10 Small-Space Secrets for Storing all Your Kids’ Stuff
Hack your small space to make room for all the toys, papers, art supplies, and equipment kids need
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Let’s face it: Beds are the space hogs of any kid’s room. Reclaim that important floor space by lofting their sleep station. Once the mattress is off the floor, the framed area beneath can be a play area or reading corner for younger kids or a homework zone for older ones. (For safety’s sake, most manufacturers suggest waiting to loft a bed until the child is six to eight years old.)
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You’ll never forget the first time you step on a building brick, bitty action figure, or another small toy with hard edges. Scoop those beloved hazards into tall, rectangular food canisters, then shelve them like you would a book. The canisters are clear so kids can see what’s inside, and to play, they simply pop open the top and pour the toys out. It’s essential to get identical canisters so they use the shelf space efficiently (and for a neat overall look).
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Fold It Up
You’ve heard of Murphy beds, but that’s not the only large piece of furniture that can be wall-mounted. Desks and play tables are also good candidates for the fold-up treatment. But this trick only works if the furniture is actually put away when not in use. Encourage that behavior by keeping a slim basket nearby. When it’s time to clear the decks and put the desk or table away, your child can stash anything that won’t fit in the closed piece in the basket.
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Make Walls Flex
, from $298
If your walls could talk, they’d say, “Use me!” Turn a few square feet of bare wall space into a hold-anything workhorse with pegboard. Hang totes or clothes from hooks, stack books on shelves, balance sports balls between two pegs…a pegboard flexes to fit almost any storage need. You can find pegboards and accessories at big box hardware stores, but we favor this specialty model that feels less garage chic and more Scandinavian sophisticate.
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Skip the Bulky Bookshelf
, from $85
When floor space is really at a premium, pass on a bookshelf in favor of repurposed art shelves. Once installed, place books on the shelf with the covers facing out (bonus: kids will be drawn to this display by the gorgeous art on the front); the lip will keep books from toppling. Most shelves are more than five inches wide—roomy enough to stack picture books two to three deep (just pay attention to weight limits).
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Steal Closet Space
Once a baby is born, it seems like an explosion of blankets follows. Keep those receiving blankets, heirloom baby quilts, and playmats close at hand—but uber-organized—with a hanging sweater organizer. Hang it in the closet and assign a compartment to each type. If you have extra compartments, use them for baby bedding or stuffed toys. (Lightweight items are best for this to avoid extra stress on the closet rod.)
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Hide Under the Bed
There’s no room for monsters under the bed if this often-overlooked space is put to work. Assign items that don’t get used everyday—board games, Halloween costumes, or out-of-season sports equipment—to this spot. We favor space-efficient stackable drawers rather than rubber tubs so the items are easier to access. Hide it all with a pretty bedskirt.
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Put It on Wheels
Give your little artist a studio on wheels: Stock a rolling filing cabinet with arts and crafts supplies. Hanging files can hold finished work, and small baskets tucked inside easily keep colored pencils away from the beads and glue. Roll the cabinet out when the child is working on a project, and roll it back in a closet or under a desk when their masterpiece is finished.
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Get Hooked on Hanging
Hooks are the possibly the most versatile storage investment you can make. You’re used to slinging backpacks and jackets over them, but that’s just a start. Try planning a week’s worth of outfits on a set of five hooks, or stuffing tote bags with odds and ends before hanging them up. A good rule of thumb is to install a few hooks wherever you see items collecting on the floor (in the bathroom for towels, by the desk for headphones and charging cords, and always by the back door).
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Expect More from Furniture
Talk about behind the scenes: This floor-length mirror hides two shelves and a rod for stashing a teen’s frequently-worn items. Genius! Also super-smart: any piece that serves more than one purpose, like a bookcase with a drawer or fold-out desk to double as a nightstand, or a classic storage ottoman.