Whether you have one kid or 12, there never seems to be enough space in your home, right? From random flip flops and baseball cleats, to missing board games pieces and runaway Legos, we can never seem to escape the constant flow of stuff. And this is especially true in children’s bedrooms, where square footage is at a premium and there is often more than one kid sharing the space. Taming kid clutter and maximizing children’s rooms are no easy tasks, but, here, we’ve gathered the best tips from design experts to help you regain control of your home.
Create a floor plan with distinct spaces/zones.
“Zones are important because they help to define a space, which is especially helpful if a space has to pull ‘double duty,’” says Hobbs. “This technique works well in small places because it helps to define a room and ensure there is a home for various activities.”
Additionally, says feng shui and green design expert Anjie Cho, intentionally dividing a floor plan can make it easier for siblings to share a small room. “A recent client had two siblings—a boy and a girl—sharing a room,” Cho explains. “They had bunk beds, but it really was not going to work anymore as both children were starting to get older. [To divide the room], we put in sliding doors that acted as a wall but could be opened and still let in light and air/ventilation.”
The doors weren’t difficult to install, but Cho says they were a bit pricey at around $5,000. An alternative—and functional—divider is freestanding bookshelves, but Cho notes that it’s important to make sure they are secured so they don’t fall over.
Use vertical space.
When floor space is at a premium, Camila Pavone of Effortless Style Interiors recommends that parents maximize wall space in their children’s rooms. “Instead of a bulky bookcase, use thin book ledges hung on the wall,” she says. “Hang stuffed animals from the ceiling on a chain with clips, and instead of a table lamp, use wall sconces. Filling up your vertical space truly makes a difference when it comes to getting everything you require in a small room.”
In her sibling room redesign, Cho installed shelving above the desks, but she’s also a fan of closed storage on walls to hide extra clutter. “People often forget that that high wall space can be used for storage,” she says. “Even the space above the door can be used wisely by installing a shelf and getting pretty baskets. No one will ever look up there!
“Small spaces can get cluttered and messy in a hurry,” says Cathy Hobbs, a Brooklyn, New York-based interior designer and former finalist on Season 6 of HGTV’s Design Star. “That’s why it’s important whenever possible to create sensible storage solutions so that everything stays organized and accessible.”
In addition to purchasing new storage materials, Hobbs also likes repurposing ordinary household items to maximize organization in small places. “Use a silverware drawer divider to organize jewelry, pencils or school supplies,” she says. “Or use a multi-drawer tool box to organize everything from office supplies to crayons and markers.”
Use multi-functional furniture.
When choosing furniture for a small space, Pavlone says it’s important to pick pieces that can get double—or triple—duty. “Consider using a day bed when swapping your kids to their big boy or big girl bed,” she explains. “You can dress it up like a sofa during the day with pretty toss pillows to have a cozy reading nook, and then you can use it like a traditional bed for sleep. An extra benefit to day beds is that many have storage beneath them so you can do away with a dresser and place clothes in the drawers below the bed.”
When floor space is really at a premium, bunk beds are always a smart choice, and Pavlone notes that modern versions are sleeker and take up much less space than they used to. “Ikea carries some clean looking bunk beds that will help utilize the most of the space,” she says. “There are now even versions where there is a crib on the bottom and a bed on top.”
Choose light, neutral colors.
“Generally speaking, lighter colors reflect the natural light and open up a smaller space,” says Pavlone. “So think about using simpler and more neutral colors for paint colors, wallpaper and bedding.” (When buying bedding, Pavlone recommends duvet covers, as they are easy to throw in the wash when dirtied. They’re also lighter than bulky blankets, but still warm.)
This neutral palette also makes it easier to accommodate shared spaces between siblings, adds Hobbs. She uses accent walls and accessories to define the space and allow kids to express their unique personalities within their respective “zones”—but without overwhelming the entire room with contrasting color schemes.