Happy New Year! It’s not too late to still say that right? Well, I’ve said it anyway so…
Every new year always marks a time when everyone wants to reset, especially as it relates to our health, homes, and habits… triple H, not the wrestler. LOL. There are lots of ways one can go about resetting our health & habits, however, when it comes to our homes, it always comes down to a few major tenets – cleaning, organizing, renovating, designing… unless you simply plan on moving.
If the past two years taught us anything, it most certainly taught people the value of home.
In an instant, people were clamoring to find ways to make their homes feel, well, more like home… while also contending with the fact that home was also now a place for work, school, fitness, and so many other things as the outside world began to slow down & shift. Personally, home is still – more or less – all of these things for me, so with every new project I completed last year, this was top of mind. This was especially the case with my very last reveal of 2021 – the flex lounge.
If you followed along with me during the Fall 2021 One Room Challenge then you know I finally tackled the space between our media room and launderette – both of which I’d revealed earlier in 2021 – designing this space to be where I could work from home, focus on my fitness, and the mini could homeschool. Of the three zones for this space, the most prominent would be the mini’s schooling & activity area. While she would no longer be homeschooling full time, I still wanted to ensure she would have a designated area for learning, creativity, and play – separate from her bedroom or the media room – in the same way, I wanted to create a space for my work.
Left Art | Right Art | Picture Light | Floating Bookcase | Lidded Storage Box | Two-Toned Basket | Desk | Desk Chair | Clear Letter Tray | Acrylic Monitor Stand Riser | Acrylic Floater Frame | Rolling Cart
Mapping out the space was the easy part – the mini got the only 90º corner in the space. Having two walls to work with meant I could optimize how that corner would be used, leveraging the vertical space for storage solutions for all her many interests, while still having the flexibility to change as she grows & her interests evolve…and, of course, employing parent-friendly solutions throughout the design. P.S. ICYMI… I don’t subscribe to the notion of “kid-friendly” design, so much as I believe in good design techniques that parents can use.
I designed her space from the bottom up:
- What needed to have a footprint on the ground?
- What would be best using vertical solutions?
- What could be hidden away until needed?
Knowing that she loves to create – whether it’s drawing & coloring or building with legos and magnets – I needed areas to accommodate all of her creative pursuits; while also leaving space for downtime activities, like reading.
Wallpaper | Four Tier Magazine Stand | Acrylic Floater Frame | Peg Boards | Wire Drawers | Workstation (Custom) | Wall Mounted Drawers | Lego Head Storage | Floating Picture Ledges (similar) | Girl Art Work | Gold Elephant Hooks | Three Tier Rolling Cart | Bin Clip | Round Table | Chairs (Set of 2) | Large Rug | Alphabet Rug
On The Ground
Two-Piece Trunk Set (similar): This is where we
hide store unsightly and/or infrequently used toys & books. Fortunately for us, the mini doesn’t have a ton of toys that get unruly… we purge pretty often and most of the toys she’s into are usually part of something else that she just continues to build on.
Three Tier Rolling Cart: Being the most mobile storage in this space, this is where most of her academic activities live, with a shelf for workbooks, coloring books, and activity supplies (each labeled). This is what makes the most sense right now but can totes change as often as we need it to.
Four Tier Magazine Stand: One person’s magazine stand is another person’s paper center because that’s exactly how I use it – for printer paper, construction paper, and project/drawing paper. The last tier is where we store her 10” square Lego bases. We move this piece back & forth between our work areas, depending on the day, because it’s so light & easy to just pick up.
Albie Says… having mobile storage solutions allow for more agility when it comes to function as well as design.
Custom Workstation: For the past 5 years we used these wire drawers for her wardrobe storage – great renter-friendly & small space storage solution – but now I wanted to use them for activity storage (i.e. school project folders, wooden design blocks, Osmo creative kits, etc.). I partnered with Formica again (remember my kitchen counters) to create something that would give the drawers a built-in look & feel with the added bonus of another surface for creating.
These “anchors” in the design have come in so handy for both the mini and I.
Like any well-organized space, everything has a home, so whether it’s time for her to tidy up or for her weekly reset, she’s not scrambling to figure out where everything goes and she can clean up after herself pretty autonomously. Even if she doesn’t put everything back as perfectly as I would, she’s more than capable of at least putting them back where they belong… and doing so pretty neatly I might add.
Her main table is just that – a table with 2 chairs – surrounded by flexible, multipurpose design solutions.
While most people will tell you to get items that can serve multiple functions for peak organization, I was perfectly fine with her main table area serving a single function because I knew that everything else would serve her in a myriad of ways, and space would not be wasted.
On The Walls
Pegboard & Accessories: One thing about me is I love me some pegboard solutions, especially in unexpected places. After installing a slew of pegboards in our garage – don’t worry, we’ll be back in the garage this year! – I knew they’d be a perfect vertical space solution to serve as an extension of her workstation. Rather than clutter the surface with all of her materials – scissors, paints, pencils, etc – they could be within her reach on the wall, and out of her way when not in use.
Albie Says… pegboards are easily customizable by adding more pegboards, like a gallery, and expanding your attachments.
Wall Mounted Drawers: Nearly 2 years ago when I purchased this drawer storage, I didn’t mount it to the wall & living with it on a surface affirmed for me how valuable wall mounted storage truly is. It holds the mini’s ever-growing Lego collection without being in the way – it’s deep enough that the top can be a small Lego work area, yet shallow enough that it doesn’t compete with the workstation. Plus like her pegboards, we can continue to build up, adding on more drawer storage.
Floating Picture Ledges (similar): By now you’ve likely surmised that I don’t always use things in the way that they’re explicitly intended. I knew these picture frame ledges would be the perfect foundation for what would be a focal point in this area – a library. While she has tons of books she cycles through, there are some that are regular favs, while others seldom get touched because they’re simply reference books. Combined with artwork from She x This, this wall is a constant source of inspiration for the mini.
Gold Elephant Hooks: There are few things that are sentimental to my mini, and all of her backpacks rank high on that list, each marking a personal milestone for her. Rather than shove them in a trunk or clutter her everyday closet with them, with these hooks, we’ve created a sort of memorial for the different stages of her life that each bag represents. And naturally, the bags are also practical, holding different activity supplies & books. If necessary, in time I can decide to relocate the hooks for another purpose.
Flanking the aforementioned wall solutions are also a number of acrylic items that serve all of us…
- An acrylic key & mail sorter serves as a mini command station for my husband and I, along with the weekly memo board. Having the memo board there also gives the mini insight into what’s going on for the week.
- Single panel floating acrylic frames: Exactly like the ones above my desk – are where she can display artwork, post affirmations cards, or leave us little notes using the coordinating magnets.
Albie Says… acrylic pieces introduce function without adding visual clutter.
Acrylic Clear Rail | Two-Piece Trunk Set (similar)
Curating this space for the mini is just as much for us as it is for her. Yes, she gets some have this area all to herself for schoolwork, creative activities, and imaginative play; but for us, it allows her to have a space where she can be reasonably autonomous & maintain on her own… giving us a bit of a break on keeping her entertained and/or cleaning up behind big messes. I designed & organized with her abilities in mind… not just her age. Because everything has a place, she’s able to keep up with the systems – daily tidy-ups and weekly resets – with little interference from us. It also helps that everything here can grow with her so I don’t foresee us needing to do any major design overhauls for quite some time.
If you ask any designer – most at least – they’ll tell you that they design their spaces so that the client won’t need em again… at least not for that space. We wanna do it once…barring any big life changes of course. That’s what was top of mind for me as I designed her corner, but specifically as it relates to the organization.
One of the biggest organizing mistakes I see people make is constantly messing with the system.
As our lives change & evolve, so should our systems, but the most effective system is one that can be sustained for a significant period of time. The mini’s current system, as it is, is one that has been serving us for 3 months. Even with changes made to her area over the holidays, the systems remain intact. And should we have to switch to distance learning, the space is ready to accommodate that change too.
When it comes to organizing for your littles, it should be no different than organizing for ourselves. I totally understand the urge to buy all the age-themed things because they’re cute & colorful & fun… but are they helpful?
Where do you land when it comes to getting your kiddos’ spaces organized? Do you find it to be a challenge or do you think you have a pretty good handle on what needs to be done?
*Design by Albie K. Buabeng
**After Photos by Ellie Lillstrom
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