Tips for Creating a Play Space Anywhere
The key to being able to turn over a space for play is organization. You need places to put the prized-toy-possessions that also happen to be the saving grace for keeping children occupied, stimulated, and learning.
I found amazing baskets on clearance at Michaels (they frequently have 50% off sales), as well as beautiful options at the At Home store. I had to choose a variety of sizes to try to match the type and volume of toys. For example, blocks needed a bigger basket but toy cars did not. I tend to prefer wicker over cloth because of the aesthetic and versatility. I feel like I would use wicker baskets in various rooms for a variety of purposes (shoes, blankets, etc.) outside of just a play space, so they are more of a versatile purchase for me. However, cloth can be a lot more durable. I also found this incredible book basket (pictured above) at IKEA for $20.
You would be surprised at how many containers you throw away that could be helpful for organizing toys. I took puzzle pieces and put them into washed Talenti containers to separate them and keep them organized (since I had no room to lay them flat). I also used washed Indian take out containers and some plastic food storage containers for puzzle pieces, balls, cars, and other small parts.
Separate the space
I happened to already have an area rug in this space, as well as a console table that separated the entrance from the living room. Rugs and furniture can help to define the space so you can set boundaries for play (if necessary).
I also found an extremely affordable table and chairs at IKEA that gave the children another work surface. A child sized table and chairs can provide a space to set up materials that prompt children in their play. For example, pulling out a certain toy and placing it in the middle of the table, or combining some of the materials in an interesting way, can encourage children to explore creative options. It can also feel more comfortable to sit in a chair than the floor.
Make it beautiful
I believe children reach a maturity point where they begin to process the value of beauty. It can help to enhance the play experience by adding plants, a mirror, or organizing their art work like a gallery wall. This can encourage them to appreciate their space, clean it up in order to take care of it, and potentially adjust or promote their processing as they play.
This space may have only seen a few weeks of age, but it was appreciated and loved while it lasted! Cheers to more play spaces in the future!