organizing kids rooms

Child's bedroom with bed, open drawers and wall decoration.

Organizing kids' rooms? Now there's a challenge. 

Kids' rooms are messy because they have kids in them.

And kids have lots of stuff with lots of pieces. And it's the rare child who likes to clean his room. 

Now work around this universal truth. Think containment.

These tips for organizing kids rooms can help get it all together, from toys, clothes, and artwork to a bedroom study area. 

Organizing Kids Rooms Into Activity Areas

A kid's room is usually a bonafide conundrum. Without some structure and organization, kids' busy bedrooms are apt to feel like Grand Central Station (and look about as clean).

With a little forethought and a few well-crafted activity centers, you can have this busy place in order in a New York minute.

Create a craft central by grouping a kid-size table and chairs with a washable rug underneath. Add a plastic tote with washable crayons, markers, and other craft supplies, and she's ready to get creative in her room. 

Pick a corner nook and create a play station, defined by a small area rug. (Preferably a washable area rug.) Leave out big toys like trucks and LEGO sets, so they're ready to tackle.

Create a dress-up area. Mom, this is where you can recycle some of the excesses in your closet. Just fill a plastic bin with your fallen-from-favor clothes, shoes, bangles, and bags.

Corralling Toys

Oh, toys. Many toys. Many big toys. There's one rule to keeping these friendly faces from taking over a kid's room: Divide and label. Everything.

Since most preschoolers can't read, for the younger set, these won't be your file-folder type labels.

Instead, use something entirely different for them, but equally control-inspiring: picture labels. Color or tape pictures on every box, bin, or bag of the items that go inside.

For example, I went online and found the Thomas the Tank Engine home page, printed it out, and taped it to my son's bin of Thomas trains. 

Here are some of my favorite ways to stash and display bulky and hard-to-stash playtime favorites:

  • Buy kid-smart storage products for games and toys, such as plastic tubs that tuck under the bed, roller drawers and cubbies, small bookcases, and toy drawers.
  • Put fire trucks, trains, and larger-than-life stuffed toys in big plastic dish tubs.
Organized family room wall with shelves and drawers.
  • Stash stuffed toys on shelves or in toy hammocks. 
  • Fill a bookcase that has deep shelves with brightly-colored storage baskets, which can, in turn, hold dozens of small toys.
  • Save the zippered plastic bags that new comforters come in and use them to pack away whatever stuffed animals or other playthings are currently out of favor.
  • Recycle old kid-safe, kid-size furniture, such as discarded entertainment and computer centers - even old kitchen islands - as storage for a kid's room.
  • Skip the clunky, expensive toy box in favor of a laundry (now toy) basket.
  • Let toys double as decor. Dolls and trucks can decorate dresser tops.
  • Hang space-hogging action figures and airplanes in flight from the top of canopy beds with fishing line.
  • If you're really space-crunched, create a toy library. Rotate the kid's faves in and out every week or so, and store the rest in another room, the basement, or attic.

Organizing Kids Rooms: A Study Center

Organizing kids rooms with a study area doesn't have to be complicated or expensive.

It can include a new furniture item or a cleverly arranged, well-equipped surface already in use in your home. It's helpful to create an attractive space where kids want to work and study.

A loft bed with a desk underneath would be a great space-saving investment. But if a new combo desk/bed isn't in your family financial plan this year, simply make sure a flat surface is accessible and pack it with the essentials: a mug filled with pens and pencils, scissors, a ruler, tape, markers, an eraser, and anything else your kid uses frequently. 

Organizing Kids Rooms: Corral Clothes

Most kids have a lot of clothes. Here's how to keep kids' clothes neat and contained:


  1. Bedrooms are food-free zones. No exceptions.
  2. Put away toys, CDs, etc. nightly. Or no new ones.
  3. Dirty duds outside the hamper don't get washed.
  4. You must make your bed before leaving your bedroom.
  5. Give new arrivals a permanent home
  6. Never stuff stuff. Anywhere. Period. This includes under the bed and into the closet.

Create a dressing-for-success station. Arrange similar items in specific drawers — one drawer for jammies, another for socks, another for sweatshirts, and athletic gear.

Or arrange drawers by outfits (one-stop shopping is appealing to kids, too) in a one-gallon or larger zippered plastic bag. Simply stock the essentials, from hair bows to ruffle socks, when you put clean clothes away.

You could also have a church drawer (for Sunday-best purses and hair bows, suspenders, and tiny ties). A cold-weather drawer for mittens, knit caps, ski goggles, and long underwear.

A beach and pool drawer for goggles, swim trunks, and pool shoes... You get the idea!

Get a kid-friendly laundry hamper. Unquestionably, in all your kids' rooms, you'll need a laundry hamper. Big or small, round, square, corner-fit, it doesn't matter. There needs to be a place for dirty duds to land before night-night.

Having a hamper in a kid's room instills good habits and keeps items off the floor. Since kids like to throw their stuff, why not plan for it, even encourage it, when it works to your advantage? I'm talking basketball hoops over hampers or laundry baskets here. 

Remove closet doors to keep little toes and fingers and to keep stuff from piling up unnoticed inside. Organize shoes in shoe cubbies. Install a closet clothing rod extension to bring clothes down to kid level. 

Artistic Artwork Displays

Another challenge when organizing kids' rooms is the seemingly endless stream of artwork that arrives home daily with your son or daughter after school or preschool. Artwork is a kid's (and his parents') pride and joy.

Yes, we do eventually get over this syndrome of treating every finger painting as a Picasso.

But in the meantime, if you don't have the heart to circular-file the art that comes home daily, here's how to display it without spending too much time or money in the process. 

  • Pick up a few inexpensive plastic frames about an inch thick. You can stuff a dizzying amount of colored- and finger-painted layers inside. It makes displaying the artwork du jour a snap. 
  • Hang a clothesline, ribbon or jump rope across the room. Hold the daily artistry in place with clothespins.

Enjoy this page? Please pay it forward. Here's how...

Would you prefer to share this page with others by linking to it?

  1. Click on the HTML link code below.
  2. Copy and paste it, adding a note of your own, into your blog, a Web page, forums, a blog comment, your Facebook account, or anywhere that someone would find this page valuable.