Or­ga­niz­ing a wall of book­shelves in this mul­ti­func­tional fam­ily room en­sures kids can eas­ily ac­cess toys, books, and more. Cleanup is a snap too!


See how kid-friendly stor­age trans­forms a fam­ily area.


Toys were piled in a jumble, with like items scat­tered among the shelves.

The chil­dren couldn’t reach all of their books and toys, so Mom and Dad had to get them down and put them away.

Valu­able space was given to things that were no longer needed or used.

There was no space for over­flow sup­plies from the crafts/sewing area.


SORT­ING ITEMS AND WEED­ING OUT un­used toys was the first or­der of busi­ness in this busy play area. With the help of Cer­ti­fied Pro­fes­sional Or­ga­nizer Kathy Jenk­ins (see bio in “Meet the Pros,” page 90), home­own­ers Rachael and Scott, and their three chil­dren, be­gan re­mov­ing things that didn’t be­long or were no longer needed. That gave Jenk­ins the green light to take stock of the items the fam­ily wanted to store on a 15-foot wall of shelves.

Af­ter con­sid­er­ing size, shape, and quan­ti­ties, Jenk­ins de­vised a plan to or­ga­nize the books and toys by cat­e­gory and ac­ces­si­bil­ity. “Be­cause the kids are lit­tle, we wanted all their stuff down low so they can be

op­po­site: Toys and books were stacked hap­haz­ardly prior to the or­ga­ni­za­tion, and the kids de­pended on adult help to get out many of their things. above: A com­bi­na­tion of open and closed bins and bas­kets (each with its own col­or­ful la­bel, in­set) was se­lected once the home­own­ers iden­ti­fied the items to be stored. The kids’ be­long­ings now fill the lower shelves, al­low­ing their mother to store fab­ric and fam­ily games on the up­per shelves. Puz­zles fit nicely in zip­pered mesh bags.

self-suf­fi­cient in both lo­cat­ing toys and putting them away,” Jenk­ins says.

The reach­able shelves along the bot­tom fea­ture see-through wire bins for stuffed an­i­mals, balls, and larger toys. “If you have open stor­age for kids, it is so much eas­ier to pull things out and throw them back in,” Jenk­ins ad­vises. She hung a re­pur­posed wall or­ga­nizer at the low­est level, fill­ing it with books that are easy to see and put away.

Jenk­ins de­vised pic­ture la­bels for stor­age bins that the youngest child can fol­low. “The la­bels work great be­cause ev­ery­thing has a home, and the chil­dren are in the habit of putting things away now,” Rachael says.

The shelf de­sign and size and shape of the toys dic­tated what type of stor­age bins to use. “We needed closed stor­age that stacked to make the best use of space, and lid­ded plas­tic bins were per­fect to cor­ral small build­ing pieces and toys,” Jenk­ins says. Big fab­ric buck­ets on higher shelves hold chunky blocks and less fre­quently used items.

Fam­ily mem­bers now have a calmer, more func­tional gath­er­ing space where they can watch TV, play, and craft with­out the specter of dis­or­ga­ni­za­tion hang­ing over them. And thanks to clever stor­age strate­gies, the room is de­signed to stay that way.

above: The or­ga­nized shelves func­tion for the whole fam­ily and add to the aes­thet­ics of the room where they spend most of their time to­gether. A small ta­ble and chairs pro­vide a des­ig­nated place for the kids to color, do crafts, or eat a snack.

“Be­fore you turn off the lights, do a quick pass through the room and put ev­ery­thing away. You will feel so much bet­ter the next time you come into the room.”

1 A wall- mounted or­ga­nizer en­cour­ages kids to reach for pic­ture books. The or­ga­nizer can be put to use else­where af­ter they have grown. “As life changes, you need to reeval­u­ate the space and ask if it is still work­ing,” Jenk­ins says. 2 Stack­able,...

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