Thursday, January 19, 2012

Think outside the {toy} Box - Over 50 Organizational Tips for Kids' Spaces

This post contains Amazon Affiliate links. All opinions are my own.

Okay, let's just get right to it. These are kids' spaces. Kids need and want to use their space for playing, right? They don't want their precious floor space crowded with boxes of their own toys! But heaven forbid they actually have to give up any of those toys!!! So what's a mom to do?

First, I have to say that I'm a big fan of the "rotate" idea. If you remember when I built our toy boxes, I built three of the huge beasts. But only two of them reside in the playroom. One of them stays in attic space, and the kids get to rotate toys in and out of it every 3 or 4 months or so.

I find this helps my kids realize just how LITTLE they play with certain toys and helps them let go of them later on. If they can see that a toy hasn't been "in play" for the last two or three rotations, it's probably time for it to go to another home, so another child can enjoy it.

That being said, the next thing moms are going to look for are space-saving and utilizing ideas. That's what we'll be looking for today!

Let's start with this great idea from Ana White. I'm the founder of the I {heart} Ana White fan club. She's amazing! While building may sound daunting to many, I can assure you, it's not as bad or hard as it seems. And you can always simplify an idea to suit your own skill level. Like, for instance, using pre-built shelves but attaching them to the back of a closet door instead of building this entire thing!

Ana White - Grace's Closet

And if you're really afraid of building (or are renting and don't want to put holes in closet doors), what about using a good ol' shoe organizer to store those barbies or action figures?

The Container Store found on Amazon

Also a great idea for keeping track of art and school supplies. This comes from Jamie at Something to Do.

Another area that gets neglected or goes unused is under the bed. Or perhaps it's used...just not like you want it to be! Well, one of my blog bff's has come up with a great storage solution that's easy for kids to roll out, but won't require you to build drawers (I've helped build some drawers, and I'll admit I don't love it.)

These are an excellent and simple alternative! Go visit Jaime (That's My Letter) and tell her hello. :)

If you're not ready to build, can I convince you to spray paint? Yeah, I thought you might like that. We're going industrial this year, and these lockers are perfect! Love the open top shelves of this one and the different color inside!

Via Vickie Howell on Flickr

If your kids are a bit older, and you love a good knock-off project, Ana White has some great plans for a similar teen storage tower. I haven't seen these in person, but I'm not sure I'd recommend them for smaller kids due to stability (and my children's affinity for climbing). But perfect for a teen girl's room! Here's a link for Ana's plans.

And here are the lovely originals from PB Teen:

And you can't do an organizational post without showing some pegboard love!

This is from House on Ashwell Lane:

All kids love costumes, right? Simply gut an old dresser and build a cute little wardrobe! Natalie at A Turtle's Life for Me did an amazing job on this one for her daughter!

Can we talk about stuffed animals for a minute?

Does your child have a serious stuffed animal problem? Just go ahead and throw them in the trash. No, really! Did you get the memo that industrial is in?! What's more industrial than a metal garbage can? This one was created by Rebekah Merkle on her blog, but I guess she is no longer blogging, and the link to her site doesn't work. :(  She actually used it as a garbage can in her home, but I think her "scrunchy" looks like a cute liner, and I can envision my 7-year-old having a good time putting all her buddies in the trash at night. I'm not sure what sizes are available, but this size seems more suited for older kids. It would just make the little ones really mad. ;)

And this one just kills me! If I wasn't a renter, I think I'd put them all over my walls! I originally saw it on Better Homes and Gardens.

No kids' room organization list would be complete without a classic "stuffed animal net"! This great tutorial is from Lemon Squeezy Home.

This one doesn't have a tutorial, but they seem simple enough to make! You can see the whole room tour at Bees Knees Bungalow.

This is another cute knock-off project with a good tutorial. I think my kids would love this one! You can see the tutorial at On the Banks of Squaw Creek.

Love this one! So simple! You could even just hang a rope from a plant hanger on the ceiling, and then clip the stuffed animals right to the rope with clothespins! Great way to utilize the higher spaces in the room. But be prepared to be called in to help the little guys get the treasures they can't reach! :)

Yes, yes, I KNOW this is a shower caddy. But can't you picture some cute little stuffed animals chilling on those shelves, tucked away in a corner?? You can find more ideas at

And this one is kind of a combination of the trash can and the animal zoo! Very cute! See more pics at Prudent Baby.

We can't neglect those small toys, though, right?

These clear toy storage bags from Make It and Love It are excellent! Kids can open them on their own, and they can see exactly what's in the bag, thus lessening the "throw it all out to see if my favorite toy is at the bottom".

And more fabulous storage ideas from Make It and Love It. These ones are fabric storage boxes, and I am in love with the coordinating fabrics!

Love the color organization by I Heart Organizing in her playroom!

This site has free printables for these canister labels. She's used them on Folgers canisters, but I've been saving up my large cashew canisters, and I think something like this would be perfect! Great that the kids can easily see what's in the can! Visit Heart of Wisdom for the free printables!

Here's a tutorial for a fun little car caddy!

Love these under-the-bed storage bins from Woman's Day.

Are you cheap like me? What about taking some of those heavy-duty diaper or wipes boxes and covering them with cheap burlap? This has held up extremely well over the last year of use and even during our move across the ocean! Not bad for a $1 box. :)

Let's not forget all those board games! Beckie at Infarrantly Creative is a craft genius! Why not turn your usable board games into fun, colorful wall art? All the pieces are stored in the framed boxes! Excellent!!

And here's one last art supplies idea. Also from Ana White.

And on to books!

The Ardent Sparrow blog has a good little round-up of some book storage ideas if you want some more ideas.

Remember when we talked about utilizing your space wisely? This is such a good idea from On the Banks of Squaw Creek! Be cautious if you have little climbers, though! ;)

This is adorable, so I had to include it. My kids would probably drag that thing all over the place! But so cute! I originally got it from the site Cory Conner Designs, but it looks like the site is no longer functional. :(

This lovely pic is from Therese Hagstedt on Flickr. These shelves are called "spine" shelves, and you can find them on Amazon for pretty cheap. Or it looks like a simple DIY. Looks like a 1x10 cut in 10" pieces and screwed to a 1x3, and the whole thing is screwed to a stud in the wall. Not sure how much weight it would hold on each shelf without a bracket, but you could add a bracket below each shelf as well...

And if you prefer sewing vs. building, these book slings have also become pretty popular! This one is from Domestic Adventure.

Turn an Ikea bookshelf on its side, put some legs (or wheels) and a cushion on it, and call it a day! Image from Better Homes and Gardens via Apartment Therapy.

And here's another one that I think is just beautiful, but I'm not sure of the practicality for a kid's space. Perhaps if you need something mobile? There's a good tutorial on Country Living from Halligan Norris Smith.

Or bring the shelves up off the floor! Inspiration at Homespun Toronto!

Now on to paperwork and school!

Do you have some little artists in your house? Do you have a hard time getting rid of thsie masterpieces? Maybe you'd feel more warm and fuzzy if you did something like this and scanned the artwork and shrunk them to fit in cute artwork?! This display is just gorgeous! Truly--I LOVE this!! Visit Jen's Thousand Words for more details on how she made them.

Need some tips on going through school paperwork? Click on over to get some ideas from I Heart Organizing.

Or visit these cute "command center" boards from Delightful Order.

And these chore charts were purchased from an Etsy shop, but I LOVE the idea of using magnets for chores!  More great pics at The Clay Family blog. We've done sticker charts, and I get pretty sick of getting the stickers down for every little thing. I like that they could do this all on their own!

And if you're really looking to maximize kids' space, I recommend looking UP! Kids are so small. Do they really need 8' ceilings? Nah. Consider building in play areas or bunk beds if you live in a home and area that will almost always attract families (for resell consideration).

And I really love this one from designer Erica-Lynn Huberty featured on Apartment Therapy.

And with three girls, I have to talk about hair stuff, right?

Here's how we organize our stuff:

And all our pretty clips go on this fun DIY project.

Or if you have some cupboard space in your bathroom, a simple tension rod, some clips, and some zip-top bags are an easy storage solution!

And here are just a couple little tips from me that work well in our house that I thought might also help you!

Do your kids make a huge mess of their dresser drawers trying to find matching pj tops and bottoms? Or do they just end up wearing mismatched pj's instead? My kids used to just wear mismatched pj's, but maybe I'm a little OCD because it kind of bugged me. Nevermind the fact that I wear sweats and "paint shirts" to drop them off to school every day... But I just like it better when they match!

So here's what the good doctor came up with as a solution (he's brilliant, people!):

Folding pj tops and bottoms together! Duh!! This makes it so easy for the kids to just grab a pair and go!

And my next tip is another simple one. AND it also involves clothes.

With three girls (3, 5, 7), we have lots of clothing rotations and hand-me-downs going on around here. I used to have some stored in boxes, some in plastic tubs, and lots that didn't really fit, but I just kept them in their drawers was such a tedious process. I hated "wasting space" if one of those plastic bins wasn't completely full with one size, so there was lots of combining and mixing of sizes, and it was just a disaster.

When we made this last move (and after I emptied every single box and put our house together in 6 days), I decided it was TIME to do something about the clothing chaos.

I emptied every single bin and box we had into a huge pile in the middle of the toy room. YIKES!!

I had purchased some of these comforter storage bags from the Dollar Tree, and I decided to see if they might work for clothes. When I put the first few items in, I thought, "There's NO WAY all these clothes are going to fit in here!" But I stuck it out and kept squishing and cramming, and I was amazed at how much actually fit in them. Unlike the big plastic bins, since these are smaller, and the zipper only opens half way, it compresses a lot of the air out, so you have a nice, tight fit. Like those vacuum bags...but no vacuum.

Every single bag, I thought the same thing, "There's no way these are going to fit." But they did!

So I ended up using 10 of the storage bags. Grand total of $10.

UPDATE: I've had many readers tell me their Dollar Tree doesn't carry this item. I've found a similar one on Amazon that I'm sure will work just as well.

Here are a few things I love about them:

* Since a lot of the air is squished out, it saves lots of space vs the bins

* Since they're smaller sizes, I can give each clothing size its own bag and not feel guilty about "wasting" space in a plastic bin.

* I can SEE the clothes!  I considered putting labels on each bag for the different sizes, but since I can see the clothes, I know exactly what size is in it (after three kids wearing the exact same things and washing them a gazillion times, I'm VERY famliar with every single item of clothing in there)
* Again, since they're smaller, they're easier for me to move around, and I only have to take out one bag at a time!

Here's how mine are separated (in case you care):
1) 0-3 months
2) 3-6 months
3) 6-12 months
4) 12-18 months
5) 18-24 months
6) 4T (our 2T, 3T, and 5T+ are all in use)
7) Shoes
8) Soft shoes and socks
9) Winter coats and bibs
10) Receiving blankets

These two stacks take up an area 40" wide x 28" tall x 18" deep. Not bad for 2,000,000 items! ;)

If all else fails, just hide their messes with a cute curtain. ;)

You can visit our playroom reading nook HERE.

But be warned, sometimes it looks more like this:

Ha ha!

And there you have it!  Over 50 ideas to help get your littles organized.

If you're looking for more organizational ideas, please visit my ORGANIZATION Pinterest Board.
And for kid craft ideas, my KID STUFF Pinterest Board is a great resource. :)

Any other tips on how you keep your own kids organized? I'd love to hear in the comments!

If you're looking for other organizational tips, check out these great posts:
Bathroom with HomeMadeville
Garage with CondoBlues
Maximizing Storage Space with Mural Maker

Thanks for visiting and aloha!


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