A built-in wall unit is the storage star in this narrow family room. Packed with drawers, shelves, and cabinets, everything has its place. Beyond the wall, upholstered cubes in this family room offer extra seating, but they also make a great perch for digging through the drawers in search of an item. Another way to use cubes and ottomans: Choose a version that has built-in storage for stashing blankets and pillows not in use.
Open and Closed Storage
Some storage must be pretty to look at as well as easy to use. In this expansive wall, a combination of doors, shelves, and drawers helps to divide and conquer storage based on type and user. The open shelves offer a spot for more refined items -- stacks of must-keep magazines and fabric-covered boxes interspersed with a few decorative accents. Behind the closed doors and drawers, the storage vibe is more easy-going so that kids and adults alike can access items that don't easily stay organized when left out.
Put Cords Out of the Way
Electronics are clutter accumulators: Cords, oddly shaped items, and other plug-ins threaten to overwhelm and disrupt any storage Zen. Putting them behind closed doors helps, as in the case of the media-focused shelves in this space. If you don't have any closed options, gather cords together and stow them with decorative and electronic-safe ties.
Keep Useful Items Close By
In hardworking spaces like family rooms, keeping those little extras at hand helps to alleviate the mad dash looking for remotes, extension cords, and the like. Put extra cords in a small basket, for example, or install a small piece of cork for a bulletin board that displays directions, warranties, or little mementos.
Games are often misshaped, meaning they don’t stack or store well or easily; the result can quickly lead to a jumbled mess. In drawers and on shelves, use smaller containers or shelf partitions to subdivide the storage space and corral items in place. Small clear plastic containers help to easily divide this collection of card games, boxes, and cans.
Use Flexible Containers
Another benefit to subdividing drawers and grouping like items: When it comes time to use items, they’re easy to pull out and move from room to room. Short lidded containers keep this space neat and tidy and allow kids and adults to retrieve what they need -- play dough or paint, for example.
Dress Up Open Shelves
It’s easy to dress up books and magazines stored out in the open: Simply choose a theme and stick with it. Here, design-focused books with similarly colored spines add pops of color, while pretty patterns (scrapbook paper covering magazine holders) supply visual interest. For items that are less visually appealing, use matching baskets that keep things at hand but disguised, too.
Labels are a family room’s storage best friend: They can help you stash and easily find all manner of items. Dress up open shelves with printed labels on pretty patterned paper, and use stickable labels for clear containers that hold kid craft supplies.
Try Pictures + Words
Try this expert trick to help keep clutter at bay (and organized): Use clip art to make labels for different storage containers. They’re a great way to help kids find (and put away) toys they love and can be used for big kids too in spaces such as closets (shoes, belts, accessories) and pantries.
Make It Kid-Friendly
The more your kids can access the items they need and want, the more they'll be able to help learn how to put things away, too. Pegboards and hooks as well as open containers like this one are great options for little hands. If you're placing a container on the inside of a door, measure to make sure there’s clearance inside.
Post Family Rules
A whiteboard can be a great addition to a storage-friendly family room. Place a slim version on the inside of a storage door, with reminders, to-dos, and helpful hints for keeping items in place.
Keep Items Where They're Used
Think about all the times you’ve hunted for a remote or a notepad: It’s probably countless. But designating a spot for oft-used items and placing them where you need them -- on a side table next to the couch, for example -- is one of the best ways to tackle storage problems. Here, a desk organizer holds multiple remotes and pretty patterned notebooks, while a larger basket stashes binders and notebooks.
Go Decorative with Storage
Storage doesn't have to be strictly utilitarian: It can be pretty and functional, too. For all those randomly shaped items, such as stuffed animals or toys, consider easy-to-move fabric baskets that accent the family room's color scheme. The lower band of blue on this piece offers a light-toned complement to the striking navy paint color on the walls.