Kid's storage system

Better Homes and Gardens

Storage space for a baby

1. When planning your storage, think about working with architectural features. Here, the position of the window makes it ideal for two tall bookcases to be placed on either side of it with a low, long storage unit connecting them.

2. Run up a pair of tie-back curtains for your baby’s room. Position the curtain rod about 5-15cm above the window frame and about 10cm beyond the window sides first. Then measure the width of the rod (plus 5cm extra for each hem) and the length from the rod down to the desired length (plus 32cm extra for hems). For gathered curtains you will require twice the width of the rod. Ask a fabric retailer to help you determine your fabric requirements. For each curtain drop, stitch 2.5cm double side hems. Turn 1cm under at top edge then stitch a 10cm double hem. Stitch a 5cm casing for the rod. Turn 1cm under at bottom edge then stitch a 10cm hem. Thread rod through casing and hang curtain. Gather each drop with a ribbon tie.

3. Open-front shelves are handy for grabbing baby essentials quickly. Arrange soft toys at the bottom, nappies, bottles and baby products in the middle shelves so they’re within easy reach, and less-used items towards the top of the shelving unit.

4. Make night feeds more comfortable with a foam seat, cushions and a throw. Measure the top of the low storage unit then have a foam specialist cut a piece of 10cm-thick foam to fit. Ask for slightly rounded corners. Measure the foam top and add 20cm all around. Using these measurements, cut out your fabric. It’s best to use a washable fabric. Turn raw edge 1cm under before turning under a 2cm hem/casing. Leaving a small opening, stitch hem/casing in place. Cut a length of elastic to go around the hem/casing. Thread the elastic through the hem/casing and gather the fabric by pulling on the elastic. Trim the excess elastic and sew the ends together. Slip stitch opening closed.

5. Spell out your baby’s name with wooden letters from a craft store. Sand the letters smooth then seal and paint them with artist’s acrylics in colours to match the baby’s room. Thread crystal beads onto a length of beading thread. Separate the beads into groups of four and place the letters in between each group. Staple the beading thread at the top back of each letter. As you work, push the next group of beads up to the stapled letter. Make loops at each end of the thread and slip the loops onto a suction hook attached to the window.

Storage space for a toddler

1. Buy adjustable shelves, which can be spaced to suit what you’re storing. For a few dollars more you can also buy an extra shelf, increasing the number of storage surfaces and eliminating wasted space between shelves.

2. Dress your toddler’s window with an easy roll-up blind. Fix the blind rod/brackets about 5-15cm above the window frame and about 10cm beyond the window sides. Measure the desired length (plus 20cm for casing and hem) and width of your blind and include 1cm seam allowances all around. Using these measurements, cut a piece each of patterned fabric (front) and plain fabric (lining). With right sides together, stitch the two fabrics together leaving a 30cm opening at the top for turning. Turn fabric right side out. Slip-stitch opening closed. Press a 5cm double hem at the top. Cut two lengths of ribbon each twice the length of the finished blind plus 20cm. Press each ribbon in half. Open out the casing and the ribbon. Aligning the folds, pin then securely stitch each ribbon along the top fold of the casing about 10-15cm in from each side. With ribbon carefully arranged out of the way, turn the 5cm double hem (casing) under and hand-stitch in place. Stitch a 5cm double hem at the bottom edge. Slip a dowel (cut slightly shorter than blind width) in the lower hem and hand-stitch sides closed. Slip a dowel (cut to size) through the top casing and hang the blind. Roll the blind to the desired height and keep in position with ribbon ties.

3. Fill shelves with labelled trays, baskets and buckets to make stashing bits and pieces easy. Involve your children by having them make their own labels. Also make sure toys and books are stored at the right height for your child to be able to tidy things away. Keep delicate items well out of reach.

4. Toddlers love to draw, so create a chalkboard for the top of your window seat/storage unit using 3mm-thick MDF, with rounded corners cut to fit the window seat. Following the manufacturer’s instructions, paint the board with three coats of black gesso (or blackboard paint), sanding between coats. Sand outdoors and wear a dust mask. When thoroughly dry, stick Velcro dots to the underside of the chalkboard and to the window seat/storage unit.

5. Make a replacement seat cover (see number 4, page 168) for the foam window seat pad in colours to match your toddler’s new bright colour scheme. Keep the seat fabric plain to prevent overpowering the room with too much pattern.

Storage space for a teenager

1Teenagers have the reputation of being the untidiest age group of all. Having accessible storage goes part way to helping them control their clutter, even if only marginally: it can be used for general interest books and magazines, folders and reference material and even make-up or sporting equipment. Teens will also appreciate an extra shelf or two for CDs, which don’t need a lot of vertical space.

2. The window seat/storage unit will come in handy for teenagers, whether it’s for hanging with friends, reading or strumming a guitar. For a more streamlined look, change the foam cover fabric (see number 4, page 168) for a colour which matches the bedcover and scatter cushions.

3&4. Convert the toddler’s chalkboard to a noticeboard for photos and notes. All you need to do is brush PVA glue onto the front of the board then press a thin piece of high-density foam cut to fit onto it. Working with the board’s actual measurements, cut a piece of fabric 10cm larger all around. Covering the foam, stretch the fabric around the board, stapling the raw edges to the back of the board. The best way to do this is to staple the middle of each side first. The next step is to work out from each middle staple to the corners. Staple the corners last, gathering the excess fabric in neat folds to either side of each corner before stapling. Make a crisscross pattern with ribbon or cord on the board front, stapling the ends at the back. Trim excess fabric and ribbon ends before hanging.

5. Here’s a novel way to use discarded CDs – turn them into photo frames. Brush each CD with glue, then, sandwiching the ends of a ribbon or cord length, stick your photo onto it. When the glue is dry, place the CD face-down on a cutting board and use a scalpel to trim the photo to size (be careful not to cut through the ribbon or cord). Use gem glue to attach flat-back glass nuggets or beads around the photo edge. Attach suction hooks to the window and hang photo frames from them.

Safety tips

• Bolt tall freestanding furniture to the wall to prevent it from toppling over.
• Position toys low so crawling babies and energetic toddlers can easily access them without being tempted to climb shelves.
• Remember to keep windows locked so toddlers – who love to explore – can’t climb up and accidentally fall out.
• Ensure blind cords or ribbon ties are well out of your baby’s or toddler’s reach to prevent accidents.
Pining for custom furniture? Selected raw pine outlets will customise shop-floor units to suit your individual requirements for a slightly higher price. You will still be getting a much better deal than if you ordered a custom-built unit from scratch.