Play Room

I know, I know. I’m writing about something boring like playroom organization in the middle of baby excitement. But I wrote this ahead of time and I promise I won’t be skipping over any details of our newest arrival! Which brings me to the playroom. We absolutely love this space our housing deems the “formal dining” area that we’ve never used in any such way. I’ve been pretty intentional about being a toy minimalist. For birthday parties, we request either no gifts or books which helps this cause a lot. I very, very rarely buy any toys for the kids. Like you can about count on one hand these occasions. But there are always a few overly generous friends and grandparents who spoil our kids silly for holidays and birthdays. One friend in particular, Lindsay, has taken it upon herself to initiate a competition to see who can buy the most annoyingly big toy for the others kid. We’ve competed valiantly with a bicycle and an art easel, but she still has us beat with the indoor trampoline that is thankfully tucked in Mitchell’s room and has been a house favorite for nearly two years. Despite my toy minimalist efforts, some days still feel like we have toys coming out of our ears. This room houses about 80% of the toys, the remaining being up in Mitchell’s room. 

This room is the very first room you walk into in our house. While I would love to welcome guests with a perfectly decorated pretty space for us, it would truly waste this much-needed space. We need a playroom, so that’s what you get. And with three kids in the house now, it would literally be impossible to hide the fact that we are now outnumbered by little humans and their exponentially multiplying stuff. And since little humans are by nature deceivingly messy, there’s not much in this room that can’t be easily cleaned or is of great value and/or sentimental value.


We’ll start with the entertainment and storage wall. We initially had our “spare” television mounted on the wall in here, but after a solid eight year run, it stopped working last fall. Since it wasn’t quite as flat of a flat screen as I would have liked and televisions are relatively inexpensive these days, I used it as an excuse to scoop up a not-so-fat television with built-in Netflix, since that’s all it’s used for anyway. We put Netflix Kids on in the playroom pretty frequently at night while we’re cooking dinner or winding down for bed, and I don’t feel bad about it because (1) sanity and (2) they are screen-free everyday from wake up until dinner time. I made it a priority to get that thing hung up on the wall ASAP, because I was picturing it coming crashing down on the playroom floor. The frames on the wall need updating, but perhaps I’ll make that an afternoon project while I’m stay-at-home-moming for a few months. This IKEA shelf and Walmart bins are the perfect storage solution for our larger toys or “random” toys. Keep reading to see my storage solution for our smaller toy sets. 

Two years ago for Christmas, in an effort to stay on the toy-less track, we gave Mitchell a little multi-purpose table that has paid for itself 1,000 times over in use. The kids eat their breakfast and lunches together at the table. They play at the table. They do art at the table. We use the chairs for pictures and handwashing in the bathroom and helping at the kitchen counter and all sorts of other things. It sits by the window and they each have their “spot.” 

Mitchell’s chair sits in the corner. Julia has one too, but it is so darn cute in her room that we keep it up there most of the time. 

The couches in the playroom are nothing special. They were our very first couches when we were married. We upgraded to a sectional about four years later, but they were our “starters” and have held up surprisingly well since they have survived two military moves and being repurposed for the playroom for over two years now. 

I filled up the wall space behind the couch with a $5 laminated Hobby Lobby map and an $8 DIY wooden frame. And we’re starting to work on letter recognition so I hung these flashcards we had laying around a few weeks ago. 

In an effort to contain the playroom madness, I was able to rearrange the couches to close off the room as much as possible. We couldn’t do this in our last house, but with the move, we gained a few extra square feet in this room, which made it possible. With a runner in the entryway, hooks for coats and bags, the coat closet, and my unfinished farmhouse sign up above (I’m mid-project!), I’ve tried to make this entry space feel truly separate from the playroom. Usually guests come through this way, usher their kids into the playroom to play, and hang their coats! I just love the initial hooks my mother-in-law found for me. They hang right by the doorway and it’s where we hang the kids backpacks everyday when they come home from school!

Annnd the open closet picture is full disclosure. Ha! After reading a blog post on toy organization from one of my favorite bloggers at Whimsical September, and the arrival of a bunch of new toys at Christmas, I took a mommy-only trip to the PX here on base and stocked up on tubs. I was finding that the bins in the playroom were getting a whole lot of toy sets jumbled up, and since they were any and everywhere, the kids were never playing with them! So Mitchell and I spent an afternoon sorting his smaller toy sets into tubs. The bins are now reserved for larger toys (tractors, hockey sticks, stuffed animals, etc.), and the smaller toy sets are in the closet. The rule is that they can only pick one set at a time – and they must clean it up before the next one is allowed down. Just as I suspected, these toys are getting a whole lot more use, and my house is a whole lot cleaner. Double win! And we have a lot of shoes, I know. 

So there you have it, the Martin family playroom. The kids love it, and it also seems to be a favorite napping spot for grandpas when they visit. Maybe someday I’ll have a pretty entry room, but looks like we’ll be getting use out of this setup for lots of years to come!

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