• Lydia Elder

No Playroom? No Problem!

In Partnership with GLTC


No Playroom?

Being an interior blogger and a working mum of two young boys, I have fast had to come to terms with the fact that lifestyle is in constant conflict with reality. It can be difficult as a family of four to balance everyone’s individual priorities (husband – home office, Teddy – LEGO storage, Arlo – reading corner, me – allll the plants), however we knew that the house layout had to work for the kids, as they are the ones who would be growing, playing and learning in it for the majority of the day. We therefore made the decision to sacrifice the beautiful open-plan kitchen-dining room configuration and turn the designated dining area into a playroom/snug. Children like to stay close to their parents, even in the safe familiarity of their own homes, and I spend a lot of time cooking, cleaning the kitchen, doing laundry in the adjacent utility and working on my laptop on the kitchen counter (just called me modern-day Cinderella!). However, this is not a separated kids-only playroom that we can just close a door on when things get a bit…messy.

Open-plan Kitchen / Diner - and Play Area!

The Problem

We initially set this multi-purpose area up with a sofa, using open-top baskets and plastic storage boxes to try and keep toys in. Everything was out on display; the baskets weren’t deep enough to fit the toys properly and it was an area that made me feel stressed just walking past it. Like many children their age, my boys love imaginative play, and are never happier than when sending Chase, Marshall and Skye on a hair-raising adventure to save Owlette from the clutches of Grandmaster Glitch (if you know, you know!). It therefore goes without saying that they have A LOT of toys. Sadly, mainly plastic toys. Ugly, bulky, noisy plastic toys. I’d love for them to only play with eco-friendly, long-lasting, beautiful wooden toys - but the heart wants what it wants, and right now, theirs want vehicles and action-figures. My dilemma was how to stop this ever-increasing mound of multi-coloured plastic from spreading out into the open-plan kitchen and hallway. I’d always heard and laughed about the universal parenting trauma of stepping on Lego, however this was now my daily reality when unloading the dishwasher!

Before the Playroom Makeover - trying to hide the overflow!

Smart Storage

I was thrilled to bits to partner with Great Little Trading Company to once and for all sort the mess and clutter! The aim was to create an easily accessible smart-storage feature wall and reading nook that slot in seamlessly with our home décor. GLTC asked me to plan out what storage would best fit our needs and interior, and their newly launched Alba range immediately caught my eye. It’s a contemporary, modular storage range, with units that stack and slot together to create an entirely bespoke unit. I chose two of the pre-combined Alba Storage Set 7 , which has a toy box, two drawers and two open shelves above. This was perfect for our needs as I specifically wanted a wide children’s toy box for larger toys, smaller closed drawers for little pieces such as Lego, and open shelves to place storage baskets in - keeping all toys accessible but out of sight was key. If you fancy building your own set from scratch, check out the GLTC Playroom Storage Guide here.

I have to mention that this was, according to both myself and my sometimes-DIY-grumpy husband, the easiest flatpack we have ever put together. The instructions were incredibly straightforward, and you could immediately tell how well-made the components were by the way they slotted together exactly as they should.

The beautiful, bespoke, built-in look of the Alba range
The beautiful, bespoke, built-in look of the Alba range

Alba Storage Set 7
Alba Storage Set 7

The new Alba unit has handles - perfect for little fingers!
The new Alba unit has handles - perfect for little fingers!

Great Little Trading Company has a huge range of gorgeously useful storage cubes and baskets, in a variety of colours and prints. As I was planning my dusky pink feature wall, I wanted to keep the rest of the décor neutral, complementing the grey oak floor, with a fun scandi twist. A staple of any playroom is cube storage, as it is versatile, folds flat and is easy to pull in and out. GLTC absolutely nail it with their Oilcloth Storage Cubes (mine are in Dashed Grey). The wipe-clean exterior is a practical but ingenious detail and means that these sturdy cubes will stand the test of time and sticky fingers. I also fell in love with the Rope Storage Basket with Tassels, which fits perfectly in the Alba open shelf. The baskets are incredibly well-made from soft, cotton rope and stand up firmly even without toys inside. I adore their little handles, which make it easy for even Arlo to pull them out, and occasionally help me pop them back in during tidy-up time! I’ve chosen to organise their toys by type in these baskets, so I have one for cars/trucks/trains, one for Paw Patrol characters and vehicles, one for their wooden train set and a final one for anything superhero related. This means they can really quickly find exactly what they are looking for, without the pitiful cries of ‘Mummmmmy, where is my *insert toy of the moment here*’. In addition to the amazing storage, I had previously purchased the Grey Star Carry Caddy thinking it would be perfect to keep our arts and crafts in. The boys really enjoy lifting the caddy off the shelf and carrying it to their little table themselves and being able to easily choose their tools rather than our previous method of rummaging through a messy shoe box.

Grey Tassel Storage Basket
Grey Tassel Storage Basket

Our littlest can reach the top on tippy-toes

Playroom storage baskets
Arlo can easily life the baskets down himself

Reading Nook

I’ve blogged before about how much my boys love reading, and while both their bedrooms have dedicated quiet spaces, I really wanted to create somewhere comfy and snug where they could sit and read within their play area. Teddy has just begun Reception and will be starting to learn to read himself, and it is really important that children at this age have a quiet space where they can concentrate when trying to recognise letters and form words. The Poppins Toy Chest is a super sturdy chest with absolutely heaps of storage space inside. Not only is there a main storage compartment large enough to fit both a Sea Patroller AND Air Patroller, there is also a great base drawer for smaller bits, such as the many, many Paw Patrol rescue track pieces. Considering it is such a large box, there is the smoothest safety hinge I’ve ever come across, which effectively protects against little fingers getting stuck or slammed - a necessity for us as Arlo is outrageously accident-prone. The perfect finishing touch is the Grey Stardust Cushion, which fits into the raised rim without sliding off (this is another example of the little details that set GLTC products above the rest). As I am now a mother and (apparently) an adult, the fact that this cushion is 100% cotton and machine washable is a HUGE thumbs up.

Poppins Toy Chest with Grey Stardust Cushion
Poppins Toy Chest with Grey Stardust Cushion

A quiet reading nook

Spacious base drawer

No Problem!

I absolutely love our new play area and, most importantly of all, so do my children. Direct quotes upon the reveal included ‘Mummy it’s the best thing you have ever, ever done’, ‘All my toys are in here??’ and ‘It’s really stity’ (I’m translating that as pretty?!). The best part for me is that the kids storage units are not overtaking the landscape, but rather blending in and adding to the interior decor with their own stunning shape and style.

For more ideas on children’s toy storage solutions and playroom inspiration, please follow me on @lydias_layton_life or check out my Pinterest boards.

Disclosure – I am incredibly thankful to Great Little Trading Company for gifting us the items mentioned above, which was done in exchange for this blog post. All words, anecdotes and opinions are my own!


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