Toy Storage / Play Area

The nursery has very strange little alcoves at each end. One side is setup as a closet, but the other side is just open. It looked like this when we moved in:

guest room

guest room

I had painted the woodwork white and sewn white curtains to close the space off when we had the room setup as a guest room. It looked much better, but there was still no purpose.

The Guest Room

When we talked to the girl that grew up in this house, she mentioned that she had kept her bed down there. We thought that was a good idea for a kid’s room (what kid doesn’t like sleeping in a fort?), but we still wouldn’t be able to use it for several years. Then I started thinking about how well the TROFAST system from IKEA would fit, and I realized that the area would be great for toy storage.

IKEA Trofast Storage

I was lucky enough to have a toy closet as a kid for a few years, and I remember spending hours in there playing. It would get hot and stuffy, but I didn’t care because it was my secret little world.

Toy Storage / Play Area

Toy Storage / Play Area

I carpeted with FLOR tiles, but I could see adding a fluffy little rug and a bean bag chair down there for comfort. I had planned to close off the left half of the opening and build shallow shelves for books, similar to the Catalina Magazine Rack.

Catalina Magazine Rack

Now that we’ve built the crib though, it blocks that whole side. Maybe we should still do it and just leave the shelves empty for now?

Toy Storage / Play Area

I know we won’t be able to use it much at first and we’ll have to put up a child safety gate, but I hope our daughter will eventually love her little play area.

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  • rachel in Cali.
    January 15, 2009 at 11:22 am

    That’s just so cute! I can imagine the little Pottery Barn Kids kitchen set and baby doll in there one day too. :0)
    So cozy & cute!!

  • kris
    January 15, 2009 at 11:49 am

    freakin’ adorable! yes, she’s gonna love it. see, you’re already a great mommy!

  • tracie
    January 15, 2009 at 11:50 am

    i so want you as my decorating mommy!!! too, too cute!

  • Costume Diva
    January 15, 2009 at 11:57 am

    The room looks great so far! Cant wait to see the finished product! I always wanted a “secret spot” as a kid- and I usually squeezed under a desk or something- but this is much better! She’ll love it.

  • teresa
    January 15, 2009 at 11:58 am

    Oh my gosh, I want to play in there!!!!

  • Heather
    January 15, 2009 at 12:14 pm

    This is amazing and your daughter will absolutely love it!!

  • Vanessa
    January 15, 2009 at 12:28 pm

    When she gets older that would be an awesome space to fill with rubber balls. A big ball pit in her room. Awesome!

  • morgan
    January 15, 2009 at 12:29 pm

    I would love to see a floor plan of this room. It has a very unusual shape. The toy area looks like a great idea. Oh! The other day I was at a friends house who had the coolest lamp that reminded me of you. It was a big clear (mason style) jar filled with those wooden ABC blocks that then had been turned into a lamp, it sound crazy, but it was really cute.

  • Jenny
    January 15, 2009 at 12:56 pm

    Wow! I’m jealous! I would have died for something like that when I was a kid. And my little girls would absolutely flip over it. This is why I love old houses. They just don’t make cool, charming places like this anymore!

  • Bethany at Emmy Lu
    January 15, 2009 at 1:08 pm

    How very sweet! I grew up in a log home in Northern Minnesota and my bedroom was in the “loft” (I felt like Heidi for sure). This little play closet reminds me of my own closet in my childhood bedroom. I also spend HOURS in there with all my stuffed animal friends and toys and books. Your daughter will LOVE this little space of her own!

  • Desiree
    January 15, 2009 at 1:23 pm

    Toy storage makes very good use of the space! I would use it for a reading nook in addition to the toy storage. As she gets older there won’t be much room to play in the space but sitting in there to read will be perfect! You should buy her a plush chair such as the ones they used to sell at Pottery Barn (we bought my daughter the pink bunny one). You can see what I am talking about here:
    Good luck!

  • Mandy Ford
    January 15, 2009 at 1:24 pm

    That is going to be such a fun little play area for your little girl! And I love the pink owl. :)

  • Justine
    January 15, 2009 at 1:24 pm

    Wow, I never would have guessed that it was that big from the “before” photos. Good use of the space! Little nooks and crannies are so fun for little kids.

  • Kari
    January 15, 2009 at 1:35 pm

    So cute! Way to take advantage of the extra space. Those odd little spaces become so charming when they are used in such a clever way. I have seen old shutters used as a magazine rack in a similar way, painted white they might bring in some of the neat texture from the ceiling boards!

  • luuvely
    January 15, 2009 at 1:46 pm

    this is sooo adorable!

    you know…everything happens for a reason..this house is/will be perfect for the three of you! i remember you saying how weird the space was before! LOOK HOW GREAT IT HAS TURNED OUT!

    I adore this area! like everyone else..i wished i had something like this as well..but i would OF COURSE need your expertise in designing it for my son!

    love it!

  • susanj
    January 15, 2009 at 1:58 pm

    Nice one! This space is great for storage and fun! The wall openings on the left look like they’d be perfect for one of those doorway puppet show curtains like this…

    This could be a fun sewing project and a lot easier if the curtain is hung from a spring-loaded (removable) curtain rod!

    What a lucky girl she’ll be!

  • M
    January 15, 2009 at 2:00 pm

    Adorable! I have two questions:

    1) Have you thought about painting the Ikea shelving unit?

    2) When you painted the ceiling, did you sand it then prime it before painting it? I have a similar pitched roof and want to paint the ceiling wood. Did you use a brush or a roller?

  • Erin
    January 15, 2009 at 2:27 pm

    Wow this looks great! I had a clubhouse under the stairs that I loved spending time in with my toys. Luckily my hideaway was cool in the summer since it was in the basement.
    Did you put the flor tiles in the whole room or just in that section? Your going to be crawling all over that room with your little one before too long!

  • Tracey
    January 15, 2009 at 2:35 pm

    I was just looking in a storage closet off of my “tween”‘s bedroom and she so wants a fort in there- complete with bean bag chair and lava lamp! Thanks for the inspiration- her closet is very similar and I am off to hunt through my IKEA catalog. Yet another thing on my project list!
    FYI-Check out my website: I just posted a cute plastic tote from Stacks and Stacks for $2.49. Perfect for moveable small toy storage! Great colors also.

  • Nolita Morgan
    January 15, 2009 at 3:31 pm

    What a neat little space! We got the Catalina Mag rack for our daughter’s room when she was a baby and we love it! (She is now 6!) We actually bought 1 for a cousin when she had her first baby and another to install in a yet to be determined place in our home – will probably paint it a different color. Also purchased the Anywhere Chair (removeable cover!), a wooden ironing board w/iron and stand mixer toys. All very good investments which have stood the test of time. Your nursery looks so lovely and I am happy for you and Brandon and baby girl!

  • Courtney at Blogging Matilda
    January 15, 2009 at 3:49 pm

    So much fun! I would have killed for a little space like that when I was a youngin’. What a lucky little girl :)

  • Cherisse
    January 15, 2009 at 3:51 pm

    that space would be SO cool for a bed! I would’ve loved that. Your little girl will have so much in that room. I love little girl things…don’t know what I’ll do if I have a boy…(when I’m ready to have kids)

  • Aprill
    January 15, 2009 at 4:03 pm

    That space is really beautiful. I’m sure your luckylittle girl will love it.

  • Jenn
    January 15, 2009 at 4:24 pm

    Oh, it’s beautiful! I absolutely love it! It’s perfect! And how ingenious to do those little drawer-shelf things in that triangle space (…that made sense in my head).

  • Taylor
    January 15, 2009 at 4:26 pm

    That’s a cute idea! I would sleep there and have so much fun.

    I can’t help but to keep thinking you are putting your baby in the attic, though.

  • Jenn
    January 15, 2009 at 4:30 pm

    Oh, what a sweet little spot! I’m sure it will be a very fun place to play!

  • Dariela
    January 15, 2009 at 4:48 pm

    Oh, she will love it!! And it will be quick, you’ll see, all of a sudden she’ll be playing in it!! So cute!

  • Desiree Fawn
    January 15, 2009 at 5:32 pm

    Oh my gosh it looks so great! She will love it!

  • Rosie
    January 15, 2009 at 6:08 pm

    Oh what a wonderful place for a child! Over the years that will be so many things – a ship, a gingerbread house, a secret cave – as well as being a gorgeous little place to hide and read and relax! Lovely use of space…again!

  • Valentina
    January 15, 2009 at 6:34 pm

    I *LOVE* it. Is absolutely beautiful :)

  • JLC
    January 15, 2009 at 7:11 pm

    Lovely little hide out! I’m so excited for you!

  • Seleta
    January 15, 2009 at 8:29 pm

    You make everything so pretty.

  • greenwords
    January 15, 2009 at 8:35 pm

    A little cubby house, that’s so great!

  • your mother
    January 15, 2009 at 8:45 pm

    Like mother, like daughter. You spent oh so many hours in your toy closet – your little one will do the same I’m sure of it! A reading nook/play area is such a great idea for this space. As she grows the space will morph too – but it will always be her own secret hide-a-way!

  • Catherine
    January 15, 2009 at 9:27 pm

    Your nursery looks great so far! I think it would be really neat to do an abacus on the bottom levels of the openings, using the same dowel idea as the Catalina bookshelf; maybe skewer some wood blocks and pretty beads too so your little one could play with them from the other side too. This way you can transform it into the bookshelf later, but it acts as a nice barrier and educational toy for now.

  • jos
    January 15, 2009 at 11:12 pm

    sowee, me again. saw the picture of what your studio looked like before. eek, scary! my first thought: the previous people were Chinese! i’m Chinese…traditionally, they like dragons. my family has never been into that. mum always told us it was not biblical. ok, will stop stalking you now…

  • Martha
    January 16, 2009 at 1:32 am

    Very cute! I Love it!

  • Tea
    January 16, 2009 at 3:58 am

    What a cute little play area!! :D I’m sure she’ll absolutely love it – who wouldn’t???

  • M
    January 16, 2009 at 6:41 am

    Also, have you thought about putting some sort of translucent panel in between the frame on the left? Could be a great solution!

  • Vanessa
    January 16, 2009 at 7:02 am

    I love your blog and you are consistently doing innovative and stylish things with your space, but this is one of the most clever decisions you’ve made in your home. You’ve turned lemons into a tall glass of the sweetest lemonade. That toy nook ROCKS.

  • Vanessa
    January 16, 2009 at 7:03 am

    P.S. The beanbag chair would be perfect!!!

  • Vanessa
    January 16, 2009 at 7:04 am

    P.P.S. Your lemonade is cooler than cool. It’s ice cold.

  • Kotori
    January 16, 2009 at 7:29 am

    It’s beautiful! Just painting it white really transformed it, but I love how you added that soft pink. You two will have such fun playing there!

  • nikki
    January 16, 2009 at 8:51 am

    i can assure you that she will love it come 1- 1 1/2yr old. My two year old loves to put herself in little spaces. like our kitchen cabinets.

  • Julie
    January 16, 2009 at 9:21 am

    Kids LOVE little cubby spaces like that! I remember having a little space like that at my grandparents’ beach house. Your little one will be using it for play time before you you know it!

  • Brittany
    January 16, 2009 at 11:04 am

    hi nicole! i was just wondering if/where you went to college and what you studied. i am very into arts and crafts and decorating, but my parents wont fund art school. i’m currently in a four year university but a little lost as to a major. thank you!

  • Mona
    January 16, 2009 at 12:00 pm

    What a great space for a girl! I would love to see outside of the Ikea storage unit wallpapered like the lining in that gorgeous pink dresser you painted!!

    Get the little rug and beanbag chair for sure!!

    Your site is a great inspiration to me – thanks!

  • Jaana
    January 16, 2009 at 12:07 pm

    I’ve been a regular reader of your luvly blog for guite some time now, and finally took this moment to send you my congratulations and good wishes for a happy pregnancy. :) The nursery is looking so sweet!

  • selena
    January 16, 2009 at 2:04 pm

    your daughter will LOVE this! heck, I love this! something about cozy, enclosed spaces allows the imagination to run wild….

  • Diane
    January 16, 2009 at 2:45 pm

    SOOO Adorable!

    Can you put the shallow shelves inside the cubby area??

  • Monica A
    January 16, 2009 at 4:34 pm

    She will love that little space! I think the shallow shelves in the space where the owl is at would be a great use of space too. And a little bean bag chair an fluffly rug would be fantastic too!

  • xin
    January 16, 2009 at 4:55 pm

    I am jealous of your baby girl now!
    What a great way to utilize that weird space. As always, very inspirational!

  • Laura at Emmy Lu
    January 16, 2009 at 7:54 pm

    When I was young, I once had a teacher who told me that her dad was really great at building things, and that there had been a little cubby hole in their basement that he decided to expand into a sort of maze behind the walls. She said that her dad made a secret door to get in there, and that she and her brothers would play hide and seek back there and that it was a magical place. Kids love to have their own little tucked away spaces – a place to call their own that is just the right size!

    Very cool

  • jen
    January 16, 2009 at 9:54 pm

    Safety gate, shmafety gate. You won’t need one! What better place to learn to shimmy down a small step than onto a soft landing like a fuzzy rug? That little area is awesome and she’ll love it before you know it.

  • Katie Squires
    January 17, 2009 at 7:13 am

    I’m so happy to have just found this site.

  • ellen
    January 17, 2009 at 5:05 pm

    love this! As a kid a few friends had third story or just upstairs rooms with slanted/low ceilings & I always envied them their attic-like getaways. been planning on making beanbag chairs for my kids & was looking at this website’s beanbag tutorial – I’m prob too novice a sewer, but would love to be able to choose the fabric! if that link doesn’t work it’s at ‘making it fun’ a michael miller fabrics blog

  • Umm Hibaat
    January 18, 2009 at 2:53 am

    I love your blog! And that fort/play are is an excellent idea! My kids would love something like that!

  • ROOM design studio
    January 18, 2009 at 10:35 am

    aw very cute!!!! I especially love the painted chest!!! wow

  • brooke
    January 18, 2009 at 3:23 pm

    love your decorating, but i would put a wall in that little space, cut a window and a door and make it into a little play house in her room! sweet!

  • laurence
    January 18, 2009 at 10:48 pm

    I just discovered your lovely blog. You’re doing great at redecorating your home! tres belle maison ;)

  • Heather
    January 19, 2009 at 2:41 am

    Such a darling idea for a small space. Thanks for all your great tips and decorating ideas!

  • Making it Lovely
    January 19, 2009 at 12:05 pm

    M, I’ve thought about painting the IKEA unit, but it just makes me tired. ;) Maybe someday.

    We didn’t sand the slatted ceiling before painting. We washed it with a scrubby sponge (to rough it up just a little), and then used a really good primer that could adhere to glossy surfaces. I used a brush to paint the whole area.

    Erin, I only carpeted in the little play area (not the whole room).

    Brittany, I studied architecture (the perfect mix of art and math) but only for two years.

    Thanks for all of the alternate ideas, everyone! We’re still trying to figure out what we’ll do…

  • katiedid
    January 19, 2009 at 10:44 pm

    SO cute! Just a thought: perhaps a little low foot stool near the continued floor/book shelf could make it into a little “desk” for art, etc.someday. You are going to have such fun with your daughter-to-be!

  • kellie
    January 19, 2009 at 11:10 pm

    LOVE this! You have the BEST ideas. I’ll have relegated the space to storage, never giving it another thought. Way to think outside the box- everything you do is fantastic. :)

  • Traci
    January 20, 2009 at 8:29 pm

    As everyone else has already stated…this is beyond fabulous. Your little one will absolutely love this area someday. I love the charm of old homes that have little nooks and crannies like this…I would have loved having that when I was little. Heck! I’d love to have that now! Great job!

  • Beth
    January 20, 2009 at 9:32 pm

    What a great way to use an interesting space! You will love the Ikea Trofast! It is a handy way to quickly put away toys. We also have the Expedit and use it for book shelves and have fabric lined baskets for small stuff like hair bows, etc. I was wondering where you found the pink storage boxes….I am looking for some for my twin daughters’ room.

  • bungalowbliss
    January 21, 2009 at 10:30 am

    What a smart use of the space–and your little angel will *love* having a hideaway! It’s perfect!

  • Kendra
    January 21, 2009 at 3:41 pm

    Simply lovely!! Would love to know where you found the pink owl!!

  • Making it Lovely
    January 21, 2009 at 3:47 pm

    The owl was by Faythe Levine. I bought it years ago at The Renegade Craft Fair.

  • Robyn
    January 21, 2009 at 5:45 pm

    Hello Nicole, you amaze me again! This is absolutely picture perfect. Congratulations on your pregnancy. :)
    I read your blog every time you update, and you have inspired almost everything that i have done to my home.
    Please send my thanks to your parents for having you.

    I love the pink owl you have put in the toy area. If you are ever looking for cute hand made dolls. My boyfriend and i have started a business in our one bedroom apartment where we sew these cute dolls together. Please check out our site sometime . :)

    Love, Robyn


  • Jenni
    February 19, 2009 at 12:50 pm

    where did you get that owl?

  • Chelsea
    February 21, 2009 at 5:57 pm

    oh, isn’t this darling. I wish I could have a little play nook like this in my home :)

  • Amanda @ Andydarling
    June 9, 2009 at 11:40 pm

    You are definitely on track with making this a toy room. I had a toy room when I was little (well, it was a toy room & a library) & I spent so much time in there. My parents loved it because there weren’t toys EVERY WHERE too. So kudos to that brilliant idea. (:

  • Christina
    June 21, 2009 at 2:46 pm

    That is AWESOME! She will absolutely love it!!!!! Heck, I would love it! Soooo fun!

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