Storage in children's rooms

Sir Terence Conran, author of 'Storage – Get Organized', offers furnishing and storage solutions for children's rooms – from babies to teenagers.

Moving with the times
In general, when furnishing children’s rooms, it is best to avoid buying miniaturized storage furniture and items specifically designed for nursery use. Your child will not remain a baby for long, and such pieces will rarely earn their keep. Instead, think about flexible solutions that can be adapted to each stage of your child’s development.

Flexible storage solutions

All of the various types of storage detailed below are flexible enough to be put to a number of different uses as your child grows. Children grow not only in size, but also in their ability and interests, which is why versatile storage is so important. It is economic, too.

A freestanding bookcase provides invaluable storage for many types of possession, from a baby’s nappies (diapers) and toiletries to picture books, toys and games.
A decently made, sturdy bookcase will see years of use, from babyhood through to adolescence. Wide–spaced shelves are more practical than narrow ones. Make sure that the bookcase is securely anchored to the wall – many little children use them as climbing frames and could become seriously injured if the bookcase and its contents toppled over.

Built–in shelving
A more considered solution is to line a wall with shelves, perhaps mounted on adjustable brackets. A huge proportion of what children own is shelvable, including items of clothing. Boxes and other containers used to store toys and games can also be shelved. When children are small, make sure that their favourite toys or what they use daily are kept lower down, where they can reach them easily.

Chest of drawers
Another all–purpose solution is the chest of drawers. A simple, well–made chest is a good early purchase. When your child is very young, you can use it as a means of storing nappies (diapers) and clothes, while the top can be a useful surface for a changing mat. Later on, a chest of drawers can house the bulk of a child’s wardrobe. Until children reach school age most of their clothing will not need to be hung up.

For the first year or so, you will probably find that most of your baby’s toys will fit into a single container. Choose one that is sturdy and portable, so that you can tidy up easily wherever your child is playing. Soon, however, you will reach the stage where one container is not enough. Stack plastic boxes in bright colours, wicker or rush baskets, stout cardboard boxes and similar designs are the mainstays of children’s storage. Games or toys with multiple parts can be organized into containers of different colours. Containers on castors can be wheeled under the bed. A larger lidded chest can be used to house dressing–up clothes for make–believe play.

Hanging storage
Clothes rails that are placed at a low level, Shaker–style pegs and hooks on the back of the door can be used for hanging up a variety of possessions which are in frequent use. While many items of clothing in the early years do not need to be hung up, hanging storage is a good idea for dressing gowns, aprons, washbags and outdoor gear, as well as sports equipment and games kits. When your children are sharing a room, give each one a set of pegs or a rail so that they can keep their belongings separate.

Display areas
Children are not minimalists. From a very early age, most enjoy seeing their most precious possessions out on view. A dedicated display area will provide a lasting source of visual delight. A portion of wall painted with blackboard paint may help to curb a child’s desire to ‘decorate’ the walls with magic markers. The tops of chests of drawers and open shelves are natural display areas for models and favourite toys. Consider putting up a pinboard so you can put your child’s most recent creative efforts out on view, along with photographs and other momentoes.

Teenagers enjoy plastering every available wall surface with stickers, posters , pictures and magazine clippings. By this stage, a single pinboard won’t provide enough surface area. Instead, you could line an entire wall with cork – or simply accept that after the collaging stage has passed redecoration will be in order.

Administrative centre
Keep important documents relating to your children, such as birth certificates, immunization records and school reports, in an accessible file. Routine or daily administration, such as notices, schedules and school letters, should be gathered together in one place – on your desk, in the kitchen or wherever you tackle household matters. A calendar put up in a prominent position can serve as a useful reminder of key dates.

This is an extract from Terence Conran's 'Storage – Get Organized .'

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