Thank you everyone for your kind comments on the last few posts. It has felt like a big step to return to blogging and find my voice again, and I appreciate your warm welcome and patience very much.
Keeping busy has helped me get through the last few months, and one of my projects is a new play zone for Ellie. I think I love it just as much as she does.
We had already amassed what felt like a large collection of toys. Then Christmas arrived and I felt overwhelmed by all of the new additions every time I walked into the living room.
Baby, you’re movin’ to the basement.
It was time to get organized.
Bring on the bins!
Well, before I could get to the bins, I first had to find the shelf to store them. I reused a shelf that I had built for the office in our first house. It had a brief life in the main area of our basement here, but has been tucked away for a few years.
I hauled it out and gave it a fresh coat of white paint. A trip to the dollar store found bins that fit pretty much perfectly (they’re a bit long, but that makes them easier to grab). Initially, I was not in love with their bright green colour and planned to spray paint them, but once they were in place, the colour worked with the our DIY refurbished ding pong table and felt fun and fitting for our basement.
I’ve organized toys by category: cars, stuffed animals, farm, food, lego, balls & blocks, music. I may label the bins with pictures at some point, but for now I do the clean-up most of the time so labels aren’t needed.
The top of the shelf holds some of Ellie’s extensive tractor collection and a few books and everything is within Ellie’s reach.
By far Ellie’s favourite thing to play with are books, so I knew I had to have a library of some kind. I’ve loved the idea of book ledges, so off to Ikea we went for some spice racks. I picked a small selection of books from the main bookshelf in her room and tucked in some small stuffed animals for extra fun.
A collection of pillows under the shelves make a cozy spot to read.
Purple is the one pop of colour that we’ve not used elsewhere in the basement. I’ve been trying to incorporate it for awhile, but I’ve never found the right spot. When I decided that the pink and purple ape would be a regular resident of Ellie’s play space, I knew it was time for the purple.
This ape was a class mascot that came home from school with Matt years ago. He has been wearing a T-shirt that had a nerdy saying about history on it and sitting in a corner of the basement all this time. When I took off the T-shirt, I was shocked to see that Matt’s students had written “Merry Christmas” and then all signed their names on the ape’s belly. This will be something nice for Ellie to see when she’s a little older and help her understand how special her Dad is.
The ape is lounging on some purple pillows. I already had the purple upholstery fabric, pillow forms and even zippers, so these were a quick project. But when I spotted a rare Purple People Eater pelt at a local fabric store, I knew some faux fur was just what this little nook needed.
While the shelf and the nook and the books are the main play area, the rest of this room is also very much about Ellie. Bigger toys line up along the wall, her growth chart hangs in here. There’s even a spot for Baxter, who likes to keep an eye on his little sister.
And at the far end of the room, I added a special gallery of photos.
Matt’s brother made these photo collages for Matt’s memorial. Ellie loves looking at pictures of Daddy, and it’s important to me that he has as much of a presence in her life as possible. So hanging these photos where Ellie can see them easily was an easy decision.
Having a little DIY, organizing, decorating project felt really good. It was a distraction, but also a reconnection to who I am and a reminder of what I like to do.
I also feel really good every time Ellie asks to go downstairs to play, which is often now.
What a great room – the photo collages are so perfect and special. Thanks for sharing.
Thanks for commenting. We are fortunate to have such a good space for her.
Really lovely space Julia, job well done. In regards to the “Dart Score Board” make sure that you’ve added some eyelet hooks to the back to secure it to the wall rather than having it leaning where it could come crashing down if you wee one should pull it towards her. Best wishes to you both
Thanks for the tip. That was one of the things on my list back when I was baby-proofing.
What a beautiful space for Ellie. And the picture of her looking at all the pictures of Matt is incredibly sweet, beautiful and sad. It’s such a loving gesture to hang them low. Do you think Matt knew about the signatures on the ape’s belly? His students clearly loved him! I think the play space was the perfect project to take on. xoxo
I’m pretty sure the ape and the T-shirt were separate initially, so I’m sure he knew about the signatures. The messages we’ve received from students have been phenomenal and finding these signatures was another extension of that.
Love love love that you hung the collages at Ellie’s eye level!!!!
She really, really likes looking at them–all of the family, not just Daddy.
I love it! So many things about it are so special. I love the photos at her level, the ape with all the signatures, the growth chart, the dog bed for Bax. The chalkboard. So cute.
It’s a super personal space, which I feel makes all the difference in all of our rooms.