play area


When we first looked at our house one of the features that stood out to me was the loft. It's not very big, maybe enough for a small office space. But I love problem solving and maximizing small areas. I knew that, utilized well, our loft could add a lot of function to our home. Before we even moved in I settled on it become a play area for the kids.
For the last year it's been primarily empty while life raced by and I formulated ideas in the back of my mind. A few weeks ago I decided it would be my next project to tackle. I knew we'd need some additional toy storage after both the kids birthdays!
We bought the Ikea bookshelf for this area when we moved in but it's been living in Ross' room for the last year. I started by moving that into place. I wanted a fun, colorful rug to define the space and we picked up this one at Ikea a few weeks ago. 
My biggest challenge for this area was 8 matching bins for the bookcase cubbies. I didn't realize how challenging it would be to find bins that met all my criteria. First, I knew we needed something very sturdy. I love canvas bins but they usually have wire frames and my son has already broken several of said wire frames, rendering each toy bin a lethal weapon. Second, they had to be easily labeled on the outside for quick toy sorting and cleaning. That ruled out most baskets (such as the one Ikea makes for this bookcase). And of course I didn't really want to go out and spend $250 on toy bins. No thank you.
So, one afternoon I was recounting my toy bin woes to my husband and explaining what I wanted when he said "Well, I could just make those for you Babe." Of course, I jumped at that opportunity and off we went to Lowes the next day! We based our crates on this great tutorial and I could not be more pleased with how they turned out.
In the end, including wood, rope, chalk board labels, stain, sand paper, and furniture glides they came out to just under $15 a crate. Not bad!
I am loving these so far! They are incredibly spacious. Ours measure about 12" w x 15.5" d x 11" h. They are very sturdy. Ross used to come up to this bookcase, take out all the bins and dump everything out. Because these crates are more substantial he only pulls out what he needs and he has yet to dump one out. At least for now. :)
So far the kids are really enjoying this space and I love how it's all coming together!


  1. OH MY GOSH! Melissa, it looks amazing! I love the toy bins. Ross did such an incredible job. I can't wait to see the kids in their new play area!

    And did you make the "you are my sunshine" wall art? It is very cute!

  2. How cute! I love the storage bins! And I think we have that same play mat! Ikea? That is a very fun use of a small space!

  3. I agree - SO cute... you are just amazingly creative. And yes, also wondering where the "you are my sunshine" wall art came from?

    LOVE "The Wreck of the Zephyr" overseeing playtime =)

  4. The Baker family just overflows with creativity!

  5. What color stain did you use ? Thank you !

  6. What line is the the bookshelf from? Is it kallax? I love this!

  7. HI Melissa--do you know what the inside dimensions are of the cubbies in the IKEA bookshelf? I LOVE this idea but already have a dozen apple crates to use so I need to work with their dimensions. They are just shy of 13.5 inches wide so I'm worried that will be too wide for the bookshelf. I checked the IKEA website but they don't provide that information. Thanks!!!

  8. Love the vintage finish on the crates! The rustic charm accents the neutral color of the shelf beautifully. Have you ever tried a shelving project with wine crates? The add a warm and bright look to a space.

    If your looking for original wine boxes or crates for future projects visit Winepine -

  9. What a great idea! I love your post and I love chalkboard labels. My newest fascination is organizing whole house with them. I just post on my blog article “Tame the mess with chalkboard labels. Part 1 - toddler room” and I made your idea part of it. Please check it out - hope you will like it :)


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