Organizing and Storage Solutions for Your Kids' Clutter
Trick 1: Turn to Colorful Tape
Another day, another masterpiece to admire—and definitely not throw away, Mommy. To show off art without making nail holes, create a gallery with colorful, wall-safe painter’s tape, says Los Angeles interior designer Kyle Schuneman. You can peel off the “frames” and change the exhibit whenever your tempera-mental artist brings home a new portfolio.
Trick 2: Find a Unique Frame
The Lil’ DaVinci Art Frame ($39 for 8½ by 11 inches, amazon.com) looks like a traditional wood frame, but it holds up to 50 pieces of paper behind the one that’s on display. The front opens on a hinge; you can store artwork inside and switch out the featured piece without removing the frame from the wall.
Trick 3: Invest in Stylish Boxes
A solution for piles of paper, plus assorted pipe-cleaner creations: Buy fabric boxes (containerstore.com has many sizes) in a different color for each child. “A shallow box will dictate how much you can save,” says New York City organizer Barbara Reich. “Buy several in case the color is discontinued.” They’ll look pretty on a bookshelf, and Carl the Cotton Ball Caterpillar will live safe and sound.
Trick 4: Save Space with Technology
For paintings you love but simply can’t store or hang: Scan and import them onto your computer to make a book, says interior designer Kyle Schuneman. Websites like Blurb.com will help you condense a year of art into one slim keepsake.
Trick 5: Put Supplies on Display
Repurpose a wall-mounted magnetic knife strip as a supplies station, says Julie Mihaly, an organizer based in Staatsburg, New York. Place markers, pencils, and crayons in small metal containers (or cardboard crayon boxes with strips of self-adhesive magnets glued to the backs) and stick them to the strip.
Trick 6: Create a Moveable Library
Do you have a wagon that’s permanently parked? Use it indoors as a stylish bookmobile, says New York City organizer Chip Cordelli. Store board books spines up so kids can easily see and select their stories.
Trick 7: Devise a Labeling System
To keep puzzle pieces together—and avoid explaining why Boots doesn’t have a tail today—use this genius technique: “Assign a letter to each of the kids’ puzzles and write that letter on the back of every piece,” says Rachel Meeks, author of the lifestyle website SmallNotebook.org. “Each puzzle goes in a large zip-top bag, also labeled with the letter.” Kids can then quickly corral pieces by matching them to the assigned bag. (This works best for preschoolers’ puzzles, not 1,000-piece Hogwarts jigsaws.)
Trick 8: Prioritize Visibility
Clear, stackable plastic drawers are perfect for storing Little People and Lego pieces. “Boxes with tops are difficult for young children,” says organizer Barbara Reich. Kids are more likely to stay organized—and actually play with the toys—when they can see what’s inside the containers. “Pull drawers out of the base for playtime, then slide them back in after cleanup,” says Reich.
Trick 9: Take Advantage of the Walls
Instead of cramming stuffed animals into a bottomless bin, create a warm-and-fuzzy wall display. Sew a piece of woolly Velcro to the back or side of each toy, says organizer Julie Mihaly, then apply strips of adhesive Velcro to the wall (low, within toddlers’ reach). It’s easier to get kids to pick up when they can rearrange their friends and tell a story at the same time. “And then Pig chased Strawberry Shortcake…”
Trick 10: Make a Fashion Statement
Have only one week’s worth of outfits in regular rotation, says author Rachel Meeks. It’s unlikely those pants and shirts will wear out before the time comes to size up. And make a habit of sorting through clothes three times a year: early spring, back to school, and after the holidays. If there’s a sentimental dress or onesie you can’t bear to send to Goodwill, pin it into a shadow box as fashionable art.
Trick 11: Create Colorful Stacks
Instead of using hangers, which can be hard to reach and grapple with, put clothes on open shelves and in color-coded bins (red for socks, blue for pj’s), says New York City organizer Melissa Picheny. It will be easier for kids to dress themselves and—fingers crossed!—put their laundry away.
Trick 12: Choose Charming Storage
Score vintage suitcases at tag sales or on Etsy.com and pack them with off-season clothing, says organizer Chip Cordelli. A short stack can even double as a nightstand.