Less Is More!

Have you joined the pre-holiday toy decluttering challenge? If so, I’d love to hear how it’s going for you. For a little more inspiration during this challenge, I have asked my friend, Alana Chernecki of Brillante Design, to give her two cents on decluttering. Alana is the only other Reggio-inspired preschool teacher turned designer of children’s spaces I’ve ever come across and I’m so excited to introduce you to her today. Read on for her guest post and see her beautiful spaces.

Decluttering Does A Body (And Brain!) Good

By Alana Chernecki

Less is more. How many times have you heard this phrase? The concept of less is more can be applied to a multitude of scenarios: from architecture to make-up to home décor to jewelry and even ingredients in food.

But nowhere does this principle have more impact and significance than the environment we create for our children. See, the environment has immense transformative power. The physical environment that surrounds children has the power to shape attitudes, behavior, and learning. Through thoughtful selection, organization and presentation of quality toys, literature, materials and furnishings, we create a wonderful ambiente – one of the most precious gifts we can give our children.

Our environment, however, can also be a source of stress, overwhelm and distraction. Too many toys, books, and electronics negatively affect the brain’s function, and can actually inhibit the ability to learn, think creatively, and attend to task.

Curator Vs. Collector

As you begin the journey of decluttering, think of yourself as a CURATOR rather than a COLLECTOR. A curator’s role is to thoughtfully select, organize, present pieces so that they tell a story. Think about your children’s story. What are they interested in? What are the items that they use and play with consistently? What items will stretch their imaginations the most and keep them engaged for longer periods? What quality children’s books will you display?

I liken the organization of a playroom to setting up for a dinner party. Would you want your guests to come over to a messy house, where the table wasn’t set, and they had to rummage through drawers and cupboards to find the necessary items to eat with? A children’s space (playroom, art studio, rec-room) is no different. Everything should not only have a place, but also be beautifully presented and organized – much like lovely place settings you set out for a dinner party. A well-organized, thoughtfully prepared environment will ensure your children will want to play and learn in their space.

Making Room For Creativity

Children are more deeply engaged, and play for longer periods when there is less to choose from. When toys are open-ended (wooden, non-descript), children reinvent ways to use the same toys: they fire up their imaginations, as the possibilities are endless. When less toys are offered, inventiveness and creativity blossoms.

As you continue the task of decluttering – think about the process as making more room in your child’s brain for thinking, creativity, and prolonged periods of engagement. Think carefully about the toys, books, and materials you will set out, and how you will present and display these items. Think about the space from your child’s perspective: are items labeled, and within reach of your child? Do they appear inviting to touch, to observe, to explore?

You will be amazed with the results of a thoughtfully prepared play environment for your children. Prolonged engagement, deeper thinking, independence in learning and play, and greater responsibility and respect for belongings are but a few bi-products of a well-organized and clutter-free children’s space.


About the Author

Alana Chernecki is an educator by trade and a designer at heart. A mom of three, with over ten years of teaching experience in Winnipeg’s public schools, she discovered early on the importance of creating a learning environment that was both stimulating and calm, clean and colorful, engaging and organized. Her company *brillante is an intersection of motherhood, education + design. She designs, styles and curates spaces for kids + teens to inspire learning and creativity.

Photography by: b2Photography

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  • Amy @ These Wild Acres January 11, 2017  

    Such inspiring photos! I am working on shifting my “collectors” mindset for sure! :D I find myself wanting to hang on to bits and things, not for sentimental reasons… but for potential art projects!

    • Megan Schiller January 11, 2017  

      I know how that is, Amy! I had to stop collecting everything for art projects a few years ago. Now I just give myself a certain amount of bins for storage and once they’re full I don’t keep anything else.