Displaying Children's Artwork in your Home

As we near the end of my son’s year in Reception, we have already accumulated masses of artwork and I’m far too sentimental to just throw it all out with the recycling. Instead, I am planning on editing it and finding creative ways to display some of my favourite pieces around our home. I wanted to share with you some of my inspiration as well as some handy tips on keeping a record of those sweet scribbles that don’t quite make the cut.

First up, the gallery wall. The very best gallery walls are made up of a mixture of photographs, prints, artwork and artefacts, grouped together in a contrasting frames, or even just pinned or taped on to the wall. They should evoke feelings and memories, and there’s no reason at all why children’s artwork shouldn’t be included. Below are some of my favourites to give you the inspiration to create your own:

Photo Credits: Zoe Young Interiors and Finlay Fox

If you want to rotate artwork as and when new masterpieces are brought home, there are some very clever frames available that allow you to easily switch out pictures. I also like to use clips, washi tape or command strips to pin up smaller pictures on to the wall which can be swapped out easily enough over time.

Alternatively, you may wish to create a display dedicated solely to your kids’ masterpieces. Perhaps you have a bare wall in the kitchen or playroom that’s crying out for some colour and personality. If you’re aiming to create a display solely from artwork, in my opinion this works best when there is some order to your display.

In these rooms, inexpensive cork board has been used simply and effectively to provide a structured display:

Photo Credits: Pinterest, Young House Love, The Lily Pad Cottage

Whilst different frames painted in the same colour, magnetic wall displays or artwork displayed in neat rows provide a sense of order.

Photo Credits: The Caterpillar Years, via BHG, via Brit + Co

There are also some fabulous makers out there specialising in creating keepsakes from your kids’ artwork, check out Barney & Wilf for these amazing collages, or Periwinkle and Clay who can transfer your kids’ artwork on to clay tiles, both would make incredibly personal gifts.

What I love about kids’ art displays is that they’re ever changing, encourage creativity, and are unique to your family. I’d absolutely love to see your own displays, tag me in your posts with #leoandgrace

Storage Solutions - IKEA Kallax-Friendly Baskets

With options that can go on the floor, the wall or even on castors, the KALLAX storage furniture series has a lot to offer you. The clean, simple design, and the big variety of shelving units and more, make it flexible enough for almost any need.
— IKEA

The IKEA Kallax (Expedit) shelving range makes its way into many children's bedrooms and playrooms, and for very good reasons. It's extremely affordable, flexible storage, and given that most parents are looking to conceal brightly coloured toys, the endless options for boxes, baskets and doors do just that.  

I thought I’d share my round-up of alternative Kallax-friendly storage boxes and baskets if you’re looking for something a little different to the standard IKEA offering:

Storage Solutions - Cuddly Toys

Often, when I visit a client for the first time, one of the most common things I see is a long furry line-up of brightly coloured friends along the entire length of the child's bed.  It's one of parents' pet hates and near the top of their list for solving.  Don't get me wrong, I'm not completely heartless and I realise how attached kids get to their cuddly toys and comforters, but I do think one or two is sufficient for the bed and there are plenty of alternative and fun ways to store the rest.

In Thomas' room, I opted for a bed with a built-in bench at the end which is the perfect spot for a select few of his friends to hang out.  The rest are tucked away in storage bags and are allowed out on rotation!

In Georgia's room, I've used a dolls' crib to store her cuddly toys.  It's getting a little cosy now, but keeps them all in one place where she can easily access them and it encourages her to tidy them up at the end of the day as "we put them to bed" before she gets into her own cot.

Small Stuff Dolls Crib

SHELVING:

Whilst shelving is of course an option, I feel like we're just shifting the problem from the bed to the shelves, so unless it's a couple of well chosen toys mixed in with other decor, I'm not convinced it's the answer.  

LeoandGraceMelshouse-17.jpg

However, if you really don't mind them all being on display and just want a place for them to be put away at the end of the day there are plenty of options, ranging from toy hammocks, to swings and even dedicated soft toy zoos.  Personally, I'm just not convinced that they all need to be on display, all of the time, but if that doesn't bother you or you have a very tasteful collection then they're definitely worth considering.

WALL LADDERS:

Floor space is often incredibly tight in children's rooms, and it's wise to make the most of any unused wall space.  These wall bars by Kaos are a great idea for storage, take up very little space and the bars are perfect for favourite cuddly toys to be tucked behind with the others hidden in fabric bags.  I wouldn't suggest these for a younger child's room as there's always a temptation they'll try to climb them, but use your own judgement here.

Photo Credit:   Kaos

Photo Credit:  Kaos

WALL POCKETS:

A similar idea to make use of unused wall space would be to use hanging wall pockets to display a few favourites.  Numero 74, Ferm Living and 3 Sprouts are all good options.

Photo Credit:   @mreiness

Photo Credit:  @mreiness

As for the rest, into bags, boxes and baskets they go:

STORAGE BAGS:

One of my go-to brands for storage bags is Tell Kiddo.  They have a range of natural coloured paper and fabric bags.  Not only are they brilliant quality, the bold typography and bear faces add an adorable touch to kids rooms.

Another excellent choice for fabric storage bags is Wildfire Teepees, whose bags are also very sturdy, and again come in various monochrome patterns.  Incidentally, I also use one of these for my children's laundry.

BASKETS:

You will already know by now that I'm a huge fan of baskets for toy storage and it's no different when it comes to cuddly toys.   I absolutely love this idea of hanging them from wall hooks so the toys are all still accessible, but not cluttering the floor or surfaces.

Photo Credit:   Crazy Wonderful

Photo Credit:  Crazy Wonderful

Photo Credit  @jasminabylund

Photo Credit @jasminabylund

Belly baskets are the obvious choice as they're roomy and flexible.  Don't be afraid to use colour, pattern or embellishments like tassels and pom poms.  They're a great way of tying your design scheme together.  These are all available at This Modern Life:

The Ferm Living wire baskets are another great option for cuddly toys, I recently used one in a little client's room for her extensive cuddly toy collection, together with the lid which she can use as an extra play surface for drawing and puzzles.

Photo Credit:   @ovellie

Photo Credit:  @ovellie

STORAGE CRATES:

Storage crates on wheels are brilliant for kids rooms, and can also be used to encourage tidying-up by making it a little more fun.  We have the Ooh Noo storage crate in Thomas' room for all his books but it would be equally great for soft toys, and IKEA do a very similar version. 

TRUNKS:

Last but not least, consider using a large metal or woven lidded storage trunk which have lots of space but can fully conceal even the brightest of cuddly toys.  These examples are all from Habitat and would also make stylish dressing-up boxes.

Hopefully this has given you lots of new storage ideas, and a little extra wriggle space in the bed for your little ones.  Let me know if you have any other great ideas, I'd love to hear them.

Planning a Space for your Newborn

I'm often asked where to start when it comes to planning a space for a new baby and this got me reminiscing about our firstborn Thomas' nursery.  If only I could go back in time and do things a little differently... 

Looking back, one of the biggest and most costly mistakes we made when planning his nursery was to head straight to one of the large baby superstores where we bought a co-ordinating set of cot bed, changing unit and wardrobe.  We felt like we were getting such a great deal as the furniture was heavily discounted if we bought all 3 pieces, and it ticked off 3 of the big ticket items on our list of things to buy before baby arrived.

Image credit:   Mothercare

Image credit:  Mothercare

This wasn't one of our best interiors decisions and we could definitely have spent our money a lot more wisely.  The nursery furniture sets are typically large, ugly, boxy items of furniture and there are some much nicer alternatives out there.  So with the benefit of hindsight, and now with many rooms designs under my belt here are my thoughts on how to go about planning baby's first space.

Sleeping arrangements:

When planning a nursery, of course your baby will need somewhere to sleep.  However, for their first 4-6 months they will most likely be in a smaller Moses basket or bedside crib in your own bedroom so the cot bed isn't a time critical purchase and you can take your time working out your style before you commit to purchasing it.  A newborn would feel rather lost in a large cot bed after being tucked inside your tummy for 9 months so to begin with, I would suggest investing in a beautiful Moses basket and stand, which won't take up too much space in your master bedroom, and will provide a cosy space for baby to spend their first few months.  It also has the advantage of being easily carried around the house so if baby will only sleep with you in close proximity you can move it around and still get on with things whilst baby snoozes.  Add some striking wall art, black and white photographs of the family (babies love faces!) or a mobile for baby to look at and you're all sorted for your first few months. 

Image credit:  @hel_bow  with stunning print by  @ellaandtheroo

Image credit: @hel_bow with stunning print by @ellaandtheroo

Once your baby is ready to move into a cot bed, there are plenty of affordable and stylish choices.  Personally I don't think you can go too far wrong with the IKEA Sniglar which is now available in two sizes, cot 60x120cm for smaller spaces or cot bed size 70x140cm.

Image credit:  The Frugality

Image credit: The Frugality

Space for mum:

The next most important purchase by far is somewhere for mum to sit comfortably for long periods of time.  Whether you are planning to breast or bottle feed you will be up feeding baby every 2-3 hours to begin with (not to mention the cluster feeds) and a comfortable high-backed chair is a must.  Again, I'm going to steer you away from the traditional nursing chair/glider as not only are they typically ugly and bulky, I also find them impossible to get in and out of whilst holding your baby.  That being said it's important that you choose a chair that's ergonomically designed to support both you and your baby whilst feeding.  I'd recommend looking for a high back with arms at the right level to give you that support.  Another consideration is the fabric as if you want a chair to last you will need it to be stain resistant!  If you can find one in a design you're going to love and use for many years then it's definitly worth spending a bit more and if you need help justifying the cost then think about the expensive physio sessions you might save yourself (speaking from painful personal experience!)  

Image credit:  Baby Grey 

Changing area:

Unless you're blessed with an enormous master bedroom suite, squeezing in a Moses basket or small bedside crib and a chair is usually difficult enough without then having to find space for all the other baby essentials.  We actually moved our own chest of drawers with all our clothes in it into the spare room to make space for a changing unit but this was totally unnecessary.  We could just as easily have managed with a changing mat and a couple of pretty baskets for nappies, wipes, spare onesies and muslins. 

Image credit:   Olli Ella

Image credit:  Olli Ella

Clothes Storage:

Before having children, I massively underestimated the amount of space I would need for clothes storage.  They may be tiny but they grow ridiculously quickly and we found we were (very kindly) inundated with new clothes and hand-me-downs in bigger sizes by friends and family which I also needed to find space for.  If you're tight on space in baby's room, I would always recommend a chest of drawers over a wardrobe and if you have enough space a nice wide one is perfect.  Not only does it provide lots of storage space, it also means that their clothes are easily accessible once your child is ready to dress themselves.  The majority of children's clothes can be stored in drawers, and if you have some items that need hanging they can either go into your wardrobe or displayed on a hanging rail or on wall hooks.

Image credit:  @  johannasdagar

Image credit: @johannasdagar

Last but not least don't forget to consider your lighting.  I'll be doing a blog post on lighting very soon, but my tip would be to always look for something that's dimmable so you can adjust the level of light as required.  You'll want slightly brighter light for reading stories and changing baby, and something a lot darker for nighttime feeds and cuddles.

Hopefully this has given you some inspiration to think a little differently in your approach to your new baby's room.  We have now lived with our superstore 3-piece for almost 4 years as I'm too stubborn to admit it was a bad purchase but I really can't wait to swap it out for something a lot prettier once Georgia's ready to transition out of her cot.  Watch this space to see what I go for... 

I'd love to hear if you have any other must-haves for your baby's first room or if you have any questions that I can help with.