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Guide to Decorating Kids' Rooms

How to Choose Storage Furniture for Kids' Rooms

When it comes to storing the multitude of things kids accumulate, "easier" usually translates into "neater." Especially when they're younger, open compartments -- and lots of them -- suit many kids better than closed drawers, cupboards, and closets.

If getting your kids to hang up clothes and equipment is next to impossible, skip hard-to-handle hangers in favor of old-fashioned hooks or pegs. One easy way to create a structure for flexible storage is to mount a four-inch-wide molding at chair-rail level around the perimeter of the room. Paint it a color that coordinates with the room's decor, and mount rounded wooden pegs (painted in a contrasting color) at 18-inch intervals. Even inside a closet, install as many hooks or pegs as space allows. In a child's bath, you may want to use more hooks and fewer towel bars. If the bathroom is well-ventilated, towels should dry quickly enough.

The bed itself may yield opportunities for savvy storage. Storage headboards come ready-made, or you can fashion one from small wooden cubicles by linking them together and mounting them a few inches above head level. Under-the-bed storage is great, since kids tend to shove things under there anyway. A captain's bed with built-in drawers in the base of the bed makes a handsome, integrated solution, but you can also buy separate storage drawers on casters to fit under any bed. Depending on how much clearance you have, lightweight plastic storage totes may be a perfectly good solution. If you have access to carpentry skills, build an alcove bed with a shipshape berth on top and storage drawers below.

Stock kitchen cabinets, two-drawer file cabinets, an artist's tabouret (the small rolling carts with lots of little swing-out trays), and a wealth of other nontraditional units make great casual storage in kids' bedrooms and playrooms. Cabinets in wood have a warm look, but metal ones can work just as well in a modern setting. Use appliance paint or other durable enamel to paint metal pieces to match the walls, or choose a cheery color to fit the decorating scheme. A pair of two-drawer file cabinets with a sturdy board on top makes a simple work surface big enough for kids to share. To hide bulky toys or general mess, cover a round table of any size with a floor-length tablecloth, and stash items underneath when necessary. (Other toys can be stashed on top, but don't use a clothed table for a lamp or anything else breakable, as kids often pull on them.)

If you can shave three to five feet or so from one end of a room, set it off with a sheet-turned-curtain suspended from a ceiling-hung rod and turn it into an extra closet for a clothes-loving teen. For easy-access floor storage that's good looking, too, employ canvas-and-wood hampers, wicker hampers, and woven baskets of all kinds. They are just as practical as plastic bins and work much better with a traditional or rustic decorating scheme. A toy chest can make a fine storage bench for younger children, but make sure it has a safety hinge and the front lock has been removed.

Let's take a look at choosing other types of furniture for your child's room, such as desks and nightstands, on the next page.

Storage Solutions

Inherent treasure hunters, children covet each new find with enthusiasm and wonder. In children's rooms, however, assorted collections often vie for the same space as socks, books, and shirts. To stretch storage and display space in the bedroom, try these handy suggestions.

  • Clip hair bows on a ribbon hanger. To make your own, fold the end of a 11/2-inch-wide grosgrain ribbon (about 36 inches long) over the bottom of a wire hanger. Staple in place. Clip hair bows to ribbon, and hang in closet.

  • Toys, art supplies, or seasonal clothes can be conveniently stored under the bed and hidden by a dust ruffle. Purchase plastic bins, or cut large, heavy cardboard boxes down to size. Spray paint them in colors to match the room's decor.

  • Stack neatly folded blankets and quilts atop armoires.

  • Install rows of wooden pegs at heights reachable by little arms. These are great for hats, coats, necklaces, and other items that benefit from hanging.

  • Group videos, CDs, games, doll clothes, and blocks in sturdy baskets that fit on shelves and inside armoires. These baskets hide clutter yet provide easy storage for hard-to-stash items. Likewise, large wicker baskets are ideal for catching balls and sports equipment. Note: If you use matching baskets or bins, the clutter looks neater and more organized.

  • Stretch fishnet over a corner to catch stuffed animals and dolls.

  • Decorative molding doubles as picture displays. Have a piece of molding and a piece of quarter round cut to desired length. Tack quarter round to top edge of molding to form a lip. Paint as desired. When molding is hung on wall, quarter round will keep picture frames from slipping.

  • Need extra space for books or stuffed animals? Mount a bracketed shelf on the top of a windowsill.

  • Freestanding coatracks are catchalls for coats, school bags, and robes.

  • Make an art portfolio by folding a piece of poster board in half and stapling along 2 sides. Collect your child's artwork inside, sliding portfolio behind a dresser or chest when not in use. At the end of the school year, you'll have all the artwork together so you can sort through and keep the best.

  • Clean out aluminum cans in various sizes; tape or file any sharp edges and remove labels. Place on a windowsill or desk to collect pencils, markers -- even combs and hairbrushes.

  • In closets, bookcases or wood cubbies stacked against an empty wall or pushed underneath hanging clothes make good storage for shoes, sweaters, and books.

  • Make a display rack by tacking or hot gluing clothespins or metal clamps to a painted yardstick. Affix yardstick to wall, and use to display family photos and artwork. Another clever option is to stretch heavy string or wire across a wall. Use painted clothespins to hang art and photos on the string or wire.

  • Catch dirty clothes by making laundry bags out of pillowcases. Just run heavy rope through the hem of a pillowcase, then hang bag in a closet. You may want to use different pillowcases so clothes can be sorted for laundering.

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