A Place of Her Own… Nora’s New Play House

posted by Andrea | 01/10/2013

The very first time we toured our farmhouse (months before we actually purchased it), I vividly remember taking a mental note about the massive storage closet in the office. It’s one of those cool (but not so practical) storage closets that goes under the stairs.

My first thought was sweet, tons of storage space for our filing cabinet, all my office supplies, and all of Dave’s school stuff. But almost instantly, my brain shifted and I began envisioning how cool it would be to turn this closet into a play area for our future children.

Well, it’s been just over 2 years since then — and now that Nora is old enough to actually play in a play area, we decided to tackle this mini-makeover project during our Christmas break.

You can see what the closet used to look like here, and in case you can’t picture where exactly the closet is located, it’s right next to my desk in the back corner of our office.

Nora has always been fascinated by this closet — I suppose most kids would be — but now that it has all her toys inside, she just can’t get enough! This works out really well for me since she can play and I can work — all within 5 feet of each other.

Come take a look! 

When you first walk in, I have a plastic shoe organizer on the left wall. We use the top 3 rows for office supplie items and the bottom 3 rows for toys. Nora can only reach the bottom 2 rows but we can hand her things from the 3rd row when necessary.

I love how easy it is to throw the toys into the organizer, and she loves that she can easily see and grab whatever toys she wants!

As you can see, we still have our filing cabinet in this closet (I couldn’t part with it!) However, it serves as a magnetic board for all Nora’s magnets — and she LOVES magnets!

Nora got a bunch of chalk for her birthday so I hung a chalkboard I made a couple years ago next to the filing cabinet. Then I taped some dry-erase paper to the wall next to the chalkboard.

I had 2 sets of alphabet flashcards, so I used those to line the ceiling and then to spell words on the walls. Obviously she can’t use them yet — but soon enough!

At the very back of the closet, I put our old toaster oven (this is probably one of her favorite “toys”), a basket of her stuffed animals, and 2 huge pillows that I covered with a fun owl fleece fabric.

The owl fabric was the ONLY thing I had to purchase for this entire project… and it was on sale! I also cut out the owls from my scrap fabric and used those to decorate the walls.

Nora loves her pillows :)

On the wall opposite the chalkboard, I put a tiny little shelving unit we had in one of our closets upstairs. It’s the perfect size for a few toys and books.

Here’s a look back at the filing cabinet and shoe organizer.

That’s it! 

It’s definitely not huge, but plenty big enough for Nora… and she absolutely loves hanging out in her new place.

I love that she stays busy playing on her own, that she’s super close by while I’m working on my computer, and that we can shut the door if we don’t want her going inside and pulling all her toys out!

So for less than $15 and about 2 hours of work, I’d say this project was definitely worth it… don’t you think?

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Filed under: HomeKids StuffOur Farmhouse

 
 

24 comments

  1. Kylie

    01/10/2013

    So fun! How’d you find the WA license plate?? That’s where I’m from! :)

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Dave is from WA and this was his old licence plate :)

    [Reply]

  2. Lora

    01/10/2013

    So fun! Great idea :) It’s like her own little office, next to yours!

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  3. Julie

    01/10/2013

    What a fun little play area!

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  4. Kerri

    01/10/2013

    Too cute!!

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  5. Jen

    01/10/2013

    This is great! what a great way to have business life and home life meet in the middle and work together.

    And her hair is really coming in! I love having a boy now, but I do miss sticking clips and bows in a toddler girl’s hair. ;)

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  6. Shareen

    01/10/2013

    She seems to be growing and changing everyday!

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  7. Jules

    01/10/2013

    What an adorable spot for Nora! I am curious, Andrea… what happened to everything else that was in this closet before it became Nora’s playhouse? I know the gift wrap went upstairs in the armoire, but did you have to relocate anything else?

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Yes Jules, the gift wrapping supplies all went upstairs as did my sewing stuff (and that cleared out a majority of the stuff). Dave’s school books went in the cabinet above his desk, our fireproof safe went into our master closet, and the tools all went to our “tool room” downstairs. We really didn’t have a ton of stuff in this closet, so clearing it out wasn’t a huge task.

    [Reply]

  8. Kristin

    01/10/2013

    I always wanted a play area under the stairs! The closet under our stairs belongs to my husband, but maybe someday we can convert it. I once toured a house that was part of the KC Symphony fundraiser that has an adorable tea room in the closet under the stairs. It was fantastic!

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  9. Deb

    01/10/2013

    When mine were little, Grandma always had a playhouse under the stairs and the cousins would all get together and play under there for hours……GREAT idea, so fun………….

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  10. Zolane

    01/10/2013

    So fun and yet so practical. Nora’s owl pillows are adorable and look so soft and cozy!

    Our grandkids love their “clubhouses”, too, and spend HOURS playing in them. One for the girls and one for the boys each built in under the slanted roof of our finished attic. As a matter of fact, the whole attic is their playroom but they still love having their own clubhouses. After seeing Nora’s, though, I think I’ll add chalkboards to their spaces. Was yours difficult to make?

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  11. Ruth M

    01/10/2013

    Andrea, this is adorable and a great idea! Even though my youngest is 15, I still got an idea from this post. My oldest daughter (22) has made all of us the double fleece blankets that you knot together, but I never thought of using the same technique as pillow covers. I will most likely be doing that in the future.

    BTW, this same daughter had hair just like Nora’s and it grew in very thick by the time she was 2! You’ll be using tons of hair accessories in the future!! Enjoy!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Yes, these pillows are just as easy at the blankets… and SO soft! Plus, nora loves pulling at the ties :)

    [Reply]

  12. Carrie

    01/10/2013

    As she gets older, I would add a little desk or table so she can do crafts or have her own office like mommy. I did this in my computer room and also added posters from the dollar store with educational themes. Very cheap, but turned out cute.

    [Reply]

  13. Janice

    01/10/2013

    Once again……you never cease to amaze me with your ideas!. Your brain must never shut off :^)So glad that we have you to pass along all of your brainstorms/creative ideas!!! This is such a neat idea. Way to combine work with play and you can keep an eye on her. Faith sure is growing. Enjoy….all too soon she will be gone. In the meatime, keep loving her as you both do!

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  14. Kathryn Bechen

    01/10/2013

    Andrea, you are such a lovely young Mom and organizer and how wonderful to do this for your daughter so near your work desk! You are just amazingly skilled and talented, especially for your age!

    Kathryn :)

    [Reply]

  15. Jill

    01/10/2013

    What a beautiful idea that Nora has her own play area right near yours and I’m happy it is working so brilliantly.

    Just needed to mention that it may be the way the photo looks on the blog, but double check (please) the printer on top of that filing cabinet to make sure it isn’t going anywhere. If Nora is pushing a lot on the file cabinet to adhere her magnets, you just want to make sure it is super stable.

    The play area itself is inviting and warm and I can see why she is so excited about it!

    [Reply]

  16. Nicole(Whole Strides)

    01/11/2013

    That is so cute! What a great little space for her!

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  17. Arlene

    01/11/2013

    Brilliant idea! Such a special place and way of making great memories.

    I must agree with Jill’s comment above. I know we can get too ‘careful’ sometimes but I’d just recently read a post that speaks of such dangers http://www.designdazzle.com/2013/01/every-parent-and-grandparent-should-read-this/ and wanted to pass it on. I know we can get too ‘careful’ sometimes but

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  18. Louise

    01/11/2013

    I would love to convert our understair cupboard and kit it out with comfy cushions-for me to crawl into when things get too much!!!

    [Reply]

  19. Patty@homemakersdaily.com

    01/11/2013

    Love it! I need to get a shoe organizer for some of my grand kids’ toys. It would work great! Both of my grand kids love magnets, too, and we have a bunch on the refrigerator and the side of my filing cabinet!

    [Reply]

  20. Lynn

    01/11/2013

    Please tell me that you have the file cabinet securely fasten to the wall? A physician friend of mine would bring his precious two year old to the office to play on the weekends with him. He always kept the child’s toys in the bottom two drawers of a file cabinet, so that it “would be easy to reach for the little guy” Well, this ended horribly, the physician pulled open the bottom draw so that his little son could get his toys, he turned his back for one second and the toddler had “climbed into the drawer” and the whole cabinet came crashing down upon him. He suffered severe head trauma and lingered on life support for 3 days, until they decided to let him go. I do not mean to scare you, but I have seen one precious life taken, I would not want something to happen to your precious Nora.

    [Reply]

    Betsy Reply:

    Yes, I was just thinking that same thing, Normally I wouldn’t give it an extra thought, but I just read about a mother that lost her daughter due to a dresser tipping over. I never would have thought about securing larger furniture without that post.

    Not to take away from your handy work for Nora’s space. Very cute. Just felt compelled to second Lynn’s point.

    [Reply]

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