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Old 03-20-2013, 08:31 AM   #1
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Help with toy/dining area

I need some suggestions with what to do in this area. We are renting and this is an 'extension' that was put on at some point. It is the furthest from the fireplace and the floor is always very cold (It is 21 degrees F here today, and we just got 1.5ft of snow).

Right now the things we have are VERY colourful and I am finding it overwhelming and cluttered looking even when things are 'cleaned up' and organized.



I took the alphabet mat to clean it & I don't think I want to put it back but it just makes the area look much smaller & is cold. What would you recommend here?

Will I regret getting rid of the bins? What could I replace it with?

I am thinking this could work but dp would rather I just use what we have. 3 bins should be enough for 2 kids, right? plus the bench is extra seating when we have company.


Help a desperate mama out =) thanks!

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Old 03-20-2013, 08:50 AM   #2
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Re: Help with toy/dining area

I loved those foam mats on hard floors when they were babies, but yeah they can be too busy and make the place look cluttered. Will the kids still sit on the floor and play with the room that cold without the mat? If not, a rug could fix that.

As for the shelves with bins, I am all for furniture that serves dual purposes and attractively hides clutter. But will it work for your kids? We couldn't do fabric bins for a long time because #2 was a reflux baby and we could only have hard surface containers we could wipe down, LOL. And some babies only dump all containers vs knocking toys off a shelf, etc. If it works with your kids and your lifestyle, replacing furniture with more functional and attractive pieces goes well with minimalism. The key is finding the right piece and actually getting rid of the one that doesn't work.

A cheap, use what you have alternative we did to what you have there was to use those $7 Lack tables from IKEA with plastic bins underneath. Now they don't have the rounded corners your bench does, but we lined them up all the way across the wall so there were no exposed corners. You can do the same with any coffee or end table, and if you don't have one you can often get them at thrift shops for cheap. BUT, again, it's about what is functional and attractive for your space. Don't go this route if you don't love it and it doesn't work for you.
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Old 03-20-2013, 09:06 AM   #3
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Re: Help with toy/dining area

First off, you have the exact same table and chairs we have at my husband's house.

I agree about getting rid of the ABC foam mat. Can you replace with an area rug, or better yet, place a rug over top so you get double the insulation and squishiness? I noticed that the bins themselves are all different colors, which contributes to the mismatchedness ( word?), can you spray paint them or replace with natural-color baskets? I can't tell very well from the picture, but it looks like you have a small assortment of dolls and stuffies sitting on top of the bins, because they're too big? That makes it look like they don't really have a place and just got tossed on top, can you find one large toy box or basket to store stuffies in? Looks like there's also one etch-a-sketch tossed in a bin alone. IMO, a bin is to hold a collection of small things. Looks weird to have one large thing wedged in there, like you had no where else to put it. A small night stand or tiny book case where you could lay the larger things flat might help with the cluttery look too.
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Old 03-20-2013, 09:23 AM   #4
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Re: Help with toy/dining area

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Originally Posted by elizabeth.scalf View Post
First off, you have the exact same table and chairs we have at my husband's house.

I agree about getting rid of the ABC foam mat. Can you replace with an area rug, or better yet, place a rug over top so you get double the insulation and squishiness? I noticed that the bins themselves are all different colors, which contributes to the mismatchedness ( word?), can you spray paint them or replace with natural-color baskets? I can't tell very well from the picture, but it looks like you have a small assortment of dolls and stuffies sitting on top of the bins, because they're too big? That makes it look like they don't really have a place and just got tossed on top, can you find one large toy box or basket to store stuffies in? Looks like there's also one etch-a-sketch tossed in a bin alone. IMO, a bin is to hold a collection of small things. Looks weird to have one large thing wedged in there, like you had no where else to put it. A small night stand or tiny book case where you could lay the larger things flat might help with the cluttery look too.
To complicate things, I live in a random small town in Ontario which means we don't even have a walmart within 45 minutes. I don't even know where I'd find a rug.

What kind of spray paint would work on shiny plastic & not be dangerous for the kiddos? Dd1 only has two dolls and that stuffed puppy so I'm fine with her storing them in her bedroom. I just took a random picture I had on the computer, not one where the area was actually cleaned up. I'm not really interested in adding more furniture unless it is a trade out. Dd2 tends to open drawers & flip the nightstand.

Anyone know if there are other buckets that work in those things?
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Old 03-20-2013, 09:48 AM   #5
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Re: Help with toy/dining area

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Anyone know if there are other buckets that work in those things?
I have seen inserts for those things at Target (which I think will deliver online), Bed Bath, and IKEA. I have IKEA cube things, and I have Sterilite plastic bins in mine, which are available at many big box stores and probably online as well. And IDK if this is an option for you in Canada, but I have also found plastic bins and baskets that would fit (not perfectly, but fit within the cavity) at the dollar stores in the US.
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Old 03-20-2013, 09:59 AM   #6
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Re: Help with toy/dining area

I would replace the floor mat with a rug. And I like that 3-bin organizer pictured above, especially because its classy, it looks like it will hold everything in that other organizer, and it also serves as a bench (or a baby bed or a changing table or whatever else the kids can contrive it to be).

I see you get to Ikea once in awhile....we have the easel and that shape sorter, too.
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Old 03-20-2013, 11:34 AM   #7
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Re: Help with toy/dining area

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Originally Posted by cherylchoo View Post
I have seen inserts for those things at Target (which I think will deliver online), Bed Bath, and IKEA. I have IKEA cube things, and I have Sterilite plastic bins in mine, which are available at many big box stores and probably online as well. And IDK if this is an option for you in Canada, but I have also found plastic bins and baskets that would fit (not perfectly, but fit within the cavity) at the dollar stores in the US.
Could you take a picture of yours with the other bins? Trying to see if it is worth 'investing' in the shelf or just replacing.

That bench is only on sale until tomorrow, I think I'll take a big walk with dd2 in the morning to check it out.

Our dollar store is TERRIBLE - think junky party favours that would be a dollar at a dollarama or dollar tree for 2.99$ plastic containers 4-8$.

Our ikea is about 2 hours away. My mil is coming for a visit next month for dd1s birthday & my mum is american so I can ship something to her if I really need.
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Old 03-20-2013, 02:37 PM   #8
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Ok. I have the Expedite shelving from Ikea with Sterilite bins:
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Old 03-20-2013, 02:51 PM   #9
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I would get a very fluffy area rug and a cube shelving unit. I like the bench one you posted but if you need more storage we bought one with 9 cubes on sale for like $40. I put all beige drawers in it so it's neutral and not kid like at all!
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Old 03-20-2013, 04:22 PM   #10
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Re: Help with toy/dining area

I would change one thing at a time and see how you feel. I personally think the organizing shelf you have now is just fine!

Here is what I would do...

Get a solid/neutral color rug (darker since it's by the door and the kids will be playing on it) to replace or put over the mat.

Line up the shelves by color (red, yellow, green, blue rows) if you can to make it look more streamlined.

Get a big basket or open tub to put all the big toys in (I know you said you don't want more furniture but I think having a place to contain the big toys rather than having them out makes a big difference visually).

Put the shelf under the window where the easel is and put the easle where the shelf was or on the other side of the room.

I don't think the room looks bad at all... I honestly thinking toning down the mat would probably make you feel much better about what you already have

Oh and I have a room like your extension... it is a billion degrees in the summer and freezing in the winter - it's an addition and I don't think it has any insulation. It drives me crazy because it is a whole room that I feel like we can't really make good use of because of the temp problems!!
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