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Originally published August 30, 2013 at 8:04 PM | Page modified September 7, 2013 at 8:42 AM

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HomeWork: Homeowner tips for winning the kiddie-clutter battle

One of the secrets is to create storage areas in unexpected places. Consider placing tall, narrow bookshelves on either side of the bed.

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Q: We have a small house and two toddlers with toys everywhere. How can we declutter?

A: Anyone who has ever had a toddler can attest to the terrifying potential for toy debris after just a few hours of play. But there are some clever storage ideas that can relieve clutter and chaos, even in small spaces.

One of the secrets is to create storage areas in unexpected places. Consider placing tall, narrow bookshelves on either side of the bed. They can hold everything from collectibles to nighttime storybooks. Place baskets on the lower shelves to hold small dolls and toys. Bedtime books and other items that Mom and Dad reach for can go on the higher shelves.

The inside of a closet door can be a great storage solution. You can hang a calendar, memo board or corkboard to tack up school calendars, artwork and team schedules. Repurpose a shoe organizer and hang over a door and you have a place for stuffed toys, art supplies and other items that otherwise would clutter up the floor of your child’s room.

If you have the space, consider creating a window seat with storage bins underneath. You can buy or build a simple, free-standing bench that sits beneath a window. Place a cushion and some pillows for comfy seating, and place bins beneath to store toys, games, books and the like. Another space solution is to take advantage of corners and odd bump-outs by installing built-in shelving systems. The lower shelves can hold books and toys that kids regularly play with, and higher shelves can be used for breakable things that they don’t need to reach.

Never underestimate the power of the bin. Storage containers and baskets come in all sorts of shapes, sizes and materials and are relatively inexpensive. You can store everything from large outdoor toys to small puzzle pieces. Color-code the bins for specific types of toys, or attach photos of the toys inside to the front face of the bins. That way, little hands know exactly where to find and replace favorite toys. There are bin storage units designed to stack in bookcase-like configurations that you can arrange to fit the dimensions of your child’s room or playroom.

If you need storage space in the living room but don’t want toy bins in plain sight, an old armoire can be repurposed into a dandy storage unit for a child. Paint it as a fun accent piece for the room, and you have an instant way to get toys and clutter up off the floor and out of sight.

A wooden chest can be a wonderful decorative element in a child’s room and is great for holding larger toys. Be sure to equip it with safety hinges so the lid doesn’t accidentally slam down on little fingers. If the chest is large enough, you can even use it for smaller toys by setting storage bins or baskets inside.

Having an organized storage system will help make putting things away fun and easy for everyone.

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