Sunday, 17 January 2016

Creating a Play Area For A Toddler


Number Three is a full blown toddler now. There is no denying it. He has been walking for six months and he is getting more and more independent with playing. 

When we got back from our post-Christmas holiday in Ireland, I realised it was time to re-arrange our play area so that he could have his own space. 

Up till now, what would normally be the dining room end of our long, narrow livingroom has been the boys' playroom. The floor was always littered with Lego, Playmobil and toy cars. With Number Three wandering round looking for something to play with, we couldn't go on with this situation.


Refreshed after the 12 day break from home, I got stuck into the playroom re-organisation last week and I am so pleased with the results. One week in, I can tell you that it is much easier to manage and to keep tidy. 

Basically, what I have done is fence the older boys in (I'll elaborate in a moment) and set up a toddler-friendly area separate from the big boys' realm.  

We have a fantastic room-divider that is like a massive stair gate. It is one of the best things I have bought since having Number Three (you can see the edge of it on the far left of the photo above). I've used it to cordon off half of the play area. The bookshelf and all teh toys with small pieces have been put in there. Number One and Number Two can go in and out of it as they please by opening the toddler-proof gate. Number Three can't get in, unless the gate is left open.  

But back to the toddler area itself. Back in 2010 I picked up a gorgeous red vintage bench, chair and matching red and white table at a flea market for the bargain price of €30. It was money wel spent, I can tell you. Number One and Number Two got a lot of use out of it and it has very few marks to show for it. This set has become the basis of Number Three's section of the playroom. 



Both the table and the bench have storage space built in, which makes tidying up really easy. The drawer of the table is shallow but wide and is the perfect place to keep crayons, pencils, paper and colouringbooks. 


The seat of the bench lefts up to reveal a surprisingly deep toy box. At the moment we have all the soft toys in there as well as some books. The older pair have grown out of the Punch and Judy puppets but Number Three collapses into fits of laughter as soon as I do a little bit of improv for him. 


When I was expecting Number Two in the very hot summer of 2010, I hand-sewed the navy gingham cushion for the bench. The car cushion covers were present for the boys a few years ago. If I remeber rightly, they are from the German chain Butlers. 



Of course, no room is my house is complete withouta salvaged chair and this playroom is no exception. The metal chair with the woven red seat is one of three I salvaged from our local kindergarten. They would otherwise have been dumped. I love the, literally, old school look of them and the chipped paint. Luckily there is no rust on them and the pain doesn't flake off, so there is no danger to Number Three.



The walls were already decorated with a large map of Germany and our Little Linguists' alphabet chart. The new furniture arrangement is low enough as not to block them out. All three children can access them.


There are, of course, too many toys to accommodate them all within the bench. This red basket holds all the bulky cars, trucks and Lego Duplo pieces. It is made of rubber rather than hard plastic, so it won't crack or break as it takes abuse from a boisterous toddler. 

I bought it in Aldi a year or two ago, attracted by the cute cloud-cutout pattern. Since them it has had various roles around the house - first as a toybox for Number Two them a basket for throws and blankets beside the sofa. I think it fits into its new home here in the play area very nicely. 


Overall I am really pleased with how the new arrangement has worked out. So far Number Three has spent a lot of time pottering about, discovering his toys and climbing on his new-to-him furniture. 

The way I've set things up, I can keep an eye on him from my desk, the sofa or while I iron. He can't get to the big boy toys and is happy with what he does have access to. So, so far, we are on to a winner. 


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20 comments:

  1. Now that is a pretty cool spot! Nicely done.
    My friends had one of those long dividers for their toddling twins - fondly called 'The Kesh' in honour of Long Kesh. There were few escapees!

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    1. Thanks Helen. Ha ha, coool nickname.

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  2. Awww that looks like a very creative space for him! I'm a toddler too and only have a little table to play at! I take up all the space in living room! Lol ;) #BloggerClubUK

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    1. Oh dear Baby Isabella, you'll have to throw a big tantrum and get your mummy to upgrade your play area. Maybe keeping your stuff our of the living room would help your argument :)

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  3. LOVE LOVE LOVE - I am hugely jealous of those pieces, they are vintage at its best. I love this little area, my son and daughter would be right at home xx

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    1. Thank you! I am really pleased with how it came together and, best of all, it is a dream to keep tidy (I am not a tidying kind of person usually).

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  4. It looks great, and such a fab idea to have a little toddler free zone for the older boys too. We got a playpen for our toddler but misjudged the size - it took up so much floor space there was no room left! :) #HomeEtc

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    1. Playpens are a great idea. We had one and it worked well with the older two boys. But now the boys use somuch space for their Lego that the playpen was just in the way. Also, Number Three wasn't happy in there when he could see the other two playing on the floor. He wanted to be in on the action!

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  5. I love the cushions, they are so cute. This looks like a fabulous space for number three. You brought back some memories here for me, I have an 8 year difference between my girls so the the eldest was into anything with tiny parts when the baby was toddling, at times it was a nightmare keeping her safe, I wish I had thought of this. A geniusidea that looks fab xx

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    1. Thanks Lisa. I hadn't realised you had such a gap between the girls. It is tricky to balance, isn't it?

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  6. I love that salvaged chair - I was hoping to spot something that you'd rescued! And the storage bench is a good idea, hope he enjoys it #homeetc

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    1. Thanks Stephanie - yes, you know me and my addictions, chairs and salvaging. A room just ain't complete without someone else's junk :)

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  7. Aaah I love the vintage furniture!! What a fantastic find!! All for €30? Amazing! I WISH we had a dedicated playroom for the boys. I'd dearly love to be able to close the door on it some days — especially after stepping on LEGO a couple of times a day!! ;) Fab post lovely! And happy birthday again :) #HomeEtc

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    1. Thanks Caro. I fell in love with the furniture immediately and COULD NOT believe it when the man selling it only wanted €30 for it. I would have paid a lot more if he'd asked.
      Ouch! Stepping on Lego is so painful, isn't it?

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  8. You got such a deal. I love how the bench has storage built in. It's essential to have a space for the toys & kids of their own. Those play room clean outs make such a huge difference too! Thanks so much for linking up with our first #BloggerClubUK, we really appreciate your support & hope you will be back again this week x

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    1. Yes, it was a great bargain Becky. I am so pleased that it hasted so well.
      Good luck with #BloggerClubUK!

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  9. What a fab area and it all looks so inviting! My twins love their playroom and they love all the storage and seating they have! Great job :) Thanks for linking up! Jess xx

    #HomeEtc

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    1. Thank you Jess. It has worked out really well. Your playroom looks great too.

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  10. What a beautiful set up, and what a bargain. Isn't it great when you find a set up that works and looks good - glad you can get stuff done too! Red is my favourite colour, we have a red bench in the kitchen I painted, which my kids sit on - has to be one of my favourite things in the house. Thanks for sharing your #happyandhome x

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    1. Thank you Penny. I love red too. Such a bright, happy colour.

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