I am not sure of any room in the house that can go from clean to CLUTTER faster than a playroom (or play area inside another room). But after 2 years of nannying for 3 kids and 1 year of having my own child, I'm beginning to see a trend. Kids will get all the toys out that are available to them. If there is an entire closet filled with toys, they will spend all their play time dragging out as many toys as they can and piling them up in one huge mess. Then you have to spend an hour with them trying to clean up.
So, I think that my #1 tip to clutter free play areas is just to simply limit the number of toys that your children have. When we put our house on the market we took advice from several friends and family members and packed away probably 75% of Levi's toys. He doesn't really seem to notice and is still very content with what he has. The best part is there's a lot less to clean up in case of a showing.
Levi has a few toys in his closet on the bookshelf....
(The photo above was actually taken before we eliminated 75% of them...)
...and a few more in a storage ottoman in our Great Room. That's it other than his tricycle out in the mower shed. And he's one of the happiest little toddlers I've known :)
I am a huge fan of Jen's ideas over on IHeartOrganizing (Hello...I mention her almost daily!) but a couple of the cutest things she has for little boys' rooms are canvas bins in the closet with pictures of a moon for pajamas and a sock for socks so they can identify what goes where even if they can't read. I imagine that someday soon I will do something similar in Levi's room.
Another great idea that she mentioned on her Nate Berkus Show segment was that she added casters to old dresser drawers and repurposed them as under the bed rollout storage of things like Legos. I just LOVED that.
If you're looking for attractive, educational ways to store toys, I'll give you a few ideas here from Pinterest. You want to be sure and teach your children how to clean up so you don't have to do it for them every day. Our 15 month old cleans up after himself every night before bath & bedtime. In fact, "clean" is one of the words he says most proficiently. As your children get older and have more toys, sorting might become necessary. That's where baskets could come in.
I just LOVE the use of this Expedit from IKEA. The matching baskets on the bottom two rows are so cute.
The only thing I would do differently would be to add some labels to the storage baskets. Perhaps something like this setup...
Or this one...I love the picture labels Jen made for these storage containers in this play room.
Another person used pictures and words to identify the storage baskets. This would probably be helpful to begin teaching kids how to spell certain everyday words after they've recognized the pictures.
And this example uses words, pictures and the labels are colorful. Gotta love that!
Check back tomorrow for more de-cluttering talk...about the guest room.