Jordan Ferney, founder of the cheerful blog OhHappyDay.com, uses a simple bookcase to create stylish toy and book storage in her sons’ shared bedroom. “Dedicate time to arrange and organize your shelf,” she advises. If you do it right once, you’ll be paid back with long-term tidiness. Here’s how to get yours looking great:
1. Every item needs a designated place. That way when it’s time to clean up, even the littlest kids know where everything goes.
2. Toys that are the most played with (hello, Legos!) should go down low, and less-used collections (those pretty toys your childless friends bought your kids) go up high.
3. Use clear bins so the kids can see what they are grabbing.
4. Edit toys down two or three times a year; otherwise, they can get out of control quickly.
5. Group books by color—it’s a great way to visually organize. Bonus: Kids love the way it looks!
DIY blogger Erin Spain, of ErinSpain.com, transformed a ho-hum shelf into a focal point of her kids’ playroom, and you can too.
Make It: First, Spain patched over knots with wood filler. Then, she primed the whole bookcase with Kilz Premium primer to prevent bleed-through. Next, Spain painted the case with a white semigloss. After letting it dry, she finished it with a coat of Minwax Polyacrylic Protective Finish. Finally, after that had dried, she added self-adhesive, removable wallpaper (Persian Garden Damask Removable Wallpaper, $42/panel) to the back of each shelf.
Kid-Proof Your Shelves
Keep the heaviest items down low and secure shelves to the wall, advises Fred Ilarraza, cofounder of Baby Bodyguards, a childproofing service in Brooklyn. Ilarraza likes Hangman’s Anti-Tip Kit ($6.50). To install, drill a hole through the shelf’s back. Screw one bracket into a stud in your wall and the other into the shelf above the hole. String the cable through to connect the brackets.
Instead of cramming toys into a bulky toy chest, blogger Amanda Kingloff, founder of ProjectKid.com, screwed crates to the wall to get her kids’ toys off the floor. Inside the crates, bins hold smaller toys.
Make It: Paint the edges of wooden crates ($17 each); let dry. Use a level and a ruler to mark the placement, then attach with the proper screws and anchors for your walls (on drywall, use a toggle bolt if a stud is not available).
Study Up on Stud Finders
Mounting to a stud is the safest way to secure a shelf to the wall. With all the magnetic stud finders on the market, you need to find one that is strong enough to reach through layers of paint and Sheetrock, says Ilarraza. His standby is the Master Magnetics Stud Finder ($9), which clings to nails or screws in the studs.