For 9-year-old June and 5-year-old Molly, their bedroom was more than just a place to sleep: It was where they played games, made artwork, got dressed, and did homework. It was also―despite the best attempts of their parents, John and Alison―chaotic. Enter the Real Simple organizers, who restored order with the help of smart storage systems, distinct activity zones, and some judicious pruning. (The family donated half of the unused contents of the room to a local charity.)
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The Sleep Area
A paint color for sweet dreams: For a less dreary feel, the organizers painted the walls lavender (Lavender Mist, $41 a gallon, benjaminmoore.com for stores), “which has a soothing quality that’s excellent for sleep,” says Leatrice Eiseman, director of the Pantone Color Institute. A soft wool rug replaced a rough carpet so the girls can comfortably play on the floor.
Standout accessories: The Rockin’ Alarm Clock ($129, pbteen.com) is an iPod dock and a speaker in one. It can wake up the girls or inspire a dance party. Clip-on task lamps ($39 each, pbteen.com) offer bedtime reading light that won’t disturb a sleeping sister.
Storage within arm’s reach: A nightstand with two compartments gives the room a modern touch and makes sharing a breeze.
A bright spot overhead: A nonworking ceiling fan was removed to clear the way for a chandelier in sunny yellow, designed to look grown-up but scaled for kids’ rooms. It offers functional overhead lighting and makes the room feel more dressed up. Rounded bulbs add some interesting flair.
Beds that grow with them: Old bunk beds were replaced with a set that can be converted to stand-alone beds for Molly (bottom) and June (top). (Catalina Bunk Bed, $1,099 as shown, potterybarnkids.com.) Coordinated bedding blends together but gives each girl her own look. (Big Lilac and Bulb bedding, assorted prices, arealinenshop.com.)
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The Play Area
Adornment for walls and windows: The girls produce artwork at a dizzying pace. Now they can change the displays themselves with these front-loading PhotoBox frames ($79, pbteen.com). Pop out the front and switch the artwork inside (no rehanging!). The ill-fitting window drapes were replaced with home-sewn, washable-linen ones.
A home for toys: Before, the girls’ extensive stuffed-animal collection made the room look as if it had been hit by a tornado. Now their furry friends live in a roomy canvas bin.
Central command for crafts: The Activity Table ($449, landofnod.com) has a pair of roll-out bins underneath for easy supply storage, plus a built-in paper roll on the side. Starting new projects is a cinch, and the paper doubles as a protective surface. Bonus: The table comes with three sets of legs (15, 23, and 30 inches tall), so it can be made taller as the girls grow.
Cabinets devoted to dress-up: Existing cabinets (part of a larger unit) were separated and transformed into a dress-up center. Tutus and magic capes that were formerly shoved in with the girls’ everyday clothing now have a designated place. Accessories hang on outer hooks. Molly gets the lower cabinet, June the top.
Little things that count: Thoughtful touches abound in the new room. Cute, crab-shaped cushions make kid-size foam stools even softer for little bottoms seated around the activity table. A colorful hand vacuum with wheels (Rapido, $60, electroluxusa.com for stores), tucked in the corner and light enough for Molly to use, makes cleaning up glitter and paper scraps a cinch. The result? Daily maintenance, so messes never get out of hand.
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A closet that pulls double duty: Two growing girls sharing a tiny closet would normally be a recipe for disaster, but Alison and John were already making good use of the vertical space with two hanging rods. Molly’s clothes were arranged on the bottom rod, within reach. Organizers added to the back of the door (Corky Wall Organizer, $35, kangaroomstorage.com) have multiple pockets for papers, trinkets, and anything that might come out of the girls’ pockets at the end of the day. The cork strips are the perfect place for Alison to leave reminder notes.
Laundry, hiding in plain sight: Making use of available floor space in the closet, a bright orange ottoman ($229, pkolino.com) serves two purposes: First, it provides an out-of-sight hamper for dirty laundry. Second, the girls can safely step on it to reach items stored in overhead bins; the soft-top lid flips over to reveal a stable surface on which to stand.
Scaling down: Small, colorful hangers are suited to kids’ clothes and don’t cram the closet (Olka hangers, $4 for three, containerstore.com).