Add a little personality to your play kitchen!

Want to vamp up your kids play kitchen to make it feel more personal and a little less plasticky? Hit the thrift store this weekend (or even better on their sale days) and treasure hunt some secondhand items for your tiny human. These are some of my favorite thrifted items from my boys’ play kitchen.

From L to R, top to bottom:

  • Salad spinner (this was one of my favorite things as a kid, and TBH after this pic was taken, Pilot discovered the newer clear much faster spinner in the basement and this little vintage yellow one is officially on the out).
  • Measuring cups
  • Folding sieve (these things are just cool)
  • Scale
  • Flour sifter
  • Fondu pot (these are always on the smaller size and often have pretty wooden handle and knobs)
  • Empty tins (vintage ones are so lovely)
  • Tongs
  • Food canisters
  • Cloth and hand towel (perfect for washing and drying dishes and hands)

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.

Beverly + Sydney’s Mud Kitchen | October 2018

When your bestie’s small human has a birthday, you obviously need to go a little over the top. Beverly and Sydney live in a row house in DC with no backyard and a little front yard. Their mama really wanted them to have a place where they could play outside, so we dreamed up a little mud kitchen area for their tiny square of grass in the front. First step was removing/moving their two currently unused raised beds. One half was beginning to rot, so that came out. And then we scooted the other bed closer to the road to make a tiny spot to play.

Back home my beautiful beloved front yard bench had finally given up on life and fallen completely apart. I hated to throw it away and had held onto it more some kind of up-cycling, and then *voila* realized it would make the perfect mud kitchen, and we could make it look gorgeous and not in anyway an eyesore from the road.

BEFORE

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My lovely husband who does all the building and installing for this little venture, removed the old broken seat, replaced it with a new wood top using scraps, tightened everything up, added a shelf, and gave it a nice sand down. All with an adorable helper or two at times. 😉

The finished product came out better than I could have imagined and is a huge hit with the girls (and my kids). We furnished it out with a fun variety of pots and pants and other kitchen bits and pieces, plus lots of natural materials we had been gathering for them (rocks, acorns, sticks, feathers, other seeds etc). There are hooks to hand things (rope included), a place to park their dump trucks, and we up cycled some old slate paver pieces we found in our yard to help really designate the space. The mud kitchen also happily right near the spigot, so Beverly and Sydney can add water to their play when needed.

AFTER

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Eddie and Walter’s Play Space Makeover | July 2018

This play space makeover was all about organizing and cleaning. Eddie and Walter have some amazing toys and other resources, but everything was lost in deep baskets, out of place, spread around the house, and in total chaos. Their mum was overwhelmed and didn’t know where to start, so I came in and helped get her on the right track. They had everything I needed there, so I came armed with cleaning supplies, time, and my mini sidekicks to help get it turned around. I focused on four main areas in the end…

THE PLAYROOM

BEFORE

  • The space was crowded with too many toys and the deep baskets on the Kallax shelves meant that things were thrown in and lost in the ether.
  • The foam mat on the floor was working primarily as a dust/dirt collector.
  • The room also doubled as the kids’ clothing storage space, but the large dresser took up too much valuable play room.
  • The same went for the large armchair, which didn’t serve much purpose in the space except to house a watchful adult.
  • The artwork on the walls was years old and there were other things to mount that no one had had time to get up.

AFTER

  • I removed some of the unneeded furniture and then shifted around the furniture that was left to create more floor and counter space.
  • I sorted through all the toys and removed ones that were broken, gimmicky (think McDonalds toys), or not age appropriate (i.e. baby toys).
  • The newly sorted toys went back into baskets and were organized in the room by type to help create play areas and inspire play arcs.
  • Art supplies were placed out in the open near the newly introduced easel + work table to encourage art to happen.
  • An area on top of the shelves was created for Eddie’s STEM toys + Legos, out of the reach of baby brother Walter.
  • The foam tiles were removed and small rugs I sourced around the house  were added.
  • Old artwork was taken down and new organizational pieces put up – hooks for ukuleles, a hat rack, and a height chart (all things that were waiting to be mounted).

BEFOREIMG_1784IMG_1800 Continue reading “Eddie and Walter’s Play Space Makeover | July 2018”

Isabel + Molly’s Play Space Makeover | July 2018

Four-year-old twins Isabel and Molly’s sunny play space needed a little sprucing up. The room had lots of wonderful elements but needed more storage, more organization, and some restructured spaces with additional open ended toys.

Their mum was at her wits end with keeping the space clean and organized, especially the art supplies, and hoped the girls would expand their play interests towards the blocks. She also wanted a place the girls could read and a little space for them to explore tiny treasures (something she had seen at a friends’ house and hoped to replicate).

The play space is occasionally used as a workspace when the girls’ parents work from home, so we needed to keep their workspace/desk in the room + their books in the upper half of the built-ins.

BEFORE70d8d525-bbfd-4d5a-a150-8bae3bf2f37bThe play kitchen in the space was no longer being used productively, so we removed both the plastic kitchen and the wooden fridge to make space for a designated spot for the dollhouse (a favorite toy) and a building nook – something the twins’ parents hoped they would become more interested in.

I also created a little fine motor exploration tray (a specific request from the girls’ mum) in the same way I made this tray, only I filled it with little tiny treasures, bamboo tongs, and stacking bowls for sorting them into.

I sorted and organized the food and other accessories from the kitchen, and used two of shelves on the built-ins as a space for picnic play thanks to a picnic basket I found in the basement when cleaning up.

I also used leftover FLOR carpet tiles the family had to create a soft carpeted area for the girls’ to play on, and to designate the play space in the room. Continue reading “Isabel + Molly’s Play Space Makeover | July 2018”

Lily’s Play Space Makeover (inside) | June 2018

Lily is 18-months-old and had begun to tire of her slew of store bought baby toys and her parents were at a loss at how to encourage her to engage and play for longer periods. They also wanted to create a play space that she could grow with and that was easy to organize and keep clean. They reached out for ideas/help, and here we are today – with a finished interior play space and an outside play space still to come. Below are most of the updates and changes we made:

BEFORE Continue reading “Lily’s Play Space Makeover (inside) | June 2018”