Container Store organization expert answers your 6 playroom clean-up questions
The first part of spring cleaning often involves organizing – and where there are kids, there is usually organizing to be done! We asked organization expert and product buyer, Julie East, from The Container Store for some tips for organizing one of the most kid-friendly rooms in the home – the playroom!
1. Organizing a playroom can be an overwhelming endeavor. What do you suggest as a first step?
It may sound strange, but I recommend not having your children there with you. We know as parents what our kids end up playing with and what they don’t. When they’re not right there, sometimes it’s easier to discard the things they don’t really need. You can focus on categorizing things, which not only helps with organizing, but makes it easier for kids to get to and play with their toys.
Use the space you have. It helps to remember that kids aren’t in this period for very long. Everything doesn’t have to all be put away all the time. If they see their toys, they’ll play with them more.
2. What are some of your favorite organizing systems or solutions?
Labels – either pictures or words, depending on age – help kids compartmentalize and understand where the toys or other items go back. Crafting is in one category, puzzles and games in another, etc.
Pick a storage system that works for your family and space. Some people like to use bins. If you have a specific footprint of space, you could consider a stackable bin or drawer system. You can color-code your bins based on what you’re putting in them to make it easy for your kids to keep organized, or select colors based on your décor. No matter which route you take, I recommend using easy, accessible products that are made of durable plastic to stand the test of time.
I know kids often like to show off their artwork or Lego masterpieces, which is understandable when they’ve worked so hard! One system that may work is having a space on top of the drawers to display recent projects. When that space becomes full, it’s time to choose a few favorites and put the others away.
3. What do you consider some “must-haves” for a limited space or budget?
There are options for plastic bins with handles in varying sizes that start at very reasonable price points ($2.99-$5.99). You can write on them with chalk marker and then easily wipe it off and re-label if needed. This is an inexpensive way to dip your toe into organization.
4. Do you have any secrets for things that can be used in unique ways?
When it comes to keeping contents organized within the bins, I love zipper pouches. Put Lego sets with their instructional guides, or puzzles with a picture of the finished product, in individually labeled pouches to keep them organized. This will allow you to get rid of the boxes that can take up a lot of space. You can also use different pouches for specific types of toys, such as dolls, action figures, wildlife animals, etc.
At my house, we’ve been using a three-tier multipurpose cart for virtual schooling supplies. It keeps things organized and can easily be wheeled from room to room. You could customize the cart for whatever is needed in your home.
Desktop systems, such as collators and sorters, can also be helpful for organizing artwork and schoolwork. Over-the-door shoe organizers are another space-saving way to keep things organized.
5. What are some tips to make sure kids stay safe in the playroom?
I like to make sure kids can get to their toys, but this can pose a risk when there are kids of differing ages in the home. If little ones are around, I recommend using plastic boxes with lids that clip shut for small toys, paints, etc. Remind bigger kids that the lids need to be securely clipped and the boxes stored on high shelves when not in use.
Anytime you buy a shelving unit or other heavy furniture, make sure to also get the materials needed to tether it to the wall. Kids can climb or pull things over in a matter of seconds if they’re not properly secured.
6. Do you have any tips to help the playroom transition with kids as they age?
That’s what I love about chalk markers. You can change the labels on bins and reorganize as many times as you’d like.
Consider adjustable shelving, which provides flexibility to move around and accommodate what the kids are into at that moment – big or small. It can then transition into a closet, bathroom, workstation or bedroom as the kids grow.
Purchase higher quality items if you’re planning to keep them for a while (and if your budget allows). It may end up saving you money in the long run over buying less expensive items that won’t provide flexibility. Think about where else items can live in your home and what other life you can give them a few years down the road to get the most bang for your buck.
If playroom organization is on your to-do list, take a look at The Container Store for supplies you may need. The Richmond store is donating a portion of its in-store and curbside pickup proceeds to CHoR through April 18, 2021.
Use code TCSCHOR at the Richmond store and they’ll donate 10 percent to CHoR through April 18.
Code valid through 4/18 in the Richmond store only.
10% of a customer’s total sale will be donated back to CHoR each time this code is used.
Valid for in-store and curbside pick-up purchases.