How to Keep a Tidy Play Area for Your Kids

A Bingham Farms interior designer shares tips on creating a tidy area for your kids, so playtime can be fun for everyone.
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Clear containers and wire or mesh baskets help children make playtime decisions more easily. // Photograph by Martin Vecchio

Lauren Combs adored the world of Lego as a child growing up in Cincinnati. In addition to building with them, she would organize the pieces by color and size. “I even had subcategories!” she says with a laugh.

Today, Combs is a Neat Method franchise owner who oversees home organization projects in the Bloomfield-Birmingham area and serves as the company’s director of product development.

Neat Method manufactures home organization products and provides solutions for clients’ organization projects. Folks can hire Neat Method organizers to overhaul everything from pantries and closets to playrooms and garages. Combs bought the Detroit franchise nine years ago and oversees a team of four organizers in her region.

Customers can purchase Neat Method’s bins, labels, and more online or work with an organizer to handle procuring customized products. “Much of the time, we use our products when organizing a space, but let’s say a home has a beach vibe — we might obtain products from, say, Serena & Lily,” Combs says. “Target, too, now has great organization items.”

Combs, who lives in Bingham Farms with her husband and three children, ages 6, 8, and 10, says a play space is one of the most important areas of the home to keep in order.

“Kids are learning responsibility and ownership when they have a system for keeping toys neat,” she says. “They more readily clean up and can find things easily when they’re ready to play again. No one wants to look for parts and pieces all over the house.”

Here, she shares four tips for curating a tidy play space:

    1. Simplify. Create broad categories for toys. For example, designate a basket for “transportation” instead of one each for cars, trucks, and planes. Likewise, create one bin for fidget toys rather than separate bins for Pop Its, spinners, and stress balls.
    2. Contain. Use proper bins and baskets that children can easily lift and move around. Combs recommends Neat Method’s rope bins, which are made of tightly braided ropes, sewn together for durability. They fit nicely on standard 14-inch shelves. Fabric bins are also great for kids, as are metal grid baskets that you can see through.
    3. Label. Even if your child can’t yet read, they see the contents of the bin and sense what the words say. So, in a way, labels help children’s organizational and reading skills.
    4. Purge.  Kids’ interests change frequently. Set aside time to purge toys that no longer appeal to them. A great time to donate oldies but goodies? After a birthday or holiday when you need room for new toys.

This story is part of the March 2023 issue of Hour Detroit. Read more in our Digital Edition