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One of the biggest design challenges I face as a mother of two young children is clutter; more specifically toys, books, diapers, art supplies, DVDs, and every electronic gadget imaginable. I remember in the months after my first daughter was born thinking that our living room was slowly succumbing to bright plastic overlords, objects that got progressively bigger, louder, and oops! Mommy accidentally took a hammer to that one!

It has only become worse with two kids, and now every night as we corral the kids to bed, every corner of our living room looks like this:

toys7

You have no idea how hard it was for me to take that picture and share it on the Internet. I just can’t stand messes like this. They crawl into my brain and block all reasonable thinking. Which I guess means I’m walking around all day thinking irrationally. This explains so much! Can you hold on a second while I go give my husband the good news? If he’d just keep the living room clean, we wouldn’t need couple’s therapy!

Every night we tidy up the mess, and this includes having our oldest child take everything down to her room that doesn’t fit inside her designated living room space, a mid-century console I bought at a local antique store for a little over a hundred bucks:

toys1

This is her space: the room inside the door and all three drawers. If it doesn’t fit inside this area, at the end of the day it has to go back to her room.

We store her DVDs inside the door:

toys2

And the drawers are used for miscellaneous objects and art supplies:

toys3

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About once a month we have to sit down and reorganize everything, because she’s six years old and likes to shove things into the drawer more than she knows how to place them gently and in an orderly fashion. But this solved her clutter issue instantly.

As far as the clutter surrounding our eleven-month-old, we’re still in the process of figuring this one out. I use a large decorative bowl to organize her diapers and wipes, something we can stash onto a shelf for easy access:

toys5

Everything else fits into a wooden basket that we keep by the fireplace or is transferred back to her room for the night:

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No, the basket doesn’t hide the ORANGE! and GREEN! and PURPLE! of her toys, but I like the fact that when you walk into this room you know that kids live here, that this place is lived in. And then I get to enjoy the rational part of the brain for the rest of the evening.

FILED UNDER:

Design Inspiration

29 Responses

  1. Krys72599 says:

    Heather, I was with you until you opened the door and the drawers. I would have felt SO MUCH BETTER had they be stuffed to the brim with toys and pencils and folded over notebooks squeezed into too little space. Those nice orderly drawers? Not in my house. And I'm okay with that.
    As okay as I am with the vaccuum cleaner hose rolled up and stashed into the coat closet before visitors come.
    Only to explode out the coat closet door when I actually try to hang up their jackets!
    Ah, well, at least I was the one that opened the door….

  2. anna says:

    Ho hum. Nothing new here.

  3. Renee says:

    I'm with ya Heather. Cluttered home, cluttered mind. I feel so so much healthier when things are organized. Even drawers. It's so easy to do when you do it on a regular basis.

  4. Lindsay says:

    I love the idea of having a piece of furniture for Leta's things that doesn't look like cheesy kid furniture. I'm also a fan of being able to close doors on clutter.

  5. Lisa Canning says:

    The story of my life. Every morning my house is clean, and then by the end of the day it is truly an ORANGE! GREEN! PLASTIC! mess. Thanks for your thoughts- the decorative bowl to hold diapers is a nice touch

  6. Heather says:

    Hey, any tips on what to do with the big items? The doll stroller, play vacuum, mini kitchen, train table, etc.? Our house is kind of small — if I had an extra closet to stash them in, I would. Instead we kind of rotate things in and out of the basement.

    Love the console idea… will have to find a way to do that in my house. :)

  7. Thank you for the insight into my husband's mind. He hates the clutter and can't stop himself from de-cluttering the living room multiple times throughout the day (he works from home). He even does it in the middle of playdates, including vacuuming! My friends think he is amazing, I think he needs to chill out.

    We gave my 8 year old the drawer to the end table by the couch for her things. The 3 and 4 year old have a corner of plastic that is behind the sitting area so it doesn't distract from visitors or tv viewing.

    ALL diaper changes were done in the bedroom because our house was small enough for it to still be convenient. Adding diapers and wipes to the situation would have made my husband's head explode.

  8. kate says:

    Ohhhh! I am so right there with you about having to clean up every night. Back when I was nursing if I was nursing my son to sleep and saw some random toy hadn't been put away I would literally stand up, clutch the infant attached to my breast and put the stuff away. OCD I know but the room has to be clean. It felt like the day was truly over. I don't need the books in alphabetical order but everything needs to be in its place. Now if only I could be that compulsive about the rest of my house.

  9. jennifer says:

    I was totally distracted by your article by the fabulous painting above your "a mid-century console I bought at a local antique store" It's beautiful.

  10. Alesya says:

    Thanks for showing your clutter. Looks familiar – but I would be worried about putting it "out there" too!

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