I'm never going to be the type of parent who lives blissfully amongst chaos. I've stumbled across many an inspirational poster stating something along the lines of, 'please excuse the mess, we're busy making memories', and it makes me want to buy whoever came up with that quote the biggest shelving unit I can get my hands on along with a lifetime's supply of storage baskets. My memories are not made in mess, they're made in being reasonably on top of things so that I have enough home and head space to do and plan fun things. That's just the way I am.
I certainly don't mind having toys around the home, though. I simply like the boys to put them away once they've finished playing with them. It's part of their pre-bedtime routine and they're pretty good at it now. Everything gets stored away before they head upstairs for baths, stories and bed. I think it's a good habit.
The boys both have toy storage in their own rooms (my eldest has the Rackham storage range and my littlest has the Clifton organiser) and we have a few handy rope storages baskets dotted around the house, too. But ever since the boys were invited to the opening of the Great Little Trading Co. showroom last year and spotted the Eden play table, they've been busy persuading me that it's the one thing that our home is missing.
Initially, I resisted. The Eden play table is quite a big piece of furniture and I knew we'd have to find a proper home for it rather than pop it in a random corner of a room. And I wasn't entirely sure if a table very much designed for a child would work in a more grown up space such as a living room. But, the boys pleaded, and they have the most beautiful big, brown eyes, so I asked Great Little Trading Co. if it could be the next product that we reviewed as part of our role on the testing team.
That is how we came to be the proud owners of the newly redesigned Eden play table ... a play table by day and a toy box by night.
Let me tell you a bit more about it ...
The play table is 120 cm long and 60 cm wide and it stands 45 cm off the ground. So, as I mentioned, it's a proper piece of furniture and not a toy box to be pushed in to the corner of the room. It has two pull out drawers, both on castors. The lid of the play table is reversible, with a colourful and detailed village design on top and a blackboard on the other side. And underneath the lid is another expansive storage compartment. The table is made from solid MDF and painted white, and it retails at £235.
And let me show you how we're using it ...
The amount of storage the play table offers is insane. With two roomy drawers and a deep compartment underneath the lid, there's an incredible amount of space for toys. The boys use one drawer for Lego, one drawer for cars and small toys, and store their board games and arts and crafts materials in the main compartment.
Just for reference, split in to two halves, the table lid is still quite heavy. The boys are happy and able to hold each half up to get their games out but need me to lift it when they want to play on the reverse side. Personally, I think it's an indication of the quality of the table - a lighter, flimsier lid wouldn't give you the longevity which I associate with Great Little Trading Co. products.
With the drawers being on castors, they're really easy for the boys to pull out from underneath the table. And it also means that they can wheel them around the room to pick up all of the cars and Lego pieces which inevitably end up all over the floor come the end of the day.
My two boys like the blackboard side of the lid but they LOVE the more colourful village design. With a road, tracks and the cutest village scenes, it's perfect for children who love cars, trains, and imaginative play. And because of its size, there's more than enough room for them both to play side by side ... in fact, we could probably fit another two children around the table if they all agreed to play nicely and share.
Also, if you're children are in to Lego City, the play table really lends itself to the creation of a 3D village. My boys have the police station and the fire station and both fit really nicely in to the design of the table. It really fuels their imagination. Play mats on the floor are fine, of course, but they really enjoy everything being that bit higher off the ground, particularly as my eldest is quite long limbed and prone to kicking over his creations as he moves around the room.
Here's a few snaps of them playing together ... I've made no secret of the fact that they're not always the best of friends (although, they are getting better) so you'll appreciate how scarce shots like this are.
So, we know that the quality of the Eden play table is brilliant, we also know that it has an amazing capacity for toy storage, and the boys will confirm that it's fantastic for playing on and with. But what about my little niggle? Where would we put it and how would it look in a more grown up space rather than a child's bedroom? Well, niggle no more!
We decided that the play table should live in the bay window in our living room. There's a nice little curve for it to slot in to and also lots of floor space for the boys to be able to pull out the drawers and play with their toys. With the room being modern and colourful in appearance, the table fits right in and doesn't look out of place (or in the way) at all.
When the boys are not using it, I tend to have the lid with the blackboard side facing upwards and treat the table as an extra coffee table. With a vase of flowers and a few books placed upon it, there's little to suggest that it's packed full of children's toys, is there?
If I could make one suggestion for improvement ... or at least something which would make the play table work better for me, personally ... it would be to remove the blackboard and have the reverse side plain white. I realise that this would reduce the play value of the table ever so slightly but with a white lid, it would fit seamlessly in to a living room and you'd be hard pushed to guess is wasn't actually a coffee table.
What do you think?
We're all in agreement that it's the perfect play table for a family living space. It's so well designed, good to look at and it stores an incredible amount toys. I don't think our living room has ever been so tidy and I've already documented that I'm a bit of a neat freak!
If you have any questions or want to know any more details about the Eden play table, just pop them in the comments and I'll get back to you as soon as I can.
And a couple more snaps ...