I start to notice that things aren't as much of a favorite anymore, when they're being dumped out, but never played with, I rotate them with other toys that I have downstairs in bins. It's surprisingly hard to decide what toys the kids are ready to part with for a season because toddlers become very attached to their things. If they ask for a toy or a book within a week or two after I've put it away, I will go downstairs and pull it back out. It's not a perfect process, and Joe would tell you that we have way too many toys with a million pieces (particularly the play food), but it's a system that I hope to perfect this summer.

play is the highest form of research

This quote was one of the final touches that we added to the play area and for some reason it was the hardest to decide on. I considered a lot of quotes from Peter Pan and almost settled on, "this is where the fun happens", but opted for this quote. For kids, play is work and work is play. I love the way their imaginations run wild and love to see how the pull pieces of my every day routine and our "adulting" into their playtime. After I narrowed my decision down to two, I asked for Joe's opinion and he chose this one as his favorite.

toddler play space

I've had an ongoing love/hate relationship with this alcove in our home, but since turning it into a play space six months ago, I've continually loved it. This is the one place in our house where the kids spend the most time. They'll head up to their rooms in the middle of playing only to come back downstairs with toys in tow to add to the game they were playing. I love hearing their giggles and leaning over the railing from where I'm making a meal, cleaning or working on a project to see them playing and having fun together. 

We may not have the space for a full play room in our home, but having this area in our living space, where we hang out often, is more perfect than a separate room in the house. If you have a small house, look for some space that you can utilize like this, no matter how small. Your kids will love it and you will too!

Photography by Sadie Banks Photography

Create a space for your kids to play no matter how small your house is.