I asked for suggestions on design topics to blog about, and ya’ll did not disappoint! The most common question I got was, “How do I create a cute and functional space when I have minimal storage, little ones, baby gear, toys, etc.?” First of all, I want to stress this: Do not put off decorating your home or making it yours because you are waiting until your kids are older, cleaner, more responsible, out of the house, and lots of other excuses...
The place you are living in is yours now, so make it yours now! Don’t wait, because “someday” will inevitably turn into NEVER. Ok, so there are a million and one solutions on the internet for how to decorate and reduce clutter when you have kids. I have compiled my own list of 10 solutions that I think are the most practical and easiest to implement. As I was doing research, I also came across lots of other things I could talk about in this post-the best couch material when you have kids, how to hide TV cables, best pet hair vacuum, and more. But if I were to try and cover it all in one post, it would be a crazy long post and I have a feeling ain’t nobody got time for that. So I will have to write about those some other time. (disclaimer: I don’t have children, so I don’t actually have experience with any of these things, but I did talk to some people who do have children and they fully agreed with me on these thoughts.)
1. If you don’t have storage, CREATE IT
The only way to avoid clutter is for everything to have its place. Sometimes the random Happy Meal toy just doesn’t have a place-throw it in the miscellaneous box. Go through that box at least once a month and give away the things you don’t use. I personally love to go through my entire house once a month and put things I never use in the donate box. That way they have a place to go, even when they don’t belong anywhere. Then, if after a month, I haven’t missed anything in there or don’t think I will ever use it, it gets donated. This helps so much with reducing clutter and makes my husband pretty mad. ;p Don't be afraid to use all the space. Put hooks on the inside of cabinet doors, put dividers in drawers, store things under the bed and on the very top closet shelf. Think outside the box for how you can use more of the space you already have. For DIY’ers-reuse crates and paint/label them. Even easier-reuse amazon boxes and cover in a fun wrapping paper. If you want to go the extra mile, attach wheels and slide under the bed like these. If you want to buy storage bins, I would recommend these super cute ones-they come in lots of different patterns and are only $5!
2. Rotate your kids’ toys
Have a bin in the garage or in your closet where half of their toys go. Then once a month, switch out the toys they are currently playing with, with the ones in the closet. It will feel like Christmas morning every month and they will quickly forget about the toys they were playing with before! Less toys=less clutter
3. Keep toys in the toy room
Do not store toys in the living room, on kitchen shelves, a bin in the master bedroom, etc. The designated homes for the toys (bins, shelves, boxes, tubs, etc), need to be in the designated rooms, whether it’s the toy room or your child’s bedroom. This will help eliminate the feeling that toys are everywhere! Even if a toy gets brought out of the bedroom into the living room, if you are diligent about putting things back where they go (or telling your children to do so), you will avoid feeling like you are being invaded by the planet of plastic thingies.
4. Break collections down into smaller quantities
They can’t have just one Lego set. It’s a proven scientific fact. The Legos, blocks, Barbie clothes, etc.-they’re all designed to make sure you buy A LOT of them. So when it’s time to play, the 10 gallon tub of teeny tiny Legos gets dumped completely out onto the floor and days later you’re still stepping on Lego heads. I’m not saying it is bad to have a collection. But break it down. Invest in some smaller Tupperware so that when the dumping happens, the effects are not so long lasting.
5. Place breakable things completely out of reach
Picture frames, arts, pretty lamps, and one of a kind souvenirs that you want to display should be high up and out of reach. Your fireplace mantel, floating shelves, or the entertainment center are good places to place these items. Not on the all-too-within-reach coffee table. And it’s not just about the possibility of breaking. Even things that can’t break will be moved around or lost if you put them at kid level. For the coffee table, place things you are okay with being moved around or played with. In this pic-I do like how everything breakable is out of reach but I don’t like how the kids’ toys are in the kitchen! Toy kitchens go in the toy room.
6. Minimize the throw pillows
A cluttered home comes from just having too much stuff. Pillows are hard with kids because they never stay in place or look as fluffy as when you first bought them. Keep pillows to a minimum or replace them altogether with a throw blanket. This will definitely get used and played with but you don’t have to worry about fluffing it up. Just toss it back onto the couch for an effortlessly decorated look that adds warmth and texture to your room. TJ Maxx is my favorite place to find thick, textured throws for cheap!
7. Decorate with wall space and floor space
Walls are out of reach of sticky hands and are the best place to decorate when you have children. Take advantage of this and do a fun gallery wall (include some of your child’s original art). Paint walls a fun color, do a temporary wallpaper, or hang an over-sized wall clock. Flooring is another great place to decorate without creating clutter. Get a fun rug with a cute pattern and bright colors-this will also help hide dirt! I love flor.com because their floor tiles are so fun and really easy to replace. If just one tile gets dirty, you don't have to replace the entire floor. The options with walls and flooring are endless and this will make your home feel decorated without just using accessories. Love this toy room-stylish, cute, colorful, all the right things are within reach and all the books and breakables are placed out of reach. Everything has a place where it goes-even stuffed animals!
8. Baby-proof cabinets and drawers that you don’t want them getting into
We all know the suspicious feeling that grows when you realize it’s a little too quiet in the house. You slowly walk into the living room to find in horror that EVERY SINGLE DVD AND BOOK YOU OWN is now scattered on the floor. Oh, and the cutest little thing is right in the middle of it looking up at you all innocent. Is the clean up worth the 5 minutes of precious silence? Maybe it is! But avoiding these scenarios altogether makes more sense to me. Lock those babies up! (as in the DVDs and books, not your actual babies.)
9. Make the rounds
If your kids are too young to pick up after themselves, go through the entire house every night after they go to bed and put things that are out of place into a laundry basket. Then go room to room and put things back where they go by designated area. This will make clean up super efficient and shouldn’t take longer than 15 minutes. I got this tip idea from Emily Ley's book A Simplifed Life. I highly recommend checking it out.
10. In the kitchen
Your fridge can make your home look cluttered just by being covered with magnets, artwork, notes, school papers, photos, and shopping lists. Try keeping one clipboard on your kitchen wall with only the lists and reminders you absolutely need. Once that clipboard is full, that’s the maximum number of papers you can keep. This will really help your kitchen feel cleaner and more organized-aka you will feel more relaxed and in control. Heck. Yes.
I honestly feel like I could go on and on about this topic, and I know that not every home or kid situation is the same. These are just some general tips that I know can help! If you haven’t tried one of these things in your home and you are struggling with keeping things organized, try it! If you want me to come by and help kick start things, send me a message and we can talk pricing and scheduling. I truly believe a functional and organized home is a beautiful place to live. It doesn’t matter how expensive your furniture is or where you got your rug from, if things are cluttered and messy, no one will be able to appreciate anything else! Comment below and tell me-what works for your kids?
“Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.” – William Morris