Ask Maxwell: 5 Great Tips for Children’s Room Storage

published Apr 4, 2022
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Credit: Maxwell Ryan
This is the custom made storage for Ursula's room in our old place that was beautiful, but totally impractical. Kid's need easy, low drawers, not hanging space and - certainly - shelves they can reach!

Storage in my kid’s room is my big issue. Got any great tips?


(Dear Readers, I answered this last year, but it’s been so popular, I’m bringing it back and updating it to improve on it even more).

Hi John,

While I will admit that I am, first and foremost, a big fan of The Outbox when solving storage issues, I do realize that there are some handy things that can help a lot when you do want to maximize storage and don’t have a lot of space. Here are three of my favorite storage tips right now, one that I’ve used for years and two that are brand new. All of these are currently in use in Ursula’s room as well.

Maximize The Closet with Elfa Shelving

Credit: Maxwell Ryan
Before. I hate closets with lots of space and no structure... There's really not much you can do, especially in a kids room, where it won't end up looking like this.

The traditional closet with its single bar and shelf above is a terrible storage solution and can easily be improved by removing it all and installing Elfa Shelving from The Container Store or IKEA’s equivalent, which is called BOAXEL. These systems are easy to install and allow you to tailor the space to exactly what you want to store, whether it’s clothing (hanging or folded), shoes, books, or art supplies. In Ursula’s room we were able to eliminate the need for a dresser (which would have taken up precious space) and get all of her clothes into one closet with Elfa shelving as you can see in the pic.

Credit: Ursula G-R
After. Ursula designed the closet online with a Container Store app and then we installed together.

I’ve done this with closets in my rental apartments a number of times and it’s awesome. And, if you are a renter, you can also take these with you when you leave because they are as easy to take apart as they are to put together and can be configured differently the next time, depending on the space.

Go Under The Bed for Fun

Credit: Maxwell Ryan
Ursula's bed underneath BEFORE!

I say “fun” because I have been really resistant to wanting to store too much under ANY bed, but I’m a recent convert due to my daughter, who insisted and presented me with this new solution: mesh pull-our drawers that are meant for kitchen cabinets that are also from The Container Store. The deal here is that most underbed storage is a little clunky, but these — with a little extra effort to pin them to the floor — will glide in and out smoothly, allowing you and your kids to more easily put things away. I will admit that this is a NEW solution, but I’m liking it so far and appreciate how it’s changed her ability to keep her room neater.

Credit: Ursula G-R
Her underneath after. This was all her idea, really, to use these wire pull-out drawers. To secure the track for each we used super strong, double sided carpet tape, but you can also pin them with a screw.
Credit: Ursula G-R

Shoes, Shoes, Shoes

Credit: Maxwell Ryan
Okay, this is in our front hall, but Ursula has one in her room as well, but it's white.

Shoes have become a big clutter problem in Ursula’s room, as she’s turned into a bit of a sneaker head. She likes to keep her shoes in her room (which is fine with me) but they were stacking up until we got her a nice shoe rack. Shoe racks are not that revolutionary, so I’m not suggesting that this is a surprising tip, but I will say I found the nicest shoe rack in the world last year and do think it’s worth sharing: the Entryway Rack from Open Spaces. This powder coated steel rack comes in five colors and is actually so pretty and nice to use that I prefer to see it rather than tuck it away!

A Straightforward Dresser

Credit: IKEA

Our current favorite kid’s dresser is this one – the 6 drawer MALM – which hold’s a lot, can be customized inside with various storage inserts, and even can sport a glass top (we didn’t do that). What I like about it is that it’s easy to put clothes away and throw things into it when kids are cleaning their rooms – there aren’t any excuses with this thing. Note: the Malm is a classic IKEA dresser and comes in many sizes. The six drawer is just super useful.

Shaker Peg Rail (Updated)

Credit: Maxwell Ryan

This is my own design that has worked nicely in our house and is just an update on the Shaker Peg rail, which the Shakers used to hang everything – from clothing to chairs to insulating blankets. The idea is simply to hang a series of attractive pegs or hooks (I like pegs for this) in a straight line, evenly spaced, turning your whole wall into an attractive storage opportunity – especially for day old clothes, towels, sweaters, etc. The pegs here I got from Muuto – called Dots – and are very cool, but lines of clean “peg rail” is easy to get many places!

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Maxwell Ryan is a father and was an elementary school teacher in NYC before founding Apartment Therapy. He’d love to answer your question: This piece was created for Cubby, our weekly newsletter for families at home. Want more? Sign up here for a weekly splash of fun and good ideas for families with kids.

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