Mini Makeovers (LEGO edition)

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Sometimes folks hire me for a full play space makeover and sometimes they just need help with one aspect of their space. Lots of times that aspect is LEGO. I’ve written about LEGO organization before, but this is kind of my crack (it’s a little embarrassing how excited it makes me). The best way I have found to organize LEGO is by color and specialty pieces. This way it’s easy to find the pieces if your child wants to build a set and it makes free building a breeze too.

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BEFORE

I’ll often find folks store all their LEGOs in one big box (*shudder*), but that does make it easy for me to scoop it up, bring it home, and get things organized. So if you’re looking for a little LEGO sanity, or even the perfect gift for the kid who has it all (the holidays are upon us), shoot me a message to get the magic started! ⋒ Swipe to see the LEGO before pic!

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! 🙂

End your day with a quick play space refresh (your kids will thank you)!

The kids are asleep and you’re ready to turn in too, when you walk past their play space and realize your darling babies did not do a very effective job cleaning up. The temptation of course is to walk past and let them deal with it in the morning, buuuuuut I have another suggestion. Stop and spend the time cleaning up and setting out play invitations for the morning.

  • Don’t just dump things into the nearest basket, but spend the time to sort and put things away in their correct home.
  • Make sure the baskets and shelves are inviting and their play kitchen doesn’t resemble the aftermath of a huge dinner party.
  • Run the vacuum over the floor – guaranteed there are traces of snack and play still afoot.

Because here’s the thing, when your child wakes up in the morning and sees a beautiful clean space with inviting play invitations (think the start of a block tower, or a tea party set up at their little table) they are 1000 times more likely to want to play and engage with the space, which in turn increases your chances of extra sleep and a little time to spend on yourself. #everyonewins

Play space PSA | Sharpen those pencils!

Play space #PSA: Keep your children’s pencils sharpened! Splash out on an electric sharpener and I guarantee your kids will fight over who gets to do it. Remember the materials you set out for your child are play invitations. You can’t expect your child to want to sit down and engage in art if the tools you put out for them are subpar and broken. Spend a minute each day checking your child’s art materials to make sure pencils are sharpened, markers have lids on and are working, glue isn’t empty etc. Value their work and play and they will learn to value themselves too. It really is that simple.

Lillie Foulé’s Bedroom/Play Space Makeover | October 2019

Lillie Foulé’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 Foulé 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 Foulé’s Bedroom/Play Space Makeover | October 2019”

It’s The Little Things (but like, really…)

Just a little in the moment PSA while I thought about it. Jars. They’re super useful and it always feels good to reuse vs throw them away. I love me a good pretty jam jar for art supplies or storing materials in for the play kitchen. But here’s the deal folks, you’ve got to remove the label properly. Unless you’re keeping it intact for play kitchen purposes, do not partially scrape it off and then call it a day. Aesthetically it is awful. To touch it is awful – so sticky. And it just catches dirt and dust. You wouldn’t want your lovely things displayed in something that, let’s face it, looks like rubbish, and neither do your kids.

Go that extra step and soak/scrub that puppy off. Still sticky? Invest in a product like Goo Gone – it will change your life AND remove all that icky gunky glue. I use it all the time to remove the tape and price tags from things I thrift, to remove the labels from bottles before I make bottle babies, as well as to remove the glue from jar labels.

Side note – here’s a link to some other DIY sticker removal ideas for those who prefer not to buy plastic/use chemicals.

Remember to think about your children’s environment as the third teacher and be thoughtful about the materials you add, including the storage vessels. This idea is a staple of the Reggio Emilia approach, the philosophy I was inspired by when teaching and that still permeates into the work I do now.