Thrifting 101.

I love to thrift and I do it a lot. Thrift stores are 100% my happy place. Walking in feels exciting and like I’m about to embark on a treasure hunt. I never know what I’m going to find, but I usually walk out with something magical. However not everyone feels this way. For lots of folks thrift stores can feel overwhelming and like an endless cavern of crap, which let’s be honest, they kind of are – haha. But in this age of everyone needing to do their part for the environment, plus wanting to budget friendly, while also desiring an original ‘Insta-looking’ aesthetic, thrift stores are where it’s at! So at the risk of spilling all my secrets and everyone rushing out to buy all the treasures, I thought I’d share some hot tips on how to make a trip to the thrift feel a little more do-able.

  • First step is to go in with a plan. You obviously can’t shop for a super specific product, but you can go in saying I am looking for baskets with no handles to fit on my shelf, or I’m looking for animal figurines for small world play. This way you are focussed, can hit the specific aisles, and then can get out before you’re swallowed whole.
  • Be open minded. Sometimes you will find an item that with a bit of zhushing can meet your wildest dreams. I talk more about how to do that here.
  • In this same vain, don’t buy junk or broken things. It’s one thing to have to add some pom poms to hide a blemish, and the other to buy a toy or item that just looks like rubbish.
  • Think outside the box and look for unexpected toys and materials. I love the big section of bags filled with knick knacks and kitchen utensils.
  • Look at the electronics for old phones, keyboards, and joy sticks.
  • The linens for vintage crochet blankets and other fun old bedding.
  • Housewares for storage, from fun tins and containers, to wood bowls and baskets.
  • When shopping for toys, go in with a list so you don’t walk out with things you do not need. I have a list of certain toys I always look for. Don’t buy anything new until you have organized your child’s toys and inventoried what they really need.
  • Prioritize aesthetic! For example, when shopping for mud kitchen supplies, opt for the fun colorful or floral pot over the basic silver one. It might cost $1-2 more, but it’s so worth it for look and appeal.
  • Big mirrors are an amazing way to open up a space and make it feel larger, inside and out. Thrift stores sell them for super cheap! I love to spray paint old ugly wood mat white for a clean modern look. It’s worth the time and investment.
  • Always skim the artworks for pieces that would make your decor pop – I’ve found some amazing painted vintage mirrors and artworks in my many visits.
  • Go on sale days! Sign up for the free memberships and feel like you’re getting an even better deal than you usually are.
  • If possible, going during work hours (especially on sale days). It’s much less busy and overwhelming.
  • Take a snack and some water – sustenance.
  • If you take your kids, hit the books/toy section first and let them choose something to take home (my rule is nothing broken, nothing junky). This toy will then keep them entertained while you shop for your goodies.

And if all else fails, just hire me to do your shopping and treasure hunting for you! 🙂

Play spaces are not stagnant spaces!

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BEFORE the play space ‘shelf shuffle’
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AFTER the play space ‘shelf shuffle’

You’ve worked your peach off and your tiny human’s play space is Insta worthy and beautifully organized. Bravo! Sit back and reap the rewards of watching your child play, engage, and not need you for awhile. 😉 But here’s the thing – remember that this space is not stagnant, and as your child grows and their interests change, so should their play space. You’ll probably know when it’s time too. Their interest in the space will wane, their need for you during play will grow, and you hear the dreaded “I’m bored” more and more.

  • You don’t have to go all out and replace and move around furniture (although it is true when they say change is as good as a holiday – haha), but you do need to be changing out toys, rearranging toy/materials layout to encourage and revitalize interest, and setting up new play invitations.
  • This can happen nightly when you do your space refresh (especially creating new play invitations – think setting up a train track for your child to find when they wake up).
  • Weekly – think the next time your child pulls everything off the shelves, instead of putting it back where it was, switch things up so new items are at their eye level.
  • Or monthly – pull and store some old toys, and bring out ones you had put away. And just like that, your play space stays fresh and full of life! 🙂

Lillie FoulĂ©’s Bedroom/Play Space Makeover | October 2019

Lillie FoulĂ©’s bedroom doubles as her play space (and at times as a play space for her baby brother too). Her mama reached out to me because she was feeling overwhelmed by the space, which had become cluttered and wasn’t fostering independent deep play. After an initial consultation it was evident that the main issue was LF had too much stuff.

Being her bedroom, the room needed to have a bed and a space to store all her clothes. It is also the access for her parent’s bedroom door, which is in the finished attic. Being her play space, there was a lot of toys, stuffies, art supplies, and lot of miscellaneous. Lillie FoulĂ© is a vivacious creative four year-old, so finding a way to create a calming sleep space as well as an inviting play space was the challenge.

BEFORE and AFTER

Continue reading “Lillie FoulĂ©’s Bedroom/Play Space Makeover | October 2019”

Easy DIY Revamped Basket Storage

Most things you find in a thrift store have had a past life (or lives!), and they have the scars and battle wounds to prove it. Baskets are no different, and sometimes the best ones are in need of a little plastic surgery before they can go out in the world again and look their best. My skill and time level for major fixing would be zero, but I have found a fun, easy, and super cheap way to breathe a bit of life back into tired baskets with broken handles and frayed edging. For example the larger basket in the images below had lost all the wicker on the handle and the metal had become quite rusty.

Enter cheap yarn or embroidery thread, and a handy dandy pom pom maker. It’s as simple as wrapping the handle nice and thickly with the yarn/thread, and then adding a pom pom for good measure at the end. It’s easy to tie off the beginning tightly but can be a bit trickier on the end side of things (or at least I have always found that to be the case), so I’ll often add some super glue over my final knot and then tie my pom pom over that to hide the evidence.

VOILA! A little bit of extra life and a whole lot more pizzaz in a beautiful old basket.

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My Indoor Play Space | Summer 2019 Update

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I love change. My mind never switches off and is constantly thinking of all the different ways I could do things, including play space design (obvi). Not just for the folks I work with but also my own home. Our house is very small and over the last 3+ years we have worked hard towards living a more minimalist life. We aren’t there yet and we (like every other person with children) have junk, but with time, research, patience, and being able to work on so many other people’s homes, we are getting closer to creating a dream space for our family.

My boys (now 2.5 and 6.5) share a bedroom and also have a shared separate playroom. This means we can keep their room a zen toy-free space (with the exception of LEGO, but that’s for anther blog) and I can put all my brain power into creating the perfect play space for them. This room changes a lot – not just materials, but the layout too. As my boys have grown so have their needs and interests. I’ve also learnt a lot about what works and what doesn’t for them when they play alone, together, and with friends.

Our current set-up may be its best iteration yet. We added really simple DIY pine shelving around the room, which freed up a lot of floor space for play. I downsized what toys and materials are out, and we also created a gorgeous gallery wall with all the little pieces of art we could never quite find the right place for. It is absolutely my favorite room in the house.

…On a side note, this is how you should feel about your play space too! Children’s spaces should not be messy, junk-filled eyesores. This is not conducive to happy engaging focussed play, and it’s not nice for anyone in the house to look at. Businesses do a good job making us feel like kids need their own specific everything, from rugs to plastic colorful everything, when really all the magic, fun, and color should come from them – not the furniture or decor.

Audra’s Play Space Makeover | October 2018

Unfortunately I seem to have misplaced my final ‘after’ pics, so you’ll just have to use your imagination for this one with the pics I took while a work in progress.

Like every family who has their first baby, you start to collect an insane amount of stuff. Gear, toys, clothes, books etc – the list is long. As your little one grows you often don’t want to let go of the baby things, because what if you have another?! It’s also hard to let go of all the tiny cute baby things (I get it, I’m there). As a first time parent it can also be a bit mystifying knowing when to make that jump from baby stuff to toddler stuff.

Audra’s parents are in all those categories. Being very much a toddler now, they hadn’t made that switch yet from babyhood with her play spaces. Audra has her own bedroom, which they wanted to update into less of a nursery and more a space she could grow into. They also use their living room as a place for her to play, and they have a huge finished basement just begging to be a play space too. Budget was also a big factor, so it was important to work with what they had as much as possible.

Here’s what I did in each space.

BEDROOM

  • Removed the nursery decals from the bedroom walls and replaced with family photos, artwork, and a mirror.
  • Rearranged furniture to create a more functional footprint in the room.
  • Replaced the curtains.
  • Added a small bookshelf for additional book storage.

BEFORE

AFTER

Living Room 

  • Downsized the toys and books that were in this space and reorganized them into baskets. This made things easier to find and clean up for Audra.
  • Removed the small table and chairs to the basement space and added a coffee table (no picture of this, whomp whomp). This gave a Audra a space too work and the family an extra surface for drinks etc.
  • I also added new open ended toys like a train track and trains to this space, vs the plastic ones that were here previously.

BEFORE

AFTER

 

Basement

  • I removed the large plastic play pen that was serving no purpose anymore.
  • Similar to Evie and John’s play space, I used a Kallax shelf the family already had and some decals to create a little play kitchen along with toy storage.
  • Added an Ikea Raskog cart as an art cart and built a wall mounted easel.
  • Hung a large engineering print using a favorite photo of Audra.
  • Utilized the whole room to create different areas where Audra can play. The family weren’t ready to ditch the foam tiles (sigh), so we used them to delineate a little building nook like we would a real rug.
  • Added a lot more open-ended toys and materials, and removed a lot of plastic baby toys that were no longer age appropriate.

BEFORE

AFTER

Evie + John’s Play Space Makeover | August 2018

Evie (4) and John (2) have a large playroom dedicated almost entirely to them (there is a bookshelf and built-in for parent storage), which needed a little reorganization to help create more defined play spaces. Mum and dad had gathered all the bones for the room and just needed help putting them together to create a flow that allowed for more independent open-ended play, greater play arcs, and an easier time cleaning up.

This is actually a super common problem folks have, they have everything they need (usually more than need!) for a really great play space, but lack the know how on how to arrange and organize things to create a space that feels open, organized, and inviting. 

Working with their mum, this was a quick ‘swoop in and get it done in a few hours’ kind of job, with very little prep needed before I arrived. Here’s what we did:

  • Removed the large antique change table and replaced it with a 8-slot white Kallax shelf, which doubles as a little play kitchen thanks to the addition of a door in one slot and kitchen decals.
  • Moved around furniture to create a larger, more open space for building and small world play.
  • Reorganized toys to be in specific buckets/baskets – making it easier for the kids to find what they want independently and also clean up without help.
  • Used the lofted area for quiet solo activities like puzzles (a curtain will be added later).
  • Turned their Ikea Raskog cart into an art cart, which can be moved between the work table (which will have mirrors added above it) and the wall mounted easels in the other room.
  • Added a few new ‘spare parts’ to the building area, and moved art supplies onto the art cart to free up the little wooden drawers for easier spare part storage/access.
  • My favorite part of this make-over was the little kitchen we made for Evie and John. This is a great little hack if you’re limited for space/storage, but still want a play kitchen. I scored this Kallax shelf on Craigslist for $25, snagged the door at IKEA, and these decals from Amazon. Total cost: $58. Bargain!

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