Tag Archives: storage

The Shed

It was back in the Spring of 2013 that we moved my husband’s tool shed to the side yard.  This plan allowed us to remove half of the backyard shed leaving more play space on the deck and add a second entrance/bridge into the garden area.

15-09-shed01The remaining portion of the shed was then to be used to store the gardening supplies and seasonal outdoor toys etc.  The problem with that plan was that I really didn’t have much seasonal stuff to store in the shed and so mostly it was a big, almost empty, box.  If I did unlock the door to get something the children would all gather in the doorway (blocking what little light I had) and stare into the spooky darkness.  It made me wonder if maybe it could become a more usable space.

So, this summer when we put the new box window in the dining room we also planned to put the old dining room window in the shed.  The shed renovation was one of the projects that didn’t get completed during my vacation but we did manage to work on it on weekends. There is still a small locked storage area on one side but the majority of the shed is now definitely not dark and stuffy anymore.  The West wall has a clear plastic panel for light and a screen door.

15-09-shed02  The South wall facing the garden is where we put the old dining room window to let even more light inside.  These windows can also be opened to allow airflow if it is stuffy and hot inside the ‘shed’.  There are also blinds that I can close if it is too bright and sunny.

15-09-shed03Inside there is a picnic table which the children and I have used for meals several times this summer – fewer ‘bad’ bugs than outside but the spiders really love this space.  We are also able to store art supplies here – handy for outdoor use but sheltered from the rain etc.

15-09-shed04The view from inside is a big improvement over the old spooky dark empty shed.

15-09-shed05I still haven’t decided how I’m going to finish the interior – paint? add more shelves? a magnet board/art display?  I’m in no rush to decide – I think it will depend on how we use this space now that it is so much more than just a storage shed.

The weather was so nice all summer that we haven’t wanted to spend much time inside it but I think it will be a really nice place on rainy or cold days.  It isn’t heated or insulated but it will still provide shelter in inclement weather especially with the Southwest exposure.  It may turn out to be an interesting indoor/outdoor space during our long, cold winter. I also think it may work well as a ‘greenhouse’ for our seedlings next Spring.   The possibilities…..

Loftless

Only one more day before my ‘vacation’ begins and of course I have some big projects planned.  I am usually very busy during my vacation and often go for several days without turning my computer on even to check email therefore it is highly unlikely that I will be writing any blog posts. So, before I get too busy to write I wanted to briefly tell you about a ‘little’ project that has been keeping me busy for the last few weekends.

You may remember back in December I wrote about the various lofts we have had in our play space over the past ten years.  In that post I explained that we were no longer using the loft as part of our play space but would instead use that space for additional storage.

15-07-loft02Admittedly it was a very convenient spot to store cots, bedding, books, toys, and other bulky items.  In fact, it may have been too convenient to store things in the loft.  As more and more things got tossed into the loft it was becoming apparent that getting anything out of the loft was going to be a major ordeal.  So, although it was not on my list of ‘fun weekend projects’ I resigned myself to the task of cleaning out and reorganizing the loft storage space.

Then there was another interesting development.  My oldest still-living-at-home son decided to move into his own apartment and took a bunch of his stuff leaving empty space.  So, I reorganized the basement toy storage area along with the loft storage area and when I was done there was nothing left to store in the loft!

An empty loft doesn’t really use up any floor space but it is an awfully big item in a small room and if it is not needed why not take it down.  Now, taking it down is not a simple project when there are other items in the room that are attached to the loft.  Once I had decided that the loft was going my first step was to make a plan for how to rearrange the items that were going to be remaining.  Things like the block bin which was constructed between the upright supports for the loft – it was going to have to be rebuilt as a freestanding unit.

It was a somewhat slow process that was done in small phases over several weekends.  The playroom went from this ‘using the loft for storage’ space;

15-07-loft01to this temporary arrangement with an almost empty, partially dismantled loft;

15-07-loft03-1And it is now a completely loft free zone;

15-07-loft03-2Here is another view of the new loftless space;

15-07-loft04-2There is still a lot of finish work yet to be done and I have to decide what to do about the flooring – that was going to be a separate blog post but this renovation forced me to remove the old mats earlier than planned and I still don’t know what I’m going to replace them with.  For now we’ll just have to make due with what we have because I have bigger things planned for my vacation. 🙂

Hanging Clothes

Over the years I have tried various methods to store the dress-up clothes in the playroom.  Bins seem to be the easiest for the children to use to put the clothes away but they have other issues.  Bins take up a lot of space – something we don’t have a lot of.  Smaller children have difficulty reaching to the bottom of the bin and it is often difficult to see/find the item you want when all the clothes are jumbled together in a bin.

I have occasionally used hooks to hang the blankets and dress-up clothes but found plastic hooks often break and metal ones sometime get caught on the fabric and tear the clothes.  I also have some safety concerns about using hooks especially around infants and toddlers.

So, most often I have used hangers to store the dress up clothes;

15-02-hangers01All the children can easily see the selection and pull it off the hanger.  However, putting the clothes back on the hangers was a frustrating – sometimes impossible – task for the little ones.  The hangers were a favourite toy for many of the children who used them for everything except hanging clothes;

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Which of course meant the dress-up clothes were always left strewn on the floor.  Then the older children and/or I would be tasked with hanging everything up over and over again resulting in a lot of grumbling.

Recently I bought a new hanger from Ikea and it has been working very well.

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There are no sharp pointy parts.  The hoops are accessible for children of all ages/sizes. The items are displayed to it is easy to find the one you want.  Even if all the clothes get taken out it does not take long to put them all away again.  The only problem we sometimes have is that the children tend to use the top hoops first thereby covering the lower hoops and making it more difficult to hang clothes on them.

Overall everyone is quite pleased with this new clothes hanger.  There are far fewer complaints about hanging up the dress-up clothes now.  In fact, many of the children use this new hanger for everything.

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Since puppets and stuffed animals so often get hung up here too I’ve now got another hanger – I just have to find a good location to put it.

Exploration

The bees love the giant hyssop in the garden and the children love to watch the busy bees.  Yesterday we were excited to have a new visitor who stayed for most of the morning;

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The children have been busy too, there are so many new spaces to explore in our yard.  The toys and loose parts are now spread out around the yard so the storage area isn’t so congested.

One of my vacation projects was to re-purpose our old rain barrels into loose parts storage bins. The two that cracked this past winter are now located in the North-East corner of the gravel area;

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The oldest water barrel – which has been waiting for years to get a new purpose – now stores all the larger pieces of scrap lumber.  It is located in the South-West corner of the yard by the tipi.

 

This ‘new yard space’ was created in what used to be the parking area and is now the children’s favourite space.

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The toy bin is in the South-East part of the gravel area.  I’ve trimmed the lower branches off the cedars and this is where the babies like to play.

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I took some close-up pictures of various objects in the yard and used them to create ‘Where-Am-I’ cards.  The children enjoyed searching the new spaces to locate each item on their card.

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These are also useful for learning to recognize our plants by the shape/colour of their leaves or the texture of their bark.

Most recently the upper deck has been transformed into a outdoor art area.  Yesterday was the first time the older children got to use it during quiet time when the little ones were napping.

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We’ve enjoyed exploring all the new spaces and are looking forward to many more adventures.

Added Features

Last week I wrote about how I renovated the playroom to improve the walkway issues.   As always, no renovation is ever truely complete so now I want to tell you about some newly added  features.

First, I was a little concerned about the corners of the items attached to the loft post;

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This photo angle may show it better;

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It didn’t cause any problems the first week after the renovation but I was concerned that it may at some point in the future.  To address the possible problem I added some pieces of pipe;

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One is there to soften the pointed corners but both of them are used for play.  The words ‘vertical’ and ‘diagonal’ have been used often in our daily conversations this week.  The toddlers have been experimenting with what toys slide best through the tubes;

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I used some pieces of the leftover pipe to create some more tool storage in the workshop area too;

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A mesh curtain was also added at the entrance to the block area;

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Which I have been informed now makes it a pirate ship 🙂

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That’s just a few of the added features – there will be more.

It’s What They Like to Do

It took almost all summer for the school-age children to stop asking me where ‘missing’ toys were.  They claimed they had looked where the desired toy belonged and it was not there.  They had checked and no one else was using it – it was missing.

I asked if they had checked the washing machine.  They would then go look in the washing machine and be surprised to find many ‘missing’ items.

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“How did you know it would be there?” they asked

Missing toys were always there.  I explained that every day when the toddlers came in the playroom they would take toys from the shelves, put them in the washer, and then go play elsewhere.  Often, these toys were then missed at clean-up time because they were hidden from view.

Granted, it may have taken the older children so long to learn this because we were outside most of the summer.  I have spent more time indoors with the toddlers during the school year.  It is not just the currently enrolled toddlers that do this – the ones before them did too.  It’s what they like to do.

I know toddlers enjoy filling containers and dumping them out.  I know they like collecting toys and hauling them around.  Because of this I have many baskets and bags specifically for this purpose.  These are just a few of them;

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Why the toddlers liked putting things in the washing machine was somewhat confusing though.  They couldn’t dump it out and they couldn’t carry it around.  They were not using the washer as a toy bin because they didn’t do it at clean-up time only when they first came in the room.  Maybe they were hiding toys.

I saw this interesting room divider on Pinterest.  It gave me the inspiration for something similar for the playroom.  I used heavy cardboard tubes that I painted first before attaching them together.  I had small tubes too but I chose not to use them because they would be too small for any toys to fit inside and I hoped things would get put in the tubes.

I have the ‘divider wall’ in the block area under the loft so of course the first things that got put in the tubes were blocks;

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I did purposely leave some larger spaces for the bigger toys but so far the children just like using the smaller tubes;

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It has only been a week since these tubes were added to the playroom so we’re still experimenting.  It’s another option for the little ones to sort and store toys.  It’s what they like to do.