How I Use The Home Edit’s Rainbow Method to Organize Kid’s Stuff (and Where It Doesn’t Work!)

published Sep 7, 2022
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Books organized by rainbow color
Credit: Tyler Moore

Have you seen “Get Organized with The Home Edit” on Netflix? It’s a show about professional organizers Clea Shearer and Joanna Teplin transforming disorganized spaces into organizational masterpieces, and it’s been a big hit. As a teacher and dad, I enjoy watching how Clea and Joanna approach organizing a room and creating systems to compliment a family’s household routines. In fact, I was inspired to think about how I could adopt their trademark “rainbow” organizational approach to organize items for our daughters in our small NYC apartment!

What Is the Rainbow Organization Method? 

The Home Edit’s rainbow method sorts belongings by color, particularly the colors present in the rainbow. (That’s red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet, otherwise known as ROYGBIV!)

Credit: Tyler Moore

Where We Use the Rainbow Organizing Method

This rainbow organization system works really well in some cases, but not all. Here are some of the best ways I’ve found to use this colorful organizational approach.

  • Books: We have two bookcases in the bedroom that all three of our girls share. We had previously attempted organizing books by genre or topic, but they didn’t understand the system and couldn’t find the book they wanted. They also didn’t put them back into the correct category on the shelves. But organizing books by color is a system that our girls actually understand! They can now easily locate which book they’d like to read and then put the book back in the designated section when they are finished.
  • Play food: We have two 3-tier shelf basket towers that we use to store play food and kitchen accessories. We had previously tried organizing the food by food groups, or sorting it into sets like plastic food and wooden food, but it was visually cluttered, and the girls struggled to find the items they wanted to play with and would end up dumping much of it on the ground. I organized the food by color instead of category, and now they know exactly where to look when they want a specific item. It’s also easy to put items back into the correct basket. 
  • Stuffed Animals: In the bedroom our girls share, I added an over-the-door organizer to hold stuffed animals. The stuffed animals had previously been had in large baskets on the floor, but this over-the-door organizational system helps to maximize floor space in their bedroom and allows them to see all their stuffed animals at one time. We recently took it one more step and now organize the stuffed animals by color to create a visual rainbow on the door. 

Where We DON’T Use the Rainbow Organizing Method

  • Clothing: Our daughters each have their own wardrobe in the bedroom that they share. Each wardrobe has four drawers for folded clothing and a separate space for hanging clothes, and the girls each have a drawer for shirts, pants, socks/underwear, and pajamas. Instead of organizing clothing by color, we organize by clothing type. It’s way easier for them to locate items when all of the short-sleeve shirts are in one row and all of the long-sleeve shirts are in one row, rather than having all of the categories mixed by color. 
  • Art Supplies: Our daughters love creating art and we have a variety of art supplies organized in our toy rotation. We’ve chosen to organize art supplies into small containers (here are three of my favorite small organizers) by type rather by color. They’d prefer to pull out a bin with all of their markers, colored pencils, or all of their crayons rather than mixing items together by one specific color. 

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