Wednesday, July 6, 2011

12 Reader Space: Built In Bliss

Today's Reader Space is a perfect example of not letting a space determine for you the amount of storage it will contain, but showing us that YOU can determine a room's capabilities.  That's right.  The room you are about to see, didn't always look as it does today, as reader Alexis, decided to build in incredible, transitional storage for her son!  And her method for keeping it organized proves to be a great way to keep her kiddo's space looking neat and tidy as he grows.  Here is her story:

"We started with a smaller built-in {I wish I had a picture of what it used to look like}. It wasn’t the least bit functional for us. The bench area was too small to sit on and you couldn’t store anything underneath.

We built the bookcase when my son was only two-years old.  My plan was that the storage would prove flexible and grow with him. It has served that purpose well!

The “vehicle bin” has always been just that. No matter his age, he has enjoyed playing with cars and trucks and such. 

There is also an “animal bin” that houses all of the plastic animals or action figures. 

The other bins have changed names over the years. We didn’t start out with Legos or play guns; these toys have entered into the picture over time. As a new theme of toys emerges it seems inevitable that another will start to fade into the background. 

For instance, we used to have a bin for large wooden puzzles.  When Legos became big on the scene he started to lose interest in puzzles. {I guess Legos are there own kind of puzzle anyway} The transition in interest meant that as one toy moved out it made room for the next.

I’ve never labeled any of the bins; just named them. Because they are open and see-through the items inside pretty much do the job of a label. The only time I thought that labels would be helpful was when my son had friends over to play and several bins were emptied completely. In these rare cases I usually pitched in on the clean up anyway to be sure that toys were arranged properly.

You’ll notice that the Legos are all combined in three separate bins. Legos were the “it” toy for my son for many years. Just about every gift – whether birthday, Christmas, visit from Papa – resulted in a new Lego. At first I tried to keep all of the sets together in smaller clear bins from the Container Store. That proved hopeless and full of frustration. When friends would come to play the boys could never keep all the pieces straight. At the end of a playdate I found myself trying to put them all back in their correct boxes.  My son and I both found this to be an almost impossible and incredibly time-consuming task. Eventually I decided that large bins, all mixed together would just have to work.  We do store all of the Lego building instructional manuals separately and when Carter does want to recreate a specific Lego he sifts through the bins to find the pieces he needs. This system has worked out just fine and the clean up is so much easier now. 

You’ll see just about all children’s books in my house stored in bins or baskets. This system has proved to be very efficient and an easy way to keep books neat and tidy.

The top shelves are dedicated to a few books my son hasn’t yet grown into yet, some memorabilia, a few art projects and a couple of self-contained toys like his science kit. They stay relatively neat – about like this – as we do go through the items on a regular basis and keep things to a minimum. 

About twice a year I go through all of the toys in each bin with my son. Together we decide what will stay and what will go. We clean out each bin and discard or put away anything that doesn’t belong and has wandered in. This is also the time that we evaluate the current storage situation and reassign bins, give away toys no longer used and decide on new categories of toys if necessary. Because we have been doing this since my son was a toddler he is quite used to the routine and discarding toys is almost never an issue."

The built in's are totally great right?  Check out all that STORAGE!  I love that this shows any room can be functional by making the decision to do something about it!  And how great is the method for keeping it tidy?  One toy in, one toy out.  LOVE LOVE LOVE that!  It's such a great rule to keeping a space organized as a child grows.  In fact, it's a great rule for any space!

Thank you Alexis for sharing your story with us today!  I am looking all over my home for a place to put a giant built in... where will it be?

And a button for you:

IHeart Organizing

I can't wait to see what you share, seriously, I will be secretly stalking my own blog, hitting the refresh key over and over...

ATTENTION!!  Want to be featured in a Reader Space edition?  Have an awesome organizing story to share?  I am looking for projects that have made a positive impact to your life.  Please send your story and photos to and I would heart to feature them right here, on the blog!!  Photos should be high resolution and un-editted.  Please include a description of the project, including any costs, inspiration, and how it has changed your life and routine for the better!  Oh, and no worries my friends, we will NEVER judge "before" pictures because that just wouldn't be nice!  Only love goes on at this blog!  More Info HERE.


  1. I am SO happy to have found your blog. I have spent quite a bit of my morning perusing it! I LOVE organization and would love to pursue it as a career as well! For now, I enjoy organizing my own home and the homes and offices of friends who ask me for help, ha! My home never looks as pretty though as other organizers!

    Anyways, I LOVE your site (again) and look forward to reading it in the future! I have placed the blog button on this post on a post I have scheduled for this coming Friday. Yay!

  2. Love this post. Nothing better than a great built-in with tons of stylish storage!

  3. I love it! My dad built me some gorgeous cubbies for my classroom that I can't wait to set up in my house.

  4. add a nice cushion underneath that windowsill and i'm ready to move in! haha =) what awesome storage!

    I am begging my husband to get our built-in on with the new casa. We have a loft to fill and that might be juuust what we need for it!

    Jenn @ Peas & Crayons

  5. I love it.

    I would like to know what kind of bin are those on the "expedit" shelves that fits so well.

    Thank you.


  6. wow! That's beautiful! I think I want to design something like that for my son's room.Thank you for the inspiration!

  7. Fan-tastic!!! I just showed it to my dh. We are moving in a month and it would be SO great to have these built-ins for the kids' rooms! So much better than my current (frugal) schemes which include finding furniture curb-side, and at thrift stores to store things in (lol). Love it.

  8. Thanks for the great feature Jen. It's so fun to be on your site which has been so inspiring for me.
    To answer a few questions/comments. The plastic bins with the holes in them are from Bed Bath and Beyond - but they are about 8 years old now. I don't think they carry them anymore.
    I love the idea of a window cushion too - but my son prefers the space to be a place for his cars and Legos. But I know that as he grows it will become a great little reading nook (or so I hope). Thanks for your comments!

  9. Something in, something out is my rule. If you buy a new T-shirt an old one has to go and so on..
    I really like what she did with the space. Nice job!

  10. Here is today's post mentioned in comment #1. :)

  11. Wondering where you got those milk crate looking storage containers - the clear-ish ones with circle holes you put the books in.


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