Monthly Archives: June 2012

Kids’ Playroom and Easy DIY Art Ideas


Yesterday I wrote about the decision to convert our study into a playroom and the toy storage solutions we decided to put there. Today I thought I would give you a tour of the room.

We have broken the room into zones for different types of activities.  The most important zone is toy storage.  I showed you this yesterday, but here it is again.

Here you can see our Trofast units and above them is hanging our colouring pen storage that I wrote about the other day. The large green flexi tub holds all my 3-year-olds art and craft supplies.  Not the best solution, but at least it can be easily moved around.

You can see in this picture my set of three canvas with the words, ‘Play Laugh Sing’.  I wanted to brighten up the room with some bright colours and patterns reflecting the red and green of the Trofast tubs.  As I was unsure if the room would work as a playroom,  I didn’t want to spend a fortune on decorating it.  I picked up some coordinating fabric at the local haberdashery and covered three plain art canvas with my favourite fabrics.  I printed off the letters I needed from Microsoft Word and traced these onto my chosen fabric’.  When I had cut them out, I stuck them to the canvas with spray adhesive.    This has worked really well, no fraying or falling off.

We have put the creative zone in the corner of the room beside the windows.  It gets great light and has a lovely outlook.  On the desk I keep a collection of colouring and sticker books for Mater O to grab when the mood takes him.  I store these in a file divider.  You can read about how I use these to organise things in my house here.

The final kid zone is the reading area.  I have a small bookcase in the corner and a comfortable couch for him to snuggle up on and read.  If Mater O disappears and the house is quiet, I often find him sitting and reading here (that, or he is off doing something naughty ;)).

In this area we have stuck up some cool monkey decals from Bright Star Kids and a set of  family handprints we did when Charlie was born. 

Above the bookcase I made my own owl picture in a shadow frame I was no longer using.  I had picked up some cute cardboard owls at a craft fair and using some patterned scrapbooking sticker paper, I created a background and a branch to stick the owls on.

The remaining zone in the room is mine – the computer/work zone.  It has worked well in this room, as when I have work to do, the kids can happily play beside me.  Above the computer we have framed a painting we bought from a local artist when we were living in the Solomon Islands.  My husband and son LOVE fish.

 So that is our playroom/study.  It isn’t overly fancy but it is bright and neat due to some really good storage solutions.  Master O loves having run of the room and has become really good at caring for it and keeping it clean – one less job for Mum! 


Creating a Kids’ Playroom – Toy Storage


Space is at a premium in our place.  With the addition of Master C to the fold late last year, I have had to become ruthless in disposing of unnecessary ‘stuff’ and inventive with both space and storage. 

Like with most mums, toys are the headache in my day.  Up until early this year, Master O’s toys were stored in the lounge room.  As we have an open plan living space, this seemed like the best option.  There was enough space and he could play in full view while I cooked dinner or got the odd minute or two to sit and relax.  I had purchased a few kid’s wheelie bins for his toys that sat under the kitchen bench and they stayed relatively out-of-the-way when not in use. 

But the problem with this was, when he wanted a toy that was not sitting in sight, the whole bin was up-ended, sending toys sprawling across the floor.  To add to this mess, I was dragging baby toys, mats and bouncers from storage and dumping them in the living room for Master C.  The clutter was really doing my head in and I soon realised that an increasingly mobile baby would no doubt find something dangerous amongst the ‘big boy’ toys. A solution had to be found.

We decided to convert our very under-utilised study into a playroom/study. By ridding ourselves of the huge and mostly unused office furniture and downsizing to just a small desk, we had more than enough room to devote to kid’s play.

After a lot of research I decided that the best toy storage to suit us would be the Ikea Trofast range.  They come in a variety of finishes, sizes and styles that house either tubs or shelves.  I liked the fact that I could separate and group the toys into an appropriate sized tub.  This would make them easier to find and clean up. 

Before purchasing this, I took stock and organised the toys  Master O had accumulated in his short time on earth.

After my boy was asleep one night I began the sorting into 4 piles:

Keep – toys that were in good condition, fiercely loved and good attention grabbers

Store – toys Master O had grown too old for but were in good condition and could be passed onto his little brother in the future.  The decision to keep these meant I had to put in place a whole new storage system elsewhere in the house which I will blog about later.

Toss – toys that had seen much better days and were broken or missing important pieces

Donate – toys that were duplicates or ones that just didn’t really interest Master O

Once I was left with one pile of keepers, I was able to sort these toys into groups like blocks, finger puppets, matchbox cars, play dough, puzzles etc. This was invaluable in helping to choose which Trofast unit to buy and then the correct number and size of tubs.

I purchased two multi-level units  in white and a combination of large, medium and small tubs. I liked that the units allowed me to display larger toys or more frequently used items on the top and it also gave me a spot to put my printer. I also loved the idea of the tubs being opaque so I couldn’t see the mess inside the drawers.

So, it has been a while since I purchased these units and I am really happy with them.  To make them more kid friendly to use, I had considered putting pictures up of the contents on each of the tubs.  Tip Junkie had some free printables and a tutorial on how you could make your own, but Master O hasn’t needed it.  He remembers where everything goes and I cannot believe how reduced the toy mess has been and how easy it has been to keep tidy and clean.  Being a whirlwind type of boy, he is certainly tough on it, pushing and pulling the tubs out roughly and throwing toys back,  but they have more than stood up to the test and still look brand new.

I have kept one of his rubbish bins to store his big trucks.  Storing these in the Trofast tubs would have been a waste as he likes to play with these all over the house.  As the bins are on wheels, he can push the trucks to any spot he desires.

Pop back tomorrow and see the rest of the play room and get some tips on some easy DIY art.


Storing Kids’ Pens


My niece is 18 months older than Master O.  Apart from being purely delightful she has also been my ‘man on the ground’ so to speak, showing me what is coming around the bend in the parenting game. 

Miss L loves to draw.  When you walk into her bedroom the floor is littered with crayons, felts and pencils. And when you open her cupboard doors, pens fly at you like little ninja weapons and you spend the next 5 minutes collecting them up.  She has an array of pencil cases but in all the play and hurried clean ups before dinner, the pens don’t always make their way back to their home and lids are lost, felts dry out and frustration ensues next time she wants to draw.

My sister seems to cope with this, but I am not as patient.  So I started my search for a way to store our drawing tools home.

I would never contemplate leaving Master O with easy access to his pens. I would prefer he ask for them so I know exactly when and where he is using them.  He is not super fond of drawing so if they were packed up out of sight, there could be days go by without us encouraging his creative side.   I needed storage that could be put up and out of his way and look good in his play room where I would prefer he drew.

For the set up I purchased the Ikea Asker rail and matching hooks, which I also used in creating my command centre.  From the local two dollar store, I picked up a few brightly coloured buckets to hang of the hooks. 

In a few quick minutes I had attached the rail to the wall above my other Ikea purchases, Trofast storage units and the pens and pencils were safely about of reach of sneaky little hands. 

 I couldn’t believe how well the colours of the buckets matched the trofast tubs!

Now Master O only needs to ask if he wants to draw and I can get down the bucket containing his preferred writing implement and can keep an eye on what is going on.

Linking up with some of these great parties







File Dividers to Help You Organise


I stumbled across some file dividers like this on a clearance rack at stationery store the other day. 

They were only $2.  I bought three because I know they can  have heaps of uses around the home.  I thought I would show you some of their uses, so that if you happen to come across them on a great deal like I did, you can pick some up to organise your abode.

Organising files (obviously!)

Organising lids in the kitchen

Organising cookie sheets or trays in the kitchen

Two ways I am currently using them are:

To hold colouring in books and drawing paper neatly on my 3-year-old’s art table

and to store coat hangers neatly in the laundry.

Have you any other ideas?

Have a wonderful weekend all.

DIY Laundry Art


While we wait for our cabinet-maker to slot our laundry upgrade into his busy schedule, I have been itching to start making some art for the walls.  Tired of waiting I just did it yesterday.

Previously, this hung above the counter.

While they don’t look too bad in this photo, they were becoming a little tatty.  They were also too big.  As we are getting new cabinets, the wall space will be significantly reduced, meaning smaller artwork was needed.

I picked up a few plain white frames, some seaside patterned cardstock and cardboard letter cutouts from a craft store, in the hope of making some simple, clean-looking art.

I have written about my love for typography in my kitchen wall art post, so I thought I could easily feed this love by slotting more into the laundry.

After painting the cardboard letters a dark teal colour to match the seaside pattern, I stuck the cardstock in the frame.  When the letters were dry, using a hot glue gun I arranged the letters to spell out, ‘Wash, Rinse, Repeat’  and stuck them in the bottom right corner of each frame.

Even though they will move when the cabinets are hung, and they are positioned a little too high for my liking, I had to hang these already. 

I like that they look neat and clean while being really, really simple to make. I hope I can show you these in their proper home (and my new laundry too) before too long.

Kids Learning with Shaving Cream


Master O and I had a bit of fun practicing his drawing and letter skills yesterday.  I popped some shaving cream in the bottom of a cookie sheet/tray and let him go to town. 

Allowing them to practice letters or numbers in this tactile manner can help with learning.

I suggest you do this outside or in a tiled area like the bathroom for easy clean up.  Our little learning experience deteriorated into a shaving cream fight and resulted in…..

I won.  My prize? Another load of washing, shower and bathroom clean. Yeah!

Transform a Baby Shirt into a Cushion


Master C, being born at the same time of year as his brother, is wearing all his hand-me-downs.  As he begins to wear a new season’s lot of clothes, I have found a few pieces that are no longer suitable to wear. This shirt’s neckline is stretched too much to wear.

But look at it’s cute motif.  As the shirt’s material and motif otherwise look virtually new, I hated the idea of  throwing it out.   

Cutting off the sleeves and running a few quick hems up on the sewing machine, I had created a cushion cover.  Using some wadding/cushion fill left over from an old craft project, the cushion was filled and ready to use in just minutes.

My 3-year-old nabbed it as soon as he saw it.  It has been squished, prodded and poked consistently for a week now, but it is holding up.  I have rescued it and moved it to the car so that he can rest his head on it if he gets sleepy.

Little Boys Room Freshen Up. Part 2 – Decorating


Last week I overhauled my 3-year-old’s room.  I posted about improving the storage here, so today I thought I would show you how I have started to decorate it.  It has been quite inexpensive.  I have taken advantage of some great sales and I made some of the pieces myself.

So starting at outside his door…….

I framed and hung a series of pictures of him we took a few months ago. He chose the poses to photograph and which ones he liked best.  This was his idea as he wanted a set of pictures like  the ones that hang outside his brother’s door.

On his door I applied a decal with his name I ordered from online store, Bright Star Kids.  I decided on placing it a little differently than I intended and ran it up the side of the door.  It is lovely and bright  and the quality of the sticker is great.

Inside his room….

I picked up a set of 3 star canvas from the kids bedding section in Target.  I got these quite a while ago so I don’t remember what they cost me but I know they were significantly reduced.

I wanted something to hang above his bed and to tie in with his pirate print doona cover.  After wracking my brain for a while and not really liking anything I came up with, I decided to frame one of the pillow cases from his bed pack.  I picked up a suitably sized frame from Target, 50% off.

I had purchased a large red magnetic board from Ikea to put in Oliver’s big boy room well before he was even out of the nursery. Before I even attached the board, they were discontinued and I picked up another for an even better price.  These were perfectly siz0ed to fit either side of his window and serve as a place to practice his letter and number skills with magnets.  To attach pictures to the magnetic board I picked up some pirate theme pegs from a craft fair and attached magnets to their backs using glue.

I mentioned in the previous post that I wanted to set up a little gallery to hang pieces of Oliver’s art.  Previously, I had pegged his art to a canvas I had painted and jazzed up with wooden letters spelling, ‘Look what I did today’.  It was cute but it was starting to be a little droopy and we wanted to have more hanging room.  

On my last trip to Ikea, I picked up some Nyttja frames in a variety of sizes and colours.  These are great for kids rooms because they not only come in a range of bright colours and are reasonably priced, but they are lightweight and have plastic fronts instead of glass.

 I have made the gallery smaller than I originally intended but I know I can always add to it later.  Depending on the artwork I end up framing, a less is more approach may be in order ;).

To inject a little more interest into the display, I took some the wooden letters I had around the house and spray painted them blue and stuck them to one of the small frames.  I will pop a picture of my little monkey in the ‘My Work’ frame.

On his side table I have his Freedom lamp, picked up from the throw out table.  Adding to the nautical theme brought out in the linen, I used some felt scraps and thick cotton thread to sew a sail boat picture and I popped it in a frame that I was no longer using.

So that is what I have done so far.  I will no doubt tweak and add things in the coming weeks and I will share that with you when I do so.

Little Boy’s Room Freshen Up. Part 1 – More Storage


I am in the process of overhauling my 3-year-old’s room.  After just about everything annoying me for ages, but not being motivated enough to instigate change, I forced myself to start this week. 

So what was annoying me?  Well he needed more space to store smaller toys away from his now roaming baby brother.  He also needed the room layout adjusted to give him more floor space to play with his favourite toy set of the minute – Fireman Sam.  I wanted to move and replace some of the artwork he had on his walls and set up a little gallery to hang his artwork.  I was hopping that all of the solutions I came up with would work for a 3-year-old, allowing him to better tidy his room and manage his ‘stuff’.

I dealt with the most important job first, improving storage.

We are getting additional storage being put into all our  bedroom cupboards by our cabinet-maker.  However he is so busy at the moment (he measured up over a month ago and we still have not got our quote), that I don’t think we will be ready to rock and roll anytime soon.  So wanting a cheap, temporary storage solution, Master O and I, stood thoughtfully at the cupboard door, singing the ‘Bob the Builder’ theme song for inspiration.  It worked and we measured up for a shelf to be placed in the lower section of the cupboard to hold boxes.  It took little effort to find an inexpensive, pre-made shelf suitable for the space at the local hardware store and a few brackets to attach it.

Before getting hubby to erect the shelf I decided to choose the storage boxes so that we knew the best height at which to hang the shelf.  After a bit of internet searching I couldn’t really go past the Ikea Trofast tubs for durability and price. I quite like the Trofast units as a storage solution so once the cabinetry gets done, I will be able to use these tubs elsewhere.

So up went the shelf (sorry about the picture quality but it was a terribly dreary day).  I know it looks a little skewed and does not sit flush with the side wall, but our house is this weird modern design and has no right angles.  Ok, I lie.  There is like 3. Tops.   

And in went the tubs.  The top two hold his beloved Fireman Sam set.  Two of the bottom tubs hold all his linen.  I keep it in his room in the off-chance of late night bed-wetting.  There is nothing worse than waking up the whole house, ratting around in the dark trying to find new sheets.  The remaining tub holds all the little fiddly toys that I worry about the baby swallowing.   Master O know that they can only be played with in his rooms and must get packed away as soon as he is finished.

I also bought some smaller Trofast tubs to store things on the built-in shelf at the top of the cupboard.  I have one box for new clothes, as I often buy clothes at the sales for him to grow into.  I also have a box for clothes he has grown out of.  When the box get full, I sort out which ones I will keep and store elsewhere for his brother and then I take the rest to the charity bins.  The third tub I keep up there to store keepsakes such as drawings or cards until I have time to properly preserve them in some manner.  Always thinking ahead, I have one tub left empty, just in case.

On the other side of the cupboard, I included baskets in his shelves to hold clothes that don’t need to be hung.  Unfortunately the shelves are a strange size and I couldn’t find any deep, solid containers.  I would prefer not to see the mess that occurs after Master O ‘helps’ putting away his clothes, so I can’t wait for these to be converted into drawers to hide the mess inside.   At the bottom of the cupboard is a flexi tub to throw all his shoes and bags.

Elsewhere in the room, I used a cheap pop up hamper to store  all the stuffed toys he likes to take to bed.

So that is how I have improved the storage in his room.  Pop back this weekend and see some of the cute and easy artwork and decorations I made for his room.

Using Plastic Divider Boxes to Organise Jewellery


The other day I told you how much I love plastic divider boxes to help organise things around my house and shared with you my stash of batteries organised in one.


And my vitamins stored in a smaller one in my kitchen.

 Another way I use them is to store my jewellery.

Now this tip might not be for everyone.  I know there are ladies out there who have the pleasure of putting on a new pair of dangly earrings every morning and look fab in some pretty necklaces.   I know because when I see you out and about, I look on in envy.  For you ladies you might like a more accessible method with which to store your jewellery.

Sadly as a mum to a 6 month old, wearing my favourite jewellery is asking for tears, literally!  Either crying over something being broken by little fingers, or an earlobe being severely tugged at.  I just don’t get to wear jewellery that often.  I wear my rings and a couple of stud type earrings but that is it.   So having all  my jewellery on hand is really not a priority.  But then, I have never liked my jewellery to take up prime real estate in my bedroom or walk -in-robe.  I have always kept it packed away, and at times not so neatly thrown into drawers or boxes.

After some bust-ups with my then 2-year-old, who could remove every piece of jewellery from my drawer in a matter of seconds, I decided a firmly locking jewellery box would deter his ‘fun’.  My shopping missions did not raise a suitable vessel until my husband dragged me through the fishing section of a department store.  Amongst the tackle boxes were these plastic boxes.

These boxes were perfect as they had removable dividers so I could allocate more space to larger pieces of bling.  I found grouping my items in the boxes by colour was the best way to find the jewellery I was looking for.

Now they pack away neatly in my bedroom and the kiddos can’t manage to open the box to play with my jewellery.