I learned very early on in motherhood that the state of our home directly affects the mood of our household. A cluttered and chaotic house inevitably made my family feel more stressed and chaotic.
As it turns out, order and routine are the foundation of peace and calm in our home! It quickly became a priority for me to create a minimalist playroom to maintain that sense of calm we craved.
Doing so mitigates messes, helps my kids focus and play more deeply with their toys, and minimizes the inevitable chaos that comes with living with emotional toddlers. If you’re craving a bit more order in your home, here are a few tips for creating a minimalist playroom for your kids.
What is a Minimalist Playroom?
When you search the internet for minimalist interiors, you are likely to find: spaces containing very few objects, or spaces with very little visual distraction. These are similar but different things!
Spaces with minimal visual distraction can actually contain a large (maximal) number of objects. They’re just displayed in a way that makes the room appear to have a lot of white space. A minimalist “look” regardless of how many objects there actually are.
The amount of toys and activities you choose to own/display will likely depend on a variety of personal factors. The size and layout of your home, how your home is furnished, the ages of your children, how much time your children are home with you, etc.
No matter the specifics of your living situation, a stimulating and engaging playroom is achievable if you adopt this one key habit…
Toy and Book Rotation
Regularly rotating toys and books in and out of the playroom is THE key to maintaining a minimalist look and feel. Here’s how it works.
Fill the playroom shelves with a handful of toys, books, puzzles, and activities that are age and skill appropriate for your kid(s). Store the rest out of sight somewhere else in your home. I recommend investing in large bins that you can stack in a closet, in a garage, slide under beds, etc.
How often you rotate will depend on how quickly your kids lose interest in any given toy. If your kids attend full time daycare you might only need to rotate once a month. If you have kids at home with you full time it might be more like once a week.
Small Space Suggestions
If you’re reading this and thinking, “it must be nice to have all of that extra storage space” – I hear you. Here’s the thing, you don’t HAVE to stockpile a ton of toys to do this successfully!
Your local library is by definition a place to rotate books in and out of your home. Join your local “Buy Nothing” Facebook Group to get notified when neighbors list free toys, books, and games. Post the toys and games your kids lose interest in back to the group for another family to enjoy.
Search for local kids consignment stores where you can both buy and sell toys. Or collect items found in nature (rocks, sticks, shells, etc.) that can be used as loose parts in open-ended play. There are many options for small space dwellers if you are willing to get creative!
Our Minimalist Playroom
Now that you know my secret to maintaining a minimalist playroom (that keeps kids engaged), I’ll walk you through our setup.
Our “playroom” has undergone MANY iterations since the birth of our first son. We started with a few toys tucked inside storage ottomans, then expanded to a few small shelves in our living room. Eventually we upgraded to toy cabinets. Most recently, we were fortunate enough to move into a home with space for a dedicated play area.
In every iteration of the play area we have maintained the look and feel of a minimalist playroom.
Shelves, Drawers, or Cabinets
When it comes to hiding the evidence of a play area, drawers, cupboards, and cabinets are your best bet. This is what we opted for in our last home where the play area, living room, and dining room were all in one space. My husband and I wanted the ability to hide the evidence of children at the end of our days. These Ikea Havsta cabinets helped.
With that said, open shelves are easiest for little ones to access their toys. Also, we noticed that our kids mostly play with the toys that they can see. Toys hidden in cupboards and drawers are usually forgotten about.
In our current playroom we have two shelving units from Pottery Barn Kids (the corner bookcase (no longer sold) and the two-shelf bookcase). Ours are both from their Cameron line. You can mix and match any of their units to configure a custom play area in your home.
Containing small toys in matching or coordinating bins makes shelves appear more organized. Bins also make cleaning up easier for kids! Especially if you label your bins with images of each toy (I merely aspire to reach that level of organization).
If you’re interested in the Montessori playroom approach, it’s recommended to display toys such that the entire activity is visible to the child. I love this idea… in theory. Here’s the thing, if every toy that my kids loved to play with were beautiful enough to be displayed on a shelf then I’d be on board. That’s simply not the case in our house!
So I resorted to containing toys in coordinating bins and baskets. My kids are still able to find the items they like to play with, and our open playroom area never looks too cluttered.
When I’m tired and my kids are cranky, reading books is our go-to activity. Simply starting to read a book out loud has paused toddler meltdowns more times than I can count. I knew a reading corner was going to be an essential addition to our playroom.
We display a few books at a time on these Ikea Bekvam wall mounted shelves. These shelves actually used to serve as spice racks in our last home, so they can be used in a multitude of ways.
I added two Target floor pillows (one for each kid). My boys not only use these for reading, but also for stacking and jumping on and off and tossing around. It’s fun to watch my 3 year old angle them against each other to create a “fort” for his toys. He’ll also lean them against a bench as a “slide” and make other creative configurations.
I know some parents like to keep art supplies out for their kids to express themselves creatively whenever they feel inspired. I wish I was that cool, but I’m just not. Instead I keep a tray with crayons and papers out for my 3 year old and the rest lives on a rolling cart.
I roll out the craft cart almost daily so my kids can do activity books and paints under my loose supervision. This way I can properly prepare our craft area (dining table) for whatever type of mess we might make that day.
Kids Table and Chairs
We have gotten SO much mileage out of our table and chairs set. Ours is used for crafts, snacks, reading, drawing, climbing, food prepping, and more.
What’s cool about this particular set is that it’s modular. It can be a normal table with two chairs or a desk with one or two chairs. Plus the chairs can be flipped upside down to make the seat height higher or lower for your child.
If we didn’t have space for a kids table and chairs, I would have definitely invested in a high chair that my kids could climb in and out of on their own. The Stokke TripTrap chair is a highly reviewed, popular option.