Too Many Shelves in a Small Space: Kids’ Room Update

Sometimes even the most well thought out small space design solutions in the end don’t work. The kids’ room is perfect example of this. Last year I found a shelf that would fit perfectly in the space between the two sliding doors. It was narrow (only 13” deep) and tall. It held many things…. toys to display, bins to store, a big art drawer (here is a post about when I excitedly added the shelf).

But even when we first installed the shelf, the room felt immediately smaller. I measured their room and it is 8’ wide x 9.5’ long (not including the closet which is an addition 2’ depth). Now, it is a great shelf! I would highly recommend it in a number of scenarios. But I think in this case, with a narrow room with limited floorspace, the tall shelf full of “things” felt imposing in the small space. Even though it is a narrow shelf, it felt imposing as soon as you walked in the room. I think one of my errors was to put in a shelf at the maximum width and height for that wall. We also had trouble keeping the shelves organized and styled. They became a bit of a dumping ground for things we wanted out of reach. What was intended to be accessible to the kids ended up being a drop zone for “things we need to deal with but can’t right now”.

Here is the previous layout….

I was worried Trevor would be resistant to me getting rid of a perfectly good shelf that only a year ago I was so convinced we NEEDED but he was supportive. The next step became, what do we do with all the things the shelf currently holds? We did a bit of toy editing based on what is currently played with. Then I took a note from the kids room I did with Ikea for the Vancouver Home Show and re-purposed 3 Kuggis bins we had in other closets; 1 bin is art supplies, 1 is more Mae’s toys, 1 is more Theo’s toys. They are a bit of test but since it was something we already own and use it doesn’t feel like a big risk. My concerns are that the bins will become messy or too difficult to access with the rug in the way. If they don’t work I will consider alternative under bed storage.

The rest of the room is kept open for play with 3 fabric bins for storage of stuffies, magnet blocks and dress-up clothes. Since we’ve made the switch I’m finding the kids are playing more in their room which in 600 square feet is a real gift! I know this isn’t the last time I will change things around in their room, and that their needs will change with time, but I’m happy with this new layout. And I’m also glad I admitted to myself that the shelf wasn’t really working. Now I did add another small shelf in that far corner beside the bunks but I’ll save that story for another day!

A rarely shown view of our master closet with floor to ceiling curtains to conceal it and soften the room. See also, stuffies with washi tape masks, one of the kids’ favourite past-times.