24 Matching Bins Is Erin Fetherston’s Secret to a (Relatively) Clean Playroom

Crucial, given it’s the first thing visitors see.

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white, airy kids' playroom with play café
Snack Shack Kids Canvas Playhouse, Natural Wonderful Wicker 11-Inch Storage Baskets, Wood Band Set, White Horse 21-Inch Upholstered Play Chairs, and Willy Round Kids Play Table by Leanne Ford, Crate & Kids. Courtesy of Crate & Kids

A playroom is not usually the first thing you see when you step inside someone’s home, but that’s exactly what greets you at Erin Fetherston’s Los Angeles house. “What I learned from my last place is that everyone was always crowding the kitchen and no one was ever using the formal living spaces,” the fashion and interior designer shares. And yet “you also need to keep an eye on the kids,” she points out. So she made the bold move of turning her dining room into a dedicated kids’ area, furnished by Crate & Kids. Its location adjacent to the kitchen offers Fetherston maximum visibility—a benefit well worth her front doors opening up right into the room.

The change might not be permanent (“When my kids are older, I may alter it to be more of a breakfast nook,” Fetherson muses), but for now it serves the designer’s original purpose: somewhere for her children (ages 7, 3, and 1) to hang out that’s not tucked away. “They feel very proud of the room because it says, Hey, your space is just as important as the adult space and it’s right up front and center.

As every parent knows, in order to get 30 minutes to yourself (or at least enough time to sip that coffee while it’s still hot), independent play is the goal—and an indicator that you’ve set up a successful kids’ spot. Here’s how Fetherston achieved that.

Add a Bin, Then Add a Lot More

family in playroom with rows of bins behind them
Drum Set, Plan Toys; Natural Wonderful Wicker 11-Inch Storage Basket, Crate & Kids. Courtesy of Crate & Kids

To give her kids autonomy over their own room (and hide away the bright plastic stuff that clashes with the space’s elevated palette), Fetherston organized all the toys into 24—yes, 24—woven bins that little ones can easily reach. Items that need adult involvement, like board games, get stowed in the closet. “The truth is, no matter how organized you are, any kids’ space requires maintenance!” says Fetherston. Things inevitably get mixed up, but simple labels that can be updated with a white pen make reorganization less of a hassle.

No Screen Time, No Problem

For Fetherston, weekends are for family time, not screen time, which admittedly requires some preplanning. Her life hack is twofold: First, she puts aside a few favorite toys, making sure not to pull them out Monday through Thursday. Then on Friday afternoons, she lays them on the top of the wall-to-wall low bookcases. When her boys get home from school, their playroom is rife with exciting “new” playthings. Fetherston shares, “I noticed that when I am able to make the effort to prepare activities and stations, they really entertain themselves on the weekends.” 

Shrink the Furniture

white, airy kids' playroom with bin storage

Fetherston opted for the round play table and nubby cream bouclé chairs from Leanne Ford’s Crate & Kids collaboration because they are essentially pieces from Ford’s main line, just shrunken down for kids. It’s a trick Fetherston herself employs repeatedly throughout her home when she can’t find the right piece in the children’s section. “You know how a lot of times when furniture gets delivered, you’re supposed to screw in the legs? I just don’t add them,” she explains. Voilá! An instant sophisticated kid-size sofa from Article that’s safe and accessible, even for Fetherston’s 1-year-old. The designer is also a proponent of simply hacking off the legs, a tactic that turned her 3-year-old’s crib into a Montessori-inspired floor bed, and a chest of drawers into a nightstand.

Put Your Money Into the Ceiling

neutral playroom with floor sofa
Gabriola Sofa (legs removed), Article. Photography by Elizabeth Messina

You won’t find any precious table or floor lamps in Fetherston’s playroom. Instead, she invested in an elegant brass chandelier by Troy Lighting and affixed it to the ceiling. Now it’s impossible for her kids to accidentally knock it down and hurt themselves. Not to mention, she says, “it’s a way to elevate the whole room.”