Saturday, September 12, 2009

The Coolest Room for Toddler

Finally, after a month of planning and another month or so of hard work, Drummer Boy's new room is ready! And it turned out totally awesome.

The old room, while also pretty large, had only one west-facing window and, thanks to a large tree right outside, stayed dark even on very sunny afternoons. The new room (our former master bedroom) with three east- and north-facing windows gets plenty of light. That was the main reason for the switch.

Mr. M used to not want to spend a single waking moment in his old room. Now all he wants to do is play in his room. We had a few playdates up in the room and both little ones and their parents had a blast.

Ok, ok, so here are some pictures. I'm going to start with the Art Center:

By now we've accumulated quite a stash of art supplies - chalk, markers, crayons, paints (all washable), play dough and play dough tools, paint brushes and stamps, pipe cleaners, foam stickers, regular stickers, papers, Wikki Stix and other odds and ends. Plus some books for inspiration for me and coloring books for Mr. M.

I sorted all this stuff and placed it on easy-to-reach cubbies. By the way, the cubbies are made out of old dresser drawers - an idea I saw in one of my design-on-a-dime books. A word of caution here - attached the cubbies securely to the wall was a very labor-intensive task that required A LOT of hardware.

Next, the bedroom part of this room:
Ever since he was about 13 months old, Mr. M's been sleeping on a twin-size bed (and before that he was in our bed). At first we simply put a mattress on the floor for him. He loved the arrangement since he could get in and out of bed very easily even before he could walk. Now that he's a toddler, we feel he's ready for a big-boy bed. So I found a used captain-style bed (with storage drawers) on Craigslist for $80 and the hubby painted it beautiful chocolate brown.

We put a moon night light (IKEA) on the wall, glued some glow-in-the-dark stars and hanged a small organizer (also IKEA) to hold Mr. M's bed-time books and providing an easy-to-reach place for his drum sticks, the Monster puppet, and M's glasses.

The wall looks a bit bare at the moment, but the idea is to use the space for hanging a rotating collection of posters that reflect his interests (right now these would be maps and musical instruments). I was also thinking about adding a solar system mobil, but not sure which one to choose.

The bedding is another thing we're working on. I wanted to find something really cool that would work with the room and with M's interests. So, after a lot of searching, I found this awesome set over at The Land of Nods. It'll have to wait a bit though since it's kind of pricey.

Judging by the reaction from some of our little playmates, what comes next is the coolest parts of the room - the monkey gym:

For now, all we have are the rings and a 7-rung rope ladder. Both are from IKEA (we actually had to buy 2 rope ladders and combine into one since a single rope ladder only has 4 rungs). What we hope to add later on are rock-climbing holds on one wall and a wooden vertical ladder on the other one.

Also, the way the ladder and the rings are attached to the ceiling makes them easy to remove and swap for something new. We'll be taking the ladder down shortly (Mr. M is still too young for hit) and replacing with a IKEA swing. Also, after combining two rope ladders into one, we had 2 ropes and 1 rung left which we might convert into a trapeze. We're also looking into buying our own Rody (the green inflatable creature in the picture, currently on loan from a friend) and possibly a small trampoline.

Some might think it's kind of an overkill. But ever since Drummer Boy was diagnozed with low muscle tone, we've been on a lookout to add fun challenging toys to his daily surroundings that would build his gross motor skills.

Next stop is the reading corner.

The truth is, Mr. M's books are all over the house. Nor does he sit in any particular spot when he wants to read. We both read to him a lot throughout the day, usually on a couch or in bed, but many times simply on the floor.

But this shelve is a nice way to keep books organized. And it was such an awesome flea-market find - only $10! Of course, the hubby had to fix it and paint it and now it looks very posh (hopefully). It also allows me to separate English-language and Russian-language books and keep two sets of letter blocks. The top of the shelf is a great display area (right now it houses a little dinosaur diorama that I put together a couple of months ago). I'm also going to add some language-themed artwork to the wall above as soon as I get around to it.

Across from the reading center and right next to the art center, we have the math, science and general play center.

Right now I keep string bids, simple math toys, puzzles, shape sorters, and little toy animals here. The shelves do not provide a lot of storage, which is fine with me since it reminds me to rotate toys regularly. Our budding collection of Mr. PotatoHead is on display here.

I thought about adding a train table, but decided against it as it would take too much space. Plus it's not very versatile, in my opinion. A simple rug (from IKEA) serves the purpose. Plus Mr. M prefers floor-level play space.
Right now Mr. M is into trains (yes, again). Only this time he can actually connect the tracks and help build the huge tower-tunnel. The blue bins that sit on top of a white shoe-organizer shelf (and that I got at a flea market for $1 each) store extra train tracks and building blocks.

The blue peg board is empty right now. I originally intended to use it only for artwork display and storage for some of the toys (such as little hand-tools and odds and ends that can fit in small buckets). But then I realized that it can be incorporated into many math and science toys (but that's for a different post).

Art displays

We created 2 areas for displaying Drummer Boy's artwork. One is a simple DEKA wire (from IKEA, again) that can hold a lot of stuff. This is more of a movable exhibit and is set up to be changed very often. It is also handy for drying the artwork.
The second area is of a more permanent kind. I got a bunch of cheap frames (you can probably guess where - IKEA). Right now we only have 6 of these frames up. But as Mr. M creates more master pieces, we plan on taking up the entire wall and even the space over both doors. Oh, some Mega Blocks in wheeled carts (these ones are from Target) found a home underneath the art display.

And now, the mystery door to the left of the Mega Blocks... It's actually a walk-in closet.
Wow! - some say - a walk-in closet for a 2-year old, isn't it a bit too much? Not at all! Especially considering a very odd configuration that basically allows to use only 1 short wall for shelves. But we're making the most of this little space. It also helps that Drummer Boy doesn't have too many clothes.
There's actually room for off-season storage (on the top clothes rail and in the baskets on the shelves). The in-season clothes are within M's easy reach - on the bottom rail and in the drawers.
We also use this space to store extra toys that we periodically rotate. And of course, there's a peg board for extra storage in the future). Mr. M doesn't care much for shoes. Most of the times he gets by with just one pair that he wears to shreds at which point we get him another pair. So we re-purposed a shoe organizer as an overflow art supplies and odds and ends storage.

So the room is mostly finished. I'd love to add some art work and a few finishing touches. A monkey gym will be expanded in the nearest future. But I'm not in a big hurry to get a finished product here. After all, this room is meant to grow and change along with its owner.

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