Corralling the Kids' Beach Toys Corralling the Kids' Beach Toys
You don't have to be summering in the Hamptons to find yourself suddenly surrounded by a collection of summer toys, ranging from old-fashioned striped beach balls to torpedo-shaped floaters to boogie boards. All sorts of lurid plastic "today" colors are strewn afoot in the yard. Even the most commonplace home 1,500 miles from any ocean can quickly become a sand trap of summer toys, and yet there are ways of keeping things in order without wrecking your home's design.
First of all, remember that summer is a temporary condition. Even if you live in Florida or southern California, the conditions that make summer great fun - primarily school vacation - will be gone faster than a popsicle in a heat wave come September.
As with any temporary condition in your home, it's best to corral the items in question into one convenient spot, preferably near the door, just as you do with winter boots and mittens. In fact, this approach is a good one to work with in any aspect of your home design: think of the function not only of the room, but of the items you're trying to organize.
For example, if you want to organize home office things, keep them all in the area of the desk: all paper, pens, paperclips, and staples always go back to the desk. The phone book should, of course, live close enough to the phone so that you can use it easily while dialing.
The trouble with something like summer items is that you won't be integrating them into your home, because before you know it there won't be a use for them.
Because beach toys are used outdoors, the best place to keep them is by the main doorway into the house that the family really uses. This will cut down on sand being tracked into the home, and it will cut down on you having to holler at the kids to take their things to their rooms.
One decorative and handy way of storing beach things is the time-honored fish netting, available at most larger hardware stores or outdoor supply shops. It's simple to put up: just screw a couple of heavy-duty hooks into the wall and hang the netting from them, then fill with toys and other items. One advantage to this is that anything damp will be able to dry, as the air circulates so easily that mold won't collect.
Another problem in summer, whether you're on the coast of an ocean or just a lake side, is the collection of sand in the house.
The most obvious solution here is to make sure there is some kind of a trapping device by the door; we recommend a heavy-duty doormat, such as one made of thick sisal, for the outside. Having one doormat outside the door, and another, lighter-gauge mat inside, will add a double layer of protection.
You can then encourage your kids to actually remove their sandy shoes at the door by installing some handy shoe holder, whether it's a wicker basket or a shoe-holder. Using a basket has the advantage of being easy - the kids don't need to worry about neatly placing their sneakers and sandals in a rack; rather, they can just toss them in and head to the kitchen for a hard-earned lemonade.
Keeping a broom, dustpan and small trash can by the door, or a hand-held vacuum, will help even more.
And then, just remember that before you know it, you'll be hitting the back-to-school sales and riffling through the sweaters you have stored in the attic.