creating a playroom on a budget


Joseph has accumulated quite the little toy collection. (Disclaimer: The toys were are all gifts, or ultra-clearanced/thrifted finds!)

We recently moved, and the toys seemed to disperse into a gazillion different boxes. (Woody’s nightmare!) There were wayward Mr. Potato Head pieces nestled under Joseph’s bed, hiding in the living room couch cushions, and generally being forgotten in a giant bin in the basement. With another little one on the way, the sprinkling of assorted toys in every room was starting to drive this mama up the wall. (There’s nothing quite like stepping on a Lego, amIright?)


We are super fortunate to have a lot of space in our new home. (It’s a parsonage and I thank God for the awesome abode every day!) The downstairs is incredibly spacious, and there is a large bonus room that we were previously using for stashing/storing stuff. We dream of hosting a Nigerian high school or college exchange student(s) in that room someday, but that’s a post for another day.

Anyway, that great husband of mine helped me overhaul the space to create an organized playroom for Joseph and baby boy #2!

  • First, we removed the soiled (and stinky — especially with my sense of super-smell that has come with pregnancy!) carpet and replaced it with some ultra-affordable, durable, high-traffic carpet that Jonny bought at a home improvement store and installed. A light pad was attached to the carpet, which is awesome for softening up cement floors. It’s crazy how much of a clean slate new carpet created for the space!
  • We kept the wall colors. The bright green and yellow walls might not be great for a home office, but were perfect for a playroom!
  • We bought two cheap DIY bookcases from Target, on sale. I really wanted to opt for cube storage, but the price difference was enough to convince me otherwise. Plus, canvas cube totes fit perfectly in the bookcases! We added a few $1 shoe storage boxes for toys with lots of little pieces. An office supply box holds extra books, and a $15 Wal-Mart beanbag brought it together. The lamp + clock were lying around the house not being used!
  • To cure the empty-wall blahs, I found some free printables and put them in $5 frames from Michael’s. (Yay, sales!) We’ve also added some cling-on wall stickers of planes, cars, and trucks that Joseph loves playing with and repositioning on the wall.


My advice for organizing a playroom:


  • Group similar toys together. Car ramps and train tracks have their own space, while toys to stimulate imaginary play (think play food/kitchen, pretend vacuum, toy tools, music sets) are in a different area.
  • Buy bins. Playrooms are meant to be played in. And that means that they’re usually messy. Totes dedicated to certain types of toys are an easy way to involve your toddler in clean-up — just toss and go. We use the canvas bins for frequently used toys: play food, balls, trains, and tracks. We use the plastic shoe boxes for toys with small pieces — toy tools, Little People, wooden blocks, etc.
  • Create an art space. It doesn’t have to be fancy. A table and chairs, an old chalkboard, a few coloring books, some Play-Do, puzzles, and a bulletin board is enough to entertain kiddos for a good chunk of time.
  • Scavenge through your storage. We threw a slip cover over an old, hand-me down couch. It gets climbed on and jumped on, and since it’s old — it doesn’t matter! The cure for spilled juice is just a washing machine’s visit away. The bulletin board used to be in my childhood bedroom. A little fabric covered up the left-over Lisa Frank sticker remnants and drawings of hearts that I thought were super cool. Use your imagination to re-purpose things you already have!
  • Allow one toy box. We have a medium-plastic tote that acts as the island for misfit toys. These toys don’t necessarily fit with other toys, or are large and awkwardly-shaped. Some toys just don’t have a place. Start by organizing everything else and save this stash for last.
  • Don’t banish everything. Making every toy live in the playroom is unrealistic. We have a small toy box in the living room upstairs, which is great for when toys seem to migrate north. These toys are great for entertaining when I’m spending time upstairs. Joseph also has a few select toys in his bedroom — he has a giant bookshelf, a toy bin for stuffed animals, and space for the toys he plays with wherever he goes — his cars. He has a large plastic under-the-bed tote for random cars, and he has a small shoebox-size plastic bin for cars in his playroom, too.
  • Be flexible. This is a parenting lesson I’m continually learning! Messes happen. Things get ruined. And that’s OK. Your kiddos are learning and exploring. I’ve seen a ton of picture-perfect playrooms, but don’t expect them to stay that way. To quote the old cliche, keep calm and carry on!


We’ve made a lot of memories in the playroom, and I can’t wait for the future memories (and kids!) that will fill this space.

So, who wants to come over + play?


3 thoughts on “creating a playroom on a budget

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