Hello friends, and Happy New Year! I thought to start the year by sharing with you some of the things from our boys’ play room (our former home office). We all want our kids room being beautiful and Pinterest and Instagram have endless feeds with inspiration. But when I searched for the room decor and organization ideas I came to notice that a lot of those pretty rooms didn’t seem to be designed truly for children, but instead designed by adults for other adults to admire :). For example, the storage is often such that children simply can’t reach many areas on their own, the wall art is abstract, the objects like maps, Earth globes and clocks are too high to be seen well should children feel curious. And then lots and lots of purely decorative little things all over the walls to give mamas extra cleaning to do.
In arranging the boys play room we wanted to make sure that it was most importantly designed for them. That it was organized in a way where they could easily reach what they needed and easily put things in order afterwards. And lastly so that it’d be fairly easy for me to dust, mop, etc. It took few trials to find the furniture and storage we felt worked really well for us, but I think it finally came together really lovely. It is airy, cozy and beautiful. It has lots of storage as well as plenty of play space, reading area and beautiful educational art and objects.
Functional kids room design ideas
Before I share the photos I wanted to quickly list all of the criteria for what makes a child room design good for children in my opinion:
- Lots of storage that children can easily reach
- Storage makes logical sense so children can easily figure it out. For example, small bins just for blocks, a bin for train tracks, or a special shelf for large trucks.
- As much of the storage as possible is off the floor to keep the floor space open for play (and easy to vacuum/mop)
- The storage containers that are on the floor made to be mobile, so children could easily move it around should they need to (and again makes vacuuming/moping faster 🙂 )
- Things like posters, calendars, maps, art and so on are at children’s level for them to easily see it and study it whenever they feel like it
- The wall art is beautiful and realistic, rather than abstract
- As much natural materials as possible, as opposed to plastics. I think it is more pleasant, it feels cozy and calming.
- In addition to plentiful open space area for play there should be a space for them to monkey around and a place to read or look through a book
So, here we go. Our room. 🙂
Our monkey wall (as we call it) is a very basic one and I wish we had something like this instead, but such equipment seems to be impossible to find here in America and freight cost from Russia is rather pricey on a large set. But as basic as our set is it gives our boys a space to challenge themselves physically, learn some new skills and still has room for further exploration of new possibilities. Check out the video at the end of this post to see of just how much a child can enjoy a simple monkey wall such as this.
I highly recommend having something like this for children of all ages. It works even for the smallest children as this set comes with a separate ladder piece (not pictured) that could be mounted on the main ladder to prevent a small child from climbing too high on their own. It gives room to climb and hang off the bars and you can attach rings to it for them to experiment with as well. I put together a separate post about our climbing indoor monkey wall with more details about it and where you can purchase it if you are interested.
When it comes to toys and little boys you end up with a lot of cars, trains and LEGOs. We try to keep their toys not excessive in quantity, but over the time we still built up quite a collection of little cars, some beautiful large wooden FAGUS tracks and a lot of LEGO DUPLO sets (which I think are a great toy btw). So here is how I solved storing all those treasures 🙂 , it has been working so wonderfully for us. And it is just as suitable for any types of toys — boy’s, girl’s or baby’s.
1. Doll house as car garage
The FLISAT doll house from IKEA turned out to be a great storage for small cars. We also have a set of some cardboard garages that together with the dollhouse provided lots of space to store the little cars. There are probably many ways to decorate the doll house to make it look like a fire station or a garage. Or you can use it to store baby’s first toys, or little books, not to mention all the ideas for it as an actual doll house. It’s definitely a versatile storage. Here are some ideas from Pinterest on what could be done with this doll house. One thing I would definitely recommend is covering with some natural varnish like oil, to help protect it from stains, pencil marks, etc.
2. Wooden carts with wheels to store LEGOs, blocks, etc.
Another great storage that also came from IKEA are these little wooden carts. They are very inexpensive. They are called Knagglig and come in two sizes. We chose the small one as the bigger one has gaps through which little toy parts will end up falling or sticking out. Plus I also wanted type of storage where we could have separate storage for different types of things, so that it’d be easier for boys to find what they need and then put it away in the right places on their own. These carts are great size and they are stackable.
I added wheels to half of the carts. Now, when we are cleaning the room it is very easy to get the carts out of the way, it is also easy for the boys to pull a cart or a stack of them to wherever they are playing.
3. Wall shelves for large cars, puzzle boxes, books, etc.
The wall shelves work great to store our large Fagus tracks off the floor, yet easily reachable for the boys. We also have some toy carwash station and fire station which also fit well on the shelves. And of course it is a great place to store all sorts of boxes with puzzles, block sets, etc.
We are very happy with these airy and minimalistic bamboo wall shelves from IKEA. They are called SVALNÄS. They are made of bamboo with white metal brackets and gold hardware. They are adjustable which I think is very valuable with kids furniture. You can choose shelves in two widths and two depths. You can even get a little desk-like shelf with a little draw to put things away, as well as a little tray shelf and a cabinet shelf.
And I think they are budget friendly, as you can start with a very minimal configuration and then keep adding to it. Just remember to plan your wall space accordingly if you plan to add to it later. 😉
We mounted ours as low as possible, just to clear the space for our toy storage carts. This way even Eleon who was just a little bit over 1 year old when we got these could easily reach anything on the first shelf. Now he easily reaches second shelf also.
Note on installation
I noticed they have low reviews on IKEA website for difficulties with installation. So I wanted to share that we didn’t have any issues with installation or since then. I installed them on my own. It does take time as the process requires accurate measuring and I made a couple mistakes. But overall there is nothing difficult or impossible about it.
You get some of the hardware, but not wall anchors. When picking anchors at a hardware store choose the heavy duty anchors.
The width of the shelves does not match the spacing between the wall studs (the reason for some angry reviews on IKEA website). I think it is an unfair criticism since IKEA is a European store that makes furniture used throughout the world. But keeping that in mind for best security plan your wall shelves so that the vertical beam holding the shelves that will carry most weight (the middle one in our set up on the photo) is mounted into a stud. And use anchors for securing the other vertical beams.
All and all, we really love these shelves. We’ve had them for about 4 months or so and they’ve been great at giving us lots of flexible storage.
It’s probably no surprise to you to see the famed IKEA spice racks in my section on book storage. 🙂 When I first saw this idea on Pinterest I was skeptical — how many books can one store this way before you run out of wall space? But storing books the usual way (on a shelf or in a book case) makes it harder to see all the books you have and some books tend to get forgotten. So we have both the spice rack book storage and usual shelves to store our books. The “spice rack book shelves” usually store the most commonly read books, or the books that have not been read in a while that I would like to bring back to boys’ interest. We also have a few of these spice rack book shelves in Ale’s bedroom where we keep the books we choose our bedtime stories from.
I think the IKEA spice rack book shelf is a good option when you are just starting to build your child’s library as they keep all the books easily visible and reached. IKEA also has a similar looking kids book shelf which is wider and deeper, but it didn’t work as well for our space.
The rest of our library sits on the wall shelves at the level where boys can easily reach them.
For decor I like to use a combination of some beautiful artwork, beautiful educational materials or tools (clock, calendar, etc.) and plants. Here are the things we have in this room:
Large wooden clock
Elsa Beskow wall calendar
Last year we had a very beautiful Elsa Beskow calendar (she is an author of exceptionally beautiful children’s books like these). Here is a link to the Elsa Beskow 2019 calendar, but to be honest I wasn’t into the picture selection for this year’s calendar that much. So we got a calendar from Forest Design instead (we also have 2 custom paintings on a birch slices from this artist, so beautiful!).
Beautiful educational posters
Birds of Pray poster (this website offers other beautiful educational posters as well)
A small map (we also have a very large map, but it is in a different room as we run out of wall space here 🙂 )
Very large DIY alphabet chart
I like these cute little name trains. Both Alexandros and Eleon got their full name in train letters as a birth gift from their auntie.
Nature and nature-inspired objects
I think Ostheimer animal figures are great both as toys and decor at the same time. We have them displayed next to some DIY paper trees
Different pine cones, pretty rocks, shells, etc. In fall we also had DIY autumn leaf garlands on the windows
Lots of live plants!
If you feel you don’t have a green thumb consider starting with ZZ plant and Snake plant. They are very low maintenance and you will not need to worry about killing them. They can take a lot of neglect and be ok even in dim corners. And if you wish to expand you indoor jungle look into propagating your existing plants. Often it is rather easily done by cutting off a piece of branch and rooting it (see this post) or dividing of the root ball (for some plants only, for example Asparagus Fern).
I also recently got these great wall planters that I’m very excited to put up, as they allow to add plants easily on a wall.
Right now our monkey wall mat is serving us as the reading and/or resting spot. But this is something I’m planning on to improve upon. I’m thinking to order a large organic futon mattress of sort and get some good pillows to make a little reading corner on the floor by the monkey wall.
In this room we also have two large cardboard houses in which the boys love to hide and play from time to time. As far as a table and chairs — whatever the boys like to do at a table they always do at our kitchen dining table.
We also have 2 baskets — a large rattan basket for all the stuffed animals we somehow accumulated (I only ever bought 2 of those for the boys) and a small one to keep random little things in. The latter is an equivalent of a junk drawer and it always accumulates odd and random bits and pieces that need to be thrown away from time to time. But I think it has its uses, though good to keep it small so it doesn’t get out of hand 🙂 .
This was NOT a sponsored post 🙂
Looking back, I see that this post may seem like a sponsored post for IKEA as a lot of this room is furnished from there. I assure you it is not a sponsored post. I just found IKEA to offer many things that are inexpensive, flexible in terms of design and configuration, budget-friendly, made out of natural materials and to serve our needs.
So, I hope tis was helpful. And don’t forget to check the post on our Monkey Wall!