Organizing Kids' Bedrooms

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Organizing Kids' Bedrooms

How do you go about organizing a bedroom for a nine year old with lots of stuff? Yes, we've given to charity and we've passed on hand-me-downs, but we still have a ton of stuff to fit into a pretty small bedroom. Sample problem: Clothes crammed into drawers so that only the top two or three pieces get worn over and over again, and everything is wrinkled. Thanks.

Crate It

Have you ever thought of colorful, stackable, crates? You can line the walls with them and use them for clothes and toys. Also, for the closet, to free up floor space, get some cheap shelves or wire racks that stack (got ours from a kitchen store - or you can make them) and line up shoes, toys, etc... To get the max space in the closet, put all the short items (tops etc.) on one end, and long items (pants, skirts, dresses) on another, this will allow you to get maximum stacking capabilities.
LMN in The Woodlands, TX


We encountered the same problem with our three children. We traded out their old twin-size beds for loft beds, which is basically the upper bunk of a bunkbed. This freed up a lot of space underneath for their school desks and bookshelves. Plus the kids never get tired of sleeping on the top bunk! We also moved their toy boxes into the closet. Since most of their hanging clothes don't reach to the floor it was a perfect fit. As for the crammed clothing, are you sure all of those items still fit? Make sure! Also try storing seasonal clothing in marked boxes in the crawl space. When the season is over pack up all the clothes that will fit again next year, get rid of the clothes that won't, and bring out the boxes for the current season. It's a lot of work at first, but once everything is separated it's a snap the swap out the clothes.

Tips from Tight Spaces

I live in a small trailer so I have learned a little about organizing my child's things to maximize space. As far as clothes go, I would look for a sale (or at a thrift store) for a Rubbermaid-type locker or a rolling wardrobe. I would hang a sweater bag from it and use that for the clothes and a shoe bag for shoes. Then use the drawers of the dresser for books, toys, etc. If you don't want to move the clothes out of the dresser, why not try flipping over the pile every couple of weeks. That way the unworn clothes will be on top.

I take all the smaller toys (action figures, blocks, etc. and put them in a box up out of the way). This way my daughter only plays with them when she thinks to ask for them and they are not always strewn throughout the house requiring extra cleanup time and (sigh!) aggravation. I try to make books and larger toys accessible.
Natalie B.

Under-Bed Storage

Instead of having a traditional bed, get some of those particle board storage "cubes" (in quotes because the double cubes are cheaper) and plywood to build a platform bed with lots of storage. Ours is one level (16" to base of mattress) high, and you don't need a box spring, but you could take it anywhere from two levels (about 32" to mattress base) to about 5 levels (about 80") high and add a safety rail and a desk space underneath with a light for a homework nook.

We use inexpensive plastic laundry baskets and "milk crates" bought at garage and dollar days sales (need to make sure they fit the approx. 15" by 15" opening in the cubes) to keep clothes, toys, books and papers in place.

You can paint the cubes to whatever color you want -- we found it easiest and best to use a spray primer first because latex paint, which we preferred to use, raises the particulate grain on the boxes. If you stack them high, be sure to bolt or screw them together and/or use framing wood -- preferably both -- for stability. Bolting -- with oversize washers to keep the bolts from pulling through the soft particle board -- is better if you think you might be taking it apart and rearranging or moving often.

One other thing that we have found useful, especially with over stuffed drawers is to roll T-shirts and things instead of storing them flat. If they were folded smoothly before rolling, they don't get anymore wrinkled, but you can also see more shirts and so forth. If you use the crates, you can also store the rolled items (shirts, jeans, sweats, and pajamas in our house) "on end" and be able to see quickly all the ones you have by pulling out the crate.

The last thing we did was to reorganize the closet so that a narrow part of it was "doubled" with one of those chain and rod things so both our boys had about two feet of hanging space, the nine year old's on top and the four year old's on the bottom. Then we used the rest of the closet for storing infrequently used items (winter clothes in summer, off-season sports clothes, etc.) in boxes (also sleeping bags and suitcases!).

As for toys and books, we currently have a policy. If mom and dad have to pick things up, they go in a trash bag and will be donated to charity or the taken to the resale store. This has to happen about once a month, but most of the time, it's amazing how much better the 9 year old is about things!

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How Many Clothes

I have 5 kids crammed into 2 small bedrooms, so I know where you're coming from! Here are some things that have worked for us. If your son has so many clothes that he can't shut his drawers, he has too many clothes. That's assuming, of course, that his clothes are folded in his drawers and not wadded into balls (I have a 9 year old too!) Take some out and either give them away, or store them in some of those large plastic bins in your attic or basement and rotate them occasionally. How many clothes does he really wear in a week's time? Keep only that much in his room.

We took our kids' nice clothes (the ones that need to be hung up) out of their rooms and made some space in another closet. Their closets are now filled top to bottom with shelves, which hold toys in more of those handy bins. My organizationally-impaired children just toss stuff into whatever bin, while my congenital neatniks have things labeled. Either way, it gets stuff off the floor.

Big, huge tip: My kids must pick up their rooms every day! Everything must be off the floor and their clothes put away with drawers shut before they watch TV or whatever. This keeps the mess from accumulating for an entire week and making it an all day project to straighten up. On the days when we really clean the room, we fish out all the stuff that's migrated under their beds, etc.

Finally, we've let our kids have a big part in determining what we do with their rooms, and we've allowed them to find a system that works for them. We realized early on that one of our daughters was never going to become an everything-in-its-place kind of kid. It's just not her personality. Rather than fighting it, we've allowed her to do what she likes as long as a minimum standard is met.

Try Shelves

I've found that drawers are the worst place to keep clothes. The solution? Shelves. I placed a tower shelf in the closet for clothes that need to be folded. Everything is visible, accessible, and easy to put away.

Shelves also work for other belongings...books, toys, memorabilia. I sort my son's belongings (balls, blocks, books, little people, dress-up clothes) and put each category into its own container (plastic shoe box, larger see-through plastic containers, and plastic crates).

Even with shelves, an organized room can still look cluttered. To help minimize the cluttered feeling of my son's room, I'm planning to use tension rods to put curtains on the shelves.

Rotate It

The key to uncluttering your kids' bedroom (if you don't want to reduce) is "rotation". Before you put away their clothes after laundering, take the clothes in the bottom of the drawer out, then put away the freshly laundered clothes and put the clothes you took out on top. For toys...put an assortment of toys in several boxes and each week rotate the boxes your child plays with. Your child will think he's being given new toys each week!

Take the Next Step

  • It's tough raising kids today! You need every time and money saving idea you can find. That's why you'll want to get our free weekly Dollar Stretcher for Parents newsletter. You'll find great ideas designed just for parents that will help your family 'live better...for less'! Subscribers get a copy of our ebook Little Luxuries: 130 Ways to Live Better...For Less for FREE.
  • An organized home can save you quite a bit. The Dollar Stretcher's Guide to an Organized Home can help you save both time and money getting organized and staying organized.

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