- A Little Tykes play kitchen that is big. I scored it for $60 at a garage sale last summer and it came with all the food and utensils.
- A Melissa & Doug easel that Mike picked out of a neighbor’s trash pile when John was a baby. It has some marker marks on the wood frame but is in great shape otherwise.
- A bunch of Little People buildings, people, and accessories that we inherited from my nieces. They end up everywhere but John plays with them constantly and it’s fun to watch him use his imagination.
Before I started the room makeover I was stashing toys in those blue recycling bins. We used to sort our recyclables and drive them to a center rather than pay extra for curbside pickup, but when our city finally started offering free pickup we repurposed them. But John has trouble reaching things in them with his little arms (and I think they’re ugly!). So of course I looked to IKEA for a solution.
These are STUVA storage benches. The actual benches are white and the drawers come in blue, green, pink, or white. The drawers are actually on wheels so they are easy for John to open and close on his own. And can I just tell you how much they hold? TONS.
That is Noah’s Ark, a pirate ship, a zoo and a bunch of other accessories. There is still room to throw in more.
This one has the farm, the train tracks, part of the carnival, and a Fisher-Price bowling set among other things.
The room is still a work in progress, but the toy storage is a huge improvement. What about you? How do you store toys? I’m always looking for creative ideas!
Sorry for taking so long to get this post finished. If you’re just joining us you can read about the “before” setup here. After carrying the IKEA boxes downstairs (the tabletops were still in the garage), this is what I was facing:
I should let you know that I actually love assembling furniture. I’m weird like that. So I just jumped in. Here are the first two pieces I tackled:
The one on the left is the Alex Drawer unit and the one on the right is the Alex Storage unit. I was on a roll. Then I decided I needed to move my old tables out so I could put these in place as I assembled them. This is when a magic wand would have come in handy. Or at least another adult. But I didn’t want to wait so I forged ahead.
1. I knew right away that I wanted a deeper-than-usual desk surface. I pictured putting things on the desk up against the wall while still leaving plenty of space to work.
2. Yes, I got white cabinets and a birch tabletop. I went to the store planning on buying everything in white but I really liked the slight contrast when I saw it in person.
3. I tried rolling the drawer unit on casters under the table in the store display area to make sure it fit. This is why the IKEA showrooms are so helpful.
Awesome, right? Are you starting to see the plan? (Please excuse the horrible glow from the tv. John was watching Clifford and I didn’t want to move the tv until I was pretty sure where it would live).
There was one snag in the assembly process when I realized the second Alex cabinet had some damage. I don’t remember seeing this when I was at the store, and I actually waited a few days before assembling it. I finally decided that it wouldn’t show and IKEA is three hours away…
So remember to inspect your boxes before you leave the store and be careful with them when you load/unload/carry them. I’m glad I decided to just go with it. And I should also mention that I did most of this assembly without power tools. Not such a good idea. The next day I could barely open my hand because it was so sore. Use a power screwdriver if you have one!
Anyway, after assembling the Alex furniture this was the result:
If you spotted the Ekby Stilig brackets and Ekby Tryggve shelves, good eye! I figured I should get as many crafting supplies within arms reach as possible. As you can see, the Alex units on casters roll out so I can pull up a chair to work. The area on the left is for stamping and the right side is for sewing. There is still a lot of organizing to do, but it was fun to “unpack” my things into the pretty new drawers and cabinets.
Still to come:
1. How can I make this area even better?
2. What about all the toys that share this room?
After showing Mike some IKEA drawer units that Nancy (my Bonus Mom) picked up recently, I told him how much more I could do if my craft room was better organized. He told me to go for it, which was all the encouragement I needed. Here is how the room looked before I started. You can tell I tried to keep things organized, but it was a losing battle. The table on the left is an old farm table I inherited from a great-aunt. It has a metal top which is great because marker/crayon/ink just wipes right off. I used this table as my primary work surface. I sorted my Stampin’ Up paper in the filing cabinet that I spray painted Valspar Sumptuous Purple in the satin finish. I had many sets of plastic drawers and fabric bins to try to corral everything. I had the Stampin’ Up Color Caddy which was full. The built-in cabinets were full of more stuff. The space was great but it just wasn’t functioning well for me. If I wanted to make a card I had to clear off the table to make room to work. If I wanted to sew something I had to put away all my stamping supplies so I had space to cut fabric. After spending some quality time with the IKEA catalog and website, I had an idea of what I wanted. It happened that Mike had to go to Schaumburg for a week so John and I planned our IKEA trip (we live about three hours from IKEA Schaumburg). My sidekick and I arrived at 9:30am and hung out in the café until 10. We checked out Småland where you can get an hour of free childcare while you shop plus 30 extra minutes if you have (free!) IKEA Family membership. But the kids have to be potty trained and John was wearing a pull-up. So no dice. But for a three-year old, he was amazing. They should just hire him as a toy/furniture tester. We did a lot of looking and picked up a few small things. We ate lunch. We looked some more. We talked to a guy at the table bar. We made a plan. John especially loved watching our cart on the escalator. Then we went to the self-serve area to collect our boxes. I wish I could see a video of myself trying to push a flat-bed cart loaded with heavy boxes while coaching my three-year old as he tried to push our cart. But we finally made it to checkout and a very nice guy offered to help me load the car. After five (yes, five!) hours at IKEA, here is how the car looked. John is in his car seat in the back seat on the left. Thank goodness I have a fold-flat front passenger seat! Stay tuned to see the results.