One of our followers sent us the following question on Twitter: “@SAHomeOwner I have two small kids and two playpens in my lounge, how can I make this space look less cluttered?” We asked The Space Whisperer herself, Tonya Lehtinen, for her expert opinion on the subject. Here’s what Tonya has to say:

“My first response to parents asking this type of question is “relax!” As a new parent, and someone who has always been able to keep their abode neat and tidy, you will undoubtedly suffer from anxiety when facing a house filled with paraphernalia belonging to your little ones. There is no escaping the squeaky toys, teddies, crayon drawings on walls and plastic Noddy plates. And just when you think you have everything under control comes phase two, with wondrous clay and papier-mâché artworks adorning the kitchen walls and surfaces. You can either resist or go with the flow, managing collateral as best one can.

If you have opted to make the living room into a multi-functional dining/playroom then let it be that. Be creative with your furniture placement and try out new ideas. Let go of the original formal sitting room structure and focus on function and comfort, even if you have to decommission a few articles of furniture to the garage. If you don’t already have a mirror, it’s a good investment; it brings in light and entertains the little ones.

I am not one for plastic containers but if you don’t mind plastic, they are very practical storage solutions. Choose clear ones that will be useful later on for storing camping or sports equipment in the garage. I love baskets, especially large, open, soft baskets with handles. It is easy to do a quick tidy up when one can and literally toss toys into their designated baskets. Tidying up can be fun and easy when you toss into the baskets all the bits and pieces lying around at the end of the day. Woven or material baskets also won’t scratch your floor.”