We have always lived in tiny places. Before kids, we lived in a 500 sq. ft. apartment in Boulder. When we moved into our Denver "palace", all 1400 sq. ft. of it seemed HUGE…until we somehow found ourselves sharing the space with two kids.
And their toys.
The system that worked for us was this:
The boy's toys all had to fit on this wall. We had a few more toys on our Montessori-style shelves in the dining room, and I had a box or two of stuff in our basement storage room…but this was pretty much it.
Gosh, R loved this little work area.
And I'm showing this picture only because awwwww…I miss Denver. But back to my point: Elfa shelving.
As most of you know, two years ago we left our much-loved pad in Denver to move into an even tinier space outside of Philly. But HORRORS. MAMA HAD NO CLOSET. (Nor an office.)
Well, technically I do, but it is much, much smaller than my closet in Denver.
And, well, we had all of this Elfa shelving….
Look familiar? Sorry, boys.
And for the last two years, we managed to get by without Elfa shelving in the boy's room. But I'm not gonna lie: our toy situation has been getting uglier and uglier. I just went through a huge clean-out and have VOWED! I HAVE VOWED! to get this crap under control.
So first off, I ordered these:
The shoe box houses a few sets of Jawbones, assorted playmobile, plastic figurines or a complete set of Jenga perfectly. The sweater box holds marble runs, Hero Factory guys, dollhouse furniture or Zoob builders. (We did have to upsize to a boot box for our huge Lego collection, however.)
Once I had everything properly stored into clear containers….I…what? What now? Well. I just stacked the boxes up in a perilously tall column and left them sitting in the corner of the room. (I know!)
Despite the fact that toy retrieval is now risky (I routinely hear crashes from upstairs followed by, "WE'RE OKAAAAAY" from R)…the boys LOVE it. They love their toys neatly sorted, and they love the clear boxes. "Gank you gank you gank you Mom!" was R's response the first time he saw his tower 'o toys. Since the boys can now see exactly what toys they have…they've been playing with toys previously ignored for over a year.
This has translated into hours (!!!) of independent play. Seriously. It's like a whole new dawn over here.
But I need to fix the tower problem, obviously. NOT a lasting solution. Since both the shoe and sweater boxes fit perfectly on Elfa shelving…and we know first-hand how flexible this system is….YUP. That's our plan. Also, it's the Container Store's annual Elfa shelving sale, so all Elfa components are 25% off. Which means I can get my entire shelving system (as seen above) for under $300. (I always design my own online. Which basically means putting in the measurements, then calling and having them finish it for me.)
Need more inspiration? Here are a few more kid spaces featuring Elfa shelving:
You can buy these systems here.
I have a lot more work to do to get back in my old Montessori-inspired, toy rotation groove…but it's worth it. And despite the fact that I keep thinking "it's just a rental, who cares?"…the reality is that our home, rental or no, should feel like our home.
Awwwwww. Missing you, Denver.