Mabel + Violet’s Bedroom Makeovers | August 2018

Y’all, this was such a fun makeover to do. While not technically play spaces, the girls’ bedrooms are their main hubs and when you’re a pre-teen and beyond, I feel like your bedroom becomes your playroom. Mabel (10) and Violet (7) were darlings, letting me into their private spaces to take creative charge. Both girls were asked about their wishes for the rooms and with this in mind I got busy with what I think is my biggest makeover yet.

Mabel’s Room

Mabel’s room was all about embracing the motto “a place for everything and everything in its place”. Things were scattered in all the wrong places, and the furniture/storage that was available wasn’t being utilized. She also wanted the room to feel more like a big kid space – the decor hadn’t been updated since she was a baby. Her request was a space for her dolls and a reading nook. Here’s what we did:

  • Moved out a surplus bookshelf and consolidated all her books onto the Kallax shelf (Mabel is an avid reader)
  • Removed everything from the desk and organized all her writing implements and notebooks before putting it back.
  • Hung a large mirror over the desk to make the room feel bigger and brighter.
  • Removed the dark curtains and replaced with brighter lighter ones.
  • Rearranged the layout of her dresser to open up the room more.
  • Removed the cupboard door and hung curtains to make more space and create a little nook for her dolls.
  • Turned the unused bottom bunk into a reading nook complete with twinkle lights, bookshelves, artworks, and new sheets and pillows.
  • Hung new artworks specific to Mabel’s interests and an IKEA Dignitet line for hanging her artwork (old artwork was removed).
  • Lots of organizing and cleaning.
  • Still to come – a custom shelf for the top bunk for Mabel’s book and drink bottle. 🙂

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Continue reading “Mabel + Violet’s Bedroom Makeovers | August 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 (outside) | June 2018

We finished Lily’s makeover by installing her outside mud kitchen. Originally the space beside the garage was an overgrown bare concrete slab. But with a little muscle to clean off a thin layer of concrete (thanks Eric) and expose some lovely pavers + a a good old sweep and pressure wash, it became the perfect spot for Lily to set up shop and play!

  • We created a mud kitchen for Lily using scrap wood and an old sink, which can double as a water play station by just adding a sink plug. I accessorized the kitchen with a variety of baskets, kitchen storage containers + utensils, filled with lots of greenery, rocks, water and sand. The perfect ingredients for all sorts of potions and fun.
  • On the walls we added an old mirror for visual effect and a chalkboard where Lily can draw and write out her recipes. 🙂
  • We used an old pallet to create a simple tree shape decoration, which will double as a trellis for a pot of climbing beans to grow up.
  • And finally we added bottle babies – a fabulous open ended ‘toy’ for strength building, color and light play, and pretty much anything else you want to use them for.

Annnnd of course my little assistants were on hand to help make sure the mud kitchen was in good working order before we left. 😉

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

Revamp Your Sandbox

When you think sandbox, what comes to mind is probably some kind wooden framed box filled with sand and toys like buckets + spades, maybe some cars, sand moulds, and other things you get in those sand toy multi-packs.

These classics are fun and I don’t doubt kids love them, but it’s so easy to take your sandbox to the next level and really create a fantastic open-ended play space with multiple play invitations for your kids. Here’s some ideas how:

  • Look after your sandbox! Your outdoor place spaces should be treated with the same love and respect as your indoor ones. The sand should be raked and watered (if very hot/dry) so it stays fresh and inviting – no one wants to play in a dry dirty desert scape.
  • Find a way to store all your toys and materials when your kids aren’t playing in the sandbox. This will help things to last longer and it keeps your outdoor play space looking nice too.
  • Old pots, pans, and other baking supplies are fabulous tools/toys to encourage lots of cooking and potion making. Just like the toys you have inside, the less plastic closed-ended toys = the better and more engaged the play.
  • Replace your plastic shovels with real metal ones!
  • Get serious about your truck play and use vehicles that can actually dig and move the sand.
  • Think about adding some toys like animal figurines to encourage small world play.
  • Add an old mirror (if your sandbox is next to a fence) for added dimension.
  • Rocks are awesome! One side of ours sandbox is entirely covered in rocks of different sizes. These are not only used in the sandbox, but also as an added element to my kids’ play arcs (in and out of the sandbox).
  • Loose parts – we have baskets of loose parts around our outdoor play space with things like tubing, ropes, yard flamingoes, tools, safety cones bricks etc.
  • Water! If you have water restrictions, even just a little water added to the sand play can enhance the play. If you don’t have water restrictions, don’t be afraid to go all out. In the photos above my boys had the sprinkler going on the sandbox at a very low level. This completely changed the play and was the most compelling play initiation ever. Both my five and one-year-old didn’t want the play to ever stop!
  • Create a platform next to your sandbox which your kids can use as a building surface, staging area, or even just a place to sit (we built a triangular one onto the side of our wooden box frame and have storage underneath it).

Bottle Babies | DIY ‘toy’

Bottle Babies*!

What are they? Plastic bottles filled with colored water and (in this case) glitter, with the lids super glued closed.

What are they for? Whatever your child wants to do with them. They are great ‘heavy work’ for kids who need that extra sensory input – moving them around from place to place. They are beautiful when the sun hits them. Use them as potions in dramatic play. Pillars in the sandbox when building a castle. Sauces for the mud kitchen.

They are a wonderful open-ended material/toy that is practically free to make. Opt for attractive bottles vs your average plastic soda bottle (I used Califia Farms milk bottles for these ones). Think of your environment as the third teacher – you want what’s in it (inside and out) to be visually appealing so it draws your child in to play!

*Thanks to my son’s preschool for teaching me all about them. 🙂

Lia’s Play Space Makeover | May 2018

Lia’s play space is large and had minimal toys but needed organization, more defined spaces, and more open-ended materials to play with. Her mums also wanted a table and chair(s) for her to play and work at. Budget was a factor, but thankfully they had a lot to work with and everything else I needed could be thrifted or made.

BEFORE Continue reading “Lia’s Play Space Makeover | May 2018”