A Small Kids Closet That Doubles As A Play Space

The closet in the spare room used to be packed with things like luggage, wrapping paper, gift bags, and a bunch of other clutter that had to be dealt with in order to free up space for actual playing and Clara-storage (since this is now the playroom/big girl room instead of a room full o’ junk).

So we took everything out (except for the photo albums & yearbooks up top) and it magically disappeared.

Just kidding, it ended up in the guest room closet.

Which actually seems ok since we’re on year three of living here (CRAZY!) and we haven’t noticed any guests using the guest closet at all, so it made sense for us to put that valuable real estate to work for us. There’s actually still a little room for hanging things on the bar if we shove all the bags to the left or the right, so we might do that if we’re expecting company, just in case. But for the rest of the time it’s more functional to see my gift bags all spread out so I can grab one nice and fast.

And the good news is that once the door is shut, our guests don’t have to be subjected to all of the items that lurk behind it.

And after the addition of a few Clara-things, the closet in her big girl room is now nice and useful – both for games and for storing a few not-her-size yet items of clothing (get it? they’re her big girl clothes in her big girl room). It would be fun to paint the closet walls a playful color (coral? teal?) so maybe we’ll get to that sometime.

In the meantime, we just added a friend or two. You know for closet ambiance. Like her monkey (he likes to hang out).

The addition of a few toys essentially creates another play-zone in the house (Clara already plays a lot in her big girl room thanks to her play kitchen and her little table for stuffed animal tea parties, (not to mention fake naps on the daybed) but the closet is yet another little spot that she can sneak into and enjoy.

Down on the floor we have a few things that I picked up for the Macklemore Challenge. Remember the $1 chair that used to be a faded old yellow-brown color? And the cradle that had some burns and scratches along with a pretty musty odor?

Well they’re looking (and smelling) nice and fresh now…

They were both easily revived thanks to some cleaning, priming, and fresh paint. For the chair I used Valspar’s Gloss in Classic Red (which is a paint and primer in one). And for the cradle I used Rustoleum’s Universal All-Surface spray paint in gloss white (which also has a built-in primer).

I actually have some more plans for the cradle (rhymes with bom bom bringe) so I promise I’ll keep you posted! It definitely won’t just be all basic and white for long…

But even though the cradle is only half done, the newly cleared-out closet is getting lots of play.

I’m actually learning that as Clara grows it’s nice to have a few zones throughout the house for her to “discover things to do” instead of plopping every toy in one basket in the living room. It seems like the change of scenery from room to room holds her interest more, and I like that there aren’t ten million jumbled toys in one spot to clean up (by delegating them to different areas, most of the time they stay in those new zones so there’s just a little picking up in a few rooms instead of a giant pile of mixed toys on the living room rug).

So that’s the story of our quick little closet overhaul. What have you guys been transferring and organizing? Any other closet clear-outs going on? If you have a guest room do you keep the closet completely bare in case someone wants to hang something? Or do you use it since most of the time you’re not housing guests and it’s valuable storage space? We just realized the other day that we only have five closets in this entire four bedroom house (our 800 square foot one-bedroom apartment here in Richmond had four) so it’s a wonder we ever had an empty one at all!


  1. Kristin says

    We’re having a big snow day, so I decided to organize my pantry…my 16 year old son even got into it (both literally & figuratively…why does a kid that old still like to get into cabinets?) and helped me figure out where things should live.

  2. Tricia S says

    I love the closet redo. I am also plagued with tiny old house closets. I’ve got all my skirts on the multiple skirt hangers that will hold six skirts. Looking at your collection of gift bags I realized that a skirt hanger would be a great way to hold them. Just fold the bags flat, flip them upside down and clip them to the hanger.

  3. Karen F says

    “bom bom bringe” – LOL!

    Isn’t cleaning out closets the best?? We live in a 100 year old house, so we have 4 closets that are original to the house, and we added a mudroom which has a closet. My older daughter’s room has 2 sort of half closets that are tucked under the roofline, and thus will be unusable for hanging clothes in the near future (I don’t think a full size hanger would hang in there, thanks to the slope of the roof) So, yeah. Also, we don’t have a guestroom – we end up having guests sleep in the master BR, and my husband and I sleep on an air mattress in one of the girl’s rooms. Not ideal, but we only have quests 1 or 2 times a year anyway.

    I did however just clean out my coat closet by my front door, so that coats could actually hang in it (we had a ton of old coats that we never wore in there). Also, now I can get the vacuum out of there without cursing.

  4. Megan says

    I’m several weeks behind getting the upstairs bedroom cleaned out so I can start putting baby stuff in there. But the closet is the one place I’ve finished! Save for a piece of luggage that will go in the spare Ron’s closet after I reorganize my craft and sewing stuff…
    Yeah, it’s never ending here.

  5. Nicole says

    I’m sure you’ll probably read approximately 8761873245 comment recommendations as for what color, if any, you should paint the closet, so without further ado, I’ll throw my hat in the ring and say something like a minty green or something similarly soothing would look lovely. It would help to calm some of the other energy (in the cheery pinks and reds going on in the room). Perhaps minty green doesn’t jive well with colors in the rest of the room… in which case I’ll blame my recommendation on my monitor. You know, the colors ‘n stuff.

  6. Susanne says

    I’ve been hesitant to spray paint in the winter since the cans give warnings about the temp ranges to use it in. (I live in Baltimore and so far we’ve only gotten teaser spring days.) Did you happen it hit up one of the warm days to spray paint?

  7. Krissy says

    Nate is putting the laminate down in the bedroom this morning, the trim will go up in the afternoon… and then we have to put the whole house back together! We’ve got dressers in the office and kitchen, and the bed in the middle of the living room! We decided that when we put everything back into the bedroom, we’re doing a super spring cleaning and getting rid of a lot of stuff – you don’t realize how much you have until it’s in giant piles all over other parts of your house!

    Are the dominoes in the frame specific numbers on purpose? I’m looking forward to hearing about more of your creative art!

  8. says

    Ca-UTE! I just had an idea! You should do a post on how you organize your toys and all of the the “Clara-phe-nalia”. As if you don’t have a TON of other posts to do. I always love to see good organizing ideas…it’s always the last thing to get done when you move into a house – haha! Love how the room is coming together!

    • says

      We actually did a post about that a while back (I think if you search Clara-phernalia it comes up) but we owe you an update since it was a long time ago! Basically we like to not overwhelm her with too much out at once, so we rotate things in and out and try to keep things more fun that way!


  9. says

    I also use our guest bedroom closet for storage. I ended up using one of those hanging closet organizers to lay our gift bags in, and that has worked out well for keeping everything organized and taking up as little space as possible. :)

  10. says

    Every closet in our house needs a change out. Most of them need new doors too. Who loves metal bifold doors from the 70s? I don’t!

    BTW, I was perusing “All You” magazine this morning (Oddly it’s my husband’s subscription, which he got for the coupons, the nerd :)) and they had an excerpt from your book on updating a lamp. I turned the page and was all “Hey, I know that lamp shade!” and quickly looked for the credit.

    And in other news I FINALLY wrote up meeting you folks in DC. I totally planned it to coincide with your last book tour post ha ha.


  11. Jess says

    Looks great (as usual :) And this gives me a lot of ideas as we prepare for baby No. 1. Thanks!
    Question: Where did you get that adorable butterfly vest? I don’t normally do the whole pink thing, but I’d consider picking that up for my little girl for sure. Too cute.

  12. Liz O says

    I really like those little shelves on the side of that closet. it’s a great idea! We are relocating my son to his “big boy” room thanks to a little sister coming along. I might have to add some shelves there. I think it would a great new home for his shoes!

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